Heatwave advice for schools, early years and youth work settings issued

Fiona Simpson
Monday, July 18, 2022

Advice for schools, youth services and childcare settings has been published after the Met Office issued its first ever red alert for extreme heat in the UK.

Experts have recommended keeping children out of the sun. Picture: Adobe Stock
Experts have recommended keeping children out of the sun. Picture: Adobe Stock

Forecasters predict the mercury could hit 40 degrees on Tuesday (19 July).

The national severe weather warning covers parts of central, northern, eastern and southeastern England today (18 July) and tomorrow with the majority of the rest of England and Wales covered by an amber warning.

The red warning is running parallel to an increase in the current Heat Health Warning to Level 4 for England by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA)

“This level of alert is used when a heatwave is so severe and/or prolonged that its effects extend outside the health and social care system,” according to the Met Office.

Experts are warning that illness caused by the temperature could affect “even fit and healthy people” and have urged the public to monitor the effects on the most vulnerable, including young children.

Education and early years

While schools have not been advised to close, “school leaders should make sure they take any steps necessary to make sure children are safe and comfortable,” according to the Department for Education.

The NHS warns that children are more susceptible to high temperatures, with the youngest children least able to regulate their own body temperatures.

Advice to schools and early years settings includes ensuring children are wearing loose-fitting light clothing, are kept hydrated and do not take part in vigorous physical activity.

School and nursery leaders should ensure windows are kept closed during very hot temperatures and electrical items are only used when necessary to avoid excess heat.

Individual setting leaders are responsible for managing their own local circumstances and are urged to refer to the Emergency Planning Guidance and carry out risk assessments in line with government guidance on looking after children and young people, as well as those in early years settings during heatwaves.

Childcare settings looking after children under-four are also advised to consider actions recommended in Chapter 3 of the Heatwave Plan For England.

Youth work

Meanwhile, youth work leaders are calling on providers to “take all sensible precautions” including cancelling outdoor activities.

In a tweet sharing Met Office advice, Leigh Middleton, chief executive of the National Youth Agency, said: “Stay indoors, keep cool, keep in the shade, do not go outside!”

The organisation also shared DfE advice for recognising signs of heat-related illness in children. These include: 

Heat stress

  • Children may seem out of character and show signs of discomfort and irritability. 

Heat exhaustion

  • a headache

  • dizziness and confusion

  • loss of appetite and feeling sick

  • excessive sweating and pale, clammy skin

  • cramps in the arms, legs and stomach

  • fast breathing or pulse

  • a high temperature of 38C or above

  • being very thirsty

If someone is showing signs of heat exhaustion, they need to be cooled down.


  • high body temperature – a temperature of or above 40°C (104°F) is a major sign of heatstroke

  • red, hot skin and sweating that then suddenly stops

  • fast heartbeat

  • fast shallow breathing

  • confusion/lack of co-ordination

  • fits

  • loss of consciousness

Youth homelessness

Youth homelessness charity Centrepoint, has issued advice to the public in supporting young homeless people during hot temperatures, including giving out any old umbrellas to use as heat shades, offering any spare, unused sun cream and cold, iced water to people on the streets.


The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advises employers to let staff work flexibly where possible and relax formal dress codes. Windows should be opened and fans or air conditioning units should be available, guidance states.

Under law, there is no ‘upper limit’ for temperature, meaning employees would still be expected to come to work in hot weather. Only a lower limit for very cold temperatures exists.


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