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Education Bulletin - 4 February 2021

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Updated 4 February 2021

Important contact details

Children's Service general queries

General COVID-19 queries to the Local Authority


From Ming Zhang
Service Director of Education, Participation and Skills

Dear colleagues

The development of the past few days indicates that the Government is starting to work on the country's recovery from the pandemic. The challenge of when and how to re-open schools fully is once again becoming a national policy topic.

Feedback on national development

Prime Minister and the Education Secretary have appointed Sir Kevan Collins as Education Recovery Commissioner. Sir Kevan will lead work to ensure that children and young people can recover learning lost due to the pandemic. Education remains the top priority, with government committing £300 million to help with catch-up this year, on top of the £1 billion announced in June last year. Recognising that mental health will continue to be an area for focus, A&E doctor Alex George was yesterday appointed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson as youth mental health ambassador for the government.

In my catch up conversation with DfE yesterday, it was conveyed that the Department for Education are exploring the possibility of a fuller re-opening of schools on 8th March, subject to the Covid situations across the country. There is no planned change to school term dates or the policy of repeating school years.

South West Ofsted Leadership change

Karl Sampson will be moving on from Ofsted at the end of July/August to begin a new role in September. Caroline Dulon will be welcomed as the Assistant Regional Director. There will be two ARDs for the next six months to facilitate the handover. The key message from the Regional Ofsted Office in relation to remote inspections is that the 7 bullets on page 3 of the operational note capture what Ofsted are inspecting. Karl acknowledges that schools are going to great lengths to engage with remote learning. When inspectors talk to school leaders they will be asking if schools are doing what they need to do to provide education under the current circumstances. It is not expected that the school will be put under significant pressure if parents have expressed a disinterest in remote education, however, there should be a way to log any concern.

School-based education for vulnerable learners

While most pupils are receiving online remote learning, Government continues to emphasise the importance of face to face lessons for vulnerable learners and the children of critical workers.  We are aware of the need for our colleagues in Children's Social Care (CYPFS) to have an understanding of the attendance and engagement of children with a social worker. While, through their hard work in engaging parents, Plymouth schools have a greater percentage attending than the national average, Service Director for Social Care, Jean Kelly, is keen to increase the numbers of this vulnerable group attending school for all or part of their learning week. To avoid the time consuming recording of a daily attendance register again, we have agreed the following more straightforward approach:

Using the list of children with a social worker that was distributed to schools this week, a member of CYPFS will, at the start of next week (8.2.21), call each school to identify whether children on the list are usually accessing school-based learning, home learning or a blended approach. They will also ask whether there is a problem with non-engagement and if you would like direct contact with any of the children's social care team to discuss with them further. This process will take place on a four-weekly basis, and added to your direct engagement with families, your conversations held with EWOs and recording for children in care on the e-pep system, there should be a clear understanding of attendance and of families that may need further support to improve school engagement.

Jean is clear that should you need to contact a social worker, you should copy the team manager into your email, and expect to receive a response within a few days. If you do not receive this, she identified a clear escalation process that involves the team and service managers, leading to heads of service. To aid your knowledge of who to contact, we are attaching the latest CYPFS structure chart. Jean would expect that you receive a response and follow up to your initial contact within a week. Members of the virtual school team remain willing to support in the communication process should you wish to contact them.

Inclusion Strategy Board

Plymouth Inclusion Strategy Board has been established to act as a partnership scrutiny and consultative body to enable schools, Local Authority, RSC, other partners and commissioned services (such as TSC) to work together on strategic education inclusion priorities in Plymouth. It has representatives from schools and local education improvement collaboration groups - Primary, Secondary, Special, PLT, and Children's Social Care. It reports to Plymouth Education Board (PEB) in the same way as Plymouth Standards Partnership (PSP), forming the two pillars of Plymouth education improvement strategy. Plymouth Inclusion Strategy Board will link with other groups such as the Plymouth Standards Partnership, Schools Forum, SEND Strategic Board, Early Help and Family Hubs.

Best regards.




COVID information

Headteacher Teams meeting

The weekly Headteacher Teams meeting is an opportunity for all headteachers of primary and secondary schools and academies, to discuss matters arising with colleagues or to address specific themes.  The next meeting is scheduled for Monday 8 February 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 Microsoft Teams Meeting

Learn more about Teams | Meeting options

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


1.     Matters arising: COVID

The purpose of this item is to look at how we can schedule key issues into upcoming meetings and secure the attendance of relevant professionals from partner agencies, for example, Public Health.


Education information

NQT Mentor Online Hub

We strongly urge all schools to encourage their NQT Mentors to attend the next NQT Mentor Hub online meeting at 4pm on Monday 8 February. All NQT Mentors registered with Plymouth Local Authority are welcome to attend, and can simply book by emailing

Agenda items include:

  • Supporting NQTs through Covid restrictions;
  • Gaps in ITT knowledge and experience/the impact of Covid on graduates 2020;
  • The 2 year NQT induction.

These are important issues and we know from the number of requests for support we are receiving that it is important for all NQT mentors to be briefed on these topics.

Plymouth Oracy Project

We have had a very positive response from academies wishing to be part of the Plymouth & PTSA Oracy project 2021. We know that this project has a significant impact on raising attainment, and several schools who were involved in the first round have opted to participate again so that NQTs or new members of staff can develop skills. Any schools who would like to be included, and are not already on the list, please contact  

Plymouth Anthology 2021

Plymouth City Council and the University of Plymouth are pleased to be working together again this year to produce an Anthology of creative writing and illustration entitled Save our Seas. Focusing on the effects of single use plastic on the local environment, we know this is an issue many young people are passionate about.  The University are providing digital workshops which can be accessed in school or as part of remote learning, to encourage children to get creative. Workshops are available for children aged 5-7 or age 7+ and can be accessed via the links below:

Workshop age 5-7:

Workshop age 7+:

All Plymouth pupils under 18 can enter their original work. Further details are set out in the attached flier and schools can contact  for more information on how to enter, or to receive a download of the videos and the accompanying worksheets. The deadline for submissions is Monday 1 March, and we look forward to seeing a broad range of inspiring entries.

Mayflower 400 remote learning

The Mayflower 400 team have produced a home learning programme for primary school pupils combining history, religious studies and sporting activity while exploring the journey of the Pilgrims of 1620. Schools taking part will receive a visit from Argyle Community Trust to deliver the sports element of the programme (date agreed based on schools' return to normal opening). Schools who would like further information or to join should contact:


SEND updates

SEND Audits- A Self Evaluation Approach

Further to the information shared at the weekly Headteacher Teams meeting on Monday 1 February, there will be a session available for Primary and Secondary SENCOs on 25 February at 11am. This session will include more information about the move to a self-evaluation approach to the SEND audit for this year and how the programme will be conducted over the next 12 months. Click here to join the meeting


Keeping children safe in education

GATEWAY referrals

Just a reminder from the PSCP that we now have the one front door for referrals into the Gateway. Please can schools check internal agency records, materials, voice mails and emails to ensure that the correct information is used as follows:

Worried About a child?

Call 999 if the child is in real danger now

If you are worried about a child or young person, or think they are being abused, even if you are unsure, please contact:
Plymouth Gateway Service
Tel: 01752 668000
Select Children's Services - Option 1
You can also contact the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800

Look Closer Campaign

The Children Society are running their second #Look Closer awareness campaign commencing Monday 8 February.  Attached to this copy of the Bulletin are a number of resources schools might find useful.  

Adopt SW free on-line workshops with Dr Cassie Jackson from the Centre for FASD (Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder)

Dr Jackson is a clinical psychologist with over twelve years of post-doctoral experience working with children and families affected by neuro developmental disorders, and in particular, with children who have FASD.  She also provides professional training in supporting families affected by FASD across the UK, to schools and social care services. The Centre for FASD is a small team based in Suffolk, providing an assessment and intervention service for children and families. Dr Jackson will be delivering a workshop Teaching Children with FASD, for all those involved in education focusing on managing children with FASD in the classroom, on Monday 29 March 10.30am - 12.00pm.

This workshop will be supportive and practical, examining the profile of children with FASD in school and exploring the sorts of difficulties these children may have within the classroom and what helps.

To book a place please email Adopt South West at  Please include your name, the school you are connected with, telephone number and email address for a joining link to be sent to you.


Government updates

New Commissioner appointed to oversee education catch-up

Prime Minister and the Education Secretary appoint Sir Kevan Collins as Education Recovery Commissioner. Sir Kevan will lead work to ensure children and young people can recover learning lost due to the pandemic. Education remains the top priority, with government committing £300 million to help with catch-up this year, on top of the £1 billion announced in June last year.

Admission appeals for school places

These guides will help admission authorities advise those involved with school admission appeals to understand their roles and responsibilities. The guidance has been updated as the temporary amendments to the admission appeals regulations, which were introduced due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, have been extended until 30 September 2021.

Ofsted inspections to be done remotely

All planned inspection activity will be carried out remotely until 08 March at the earliest. However early years providers will be paused until 08 March at the earliest as it is not possible to provide the necessary level of assurance without on-site inspections. Ofsted will inspect schools rated 'inadequate' or 'requires improvement' as planned, but will also follow up on complaints raised by parents across all grades of school in order to resolve issues. However as these inspections will not involve an on-site visit, they will be unable to cover the full scope of a monitoring inspection. Ofsted will publish details of the inspection process shortly. The full release can be found here.

Laptops and tablets progress data during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

Information about how many laptops and tablets we have delivered or dispatched to local authorities and academy trusts. Added link to 'Laptops and tablets progress data as of 02 February 2021'.

Attendance in education and early years settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

Attendance in education settings since Monday 23 March and early years settings since Thursday 16 April. Added 'Attendance in education and early years settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak: 23 March 2020 to 28 January 2021'.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing in schools and colleges: grant funding

Conditions of grant funding for the national roll-out of rapid mass testing for coronavirus (COVID-19) in schools and colleges.

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 with latest changes to: system of controls, attendance, recruitment, free schools meals, estates, wraparound care, physical activity in schools, remote education, catch up, assessment and accountability, and exams.

Protective measures for holiday or after-school clubs and other out-of-school settings for children during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

Protective measures for providers of community activities, holiday or after-school clubs, tuition and other out-of-school settings offering provision to children during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Updated the home education section with further information on vulnerable children who have difficulty engaging in remote education. Also added a section on Test and Trace Support Payments.

Guidance for parents and carers of children attending out-of-school settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

Guidance for parents and carers of children attending community activities, holiday or after-school clubs, tuition and other out-of-school settings. Updated the section on choosing after-school clubs and out-of-school activities to make it clear that parents should try to limit the number of settings their children attend as far as possible.

What parents and carers need to know about early years providers, schools and colleges

Information for parents and carers about attending schools, nurseries and colleges in the spring term 2021. Updated sections on attending nursery, school and college, remote education, exams, asymptomatic testing and lateral flow tests, Ofsted inspections, entry tests for selective schools, food, and EHC plans.

Supplier relief for schools

How schools and academy trusts should support suppliers through the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This guidance covers:

  • how to determine if you are a contracting authority - and therefore whether this guidance applies to you
  • the overarching principles and guidance on how to review and respond to supplier requests for support.

This guidance is consistent with the advice previously issued to reflect Procurement Policy Note 02/20 (expired 30 June 2020) and Procurement Policy Note 04/20 (expired 31 October 2020).

Guidance for full opening: special schools and other specialist settings

What all special schools and other specialist settings will need to do during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Updated the guidance on rapid asymptomatic testing to include changes to daily contact testing advice, information on the rollout of testing to primary school staff and further guidance on the different approaches to testing.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): financial support for education, early years and children's social care

Funding and financial support available for education, childcare and children's social care organisations. Updated the guidance on supply teachers and other contingent workers in state-funded schools.

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