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Human Influenza

Click here for the latest update or read the Q&A

If after reading the guidance below you have any further queries, please email them to the DCSF using the Department's email form. Between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday, you can also call the DCSF public enquiry helpline on 0870 000 2288.

The main planning guidance on this website was produced by the then Department for Education and Skills in mid 2006, when the World Health Organization (WHO) ruled that we were in Phase 3 of their alert levels. The guidance advised local authorities, schools and other providers what they might wish to do then, and at subsequent phases (see Chapter 2).


Influenza pandemics are not new. Three flu pandemics caused public health emergencies during the last century and experts are predicting that another is inevitable and will almost certainly reach the UK.

No-one knows exactly when a pandemic will occur. Once a pandemic arrives, it is likely to spread throughout the country in a matter of weeks. It may come in two or more waves several months apart. Each wave may last two to three months across the UK as a whole.

The UK Health Departments have published a framework for how the Government overall will respond. The Government recommends that organisations, including those in the public sector at local level, should be as prepared as possible now so that plans can be activated when a pandemic arrives.

DCSF produced a range of guidance documents in consultation with other Government departments and various external bodies as part of the Government’s co-ordinated efforts to encourage prudent planning across all sectors, supporting the Department of Health, as lead department, in preparing and planning for a possible pandemic. There is general planning guidance for different sectors, issued in July 2006, model plans for schools and FE colleges, issued in December 2006, and infection control guidance for different settings. In January 2008, the Department for Children Schools and Families (DCSF) and the Department for Innovation Universities and Skills (DIUS), added Frequently Asked Questions to make information on some key issues more easily accessible.

There are links to the guidance below, grouped by the type of guidance. Within each section, there will be specific documents for different sectors so you can select the version(s) most relevant to you.

General planning guidance

There are different versions of guidance for different sectors. Click on the appropriate entry below to go to the version relevant to you.

Model plans/checklists

As mentioned in the earlier guidance, DCSF has developed a model plan/checklist for schools that they may choose to use, or adapt, when developing plans along with their local authorities.

A similar document has also been developed for use by further education colleges.

These can be downloaded from the links below:

Infection Control Guidance

We have developed this guidance with the assistance of the Department of Health and the Health Protection Agency to help you operate more safely in a pandemic. Much of the guidance would also be relevant as general good hygiene practice to help you reduce the spread of more common infections. The downloads below also include 2 NHS posters (on hand-washing and ‘coughs and sneezes’) which you can order free-of-charge from dh@prolog.uk.com , quoting refs 278819 or 279933 respectively.

May 2009 note on incubation period. The infection control guidance here, written in 2007, indicates incubation periods which may well be inaccurate with respect to the current swine flu virus, where the incubation period has yet to be confirmed. Please disregard the relevant paragraph (paragraph 11 of the guidance for schools and early years and that for residential settings, paragraph 8 of the guidance for childminders and paragraph 12 of the guidance for HE and FE colleges).

Guidance on Planning to Support Learning During Extended School Closures

When the then DfES issued its initial guidance on planning for a human flu pandemic, the guidance promised that further guidance on remote learning would be issued in due course.

After discussions with interested parties, DCSF has now made that guidance available, click here for the Word version of the text, or here for the pdf version.

We will review and update guidance regularly. For that reason, most of the guidance is available in electronic form only.

We have reviewed and revised the guidance in September 2009. There is no significant change to the main part of the guidance, but the annex has been revised to reflect the current position, with links to some case studies.

The advice contained on this site should not be taken as an authoritative interpretation of the law.
That is a matter for the courts.