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Education Bulletin - 3 December 2020

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Updated 3 December 2020

Important contact details

Children's Service general queries

General Covid-19 queries to the Local Authority


Message from Ming

Dear colleagues

In the past two weeks, I have been fortunate to meet many school leaders, gaining most helpful advice and thoughts on education in Plymouth while introducing myself. Thank you for your support. I am looking forward to meeting more Headteachers in coming weeks and next term. Some of you asked for my mobile number in case you need it. It is 07931 557154.

Further to my email yesterday on the Winter Grant Scheme (WGS), I would like to give you more information about the scheme and how the food assistance during Christmas time will be delivered.

There are four schemes of assistance for our most vulnerable children and families in Plymouth that will shortly come on-line or where they already exist will be enhanced. The first part is the Winter Grant Scheme (WGS).The funding will be ring-fenced, with at least 80% earmarked to support with food and bills, and will cover the period 18/12/2020-31/03/2021. Local Authorities (LAs) will receive 50% funding at the beginning of December 2020, with a further 25% being released on receipt of Management Information (MI) returns in February 2021 and a further 25% in April 2021.

The WGS is not designed to replicate Free School Meals (FSM) in its entirety, but this is a key factor. WGS is wider than children with FSM entitlement. Not all families who qualify for FSM will need this support. However, it is proposed we use the FSM register, together with other registers, to capture and target our most vulnerable families and children. It is clear that this support will need to cover children at risk of going hungry, but also support other vulnerable groups. Our priority is that funds are delivered to the right cohorts in time for the Christmas break commencing 18 December 2020. After due consideration, Plymouth City Council would like to give eligible families a voucher to the value of £30.00, to provide support with food.

We have identified a voucher provider Blackhawk and are now seeking your support in the distribution of eVouchers to your pupil's families on the FSM register. PCC will allocate eVoucher codes to each school, based on the numbers held at the time in the FSM registers. We are then requesting that you distribute to eligible families. We feel that this is the quickest way to distribute the vouchers as your school will hold the most accurate data, including contact addresses.

You will also have information regarding families who will be in need of this food support but who may not qualify for FSM. We therefore keep a limited amount of eVoucher for exceptional assistance. If you would like to request additional vouchers for these children then please contact us as soon as possible giving us brief details of the child's circumstances so that we can consider your request.

We will be emailing the eVoucher codes to you on 10 December 2020 ready for you to distribute to your children before the Christmas break. If you have any questions please feel free to contact the Service by emailing

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you in advance for your assistance with this scheme.

Headteacher Teams meeting

The weekly Headteacher Teams meeting is an opportunity to discuss matters arising with colleagues or to address specific themes.  The next meeting is scheduled for Monday 7 December at 1pm.  Those of you who join the meeting regularly will already have the link in your diary.  If you wish to join please use the link below:

Join the Microsoft Teams Meeting

Sessions are recorded and can be found on the 'Essential information for schools' web page


  1. Themes from families (Bob Burton: PIAS)
  2. Festive performance guidance

IMPORTANT - changes to 2021 national curriculum assessments

Earlier today, Thursday 3 December, the Secretary of State for Education announced measures to support pupils taking exams and assessments in 2021.

DfE recognise the difficulties that primary schools are facing in light of the ongoing disruption caused by Covid 19. Therefore, DfE have altered the 2021 national curriculum assessments, and will focus on the most important summer assessments for schools, pupils and parents.

For 2021, DfE have removed:

  • all KS1 tests;
  • KS2 English grammar, punctuation and spelling test;
  • the requirement to make/report teacher assessment judgements for science at KS1 and KS2.

To further support schools, DfE have delayed the statutory introduction of the multiplication tables check - schools may choose to take part on an optional basis; extended the timetable variation periods for phonics and KS2, to allow schools greater flexibility if pupils cannot take the tests on the scheduled dates because of coronavirus disruption; and removed the requirement for schools to submit applications for pupils who need additional time in KS2 tests or notifications that they used an aid (such as a scribe or word processor)

The following statutory assessments will continue in 2021:

  • the phonics screening check for year 1 pupils (and year 2 pupils who have not met the expected standard previously)
  • KS2 English reading and mathematics tests
  • KS1 and KS2 teacher assessment (excluding science)

STA have emailed this update to all schools and the email also includes links to all 2021 published guidance. Changes will of course be reflected in online teacher training sessions.

Test monitoring and external moderation will remain in place to support schools in administering assessments, and as always the Local Authority are available to provide advice and support with all matters related to statutory assessment. For any questions please contact:  

Fraud alert - important for school leaders

Please see the attached warning about a particularly threatening fraud which at this time is aimed at primary school headteachers. The target for this scam could change quite quickly and it is therefore important that organisations maximise awareness.

Wraparound Childcare Pilot (WAC) - Plymouth Area

This is a new initiative being led by the Directorate Children and Young People (DCYP). DCYP is the part of the Ministry of Defence that looks after the children and young people of Service families.

DCYP, through the Childcare Support Team (CST), are putting in place a, (rolling academic year), pilot, (WAC).The Plymouth area has been chosen for the pilot which will commence in January 2021 and will run for a minimum of one academic year which will pay for the Wraparound Childcare, that eligible Service Families use.

The criteria and information for the scheme is covered below:

  • The eligibility criteria aligns to the tax free childcare eligibility so it is for working couples or single parents earning less than £100k per year.
  • The children will have to be registered on the MOD system known as JPA
  • The children must be attending school and aged between 4-11
  • The provider or school will have to be registered to take either childcare vouchers or tax free childcare payments
  • The provider will have to be Ofsted registered
  • The parents can book the place, once this is done the provider can claim back the cost
  • A maximum of 20 hours a week can be taken and paid for at a regional capped amount:
    • o   £4.28 for Childcare providers and schools
    • o   £5.38 for Childminders

If you have any further questions please contact

SEND updates

At the last SEND Strategy Steering group the resources to support Emotionally Based School Avoidance and SEMH and Wellbeing on Return to School, were discussed. The Headteacher representative on the group asked if the documents could be circulated again for information as schools and settings are continuing to experience situations where this form of work is required. These documents and other resources can be found on the Local Offer in the SENCO Guide at and on the Educational Psychology Service page at

Also attached is the Young People's Mental Health and Resource Pack complied by The Zone.

Education, Health and Care Plans/Annual Review

Many thanks to all primary schools who have sent in their Y6 annotated Education, Health and Care Plans/Annual Review paperwork, these should all be submitted before the end of the autumn term. The 0-25 SEND Team would like to thank you for spending time to review these plans and annotate them, in colour, with updated information.  The team are working on amending these plans, and drafts will be issued to yourselves and parents, as well as all those who contributed, in the New Year.

Many thanks too, to all secondary schools who have started to send in their Y11 annotated Education, Health and Care Plans, these should all be submitted before the end of January 2021.

All annotated plans (and review paper paperwork if you have chosen to complete this) should be sent to with all supporting documentation.

Government updates

Exams - News and guidance update

Student-level equalities analyses for GCSE and A level

Report into the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on awarding of GCSE and A level qualifications in 2020.

Summer 2020 outcomes did not systemically disadvantage students

GCSE, A level and VTQ students were not systemically disadvantaged on the basis of particular protected characteristics or socioeconomic status.

Contributing to a robust and fair system for 2021 examinations

The Social Mobility Commission is contributing to the planning process, led by the Department for Education and with the exam regulators Ofqual, for more than one million students in the UK who will be taking GCSEs, A levels and BTECs next summer. In view of the recognised widening achievement gap in the nation's schools, and the impact coronavirus, which has disproportionally hit pupils in areas of deprivation, the Commission has published its recommendations.

Responsibility for autumn exams

Guidance for schools and colleges on who should enter students for autumn exams, the health arrangements for exams and the support DfE is providing. Information about the support available for functional skills qualifications (FSQs) has been added.

Exams and assessments in the months ahead

How Ofqual will set standards for exams and assessments to be fair to students.

Giving students advance notice of exam topics for summer 2021 should be handled with care
Ofqual research differentiates between 'good' and 'bad' predictability in the context of 2021

Guidance to support the summer 2021 exams

What schools, colleges and students need to know about taking GCSEs, AS and A levels and other qualifications in summer 2021


Education plans from September 2020

Guidance for education providers about Ofsted's phased return to inspection. Removed information about our work during the national lockdown and added a link to our plans for January 2021.

Amanda Spielman launches Ofsted's Annual Report 2019/20

The Chief Inspector spoke at the launch of Ofsted's 2019 to 2020 Annual Report on education, children's services and skills. She has warned that the invisibility of vulnerable children as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic should be a matter of national concern.


Education and Schools New funding to support schools and colleges during Covid pandemic

The Department for Education has announced additional funding for schools and colleges to help cover the costs of high levels of staff absences, backdated to 01 November. Claims can include the cost of bringing in supply teachers, but also other options such as paying additional hours for teachers who are part time. Exceptions will apply, and further guidance will be published shortly. This new package of funding is in addition to the increase to core school funding already announced. 

Coronavirus (COVID-19): initial teacher training (ITT)

Information for providers about managing initial teacher training courses impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19). Added link to Coronavirus (COVID-19) contingency framework for education and childcare settings guidance in the 'Sufficient time in school to demonstrate the Teachers' Standards' section.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): reducing burdens on educational and care settings

A list of data collections, services or requests which will be cancelled, paused or will continue. The current status of data collections and services has been updated. Schools and local authorities should continue to check this document which will be updated as soon as further decisions are made.

Actions for schools during the coronavirus outbreak

What all schools will need to do during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak from the start of the autumn term. Updated sections on 'Assessment and accountability', 'Contingency planning for remote education' (with a link to the contingency framework) and 'Self-isolation and shielding'.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): school and college performance measures

Our approach to school and college accountability, performance tables and data during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Added 'Coronavirus (COVID-19): school and college accountability for the 2020 to 2021 academic year'.

Next Bulletin: 10 December 2020

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