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Education Bulletin - 8 October 2020

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Updated 8 October 2020

Important contact details

Children's Service general queries

General Covid-19 queries to the Local Authority


Message from Judith

Dear colleagues

 This week has seen more schools managing the impact of positive testing - of staff and pupils. Please let us know if we can support you beyond the assistance we currently give. I am interested to know from your perspective and experience if there's any way of making the process more manageable or what pitfalls you'd advise other schools (and us) to avoid if possible.

A short Foreword from me today: I was hoping we'd see the full Ofqual announcement on 2021 but understand that this is still being considered following proposals from TUs and other advisory bodies. You will have seen that Ofsted published their initial report following pilot visits in September; it is interesting reading. If you do receive notification of a visit please note it will be described as an inspection. This took me aback a little but it's something technical and not to say that Ofsted have started inspecting again (yet).

We understand there will be changes to the Portal next week and additional questions have been added. These are hopefully going to be straightforward and relate to the number of positive cases in schools. The DfE are now requesting that nursery numbers are not to be included in the number on roll that you submit. For further information and the updated list of questions and answers, please see the following link:  (The Annex at the end of the page details the questions to be asked).

Please look at guidance carefully relating to laptops and digital devices: LAs are challenging the decision that schools can only access laptop allocation if you have 15+ pupils self-isolating due to a confirmed case, but not if a test result is awaited. If self-isolating is below 15, or cases are not confirmed, schools are being told by DfE to manage within existing resources. Also please remember that Wave 2 funding can be claimed now for the summer period (up to end of term July 2020): there is still no funding available for September onwards costs. We continue to debate on your behalf how this can be managed by schools. Whilst I'm talking about challenge, LAs have also raised again the HSE calls/visits some of you have had. The RSC is also picking this up as we believe this is an unnecessary pressure on many schools who are contacted.

Finally, across the country the DfE are hearing of schools deciding to close for 2 weeks at October half term. A small number of Plymouth schools do close for 2 weeks having consulted appropriately on this in previous years. Please discuss with us or the DfE if you are considering this course of action as an emergency measure. It will need to be noted and managed due to the impact on families and critical services. I would go so far as to say I want to discourage this, if it is not part of an existing, agreed calendar, but I realise there may always be exceptions - so please talk to us if you have a reason to pursue that approach.

I am putting network meetings in the diary so I hope to speak to most of you soon - virtually.

Best wishes


Covid 19 Appendix to Safeguarding Policy Example

In response to schools' requests for advice regarding Covid 19 adjustments to Safeguarding and Child Protection Policies, an example appendix is attached to this bulletin, for your information.

Head teacher Teams meeting

The weekly Head teacher Teams meeting is an opportunity to discuss matters arising with colleagues or to address specific themes.  This week's meeting proved very informative as Heidi Price shared details of the recent Ofsted visit to Yealmpstone Farm Primary School - Heidi's notes which capture the essence of the visit and all key questions asked are attached to this bulletin.

The next meeting is scheduled for Monday 12 October at 1pmand we encourage as many headteachers as possible to participate as this is a good way of sharing valuable information and experiences. If you wish to join the meeting or have an item for the agenda please contact  Sessions will be recorded and a link will be made available on the 'Essential information for schools' web page

Agenda 12.10.20:  Feedback from HSE visit - Annmarie Allchurch (St Andrew's C of E Primary School)

Newly identified need - digital disadvantage

During this week's Head teacher Teams meeting we discussed a newly emerging area of disadvantage, namely digital disadvantage. We know that during previous school or bubble closures, when learning has moved online, many families have accessed virtual learning using smart phones in homes with poor Wi-Fi and no laptops or computers, this was also the case over the summer holidays when the Ethnic Minority Achievement Team provided online lessons for ASR children.

As future closures are likely over the coming months, schools are strongly encouraged to engage as fully as possible with the DfE offer of free laptops and broadband access via the link below:  

Get laptops and tablets for children who cannot attend school due to coronavirus (COVID-19)

This information sets out clearly several ways in which schools can access digital devices for children who are learning remotely. Updated to include further information on device allocation, when to order devices and help on ordering. Further updated guidance about 'Device ownership and responsibilities' can be found here: Laptops, tablets and 4G wireless routers provided during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Ofsted findings from the pilot series

As noted above, we are beginning to see Ofsted carrying out a series of 'interim visits' to schools this term. Before beginning these visits, Ofsted piloted their approach nationally with 121 pilot visits made between 14 and 18 September, with schools that volunteered to take part in the pilot visits (so not necessarily a representative group). The first briefing note is shared via the link below and Ofsted will publish more information showing how schools have responded to the Covid 19 pandemic through the term.

DfE updates on assessing learning in the EYFS

The DfE has published a new version of Development Matters, non-statutory curriculum guidance to support delivery of the revised EYFS statutory framework.

The new Development Matters has been developed in consultation with a range of professionals across the Early Years sector. It offers a top-level view of how children develop and learn, and guides, but does not replace, professional judgement.

The guidance, which sets out pathways of children's development in broad ages and stages, recognises that children's learning is not always neat and orderly, and encourages practitioners to use their knowledge of children's needs to facilitate holistic learning without generating unnecessary paperwork. This is in line with the main aims of the reforms to the EYFS - to improve outcomes for all children, especially disadvantaged children, and to reduce teacher and practitioner workload.

The guidance has been written for all early years practitioners: childminders, nursery schools, pre-schools, and nursery and reception classes in school.

The guidance can be used by schools participating in the EYFS reforms early adopter year to support changing their curriculum and practice as they deliver the new framework this year. Those who are not early adopters may find some elements of the new Development Matters useful in 2020/21 but they will still need to follow the existing EYFS framework until statutory roll out of the reforms in September 2021.

We recommend to those interested the latest New Development Matters vodcast, which answers a range of questions and includes practitioners in schools and children's centres, talking about their experience of using the new model.

Educational visits

We have had a number of enquiries about trips and visits into the Children's Services inbox.  Advice about trips is available in the national guidance:

In the autumn term, schools can resume non-overnight domestic educational visits. These trips should include any trips for pupils with SEND connected with their preparation for adulthood (for example, workplace visits or travel training). This should be done in line with protective measures, such as keeping children within their consistent group, and the COVID-secure measures in place at the destination. Schools should also make use of outdoor spaces in the local area to support the delivery of the curriculum. As normal, schools should undertake full and thorough risk assessments in relation to all educational visits to ensure they can be done safely. As part of this risk assessment, schools will need to consider what control measures need to be used and ensure they are aware of wider advice on visiting indoor and outdoor venues. Schools should consult thehealth and safety guidance on educational visitswhen considering visits.

All trips and visits are different, schools are advised to take the dynamic nature of risk assessment into account as part of the planning process.  We are happy to respond to specific queries as they occur.

Government updates

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 section on remote education expectations and support.

An explanation of the Coronavirus Act 2020 Provision of Remote Education (England) Temporary Continuity Direction ensuring schools have a duty to provide education to children at home. This will provide assurances to both pupils and parents that if pupils have to self-isolate their education will not be disrupted.

HMCI commentary: findings from visits in September

Amanda Spielman discusses what she found in the first visits to education and children's social care providers during September. Hearing directly from the leaders of these institutions, to help others understand what's being done in sometimes extraordinary circumstances - whether that's parents, other professionals working in these fields, or the government. HMCI have published the first of 3 sets of reports on what we are learning from our visits, focusing on schools and children's homes.


Counter Terrorism Policing (CTP) have collaborated with specialists from the PSHE Association and Girlguiding to take terrorism safety advice into the UK's classrooms and youth organisations for the first time. Security experts from CTP have commissioned the creation of an animated core film designed to teach young people how to react if caught up in an a gun or knife terror attack. The film, aimed at 11 to 16 year olds, will also show them what to do if they see suspicious behaviour or a suspicious item.

Versions of the new film for Key Stage 3 and 4 pupils, (ages 11-14 and 15-16), will be the cornerstone of teaching material, specially-designed by the PSHE Association and available to Schools and Youth organisations from today.

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. Latest data added 'Attendance in education and early years settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak: 23 March to 1 October 2020'.

Youth charity the Youth Endowment fund has launched a 10-year strategy through which it will invest £200m to find the most effective ways to prevent children and young people from becoming involved in violence, identifying three key issues in this area:

  1. Early intervention
  2. Access to youth services
  3. Integration between education, the youth sector and children's social care.

 Next Bulletin: 15 October 2020

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