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Education Bulletin - 3 September 2020

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Updated 3 September 2020

Important contact details

Children's Service general queries

General Covid-19 queries to the Local Authority


Message from Judith

Dear colleagues

The first week back is almost over and there's been a lot of learning, no doubt much laughter too as children come back together and quite a few issues everyone has stepped up to manage. It's far too early to assess what will be themes going forward but here are a few reflections on week one and headlines from me.

We continue to have a daily call with the DFE, mainly about 'open' schools and attendance but also covering transport issues, EHE and vulnerable pupils. Our attendance as a city is looking high overall with many primary schools between 93% and 96%. Children with a social worker and EHCP have also returned in high numbers. Most schools are completing the DFE portal but if it isn't completed we are asked by DFE to work with you to receive a daily figure. As we're focusing our capacity on vulnerable children we ask that you complete the DFE portal in a timely way.

Today we will get yesterday's data and expect a further increase. Tomorrow we will be doing a weekly summary.

Key points to note:

  • Primary attendance is very high. Much higher than we predicted. Parents may have expressed concern but their children have returned to school. We will maintain the media campaign to the public encouraging safe behaviours and social distancing.
  • 695 pupils with a social worker attended on Tuesday 8th. In most cases this was 100% of primary schools pupils. EHCP attendance was high too - 100% in most primary schools.
  • This is going to take a while to settle down. Nationally, and very much in Plymouth, we can see that attendance will be affected by the decision of parents to keep children away from school when a Covid case is suspected or confirmed. Public Health colleagues have been tasked by government with having an enhanced role around decisions being taken to self-isolate when there is no confirmed case. We've just received that information today so are working through what it means for the city systems. 
  • Of equal importance is that schools are sending children home 'to be cautious' which will impact on public confidence, reduce attendance, impact on parents returning to work and impact on support services who cannot maintain a consistent service. We will work through these issues with you, and it is a national issue because schools are trying to be as safe as possible.

We expect DFE to clarify or re-issue guidance on attendance codes. Please go to the Guidance we have produced for all the current information you need on that issue.

Finally, buses in the city have been able to transport most pupils although there have been some instances of overcrowding. We have deployed all the additional buses (signalled in a previous Bulletin) but we may procure more as numbers attending secondary schools rise. If you are a secondary school and are concerned, please let us know. You are able to provide useful intelligence about capacity and also bus stops that may need a marshal to be deployed.

Take care all; hope it has been a reasonable week,


Attendance Code X Guidance

Please find attached a summary of the latest DfE guidance in relation to the use of Code X. If you have any questions, please contact your link Education Welfare Officer

When to contact SW Health Protection Team

SW Health Protection Team have reported that quite a few schools have called them recently to report potential COVID cases. However, this is not required.

Educational settings only need to contact the SW HP Team if they have a confirmed COVID case.

Under those circumstances schools should:

Telephone the Health Protection Team (HPT- 0300 303 8162) regarding possible COVID cases if:

a. Hospital admission with COVID like symptoms

b. Possible case who won't get tested

c. A cluster of possible cases/ increased absenteeism

d. Possible case with a definite link to confirmed case

Please see the attached posters and fliers setting out this guidance clearly.

Following on from information shared in last week's issue, we attach further information regarding a webinar for schools from the NHS. We understand that there's a lot of information coming your way right now, but please take time to read and share.

Y2 Phonics Screening Check - autumn term 2020

School have all received detail of the phonics screening check to be administered to children new to Y2 during the autumn term (link below). Just a reminder that the local authority is offering free online briefing sessions for all Y2 teachers: 4 - 5pm on either 21 or 22 September. To book places please email no later than 9am on Tuesday 15 September.

Opportunities for Head teachers' to meet virtually

Before the summer break we committed to providing regular opportunities for Head teachers to meet in a virtual capacity to share successes and discuss challenges.  We are in the process of planning how this will work best and will be consulting with our existing group of school leaders early next week.  Further information will follow.

NQTs starting this term

Schools will receive details this week of how to register NQTs with the local authority, and how to access the range of induction training and support we provide. Please be sure that NQT mentors in your schools do this and that NQTs are enrolled on our new online Induction Sessions taking place on 14, 15 or 16 September - simply email

Alternative Education Framework

Plymouth City Council and PLT have been working in partnership to establish common ways of working with alternative providers who engage with secondary aged pupils in Plymouth schools.   The framework, which provides details of those providers who have been able to demonstrate compliance to minimum standards, represents the first phase of the process.   

Further details will be with secondary schools in the coming fortnight.

Holocaust Education Trust and the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust

As teachers and students across the UK return to the classroom the Holocaust Education Trust and Memorial Day Trust want to remind you of the ways in which they can support you with your teaching about the Holocaust. Pease visit  for a wide range of free resources to help prepare for this teaching and to support commemoration on 27 January 2021, Holocaust Memorial Day. This year's theme for Holocaust Memorial Day is: 'Be the Light in the Darkness' and further information and materials can be found at

Religious Education 2020 Results Survey

Each year, Plymouth SACRE asks schools to complete a survey to indicate successes at GCSE and A level in RE. Whilst this has been an unprecedented year, we hope that you will complete the attached survey, as SACRE are very keen to congratulate you on the successes of your students studying RE. Thank you in anticipation of your response.   

Plymouth Music Education Hub

Following the updated DfE guidance for schools dated August 28th we are continuing with our difficult decision regarding music delivery in term one (Sept/October).

In order to allow time for schools to embed their ways of working, we will not deliver face-to-face sessions in term one. However, we have planned a wide range of tutorial and interactive online resources for use from September onwards to ensure children are not deprived of their musical opportunities.

Please be aware that we cannot guarantee we will have tutors available for you later in the year if we do not have arrangements in place during term one.

We anticipate regular updates as research is published, which we will share with you as necessary.

First Access provision, costing £440 for the full academic year, will go ahead as a blended experience with those schools that have booked. We hope that we will be able to introduce face-to-face tuition into this blend in term 2 (Nov/December).

We expect schools to follow the guidance issued by DfE and to assist with this please note our music-specific guidance documents logged on Plymouth Online Directory (POD). 

Based on current national information and the conflicting guidance regarding singing, and with the knowledge that planning this event has a long run-in time, we are cancelling our Annual Carol Service at St Andrew's Minster for 2020.

Government updates

COVID-19 surveillance in school KIDs (sKIDs): pre and primary schools

Published 04 September 2020

A report on the preliminary results of the COVID-19 testing and antibody prevalence surveillance in schools programme, colloquially known as sKIDs.

The report concludes that SARS-CoV-2 infection and transmission rates were low in preschool and primary schools under surveillance during the summer.

Get laptops and tablets for children who cannot attend school due to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Updated 04 September 2020

How schools can access digital devices for children requiring access to remote education due to shielding or local coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions. The eligibility criteria has been clarified.

Vocational and technical qualification assessments in 2021

News story 07 September 2020

Ofqual confirms decisions following consultation on arrangements for vocational and technical qualification assessments in 2021.

Actions for schools during the coronavirus outbreak

Guidance updated 07 September 2020

This guidance has been updated with what to do if a child or student is displaying symptoms of Coronavirus.

Guidance for schools: coronavirus (COVID-19)

Guidance updated 07 September 2020

Added 'Responsibility for autumn exams'. This includes information about the DfE exams support service about paying for exam fees, booking alternative sites and booking exam invigilation.

Guidance for full opening: special schools and other specialist settings

Guidance updated 08 September 2020

Updated guidance to reflect the actions special schools and other specialist settings need to support full opening from the start of the autumn term. The main changes are listed at the start of the document.

Ofsted support for area SEND arrangements this autumn term

Press release 09 September 2020

From October, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) will be visiting local areas to find out about their arrangements for children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND).

Educational psychologists: support for coronavirus (COVID-19) recovery

Published 09 September 2020

The Department for Education wants to build temporary educational psychologist (EP) capacity to support children and young people in England when schools, colleges and other educational settings return in September 2020.

Opportunities for EPs will last up to 13 weeks. The closing date for EPs to express their interest with local authorities (LAs) is 30 November 2020.

This opportunity is open to:

·         former EPs who may be interested in temporarily returning to the profession

·         practising EPs who may have additional capacity to offer support for a limited period.

Public Health England launches new Every Mind Matters campaign

News story 09 September 2020

With children and young people now back at school or college, the new Public Health England (PHE) Better Health - Every Mind Matters campaign  provides NHS-endorsed tips and advice to help children and young people's mental wellbeing, and equip parents and carers with the knowledge to support them.

Next Bulletin: 17 September 2020

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