Education Bulletin - 3 March 2022
Updated 3 March 2022
Important contact details
From Ming Zhang
Service Director of Education, Participation and Skills
I hope you all managed to have a restful break over half term while there were so many things happenings in the past week in the UK and across the world.
On Monday 21 February, the Prime Minister set out the next phase of the government's COVID-19 response 'Living with COVID-19'. COVID-19 continues to be a virus that we learn to live with and the imperative to reduce the disruption to children and young people's education remains.
Key changes to national guidance for education settings
Headteachers should have received an email directly from the DfE on 24 February, detailing the changes made to the guidance with the following two key developments:
- changes to self-isolation and daily testing of close contacts;
- changes to testing in education and childcare settings and children's social care services. The changes have been reflected in the updates made to the following guidance:
- actions for early years and childcare providers
- schools COVID-19 operational guidance
- further education COVID-19 operational guidance
- higher education COVID-19 operational guidance
- SEND and specialist settings additional COVID-19 operational guidance
- COVID-19: actions for out-of-school settings
- out-of-school settings: COVID-19 guidance for parents and carers
- contingency framework for education and childcare settings
The DfE have worked closely with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the United Kingdom Health Security Agency (UKHSA) to revise the latest guidance. This advice will be reviewed on or before 1 April, when further guidance is due to be published.
Some colleagues have expressed their concerns at the new criteria for ordering testing kits. This concern will be conveyed to the DfE in my next catch up with the Department.
Local COVID update
Rates continue to drop nationally and the rate in Plymouth on 1 March 2022 was 390.7/100,000 - the lowest it has been since October 11 2021, but still relatively high. The latest data we have by age bands (Feb 12-18) indicated that the rates for children aged 5-9 and 10-14 were coming into line with population average. Rates in the children and young people age bands had been much higher when compared to the average for the whole population in Plymouth for many months previously.
School Health Related Behaviour Survey (2022)
Thank you to all schools who have started the survey, and a reminder: if undertaken, the survey needs to be completed by 30 June 2022. Secondary school focus for the survey is on years 8 and 10; primary school focus is on year 6.
With respect to primary schools, as has been noted previously; you received information from the School Health Education Unit in regard to the survey, this communication shows you how to take part, but it is your decision whether you take part or not. It would be great if you did participate, but there is no assumption or requirement that you must. Please remember the survey is free of cost to you. If you have any queries or questions in regard to the survey please contact: Carol.Harman@plymouth.gov.uk or Dave.Schwartz@plymouth.gov.uk from Plymouth City Council Public Health Team
Secondary School Placement Allocation
I am delighted to share with you that we have been able to offer all children who have made applications a secondary place for September, and this year, 96.51% of applicants have received a place at one of their preferred choices. This is a further improvement on the already excellent rate of 96.46% last year 2021.
In Plymouth, the number of young people applying for a secondary school place has increased in 2022, as thousands of primary pupils in Plymouth found out yesterday which school they will be going to this September. Of the 3,038 children who applied on time seeking a place in a Plymouth school 2,932 (96.51 per cent) were allocated a place at one of their preferred schools.
Letters and emails confirming school places for September 2022 have been sent to parents. Schools have also been given the admissions information relating to their children, so parents are also able to ask teachers directly for confirmation of their child's secondary school place.
My thanks to the Admissions Team who have been working hard to ensure maximum number of children are offered a place of their chosen Secondary schools.
If you have not done so already please familiarise yourself with the updated Contingency Framework Feb 22 (attached). Page 11 sets out new thresholds that could require additional measures. Updating your contingency plan should follow review of these documents.
Please note routine asymptomatic testing is now determined to be an additional measure whilst in outbreak (except for Special Schools / SEND Units within Mainstream Settings and also Alternative Provision who can all continue). Previous guidance that had included advice for use of LFD testing of primary age pupils as an enhanced measure has been removed. Testing as an additional measure is advised for some staff and pupils/students of secondary school age only. Use of routine asymptomatic testing in this new context should only follow advice from a Health Protection Team (DfE/UKHSA) or the local Director of Public Health.
Rates continue to drop and the rate in Plymouth on March 1 2022 was 390.7/100,000 - the lowest it has been since October 11 2021. However it still remains relatively high. The latest data we have by age bands (Feb 12-18) indicated that the rates for children aged 5-9 and 10-14 were coming into line with population average. Children and young people age bands had been much higher when compared to the average for the whole population in Plymouth for many months previously.
School Health Related Behaviour Survey (2022)
Thank you to all schools who have started the survey.
A reminder: the survey if undertaken needs to be completed by June 30 2022. Secondary schools focus for the survey is on years 8 and 10. Primary focus is on year 6.
With respect to Primary Schools. As has been noted previously; you received information from the School Health Education Unit in regard to the Survey, this communication shows you how to take part but it is your decision whether you take part. It would be great if you did take part, but there is no assumption or requirement that you must. Please remember the Survey is free of cost to you.
Early Years COVID-19 Recovery - Experts and Mentors Programme
The Early Years COVID -19 Recovery Experts and Mentors Programme is part of the government's
£180m programme of support for Early Years (EY) recovery. Settings in Plymouth will be able to benefit from this programme and some practitioners will have the opportunity to become an Expert, Mentor or Area Lead.
We know the importance of the EY and the impact the pandemic has had on young children. Therefore the DfE have designed the recovery programme in order to support EY practitioners in addressing the effects of the pandemic on the youngest children, building on reforms to the EYFS and supporting aims of improving outcomes and closing the attainment gap for children 0 - 5.
The programme will involve EY Experts and Mentors supporting EY practitioners, leaders and settings, through bespoke support, face-to-face and virtually, aimed at meeting individual settings' needs and priorities. Support will include coaching for leaders and mentoring for practitioners. With a pilot scheme underway, the programme will be rolled out nationally from September 2022.
The Programme - online child development training: new, universal online child development training to upskill practitioners and improve their knowledge of child development so they will be better able to support children in their care, particularly those whose development may have been impeded due to the pandemic, will build on the existing EYFS reforms online service - Help for Early Years Providers. Further resources will also be made available on this site.
Experts and Mentors: some eligible settings will be able to access additional support in the form of an Expert or Mentor, with Experts providing three days, in person leadership or whole setting support, and Mentors offering remote, individual/small group support via the new, online child development training package, as well as providing more general support focusing on improving practice and curriculum to support children following the impact of the pandemic. Each local authority will be allocated an Area Lead that will provide support, coordination and quality assurance for the Mentors and Experts in their locality.
Expressions of interest: for those wishing to apply to be Experts, Mentors or Area Leads for the national programme, the link here to the application form can be found here. Applicants may be working in schools, nursery schools, PVI nurseries, and other EY settings, EY roles within local authorities, universities, or similar organisations.
Eligibility: the online training package will be universally available to all settings. For additional mentoring and expert support, settings must meet one or more of the following criteria:
- been judged as Requires Improvement or Inadequate in the last 3 years
- high numbers of children in receipt of EY Pupil Premium
- high numbers of children with SEND
- high numbers of children taking up the disadvantaged 2-year-old offer
LA Role: during the summer term, the LA will be invited to become part of the programme, and will be responsible for nominating eligible settings to participate.
Further information: DfE are running a number of webinars, to give further detail on the Experts and Mentors programme. There are 3 available webinar sessions to attend via Microsoft Teams. Please only register/attend one session, using the links below. You will then receive confirmation of the event, including the event link:
DfE have a dedicated mailbox - EOI.EYRECOVERY@education.gov.uk where you can send any queries regarding the full roll-out of the programme. We ask that you please send your queries after the events have taken place.
If you would like more information regarding the wider DfE programme of early years COVID recovery support please visit https://foundationyears.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Early-Years-Education- Recovery-Programme-Fact-Sheet.pdf
DSL Professional Development Session
The next DSL Professional Development Session is scheduled for 15 March 2022, 15:30 - 15:15, the agenda is as follows:
- 15:30 - 15:45 Welcome Jim Barnicott and Carla Bennett - update on extended role of the Virtual School Headteacher
- 15:45 - 16.00 Karlina Hall - Development of Family Hubs
- 16:15 - 16.30 Sarah Wilson/Nick Cook - ASF and Operational MACE
- 16:30 - 16:45 Ruth Westwood - EHE Rapid Improvement Board
- 16:45 - 17:15 Karl Knill - Building Support Document/Approach (response to thresholds)
- Proposal on Education engagement within PCSP
- JTAI Follow up: Recording Strategy Discussions on records; Quality of information on MASH Contacts (including listing all involved agencies)
- Session close
The link to the meeting is below - we look forward to seeing you there. Microsoft Teams meeting
Health, wellbeing and safety updates
UKRAINE: supporting pupils and families in understanding the current situation
This week the Ethnic Minority Achievement Team have received a number of requests for advice from schools with pupils who are close to the current situation in Ukraine. Whilst we know that schools do a good job in understanding and supporting their pupils and families, we are happy to talk through any particular concerns you may have at this time. Simply email: Lucinda.firstname.lastname@example.org or if you have EMAT support, speak with your EMAT TLA.
The PCC Education Hub contains useful advice and resources for schools and colleges, and the link: Support for family members of British nationals in Ukraine, and Ukrainian nationals in Ukraine and the UK has resources more broadly useful.
Several schools are keen to raise money to support the people of Ukraine and have asked whether PCC are organising funding; as far as we know, the Council are not managing this type of support. Schools collecting funds might donate directly to The British Red Cross, who work with all ASR families in the region and have launched an appeal to raise funds for food, medical supplies, shelter and water, or UNICEF, who have launched their own fundraiser, and are working directly with children affected by the conflict.
Uniform Store Plymouth
The Uniform Store Plymouth is a free service for families to kit out their children for school. Through donations of good quality school uniform, we give these items out to those in need, free of charge - no referral is needed. We operate a Pop-Up shop in Plymouth City Centre throughout the school summer holidays, and a 'Click & Collect' service that operates throughout the year, where parents/carers can order the uniform that they need for their children and collect it from our collection point.
To place an order for school uniform, families can visit our website: www.uniformstoreplymouth.co.uk and select the items required. Our collection point is at Redeemer Church, St Barnabas Terrace, Plymouth PL1 5NN and is open every Wednesday and Friday from 10am to 12pm. For more information please email us: email@example.com
Secondary school students will learn essential cyber security skills for free through a new online learning platform being rolled out in schools across the country. The move is part of government plans to create a highly-skilled and more diverse pipeline of talent for the UK's fast-growing and in- demand cyber security industry.
Guidance for schools and further education (FE) providers on the initial supply of coronavirus (COVID-19) home testing kits for pupils, teachers and staff. Updated the guidance to remove out of date information and to confirm that the ordering line for schools and FE providers will remain in place for exceptional circumstances.
A consultation has been launched seeking views on plans to reform options at Level 2 and below. Qualifications will be streamlined and strengthened so that young people and adults have a clearer choice of options available to them and can be confident that they will set them on a path to a rewarding career.
The consultation can be found here and closes on 27 Apr 2022.