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COVID-19 Schools' Bulletin - 9 September 2021

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Updated 9 September 2021

Important contact details

From Ming Zhang
Service Director of Education, Participation and Skills

Dear colleagues,

Following the special edition of the School Bulletin last week, I would like to start this first message in September by congratulating you for a well-managed return of your pupils and staff during the eventful days leading up to the Autumn start. My officers and the Council Lead member have all told me how impressed they were seeing pupils returning safely and happily this week with well-organised support and Covid safety measure in place.

Enhanced Response Area

Over 60 Headteachers and MAT CEOs attended Monday's extraordinary meeting to discuss the city's preparation for a safe school return while being in ESA. It was an engaging meeting with many questions and answers to address the concerns that the school community had.

While Plymouth remains an Enhanced Response Area, it requires extra Covid safety measures and robust risk assessment, hence a gentle reminder for all education settings to have looked through the documents of local advice that I sent out in last week's special edition bulletin, which I attached here too for ease of reference. Settings should have updated their contingency plan (outbreak management plan) in line with these.

We did not have time to address all the H&S Risk Assessment questions at the extraordinary meeting on Monday. However, we will hold two extra meetings to specifically address the issues in relation to H&S, Risk Assessment and CO2 monitoring.

The two extra meetings will be delivered by the Council's Health Safety and Wellbeing team which will be question and answer sessions to give head teachers the opportunity to discuss the current government exemption protocol and how this can be applied, current Covid controls and any concerns head teachers may have, Risk Assessments, and finally CO2 monitors and what advice we can currently give to our schools where we act as the competent persons, as a controlled school or buying back our HSW services

Session 1 - Tuesday 14th September 10:30 am - 12 noon Join the meeting

Session 2 - Thursday 16th September 10:30am - 12 noon Join the meeting

Any head teachers or their representatives who would like to attend either of the two sessions we plan on holding, should contact the Health, Safety and Wellbeing team at the following email address with an indication as to which session you would wish to attend.

Virtual Prevent Conference Monday 18 October 2021

This will be hosted via Microsoft Teams. Invitations will be sent out Friday 10 September by Prevent Team, but I am aware there is much interest in this and as such it may be useful to hold the date in your or your designated school safeguarding lead's calendar.

There will be an opportunity to submit questions prior to the event to maximise the opportunities to allow the speakers and other key attendees to respond to as many questions as possible. There will be representation from Prevent Leads, CT Policing, Home Office, Local Channel Chair, Local Prevent Partnership Chair, CTP South West Prevent Lead and DFE Prevent and Counter Extremism partners.

This is an awareness raising event,the recent tragedy in Keyham has highlighted the need to ensure we are attuned to the complexities around mixed, unclear or unstable ideology including Incel, where the alignment to a prescribed group is not prevalent. We are keen that partners across the city receive reassurance and the information needed to feel as a city we are able to recognise and respond to concerns.

Ofsted Review of sexual Abuse in Education

As part of the local multi-agency partnership support plan, we sent out a school audit on this matter last term. The deadline for responses was 7 September and I can confirm that so far we have received a total of 56% of replies from this survey. The vast majority of responses have confirmed that the Ofsted recommended measures have been considered by the school and the review has been shared, or shortly will later this term, with the school's governors.  All schools will be intending to review their school arrangements in light of the Ofsted review findings and the majority are willing to work in partnership to review data and information to support Plymouth Safeguarding Children Partnership's (PSCP) activity.

Thank you for those schools that have already returned the survey. While I appreciate that there are many competing priorities, I would be grateful if the schools that have not found a chance to complete and return it could do so very soon. It is an area of priority that Ofsted will examine when they visit schools.

Best wishes for the new school term.



Education updates

Early Career Teachers

Last term we provided regular updates to support schools in managing new Early Career Framework (ECF) arrangements for any new ECTs. Headteachers have a statutory duty to ensure that all ECTs have been registered with the Teacher Regulation Agency (TRA), and that a provider for ECF training and support, and an Appropriate Body are in place. Over the course of September we shall be electronically 'claiming' all ECTs registered on the TRA database, from schools that we know are using Plymouth as Appropriate Body.  If you think you may have failed to register an ECT with an AB last term, please contact for support.

Fidelity checks - Schools that are not using a funded provider-led induction programme will require an Appropriate Body to check that the induction programme they have put in place has been designed and delivered with fidelity to the ECF. For schools delivering their own induction programme, it is not necessary for them to have planned in detail the scheduling of all individual sessions across the full induction period, but as a minimum the plan should set out a fully planned sequence of content and coverage per term, demonstrating how the ECF will be covered in full over the period of induction.

Therefore, please can schools check with their ECF provider, and if a fidelity check is required by a school using Plymouth as AB, please email to arrange.

Individual teacher records and Teacher Self-Service 

For qualified teachers, DfE continue to promote the use of teacher self-service for access to individual teacher record. Teachers should use this service to update their personal details, including their email address, and download their qualified teacher status and induction certificates. Please refer your ECTs (previous NQTs) to the website.

New Plymouth Headteachers Group

Last year the Local Authority facilitated a New Plymouth Headteachers Group, offering training and support to headteachers new to the city throughout the year. The information sessions, networking and support opportunities were all extremely well evaluated by those involved and we will offer the same provision again if there are enough new headteachers/schools wishing to engage. For further details, or to express interest, please contact before Friday 17 September.

PCC SEND Service Review - Schools/Settings Views

We recently asked you to share a Survey Monkey with parents/carers in order that we could gain their views on the SEND service as part of our review. Thank you for your assistance with this. We are now looking to gain the views of schools, support centres and settings. This is 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. Schools and settings are a really important part of this and we would appreciate your views using the link below. The survey will close on Friday 17th September.

EYFS reforms information session for schools

The Early Years Improvement team had scheduled to deliver a re-run of the EYFS reforms session for schools on Thursday 9 September. However, in response to recent feedback from schools, we have decided to postpone this event and provide an updated information session with networking opportunities later in the autumn term. If you would like to see the first EYFS session for schools, held on 6 July, you can view a recording here, along with other recent events held by the Early Years Improvement team. Training and development for Childcare providers and Schools | PLYMOUTH.GOV.UK


Health, wellbeing and safety in education

Winter Readiness Packs

Please find attached to this bulletin the annual winter preparedness letters from PHE which contain links to the updated online Winter Readiness packs. The key links (in the cover letters) can also be found below:

NHS England and NHS Improvement South West » Infection Control and Winter Readiness Packs  aimed at providers.

NHS England and NHS Improvement South West » Immunisations - aimed at those delivering vaccinations.

HANDi app

Please see the attachments related to the HANDi paediatric app, a tool that has been available in Devon for a number of years, and is linked to paediatric services, pathways and advice in all four of our acute hospitals in Devon.

The app has been developed by paediatric consultants and provides access to home care plans, as well as GP and hospital clinical guidelines, for the most common childhood health care conditions.  More information about the app and how to download it is here:

The hope is that promotion of the app to parents will encourage people to access it for advice to help reduce the number of children and young people who visit their GP or A&E, but need no treatment.

School milk for children in Early Years

The School & Nursery Milk Alliance is the leading voice representing 10,500 UK schools and Early Years settings, and over 90% of school milk suppliers.

School food standards require lower fat or lactose reduced milk to be available for drinking at least once a day during nursery/school. To assist with the cost of providing milk, nurseries/ schools can take part in:

DfE have published new guidance for schools, setting out the statutory duty to provide milk for children and detailing the nursery and school milk schemes available.

The School & Nursery Milk Alliance has produced helpful guidance, detailing the school and nursery milk schemes that are available to pupils during school hours: 

Emotional Health and Wellbeing for Schools Offer Update

An update on the EHWB offer to Plymouth schools for the academic year 2021-2022 is detailed in the attached communication. An update on the Wellbeing for Education Recovery Plan for this academic year will be communicated later in September through the Schools Bulletin.

CYP Speech & Language Service

Information on the training for the Autumn regarding the CYP Speech and Language Service from Livewell Southwest is detailed in the attached communication.


Government updates

Fair school funding for all: completing our reforms to the National Funding Formula

The DfE is seeking views on:

  • the approach to completing reforms to the National Funding Formula (NFF)
  • how they most effectively transition away from local formulae to all schools' funding
  • allocations being determined directly by the NFF in the years ahead.

The Department for Education have launched a consultation 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 they 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.

Prioritising schools for the School Rebuilding Programme

The Prime Minister announced the School Rebuilding Programme (SRP) in June 2020 to carry out major rebuilding and refurbishment projects at schools and sixth form colleges in England over the next decade. The goal of the programme is to identify and carry out projects at the schools most in need of major rebuilding or refurbishment. They have already announced the first 100 schools.

Open consultation on the approach to prioritising schools for future places in the programme. The consultation closes 8 October 2021.

SMC calls for children to be put centre stage of pandemic recovery

The Social Mobility Commission calls for a shake-up of child welfare benefits and significant investment in education to put disadvantaged children and young people at centre stage of the government's recovery plan. Its State of the nation report 2021, unveils in detail the devastating impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on the UK's four nations and warns that this will be felt for decades. Attainment gaps between disadvantaged and privileged children at school are already widening and young people from poorer backgrounds have been more likely to lose paid work than better off peers.

£1 million education programme for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children announced

The programmes will focus on boosting educational attainment, tackling exclusion and drop-out rates and improving pathways to employment for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children.

Thousands more students to learn ancient and modern languages

More students across the country will have the opportunity to learn Latin through a new £4 million programme, announced by the Education Secretary. The Latin Excellence Programme will aim to level up opportunities for state secondary school pupils, as well as helping them with other subjects like English, French, Spanish and even maths. According to a British Council survey Latin is only taught at key stage 3 in 2.7% of state schools compared to 49% of independent schools.

The Government is also announcing the next phase of the £16.4m Mandarin Excellence Programme, and the fourth year of the £4.8 million modern foreign languages pilot, which supports schools to teach French, German and Spanish up to GCSE.

All schools to receive carbon dioxide monitors

Education settings will be provided with carbon dioxide monitors from September, backed by £25 million in government funding. The new monitors will enable staff to act quickly where ventilation is poor and provide reassurance that existing ventilation measures are working.

The majority of c. 300,000 monitors will become available over the autumn term, with special schools and alternative provision prioritised to receive their full allocation from September given their higher-than-average numbers of vulnerable pupils.

Tutoring revolution builds as students return to class

Huge expansion of tutoring will support up to six million pupils over the next three years. New guidance has been published to support schools to offer their own teacher-led tuition. Academic mentors are being placed in selected schools across the country to work in small groups with over 250,000 students most in need of support this year.

Recovery premium funding

New guidance on the additional funding in the 2021 to 2022 academic year to support schools with education recovery following COVID-19.

Targeted training for staff to teach early language and numeracy skills

The Government is providing funding for training to help two to four year-olds with language and mathematic skills, as part of early years recovery investment. The Early Years Professional Development Programme (PDP) is to be extended to around 50 new local authorities across England in 2021/22 and the local authorities who will benefit from the additional training support will be confirmed later in the autumn.

£50 million to deliver world-class facilities for T Level students

£50 million to be invested in colleges, schools and sixth forms delivering T levels across England from 2022. The funding is to improve and expand teaching spaces and facilities which will support up to six million pupils over the next three years. This is with the intention of transforming the provision of technical education to help fill local skills gaps and level up opportunities across the country.

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