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Education Bulletin - 3 November 2020

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Updated 3 November 2020

Important contact details

Children's Service general queries

General Covid-19 queries to the Local Authority


Message from Judith

Dear colleagues

Welcome back for the remaining part of the term. Clearly the national lockdown means we will be reviewing risk assessments and following any new guidance.

We've brought the Bulletin forward this week so you can see the updated guidance collated for ease and information regarding the use of attendance codes.

We are stepping up the tracking of vulnerable pupils again in schools and Early Years settings. The number of schools with positive cases amongst staff and/or pupils has remained higher than we have previously seen, and mirrors the increased rate of infection across the whole city. We continue to monitor this alongside PH colleagues and continue to let us know of cases please and seek support where needed.

You may have seen last week that the Council offered a holiday meals programme and we made a payment to eligible families who applied. I'm awaiting the final figures as I write but around 2700 families applied. The number of families with eligible children rose as the week went on and many applications were from families who needed to register. The issue remains that some families do not know they can register, particularly because of UIFSM. Please promote registration! We will be running another scheme at Christmas (unless the government create one) and details will follow.

Take care all. I'm expecting more DfE guidance this week so we'll see how that affects our current planning.


Essential information for schools website

At this time, school leaders require easy access to concise and accurate information about their responsibilities and the actions they are required to take when managing their schools through the pandemic.  The Essential Information for Schools is updated in response to the latest advice from the Government and the Department for Education.  This is a simplified guide to the key documentation published in respect of managing COVID-19 in schools and early years settings.  The information is available from the Plymouth Online Directory (POD) and the POD is also the place to find contact details of LA officers linked to specific areas of the service:

Head teacher briefing sessions

Every Monday at 1pm, there is a Headteacher Briefing and question and answer session on Microsoft Teams. The meeting has a theme that is shared in advance and there is an opportunity to ask questions from the LA Officers and your fellow Headteachers.  Plymouth City Council members with responsibility for education also attend. When necessary, specialists are invited to share information at the meeting to ensure that Headteachers are kept up to date in these ever changing times. 

The next meeting is scheduled for Monday 9 November at 1pm.  If you wish to join the meeting or have an item for the agenda please contact by Monday 9 November at 12pm. 

Agenda:  Digital Learning - Matt Bindon (ACE) and Heidi Price (Yealmpstone Farm)

Sessions are recorded and can be found at

Children's Services Inbox

As always, the Children's Services Inbox at: is manned by officers from the Education, Participation and Skills team, and is the best way of getting a detailed response to individual situations or queries that are specific to your school.  If your queries raise a topic that will impact on other schools, we will include an anonymised question in our frequently asked questions that can be found at:

Plymouth City Council Communications plan

Our Communications Team are updating the messages in our communications plan, the aim of which is to make sure that families are supported with clear information.  Examples of messages that the Team are currently sharing via social media include:

§  These are the symptoms - don't send children to school with them

§  Only arrange a test if you or your child has symptoms

§  This is what you should do if your child is asked to self-isolate

§  Why schools are asking some children to self-isolate

§  Be careful about social distancing when dropping off and picking up children

As we are approaching a further period of lockdown, we would be grateful to receive additional issues or themes from you, for inclusion in the plan.  We are conscious that the challenges faced by schools are changing and it is through your feedback that we will be able to ensure that families are supported with the right guidance and signposting.

If you are able to contribute, please contact: by Friday 6 November.


A number of schools have been asking us whether they should allow children who are classed as clinically extremely vulnerable to stay at home at the request of their parent or carer. We are also receiving questions about whether a parent who is clinically extremely vulnerable, should be granted permission to keep their child at home during the next 4 week lockdown.

At present, all children are expected to attend school. Shielding advice for all adults and children paused on 1 August 2020 however, we do anticipate new advice for both the clinically vulnerable and clinically extremely vulnerable to be made available by government early next week. We hope that this will enable us to clarify the expectations regarding school attendance for pupils who fall within one of these categories. In the meantime, schools know their pupils and families best, if a pupil is not attending school due to circumstances related to coronavirus (COVID-19), we expect schools to be able to immediately offer them access to remote education, monitor engagement and maintain regular contact.

Elective Home Education

The Department for Education has issued a helpful document - 'Elective Home Education (EHE) your duties, our expectations' setting out the requirement of school and LA's to work with families before a child is deregistered from school to be home educated. Plymouth City Council normally becomes aware of a child who is electively home educated once their name has been removed from the school roll. The Department for Education expects schools and other professionals to engage with LAs where a parent is considering withdrawing their child from school for EHE before the child's name is removed from the school roll. With this in mind, schools should keep the child on roll until Plymouth City Council has coordinated and held a meeting ahead of the child being withdrawn from school and the parent confirming in writing that they are being electively home educated instead. The link to the document can be found here

Covid-related absence of children with social workers

I hope that the weekly information that you are receiving is proving to be useful in your oversight of children with a social worker. Although I have been trying to notify CYPFS of any children that I can identify who are self-isolating within a bubble, I'm not able to do so for individuals who may be at home awaiting tests.

Many schools are already contacting social workers directly, when any student is away with a Covid related issue. It would be much appreciated if all schools could do this, so that we can be certain that all of these vulnerable children are being monitored by their respective social workers and that families can receive additional support if required. I would also request that information regarding the nature of their home learning is shared with them at the same time.

Social worker email addresses follow the usual PCC structure.

If any student with a social worker does not have access to a laptop, there are devices still available from the initial allocation in the summer.

I have been requested to ask that your risk assessments now contain details of how children with a social worker will be supported if they have to be away from school.

Within EPS we will be picking up our contact and support for wider groups of vulnerable children again and will share updated plans with you on the next bulletin.

If you experience any difficulties contacting a social worker, or there is a need for a digital device, the virtual school team are, as always, happy to help. Please don't hesitate to contact me directly at or via

PlymouthStandards Partnership Planning - primary and special schools plans

Following the successful collaborative working of partners on the Standards Partnership Plan, and in response to feedback from headteachers, the Local Authority recently facilitated working groups made up of primary and special school headteachers, focused on drafting both primary and special school partnership plans, to sit beneath the overall Plymouth Standards Plan. These plans are now drafted and we will be sharing them this Friday 6 November with MAT CEOs and headteachers of all maintained schools and academies.

Whilst each school and academy will have their own unique improvement plans in place, setting out in detail the ways in which relevant goals and the needs of each particular school community will be met in relation to national expectations, these citywide plans set out our shared priorities and the ways in which we plan to engage in the citywide agenda, working together and reaching out broadly to draw best practice into the city.

We want your responses to the plans and so over the next few weeks Jim Barnicott and Lucinda Ross will be phoning each MAT CEO and headteacher of special and primary schools, to listen to your thoughts and ideas; these will inform the development of these plans moving forward.

2020-21 Statutory Assessment

Many thanks to all those schools and academies that have responded to let us know that they wish to continue receiving statutory assessment support from Plymouth Local Authority. We are pleased that, in accordance with STA recommendations, most Plymouth Academy Trusts have chosen to work with us as their geographic authority.

Teacher training is an essential part of our assessment package and if any schools have not already done so, we encourage you to send in your single online booking form for assessment training. The form is attached to this bulletin again, and once completed should be returned via email to      

Autumn phonics check for Y2 children

Many Y2 teachers attended the phonics check briefing sessions last half term so we are confident that most schools have a good understanding of their statutory duties in relation to administering the phonics check to children in Y2 this term. Headteachers should ensure that all Y2 teachers have read and understood the STA guidance at:

The local authority will be emailing all schools and academies later this week with clear guidance on how to report phonics check results by the end of this term.   

Rockpool - a free resource for younger children

Rockpool is created by Inspector Sands in association with Trigger and is a 6 part audio drama for 4-7 year olds online. The story follows two very different creatures stranded in a lonely rock pool far from sea. It's available to for 1 month and is free to listen. 

This funny and touching series with songs for 4-7 year olds and their families/carers deals with themes of isolation, boredom, upheaval, overcoming difference and the climate crisis, The creator notes that Rockpool could not be more relevant to children's experiences in these challenging times. 

Morrison's Shopping Discounts

Morrison's supermarket will be offering discount to teachers and all other school staff from Monday 2nd November to Sunday 3 January, as a way of saying 'thank you' for getting children back to school through the pandemic and making sure key workers with children have been able to work. To access staff will need to show their school photographic ID at the checkout.

Ofsted latest update

Ofsted: coronavirus (COVID-19) rolling update

Ofsted guidance and information relating to coronavirus (COVID-19) for schools, early years, children's social care and further education and skills providers. Added new details of how we will carry out our work during the national restrictions starting on 5 November.

Government updates

Next stage of post-16 qualifications overhaul gets under way

The next step in the government's drive to boost the quality of post-16 qualifications has been announced by the Education Secretary. New measures will aim to boost the quality of, and to streamline qualifications, so that students and employers get the skills needed for the jobs of tomorrow.

Attendance in education and early years settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak: 23 March to 22 October 2020

A summary of attendance in education settings since Monday 23 March and early years settings since Thursday 16 April 2020. The data is collected from a daily education settings status form and a weekly local authority early years survey. It has been updated with the latest data.

PE and sport premium for primary schools

How much PE and sport premium funding schools receive and advice on how it should be spent. Updated sections relating to coronavirus (COVID-19), accountability and how to use funding.

What parents and carers need to know about early years providers, schools and colleges during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

Information for parents and carers about going back to schools, nurseries and colleges in the autumn term. Guidance updated to include changes to information on self-isolation and shielding, who needs to get a test for coronavirus (COVID-19), face coverings, assessment and exams.

Disapplication notice: school inspections legislation changes

Secretary of State for Education issues a seventh notice about changes to state-funded school inspections requirements during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Modification notice: school registration legislation changes

Secretary of State for Education issues a seventh notice to modify pupil registration requirements for temporary pupils during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

 Next Bulletin: 5 November 2020

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