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Education Bulletin - 6 May 2021

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Updated 6 May 2021

Important contact details

From Ming Zhang
Service Director of Education, Participation and Skills

Dear colleagues,

As we continue our journey to new normal, improving school attendance has again become one of the focus points of the Department for Education. This week, I would like to highlight the latest attendance guidance update and attendance levels among Plymouth schools.

School Attendance: Guidance for Schools Updates

The DfE's latest updates cover registers and attendance codes (including circumstances due to coronavirus (COVID-19)), school hours and term dates, and improving school attendance. 'Securing full attendance: support for schools and local authorities' provides further advice for supporting attendance for children with a social worker and section on actions local authorities might want to take to support attendance.

Nationally, it remains a requirement of the DfE that schools continue to submit daily attendance reports. My conversation with the Department this week indicates that this arrangement of daily reporting will continue until at least September. While the overall attendance level is important, there is also a particular focus on vulnerable learners, which is an important aspect of the daily attendance report. Please continue to submit the daily report until there is a change to this requirement.  

Locally, since Easter schools in Plymouth continue to enjoy an attendance rate that is better than the national average. The city's attendance level of 98% is significantly better than the national average of 94% (applying DfE attendance calculation method). The latest school daily reporting shows that maintained schools' attendance rate is 96%, while Academy schools 92%.

In terms of vulnerable cohorts, the attendance rates of Plymouth children who are known to Social Workers, have an EHCP, are entitled to FSM or are in care are better than the national averages.

Total attendance


PLYMOUTH % ATTENDANCE(using school submitted NOR and Jan NOR when no response)




DfE return total with EHCPs


Non responder total with EHCPs


EHCP total






Total with social worker






Total of children eligible for FSM


PLYMOUTH % of those in attendance eligible for FSM


NATIONAL % of those in attendance eligible for FSM


Total attendance in PLYMOUTH Maintained


PLYMOUTH % attendance in maintained schools


Total attendance in PLYMOUTH Academy


PLYMOUTH % attendance in academy schools



DfE Trust and School Improvement Offer 2021/22

The DfE offer support to schools and MATs with schools within them that enter the 2021/22 academic year with a 'Requires Improvement' judgement and with a previous judgement below 'Good', or that receive a 'Requires Improvement' judgement during the 2021/22 academic year (regardless of previous grade). The ratings for both current and previous Ofsted inspections are based on the Ofsted management information which is published monthly.

Schools that the DfE expect to meet the eligibility criteria in September will be matched to system leaders by the end of the summer term and support activities will begin from September 2021. The DfE will contact eligible schools and MATs operating in Plymouth from Monday 10 May, to explain the offer to them and confirm whether they wish to proceed to be matched with a system leader. Currently there are 8 schools and MATs in the city area that are eligible for this support.

Finally, a further reminder in today's Bulletin below, for secondary schools to share details of plans to provide summer schools. Many thanks to those secondary schools who have already sent in their details, please can I ask those yet to do this to see the questions and details on how to reply below in the section on Education Information.

Kind regards.



COVID information

COVID-19 Testing

As Lateral Flow Testing continues in schools and homes, could we remind you to request all staff, students and parents report any positive results to the school, with self-isolation taking place until a confirmatory PCR test result is received. If a group of students and staff are required to self-isolate while this is taking place, please continue to report this to us through the normal Children's Services Inbox so that it can be monitored in the daily public health / education meeting. If the PCR comes back negative, we also need to know this, to remove your school from the open case spreadsheet.

Any positive PCR tests should also be shared with us as before, along with the date of the positive test, the number of students / staff self-isolating and any other contextual information that you have available.

COVID19 Important Testing Reminder

Please remember that if an individual (child or adult) has any of the COVID19 symptoms a PCR test should be booked straight away. Use this link to book: They should not take a Lateral Flow Device (LFD) test if they are symptomatic even if LFD testing is part of their routine. LFD tests are for people who are asymptomatic - i.e. not showing any symptoms. If they are not sure whether they have one or more of the symptoms then book a PCR test.

Please note that this applies to anyone in their household as well.

For further information on testing go to:


Education information

Secondary School Summer Schools - DfE request for information

In last week's Bulletin we requested that secondary schools share with us details of their plans for summer schools - many thanks to those who have replied, the Local Authority has a duty to share this information with the DfE and value your responses. Please can any secondary schools yet to reply please share the following information with us by Friday 7 May:

  1. Is your school planning to offer summer schools over the school holiday; if so what summer schools will you offer?
  2. If your school is not planning on running a summer school, what are the main reasons for this?
  3. What support can DfE or the Local Authority provide to support interested schools/academies in making this type of offer?

Please email your response to:

Details of funding arrangements and school's individual funding allocation has now been published. Further information is available in the DfE guidance on summer schools and any questions should be directed to

Early Career Framework - changes to NQT induction

The Local Authority act as Appropriate Body, overseeing and supporting the new teacher induction process for many schools in the city. To support schools in preparing for the September introduction of the new two year Early Career Framework for new teachers we provided the first of two online briefing sessions via Microsoft Teams for school leaders and/or NQT mentors earlier this week. This was evaluated as being extremely helpful. For any who missed the first session, we encourage all schools to attend the repeat session, being held at 4.00 - 5.30 pm on Wednesday 12 May.

These briefings are the first in a series of regular CPD sessions supporting schools step by step in preparing for roll out of the new ECF which will be provided online over the summer term. There is no need to book in advance, please use the link below to attend:

Click here to join the meeting

Retirement of Kevin Duggan

Many of you will be aware that, after thirty-four years of service in education, our greatly respected colleague Kevin Duggan, is forced to end his career as headteacher of Victoria Road Primary School, due to ill health. 

We know that Kevin will be greatly missed by many, and the Local Authority wish to join with children, parents, staff and colleagues in Horizon MAT in celebrating the positive contribution he has made to education in the city. Kevin took up leadership of Victoria Road Primary seventeen years ago, and as well as his commitment to the school community, he has played an active role in supporting initiatives such as CaterEd, Placements Panel, PAPH and the Marine Academy Academic Council.

All who have worked with Kevin will no doubt miss his positive attitude, kindness and warmth. We wish him renewed good health and happy times ahead with his family, and thank him for his enduring commitment, and the difference he has made to the lives of so many Plymouth children during his teaching career.


Supporting children and families in education

Free virtual Speech & Language training

The CYP Speech and Language Service would like to update you on our free virtual training offer to settings.  Please see the attachment for further information on a range of packages to help you develop your awareness of speech, language and communication needs and supporting strategies.  We offer training to whole settings as well as a new rolling programme for individual bookings.      

SGO reminder

Any time a child/young person has an SGO granted through court to please email to inform the SGO admin who need to record this data for reporting purposes.

They will need:

  • Child/Young Person's Name
  • P number of the child/young person
  • If any siblings were granted at the same time with the young person 9please include their names/ P numbers or both if readily available)
  • Date SGO was formally granted by court
  • Who the SGO was granted to (E.g. John Smith and Jane Smith - Paternal Aunt & Uncle)

Young Carers

Please see the attached flier offering support for young carers preparing to leave secondary school.

Free summer placements with Small Piece trust for students

Free sponsored places available for non-selective state school students, on our online summer engineering course programme. John Coates Charitable Trust, are funding 10 places (usually £200 each) for students to attend any of our 15 summer courses for students living in Devon.

Courses range from Year 8 to Year 12 and cover a wide range of exciting subjects, such as:

  • Aviation Technology - students learn about a range of aviation topics from aerodynamics and control systems to crew resource management and flight training. 
  • Built Environment-where students will understand how the built environment can be the solution to many of the challenges a changing climate presents us with.
  • Girls into Physics - giving students the opportunity to hear from researchers leading the way and learn about the latest discoveries in the field. 

To be eligible for a sponsored place, students need to be living in Devon and attending a non-selective state school. Students who are interested in redeeming a sponsored place should use one of the following claim codes when registering for their chosen course on our website:JCCTM2021 for boys / JCCTF2021 for girls

Applications are reviewed and places are allocated on a first come, first served basis. Interested students are advised to apply early to avoid disappointment. Please feel free to share this opportunity with any contacts who you feel may be interested. More information on all our sponsored places can be found here.


Government updates

New law to make school uniform costs affordable for all

A new law will require schools to follow Government statutory guidance on school uniform costs. The Act, which received Royal Assent on 29 April 2021, will require schools to follow new statutory guidance on uniform costs, instructing them to keep prices down.

COVID-19 in schools: study shows drop in infections

Round 4 of the Schools Infection Survey (SIS) shows a significant drop in the number of secondary school pupils and staff testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).

Vocational and technical qualifications contingency regulatory framework

Part of a suite of documents setting out our regulatory requirements for awarding organisations offering vocational and technical qualifications affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Vocational and technical qualifications contingency regulatory framework, COVID-19 guidance, and conditions and requirements documents updated to reflect amended VCR8 text.

Ofqual confirms autumn assessment arrangements

Ofqual has published its decisions following a consultation on GCSE, AS and A level exams in the autumn. Ofqual has decided that:

  • exam boards will have to offer exams in all GCSE and A level subjects and AS exams in biology, chemistry, further maths, maths and physics; exam boards will be able to offer AS exams in other subjects if they wish
  • exams will be in their normal format, with no adaptations made
  • grades will be determined by a student's performance in an exam for all subjects, except for art and design qualifications
  • AS and A level exams will be held in October, while GCSE exams will take place in November and December
  • Students who receive a teacher assessed grade this summer will be eligible to take GCSE, AS or A level exams in the same subject in autumn 2021.

Providing school meals during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

Guidance for schools and local authorities on school meals arrangements during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. 'Providing school meals during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak' guidance updated to include information on the claims window for additional costs.

School attendance: guidance for schools

Covers registers and attendance codes (including circumstances due to coronavirus (COVID-19)), school hours and term dates, and improving school attendance. 'Securing full attendance: support for schools and local authorities' - updated advice for supporting attendance for children with a social worker and section on actions local authorities might want to take to support attendance.

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