All governments recognise the importance of education and are committed to supporting the continuity of students’ learning throughout the response to COVID‑19.
On this page:
This page contains information for students, families, schools, and education authorities.
National Framework for Managing COVID‑19 in Schools and Early Childhood Education and Care
On 13 January 2022, National Cabinet agreed to a national framework to promote a nationally consistent approach to the ongoing delivery of high-quality education for all students during COVID‑19.
The National Framework for Managing COVID‑19 in Schools and Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) (the Framework) aims to ensure all schools and ECEC are open and be able to stay open, with as little disruption from COVID‑19 as possible.
The Framework is based on six national guiding principles:
- ECEC services and schools are essential and should be the first to open and the last to close wherever possible in outbreak situations, with face-to-face learning prioritised
- Baseline public health measures continue to apply
- No vulnerable child or child of an essential worker is turned away
- Responses to be proportionate and health risk-based
- Equip ECEC services and schools to respond on the basis of public health advice and with support from public health authorities where required
- Wellbeing of children and education staff to be supported.
State and territory governments are responsible for drafting individual operational plans in consultation with relevant stakeholders and school and ECEC sectors. These plans will be available on state and territory government websites shortly.
National Code for Boarding School Students
National Cabinet has endorsed the “National Code for Boarding School Students”.
This Code will deliver a national approach to support the travel needs of boarding school students during COVID-19 lockdowns.
In endorsing the Code, states and territories have committed to a nationally consistent, COVID-safe approach to intrastate and cross-border movement for boarding students, and their families and carers.
Jurisdictions will be responsible for implementing the Code in line with relevant health advice.
The Australian Government has worked closely with stakeholders to understand this issue and develop more workable and compassionate arrangements. The Code was considered by the Education Ministers Meeting and subsequently the Australian Health Protection Principals Committee (AHPPC) in early September 2020. Chief Health Officers in jursidictions were briefed on the principles and issues facing this cohort.
This Code will support the nation’s 23,000 boarding students, particularly those who travel interstate for their schooling, as well as their families.
The National Cabinet agreement will help reunite families and ensures the safety and wellbeing of boarding school children, and their families and carers.
2021 Statement of Intent for Australian schools
The Hon Alan Tudge MP, Minister for Education and Youth, has released a 2021 Statement of Intent for Australian schools to provide continued reassurance to the schooling sector that a flexible approach will be used for compliance and reporting arrangements where obligations cannot be met due to the unforeseen and unavoidable impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Emerging Priorities Program
Further information about the Emerging Priorities Program is available.
Reducing potential risk of COVID-19 transmission in schools
On 24 April 2020, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) released health advice in relation to reducing the potential risk of COVID-19 transmission in schools. This practical guidance and advice has been prepared for school leaders engaging with children, parents, teachers and support staff to reduce even further the relatively low risk of Coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission in schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This updated advice supersedes the advice issued on 16 April 2020.
You can read more on the Department of Health’s website.
The Department of Education, Skills and Employment has developed a series of posters with information and tips for school staff, high school and secondary school students, and primary school students on how to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission in schools. The posters may be downloaded and printed for use in schools.
Resources for teachers and school leaders
The department has collated a series of resources that may be useful for teachers during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can find these on the Resources for teachers and school leaders page.
The Australian Government commissioned six pieces of research to examine the potential impact of remote learning from home on educational outcomes for vulnerable cohorts of children, and barriers to access and evidence-based actions to respond.
- Professor Natalie Brown – The Peter Underwood Centre
- Professor Geoff Masters – ACER
- Professor Janet Clinton - Centre for Program Evaluation, Melbourne Graduate School of Education
- Professor Stephen Lamb – Centre for International Research on Education Systems
- Professor Sarah O’Shea National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education
- Dr Alan Finkel AO FAA FTSE FAHMS - Rapid Research Information Forum
National Principles for School Education
On 16 April 2020, the National Cabinet agreed to a set of National Principles for School Education to support the ongoing delivery of high quality education for all students during COVID-19, enable students to progress through their year level, and support a successful transition to 2021.
State and Territory Governments and non-government sector authorities are responsible for managing and making operational decisions for their schools. Decisions regarding the response to COVID-19 in the schooling sector must continue to be informed by expert, official, national and state-based public health and education advice, consistent with these national principles.
- Australian Capital Territory
- New South Wales
- Northern Territory
- South Australia
- Western Australia
Support for students with disability
The Australian Government is committed to ensuring that every student, including students with disability, have access to education in a sustainable and effective manner during the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 support available to non-government schools
The Government is providing assistance of up to $100,000 to help eligible small and medium sized businesses and not-for profit organisations with their cash flow so they can keep operating.
Special Circumstances – School Hygiene Assistance Fund
To help ensure non-government schools can put appropriate hygiene measures in place, the Australian Government will provide an additional $10 million to improve COVID-19 hygiene measures in non-government schools that plan to have 50 per cent of their students back in the classroom by 1 June 2020. Special Circumstances funding will to help offset hygiene costs for items such as soap, hand sanitiser, classroom cleaning products and additional cleaning that may be required.
More information is available on the Special Circumstances - school hygiene assistance page.
Senior secondary arrangements and university admissions
On 7 April 2020 the Education Council met by teleconference to discuss options for senior secondary arrangements and university admissions. The council agreed that students will be able to achieve a Senior Secondary Certificate of Education this year, and that certificate will facilitate access to university, further education and employment. For more information read the Council’s Communique.
On 10 June 2020 Education Council announced a nationally consistent set of messages to ensure all current year 12 students, their families, and teachers across Australia can clearly understand university admission processes for 2021.The messaging assures students they will be able to complete their senior secondary certificate of education in 2020 as well as receive an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR)
States and territories and higher education institutions have made a number of adjustments to take into account the impact of COVID-19 on students. More information is available in the statement on the Education Council website.
Information about NAPLAN
Education Ministers met on 20 March 2020 and decided that NAPLAN will not proceed in 2020. The NAPLAN test window was scheduled to be held from 12 to 22 May.
The decision to not proceed with NAPLAN in 2020 has been taken to assist school leaders, teachers and support staff to focus on the wellbeing of students and continuity of education, including potential online and remote learning. Further, the impact of responses to the COVID-19 virus may affect the delivery of NAPLAN testing, including the operation of centralised marking centres and the implications for nationally comparable data if an insufficient number of students are available to do the test.
Further detail regarding this decision is available.
Designated state authorities and school providers can find more information about accommodating international students, including flexible course delivery, in the Coronavirus regulatory information for DSAs and school providers fact sheet.
This page contains information for students, schools, designated state authorities and school providers. For the latest advice relevant to the education sector from Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) please visit the Department of Health’s website. For more information please view the International students page.