Schools should consider allowing pupils to wear “additional, suitable indoor items of clothing” during the winter as classrooms get colder because of the need for ventilation, the Department for Education has said.

In updated action for schools guidance published today, the DfE said increased ventilation “may make school buildings cooler than usual over the winter months”.

In a section on school uniform, the guidance states that “while schools will want to maintain the benefits of their uniform, they may wish to consider allowing additional, suitable indoor items of clothing to be worn during the winter period in addition to the school’s current uniform”.

“Where this occurs, schools should ensure that no extra financial pressure is placed on parents,” the guidance adds.

The guidance has also added a line on ventilation to the “system of controls” that schools must have in place to prevent and deal with coronavirus outbreaks.

The document states that schools should “always keeping occupied spaces well ventilated”, and that this approach “must be in place in all schools, all the time”.

It follows calls earlier this month for practical advice for schools on how to handle the winter months, after staff reported that their classrooms had already become cold.

Existing guidance on ventilation by Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE), which is linked to on the HSE website, says draughts from open windows can be mitigated by moving desks and wearing “warmer fleeces”. 

The DfE has also removed a line from a section of the guidance on workforce, which previously stated that Public Health England and the Department of Health and Social Care “advise that schools are not currently considered high risk settings when compared to other workplace environments”.

It follows recent rises in the number of outbreaks in schools, and comes as new attendance data showed almost half of secondary schools have pupils self-isolating.