COVID-19 Schools' Bulletin - 4 November 2021
Updated 4 November 2021
Important contact details
From Ming Zhang
Service Director of Education, Participation and Skills
I hope you all managed to have some rest during the half-term.
The half-term clearly was not a circuit breaker as we had wished it to be and we are still facing the challenge of staff illness and a shortage of supply teachers. All these concerns have once again been reported to the DfE yesterday together with the suggestions from some schools that Ofsted still need to have a caring approach when they carry out full inspections of schools. I have been reassured that the feedback will be looked into by the DfE and Ofsted and the experience of the schools being recently inspected indicated that Ofsted are taking into account Covid impacts. In the meantime, the City Council and its partners have worked to identify any support that can be locally provided. Part of the support includes the training opportunities for schools to strengthen resilience and confidence in these difficult times. I would like to highlight a few new support and advice that are now available to schools.
Plymouth has a commitment to trauma-informed practice, co-designed with the schools and supported by the well-established Plymouth Trauma-informed Network. As part of this ongoing commitment, the City Council have facilitated the trauma-informed training provided by Trauma-Informed Schools UK. The course costs will be met by funds assigned by School Forum. Details of the training courses are included on today's bulletin.
I do hope that every school and Trust will make use of this fantastic offer.
Training Opportunity for Strategic Leadership of SEND in Schools
Plymouth Council and Whole School SEND (WSS) are organising two sessions for Headteachers, Governors and school leadership teams on the essential information and actions in leading and governing SEND across a school.
The training will be led by Malcom Reeve, National Leader at WSS, a National Leader in Education (NLE) and author of the SEND Review Framework for multi-academy trusts and schools, together with Erica Wolstenholme, a SEND consultant and National Coordinator at WSS. The training courses Every Leader a Leader of SEND and Every Governor a Governor of SEND have been delivered in many areas across England and together with their associated practical tools are influencing both practice and the leadership, management and governance of SEND in schools and academies.
Facing the enormous challenge of rebuilding confidence of staff and parents in managing SEND in schools, this will be an excellent opportunity, which schools should make use of. The training is centrally funded and it is free of charge for schools. The details of this free training opportunity are provided in the bulletin today.
The School Forum
The Schools Forum Budget Monitoring Group is recommending that we carry out a review of High Needs Top Up Funding this year, to see whether funding can be allocated in better ways to support high needs pupils and their schools. In order to make this a process of co-designing with schools. The first step is to hold a workshop which will enable schools and other stakeholders to bring views and ideas on how the funding system could be improved. The next stage of the work plan will be split into two task and finish groups - mainstream schools and specialist provisions (including Support Centres, Special School and Alternative Provision).
As part of the review we want to achieve a broader understanding of base funding across different types of provision and potentially instigate some lobbying where base funding levels are not considered to be sufficient. We also intend to consult with you on the ways of improving communication around how funding works in both the short term and longer term.
I would really value your input into this piece of work. The initial workshop will be held on Microsoft Teams and will be on Tuesday 23 November 10.30-12.30. The link for the meeting is Click here to join the meeting.
School Ventilation and CO2 Monitoring
In conjunction with our Facilities Management colleagues Plymouth City Council's Health, Safety and Wellbeing (HSW) team have revised the information and guidance on ventilation and thermal comfort for schools.
In today's bulletin we include a briefing paper (POD pages will be updated shortly) to assist you in determining risk levels, measurement and control. The City Council advise all controlled schools and schools where we act as competent advisers through buy back to follow. Those schools who do not use PCC HSW services should contact their competent adviser for further advice on this subject. As we approach winter, ventilation must be balanced with thermal comfort to facilitate an environment conducive for learning.
Given the high rates in the city and also amongst our under 18s please note the attached information to this bulletin (FINAL 041121 INFORMATION FOR TEACHERS AND SCHOOL & EY STAFF). This covers additional advice for testing in the context of high rates across the city and amongst our under 18 population.
PCC HROD Employee Relations team: HR Statutory Responsibilities to schools
As a reminder for headteachers of community schools, community special schools, voluntary controlled and community nurseries, where PCC is the end employer, the document outlines the statutory service provided by the current Employee Relations team, the last revised version was sent to you in December 2020 (version 5). However, this will be sent out again via email to headteachers of the schools, as above. This document also outlines the Local Authority expectations of the above schools/nurseries and your external school HR Providers.
The team email address is provided in the document and you all have Sue Bainbridge's (the schools HR specialist in the team) email address and will have this again when the document is resent on Monday 8 November. Any questions, please do not hesitate to contact either Sue or the team.
Stop and Think
The Education Endowment Foundation are inviting primary schools to take part in a study testing a new maths and science programme called Stop and Think, a software programme developed by neuroscientists at Birkbeck University which uses quizzes and games to help pupils learn counterintuitive concepts in science and maths. In a previous study, pupils who used the programme had higher attainment in science (+2 months progress) and in maths (+ 1 month progress).
Training Sessions re Lead and Govern SEND in Schools
Plymouth Council, the Plymouth Place Based Improvement Project and Whole School SEND are organising two sessions for Headteachers, Governors and school leadership teams on the essential information and actions required to lead and govern SEND across a school.
The training will be led by Malcom Reeve, National Leader at Whole School SEND, a National Leader in Education (NLE) and author of the SEND Review Framework for multi-academy trusts and Erica Wolstenholme, National Coordinator at Whole School SEND and SEND consultant.
Every Leader a Leader of SEND and Every Governor a Governor of SEND have been delivered in many areas across England and together with their associated practical tools are influencing both practice and the leadership, management and governance of SEND in schools and academies. This is a fully funded, bespoke offer for all Plymouth Schools.
Every Leader a Leader of SEND
22nd November 4.00-5.30pm. Book your place here (places limited to 2 Senior Leaders per school, in all Plymouth primary, secondary and AP settings): https://www.plymouthstrategy.org/provider/whole-school-send/every-leader-a-leader-of-send
What it means for every school leader to be a leader of SEND and how leadership of SEND starts at the top of the organisation. A focus on the 6 principles/pillars of SEND leadership in mainstream schools:
- SEND Code of Practice
- SEND Identification and having the strategic overview
- SEND Review Framework
- SEND in a Nutshell
- SEND Development Planning
- SEND and Ofsted
Every Governor a Governor of SEND
7th December 6.00-8.00pm. Book your place here (for SEND/Inclusion Governors/Trustees and Chairs of Governors/Trustees across Plymouth schools - primary, secondary and AP - but please book early): https://www.plymouthstrategy.org/provider/whole-school-send/every-governor-a-governor-of-send
What it means to be a governor/trustee of SEND, SEND and the law, how responsibilities for SEND lie with all governors and not just the designated SEND governor. It is designed to deepen governor's understanding of:
- The SEND Code of Practice
- The Equality Act and SEND
- The WSS Governance SEND Review Guide
- A one-page report providing and overview of SEND for Governors
- Implications of the Ofsted Framework for Governance of SEND
Budget Monitoring Group Work plan
The Schools Forum Budget Modelling Group is recommending that we use this year to carry out a review of High Needs Top Up Funding, to see whether funding can be allocated in better ways to support high needs pupils and their schools. The first step in this process will be a workshop which will enable schools to express views and ideas on how the funding system could be improved.
The next stage of the work plan will be split into two task and finish groups - Mainstream and Specialist (including Support Centres, Special School and Alternative Provision).
We also intend to focus on improving communication around how funding works in both the short term, on the current system, and longer term if any changes are made.
As part of the review we also want to achieve a broader understanding of base funding across different types of provision and potentially instigate some lobbying where base funding levels are not considered to be sufficient.
In all these areas, we would value your input. The initial workshop will be held on Microsoft Teams and will be on Tuesday 23 November 10.30-12.30. The link for the meeting is: Click here to join the meeting
Please email email@example.com to confirm if you will be attending.
Health, wellbeing and safety in education
Care leavers and disadvantaged pupils to benefit from £126 million investment in new laptops and tablets
Care leavers, children with a social worker and children arriving from Afghanistan will receive devices to enable them to access education and support - for full details please see: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/care-leavers-and-disadvantaged-pupils-to-benefit-from-126-million-investment-in-new-laptops-and-tablets
TISUK Practitioner Training - suitable for teachers and TAs
TISUK is delighted to be working with education leaders in Plymouth to offer Senior Lead and Practitioner level training to settings across the city. Please see the attached flyer for links to book onto training.
The Practitioner training is a Level 5 Diploma which provides practitioners with key insights into the psychology and neuroscience of trauma, mental ill-health and challenging behaviour alongside vital tools and techniques responding to a child's narrative of painful life events. Practitioners will also be trained in ways to increase protective factors and 'safety cues' in the school culture to prevent adverse childhood experiences from becoming long term mental, physical and societal health problems. The course will support targeted intervention with individual children but also focus on changing whole school cultures to be mentally healthy for all. The curriculum covers interventions designed specifically to address teacher stress, teacher absence and poor staff retention. Practitioners will also be equipped to support, communicate learning and develop and challenge the practice of other staff within the organisation, providing a forum for safe, reflective dialogue for staff.
Training will take place during spring and summer terms 2022 and will be a combination of online and face to face training. Please register your interest to attend this training by 15 October 2021 by following the below link. Places will be limited to one person per school and will be allocated once the registration of interest has taken place.
Annual Young Carers Survey
The annual young carers survey will help us to identify and understand the needs of the young carers in Plymouth. All education settings should complete this survey to give the system a better understanding of the number and characteristics of young carers in Plymouth.
Please complete one survey per education setting.
The survey closing date has been extended to 21 November 2021.
Changes to the process for requesting Time4U support
If you would like to request support from Time4U then please email an EHAT to the above Time4U mailbox with "Time4U Request for Support" in the subject field. This request will be discussed at the fortnightly Time4U Panel and outcome will be fed back to you within 5 working days of the Panel. Please note that these requests no longer go through the Gateway.
Annual Emotional Health and Wellbeing (EHWB) in Schools Survey
We would like to gain your views on the commissioned Emotional Health and Wellbeing Services delivered in your schools over the previous academic year 2020-2021. This annual survey is to be completed by secondary schools, special schools and alternative provision.
Please see the link to the online EHWB in Schools Survey below:
The survey closing date has been extended to 21 November 2021.
New Partnership Manager for the PSCP
I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself as the new Partnership Manager of the Plymouth Safeguarding Children Partnership (PSCP). I started towards the end of September and have had the opportunity to meet only a few of you so far.
I know that an immediate issue is for us to review how education partners, in particular schools and colleges, are integrated fully into the Partnership and that communication / feedback is prompt, meaningful and a two-way process. A starting point is to make use of this briefing and utilise it for regular updates from the Partnership. We're also looking at how we can improve our website to make that easier for you to use.
Alongside this we've heard your feedback about our training provision and are looking at how we can increase capacity to ensure more of your staff can access the right training, at the right time.
I've been so impressed by the commitment of all agencies in Plymouth to work together and improve the lives of children in our city. I know that education colleagues are often those having the most professional contact with children and often those who know our children and their needs best. You have a vital role to play in our safeguarding agenda and are a crucial part of the Partnership.
There is a lot of work to do and I am looking forward to working with you all in the coming months to ensure children and families across Plymouth get the very best from all of us.
Plymouth Safeguarding Children Partnership
NSPCC Pilot Service for Secondary Schools
NSPCC are pleased to launch a pilot service offering free learning modules, lesson plans and support for secondary schools across all four nations of the UK and Channel Islands that will help them to create an education environment that fosters healthy relationships and keeps young people safe.
Over the last year, young people have shone a light on the scale and nature of sexual abuse in schools. In the troubling testimonies shared on the website, Everyone's Invited, and in calls to our Report abuse in education helpline, young people have told us how normalised harmful sexual behaviours is, and how more could be done to recognise and respond to incidents and make schools safer spaces for pupils.
However, we know that tackling this can be challenging for schools, and not everyone feels confident teaching young people about sex and relationships, and about speaking to a trusted adult. But with the right training, resources and support, teachers and leaders in schools can feel more confident tackling these sensitive issues.
To support schools, the NSPCC is launching a pilot service. Schools that join our pilot from February 2022 will be the first to gain access to learning modules, lesson plans and support, that will help teachers feel more confident teaching about sex and relationships. The service has been designed by education experts and is aligned to curriculum guidance across all nations of the UK and Channel Islands.
In each school we work with, we're looking for four to six teachers who are responsible for teaching about sex and relationships to take part in the pilot.
Please find expression of interest pack attached to this email.
The deadline for expressing interest in joining our pilot is 19 November 2021.
What schools can expect:
Teaching staff participating in the pilot will be given online access to six core learning modules that will help to build their confidence in teaching about sex and relationships. Designed by education experts, each module is based around 30 minutes of core content, incorporating videos and supporting resources to help put the learning into practice in each of the pilot schools. We expect participants to start their learning in February 2022 and complete the modules by the end of the 2022 spring term.
Prior to the summer term, we will provide pilot participants with lesson plans that will build on their learning and support them to teach pupils about sex and relationships. We would like schools to deliver these lessons and provide feedback on them by the end of the 2022 summer term.
Growing the offer
Following the pilot, we plan to add more resources and opportunities for learning , informed by what pilot participants and their school community tell us they need. This will include support for schools to develop a holistic whole-school approach to teaching about sex and relationships.
Learning modules: Introduction and context
Introduction to training and setting the context for learners around the UK.
The aim of this module is to promote self-reflection—exploring how personal attitudes and beliefs could impact on how you teach about sex and relationships. Establishing and maintaining a safe and respectful learning environment
Working with young people to establish and agree boundaries for respectful engagement around sex and relationships education.
Managing a rights-based approach to classroom discussion.
Responding to young people asking for advice and support.
Preparing to teach more sensitive lessons.
To enable us to run the pilot successfully and learn about what works and what else schools need, we're asking for participating schools to commit to:
- identifying a named contact from the school
- completing a school agreement signed by the headteacher agreeing to follow guidelines for programme delivery
- assigning 4-6 teachers to complete all learning modules during the spring term (February - April 2022)
- all teachers participating completing an anonymous questionnaire before starting the training programme
- delivering a selection of lesson plans (across year groups) during the summer term (April - June 2022)
- all teachers that have participated completing an anonymous questionnaire after undertaking the training programme and after delivering the lesson plans
- undertaking a guidance call with the NSPCC during the pilot
- involvement by some schools in a focus group session to provide more detailed feedback
For Plymouth this opportunity really compliments the other activity of Together for Childhood and supports the local plan for how we respond effectively to Ofsted recommendations in its review of sexual abuse in schools and colleges. Our partnership plan currently includes the need to build confidence of the schools workforce to deliver relationship and sex education and we feel this provides a very helpful opportunity to address this need.
If a school would like to be involved, they simply need to ensure there is agreement from the leadership team before completing the attached the expression of interest form and emailing it to: firstname.lastname@example.org
DSL Professional Development Session
The next DSL Professional Development session (formerly known as the DSL Briefing) is planned for 18 November 2021. The agenda for the session is as follows:
15:30 Welcome and Education Participation and Skills updates, Ming Zhang, Service Director for Education Participation and Skills
15:45 Local Prevent updates - Andy Ferris, Detective Sergeant - Prevent
16:00 PSCP Training update - Caroline Wilson, PSCP Learning and Development
16:10 Healthy sexual behaviour training and focused education - Corinne Picton, NSPCC
16:25 Adolescent Safety Framework - Nick Cook, Barnardos
16:45 Contact network for schools - Sarah Allum, Children's Social Care
We look forward to seeing you there.