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Education Bulletin - 8 July 2021

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Updated 8 July 2021

Important contact details

From Ming Zhang
Service Director of Education, Participation and Skills

Dear colleagues,

A football enthusiast or not, I believe that most of us, and our students, will have been elated to watch the outstanding performance of Gareth Southgate's squad last night, and inspired by the excellent team work on display. Wimbledon got off to an exciting start, with my eyes on Newstead Wood School student Emma Raducanu's stunning run, which although sadly ended on Court One on Monday night as the teenager was forced to withdraw from her match against Ajla Tomljanovic, is surely the start of an exciting career.

Amid the ups and downs of these major tournaments, we had the Government's announcement of Step 4 lifting of Covid restrictions. You should all have received a new school operational guidance issued by the DfE on 6 July.

Step 4 School Operation Guidance

The Secretary of State announced that, as part of Step 4, expected to take place on 19 July, 'bubbles' will end for all children under 18, social distancing will no longer be necessary, and schools will not need to stagger start and finish times, though they can continue with existing arrangements until the end of term if they wish. 

Please read the guidance in full, whilst noting the most significant changes from Stage 4 of the Roadmap (19 July) as follows:

  • At Step 4 and after the end of the summer term, it will no longer be necessary to keep children in consistent groups ('bubbles'). This means bubbles will not need to be used for any summer provision (for example, summer schools) or in schools from the autumn term. If your school is still open at Step 4, you may wish to continue with these measures until the end of your summer term.
  • Schools and settings will only need to do contact tracing up to 18 July 2021. From 19 July 2021 (Step 4), close contacts will be identified via NHS Test and Trace.
  • From 16 August 2021, children under the age of 18 years old will no longer be required to self-isolate if they are contacted by NHS Test and Trace as a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case.
  • From Step 4, face coverings will no longer be advised for pupils, students, staff and visitors either in classrooms or in communal areas. From Step 4, face coverings are also no longer recommended to be worn on dedicated transport to school or college.

After considering what schools have told us, Plymouth City Council recommend all the schools in the city that have "bubbles" arrangement in place should continue it until the end of school term.

Film: "What life is like in a service family"

The Participation Team of Plymouth City Council have been working with children and young people of service personnel and veterans to support them in making their voices heard, as the children have expressed that they do not always feel professionals understand their specific needs as children of Service families.

The young people involved developed a script based on their personal experiences, and then worked with an animator to bring their ideas to life. The end result is a film to be used to raise awareness for professionals working with children and young people, to help explain the impact and what these young people thought could be put in place to better support them. Please utilise as you feel appropriate in school meetings and training.  

To view the film click here: What life is like in a service family

COVID Local Support Grant (CLSG)

I wrote to schools yesterday advising that Plymouth is set to receive circa £872K to support children who need food and other assistance during the school summer holiday. These funds will be topped up by PCC in order that distribution is consistent with previous schemes. This will be the final extension of this scheme, which remains stated as Covid Winter Grant Scheme in 2020.

This CLSG has the same eligibility criteria, and uses the same reporting template (incorporating the Statement of Grant Usage Management Information (MI) Return), as the CLSG running from 17 April to 20 June 2021.

In order to ensure you receive your eVoucher code allocation in a timely manner, the Free School Meal register closed on Monday 5 July 2021 (you have been sent an up to date list of FSM entitled students on this date).  It is my intention to distribute eVoucher codes to you from Friday 16 July 2021.

As previously, those who you have identified as being in hardship who fall just outside the threshold for benefits and allowances may be included. For example, if a child or young person who may now be eligible for FSM due to a recent change in their family's circumstances, but has yet to be formally registered. CLSG is not an extension of FSM but it may include vulnerable households who do receive free school meals.  Refugees and asylum seekers may fall also in to this category. 

Schools should confirm the number of eVoucher codes for both their FSM students (if you disagree with the numbers on the 5 July list) and the hardship cohort to the mail box also by Thursday 8 July 2021.

Education Participation & Skills Management Team departures

I would like to let you know of the pending departure of two EP&S Heads of Service in August.

Simon Mower, Head of the Virtual School and Inclusion Service will be leaving the service at the end of August. It has been in Simon's plan for a while to leave at this time. As Simon is leaving we have used this as an opportunity to realign the team and Rebecca Pengelly will be seconded to a new position of Head Teacher - Virtual School from September.  Simon has served the city for many years, both within his role in the Local Authority, and previously as Headteacher of a successful school, impacting positively on the lives and learning of many children and families across the city.  We wish him every happiness in his retirement.

Jo Siney, Head of SEND and Children's Disabilities Team will also be leaving PCC at the end of August following her appointment to a new job in another local authority.  We are pleased to confirm that Penny Whitell will be acting up into the role of Head of SEND from September, and wish Jo great achievements in her new role.

I am sure many school leaders know both Simon and Jo well and note their commitment and success. Both Simon and Jo will be truly missed as excellent managers and amazing colleagues and we wish them every success in their new ventures.

Best regards.



Education updates

Every Child Attends a Good School

We recently revised the documentation supporting the outline of LA statutory duties, acting as champions for educational excellence for all children in the city, and the associated school review process by which the Education, Participation & Skills team risk assess all schools, in order to promote improvement and engage accountability so that every child attends a good school.

The updated documents have been shared recently with maintained school headteachers and MAT CEOs, and we have scheduled opportunities in recent and upcoming meetings with both groups, for discussion. In order to ensure that all headteachers across the city have ample opportunity to access the documents outlining this process, we attach again here: Every Child Attends a Good School; rationale and the linked risk assessment matrix.

Should you have any questions about this statutory duty, please let us know by emailing or  

REMINDER - NQT assessments deadline by16 July

The deadline for all NQT assessments due this term is Friday 16 July. Assessments should be sent via email on the PCC standard assessment forms to   no later than Friday 16 July.

REMINDER - Registering Early Career Teachers to PCC by 16 July

Any schools that have recruited Early Career Teachers (ECTs) must register them with an Appropriate Body before they take up post. Failure to do so may delay the start of the induction period. If your school is using Plymouth as the AB the deadline for registering your ECTs is Friday 16 July. To register ECTs please complete the attached ECT REG. FORM and send via email to:

PCC SEND Service Review - Parent/Carer Views

This review of the Plymouth City Council SEND Service provides an opportunity to consider what we are doing currently and what we need to do moving forward so that children, young people and families have their individual needs and desired outcomes identified and plans put in place using a joined up approach. Please share this Survey Monkey with parents/carers who are accessing our services so we can gain their views and lived experiences:

EdTech Demonstrator Programme - Free support for all schools

Devonport High School for boys are offering support to all schools in developing use of EdTech. The EdTech Demonstrator Programme was developed by the DfE to ensure schools and colleges across England could access free, expert advice on educational technology. The programme is now in its second year and has evolved from crisis response to supporting schools and colleges in developing digital strategies which make effective use of technology to enhance teaching and learning.

Click here to view the launch event video which provides further information on the importance of digital strategy in addressing the educational challenges of the next few years.  Support on offer includes a range of packages: light touch/6 hours of support, medium/12 hours of support and longer term/30 hours of support covering a range of areas such as:

  • Recovery - supporting student outcomes and helping schools deliver 'catch up'
  • Reducing teacher workload
  • Supporting your School Improvement Plans (Digital strategy)
  • Resource management
  • Developing an accessible and inclusive curriculum

For more information or to access support please click the link here or email:

Skills Launchpad Plymouth

Please see the attached flyer outlining details of the Skills Launchpad. For news and events please follow the link:


Keeping children safe in education

Education Welfare Officer - support and availability

The week beginning 19 July 2021, EWOs will be deployed to undertake and prioritise departmental work relating to safeguarding and EHE children. As a result we are afraid that Education Welfare Officer (EWO) support will not be available to schools. We ask that you take this into consideration and effectively prioritise any requests for support, bearing in mind that they will not be available during that last week of term.

CATERed summer term menu

Attached is an amended menu for the next 2 weeks - W/C Monday 12th July and W/C Monday 19th (week 3 and week 1 on the CATERed published menu). CATERed have planned centrally to revise the current published menu due to the surge of self-isolation and positive cases we are experiences across the city and in our workforce.  The reason for the change is to help limit disruption to the meals served during the lunch service over the next 2 weeks with the current situation.

This is the menu for most schools, any that have specialised menus that have their own amendments could possibly stay on the published one, but we will check with them individually.

CATERed have been in touch with Public Health to confirm the COVID-19 processes and measures we have in place to ensure that any staff that need to self-isolate will do so. All the front-line staff have done such an amazing job over the last 16+ months, and I know that all have one aim which is to ensure children are fed and please rest assured we will do whatever it takes.

Uniform Store Plymouth

The Uniform Store pop-up shop will be taking in donations from Tuesday July 13 and getting the store ready in preparation for opening the store. They will be accepting donations on Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Thursdays between 10am and 3pm at Plymouth Vineyard Church, 13 Cornwall Street (Close to M&S in the City Centre). They are looking for donations of good quality school uniforms that can be passed on to other families in need. 

They will be opening their pop up shop on Tuesday 27 July and the store opening times will be Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Thursdays from 10am to 3pm.

The Click & Collect service will be running alongside the shop opening times from July 27 so people can order online and pick it up from the store during our opening times. 


Government updates

The Department for Education have launched a consultation today seeking views on how to simplify the process of school funding, ensuring all schools are funded on a single, consistent basis.

The proposals in this consultation will help to complete the current programme of reforms to the funding system. It will also help to underpin the government's ambition for all schools to be part of a strong multi-academy trust. The consultation will look at:

  • Ensuring a smooth transition for schools as we implement reforms.
  • Supporting effective SEND provision for schools.
  • Developing the schools NFF, particularly to improve how funding is allocated to schools that face additional premises costs.

This is the first stage of the consultation on these reforms and will be open for responses until Thursday 30 September. A second stage will be published in due course.

The full release can be found here.

Actions for schools during the coronavirus outbreak

As mentioned in Ming's foreword above, here again is the link to the new operational guidance for schools which applies at Step 4.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): assessment processes for selective school admissions

Guidance on entry testing for admission to state-funded selective schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. New guidance has been published which comes into force from Step 4 of the Roadmap. Until Step 4, the current guidance (dated May 2021) remains in place. The new guidance advises that the protective measures detailed will only be required where the test venue is in an area of particular concern offered an enhanced response package to help limit COVID-19 transmission, where local authorities, directors of public health or PHE health protection teams recommend the measures are adopted as part of their outbreak management responsibilities or where a school admission authority chooses to adopt those protective measures following a risk assessment.

Proposals to drive up training standards for teachers

The Government has today launched a seven-week consultation on recommendations from a review of the Initial Teacher Training (ITT) market, led by Ian Bauckham and an expert panel. The recommendations aim to strengthen quality standards for initial teacher training courses, including a new accreditation process, new intensive school placements and high-quality mentoring for trainees.

Responsibility for exams

Guidance for schools, colleges and exam centres on who should enter students for exams, the health arrangements for exams and the support DfE is providing. The public health guidance has been updated for exams, with advice that applies from Step 4, to reflect the updated advice for schools and further education providers. This guidance removes restrictions such as keeping students in consistent groups (bubbles) and wearing face coverings in classrooms and communal areas, and on dedicated transport.

ESFA Update: 7 July 2021

Latest information and actions from the Education and Skills Funding Agency for academies, schools, colleges, local authorities and further education providers.

Sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges

Advice for schools and colleges on how to prevent and respond to reports of sexual violence and harassment between children. Added updated 'sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges' guidance following a public consultation. This document does not come into force until 1 September 2021.

Keeping children safe in education

Statutory guidance for schools and colleges on safeguarding children and safer recruitment. Added 'Keeping Children Safe in Education 2021'. This document is for information only and does not come into force until 1 September 2021.

New recovery fund to tackle harms facing vulnerable children

£24 million regional fund for children's social care, including funding to support unaccompanied minors. The new fund will support projects tackling the issues facing the most vulnerable children in society in 2021-22, including Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) abuse, care for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, preventing adolescents from being caught up in harms outside the home such as gangs and reducing the pressure on the system by reducing court backlogs or improving technology.

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