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COVID-19 Schools' Bulletin - 10 June 2021

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Updated 10 June 2021

Important contact details

From Ming Zhang
Service Director of Education, Participation and Skills

Dear colleagues,

I hope you all had some well-deserved rest during the half-term.

Continuing to visit schools and to meet with school leaders in person, I have seen and heard more and more of the excellent work that you and your staff are doing to improve pupils' outcomes and to support their well-being. While looking forward to meeting more school leaders, this week I met the City Council's new Lead Member for Education and Children's Services Cllr David Downie.

New Administration

At our meeting, Cllr Downie shared with me the new administration's commitments and ambition for the city's education. I would like to let you know that education will be a priority and the Lead Member will campaign on schools' behalf, raising issues with the Government when needed. You may already know Cllr Downie well as he has been directly involved in various work, school and youth initiatives in the community. Today, Cllr Downie wrote to school leaders introducing himself and offering his strong support. He welcomes the opportunity to visit as many local schools as possible and I include Cllr Downie's letter in today's bulletin.

21 June

Many colleagues have asked me to find out what the DfE's plan is for 21 June. I had a catch-up with the RSC yesterday and the message from the Department is that there is no change to the current guidance for schools while we are waiting for Government decisions on the planned further lifting of restrictions on 21 June. As you know, one of the options is to delay this until the beginning of the school summer holiday.

In Plymouth, we are now in a place where we have a lot of good news about the case rates across the city - our rates are low, close to the South West average and well below the average for England. It is positive that the vaccine rollout is going well with over 150,900 people across the city having had their first dose. We are now looking at the best way to encourage uptake in 18-30 year olds, as well as remind people already invited that it is not too late to book.

Looking towards 21 June, there is a great deal of uncertainty over the future. Cases are low across the city at present and we have very low numbers in hospital, but we need to be predicting what will happen to case rates in two to three weeks' time. Factors that could influence case rates include the new variant, vaccine protection against that variant, as well as the number of younger people still waiting to be eligible for a vaccine.

On the one hand cases remain low overall and the vaccine rollout is going well. We are also seeing that the vaccine is working to reduce cases amongst older and more vulnerable people, even in the areas that are currently facing higher case rates. On the other hand, caution is key as we are seeing significant outbreaks in some areas of the country, which are linked to new variants. This is making people unwell and putting pressure on hospitals.

WHO have renamed the Covid-19 variants using the Greek alphabet to avoid naming them after the country or area they were first detected, but also to make them easier to say. The Delta variant is spreading across the country. However, there is no evidence that this variant is spreading in Plymouth or surrounding areas, but we do have to expect it to arrive soon.

Our Public Health Director Dr. Ruth Harrell advises us that the next period's development will help us to see which of the many models is right, and what steps can safely be taken on 21 June. The restrictions set out in the road map are limits, not targets, and we want to encourage everyone to take the safe options - meeting outdoors, testing regularly as well as remembering 'hands, face, space.'  As always, collaboration is essential to communicate consistent, clear messages and we would value your help in this regard. From re tweeting to using our content for the messages to parents, any way in which you can 'amplify' the messages would be much appreciated. 

I have included in this bulletin a Public Health Covid-19 Update: Stakeholder Briefing (4th June 2021). If you need support or have any questions, please email us at: COVID19@plymouth.gov.uk.  Let us know what you need, and we will do our best to help.

Sexual harassment in schools - Ofsted review

The Ofsted review has been completed and found that sexual harassment, including online sexual abuse, has become 'normalised' for children and young people.

Ofsted's review makes a number of recommendations for schools, colleges and partner agencies, including:

  • School and college leaders should develop a culture where all kinds of sexual harassment are recognised and addressed, including with sanctions when appropriate.
  • The RSHE curriculum should be carefully sequenced with time allocated for topics that children and young people find difficult, such as consent and sharing explicit images.
  • Schools and colleges should provide high-quality training for teachers delivering RSHE.
  • Improved engagement between multi-agency safeguarding partners and schools.

PCiP (Plymouth Children in Poverty)

Kerry Bidewell, the Campaign Co-ordinator of PCiP attended a Headteachers' meeting yesterday and gave us a good introduction about the programme. PCiP will be an important player in our efforts to alleviate child poverty and to build family resilience across the city. Several schools have already involved PCiP in their work to support children and families and to raise parental aspiration.

As a subgroup of The Plymouth Drake Foundation, PCiP has the aim of breaking down financial and aspirational barriers faced by many Plymouth children.

PCiP are producing a series of films offering an early insight into a varied and engaging set of industries available in Plymouth.  They introduce the children to members of staff in these companies who talk about the subjects they liked at school, what hobbies they enjoyed as children, what they love about their jobs, and how they entered the company, e.g. apprenticeships or via further education, etc. All the films offer examples of local, people, who attended local schools doing what they love for a job.

PCiP are asking schools to show these films during the second half of the summer term to Year 6 pupils with the hope they will send some of the less engaged students off to start their secondary school journey with a different perspective. If you would like to be involved, please contact PCiP's Kerry Bidewell - kerry@pcip.org.uk

Kind regards.

Ming

COVID-19 updates

Please find attached a letter and Public Health's latest Covid 19 stakeholder briefing as we move towards the 21 June milestone in the roadmap.

Education updates

IMPORTANT: End of KS2 Teacher Assessment for secondary schools

As last year, this term the Local Authority will collect end of KS2 TA data for children leaving primary school in 2021 and share with receiving secondary schools - PLEASE NOTE: this is an optional service, there is no statutory duty to report end of KS2 TA to the Local Authority in 2021, and schools wishing to do so are free to share pupils' TA with secondary schools directly. The Local Authority will only act as a conduit for data, and following DfE guidance, will not use the data for analysis or store after use.

All primary schools will receive details of how to submit TA data via email on Friday 11 June.

The deadline for submission of data is Friday 25 June, and data will be shared with secondary schools on Friday 9 July.

Please can any primaries NOT planning to share data via the Local Authority email susan.london@plymouth.gov.uk to let us know this.

For any general KS2 assessment queries please email Lucinda.ross@plymouth.gov.uk 

Information for EYFS leaders in maintained schools

Plymouth Maintained Schools' Early Years (PMSEY) Forum via MS Teams on: Thursday 1 July 4pm-5.30pm Click here to join the meeting

The forum is organised by PCC Early Years Improvement team for Early Years leaders in maintained schools including Special schools and nurseries.  There is no charge.

The main topic for discussion will be:

  • What will assessment look like from September 2021? The EYFS reforms and rethinking how we track children's progress.

Also, the group will establish the terms of reference for the PMSEY Forum.

Please inform earlyyears@plymouth.gov.uk  if you are able to attend.

Early Career Framework - important information

There will be another briefing session outlining DfE guidance on preparation for the roll out of the September introduction of the Early Career Framework at 3.30 - 5.00pm on Wednesday 16 June. The session will outline clearly the new responsibilities for schools and the role of the Local Authority as Appropriate Body.

We are aware that with a number of different organisations currently offering Early Career Framework training packages there is some confusion around who to choose, what they are trading, and how the Appropriate Body will continue to oversee and support the ECF process. For any school leaders who were unable to attend previous briefings, we strongly advise that you attend the next session when we will take you through the DfE guidance outlining the choices available to schools.

Please email Lucinda.ross@plymouth.gov.uk for the link to join this meeting via Microsoft Teams.

SEND - SMAP Panel update

SMAP (Resource Panel) met on 9 June to discuss requests for specialist placements for a large number of children. As a result, the SEND Service are now working to ensure information shared with families and settings is correct and clear. Letters will be sent to parents regarding the panel decisions by Thursday 17 June. If there is a decision about a child in your school, you will receive a copy of the letter via email. The letter includes information for families regarding information, advice and support available through PIAS.

For those children offered places for September 2021, if the parent accepts the place, schools can then begin to work with the family and receiving school to organise a transition plan.  For those who are not offered a place, the letter suggests that parents contact schools to arrange a multi-disciplinary meeting to consider ways to support the child's inclusion in your setting.  LA professionals who have been working with schools, children and families will also be informed of the placement decisions, and will continue to support schools and families with this multi-disciplinary planning.

Should schools consider that further reasonable adjustments need to be made to support an individual child's inclusion, a request for additional resourcing through the submission of relevant paperwork to SMAP.  The paperwork for this is on the Plymouth Online Directory. 

If you have any queries, please contact senadmin@plymouth.gov.uk with any queries.

Supporting Children and Families in education

Summer Schools Programme Funding

The ESFA are now offering summer school funding to upper schools and new schools opening in September. Allocations for special schools and alternative provision are now made on the basis of the year 11 cohort in recognition that these settings generally have few year 7 pupils. Schools can signal interest by 28 May, or instead simply complete the confirmation form which will be made available in June. Schools with new allocations should use the June form. ESFA will work directly with schools opening in September 2021, who may be unable to access the June sign up form, to confirm their summer school programmes. Revised allocations and conditions of funding have been made available on GOV.​UK.

Plymouth Ethnic Minority Achievement Team - summer school support

During the 2020 summer break the EMA Team provided a virtual summer school for all refugee pupils within the SVPRP/VCR resettlement programmes; sessions were lively, engaging and well attended, and pupils made excellent rates of progress. This provision will be available again this year for secondary schools wishing to boost the progress of incoming Year 7 students with English as an Additional Language. To find out more about how this might fit into your summer school provision please email Lucinda.ross@plymouth.gov.uk

Uniform Store Plymouth - Click & Collect service for families

Redeemer Church are planning to open their pop-up city centre Uniform Store again during this summer's school holidays, and will be accepting donations from early July.

In the meantime, they have a Click & Collect service running out of the Church (at St Barnabas Terrace, Plymouth PL1 5NN). Families can access the service through their website - www.uniformstore@plymouth.co.uk under the 'Click & Collect' tab.

The form asks for details on what items they need and the Uniform Store will do their best to fulfil the request. At the moment they have very little in the way of logo uniform for schools, but can usually help with the basics of blouses, shirts, polo shirts, trousers, pinafores, skirts and summer dresses.  Their Facebook Page - https://www.facebook.com/PetFoodBankPlymouth - gives regular updates for people on the click and collect service and any donations needed. 

Mental health and wellbeing support in schools and colleges

Following the recent announcement for Mental Health Awareness week (Schools and colleges to benefit from boost in expert mental health support - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)) and the FAQ document, DfE has now published more information about the senior mental health leads training, which can be found here: Mental health and wellbeing support in schools and colleges - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

In response to stakeholder suggestions to bring together information about the range of support and programmes available in one place, this new page also includes information about the range of support available, and how the different policy commitments under Transforming Children and Young People's Mental Health fit together.

Within the senior mental health leads section, DfE has also published a separate page that provides more detailed information about the grant funding and training schools and colleges will be able to get to help develop a whole school or college approach to mental health and wellbeing. This page will also be updated with further resources developed by the Mental Health in Education Action Group.

Kooth Training: Year 6 Transition Mental Health & Wellbeing Support

Date: Tuesday 6 July, 4-5pm

Target audience: Year 6 staff teams

Purpose: To inform staff about the Kooth service for young people who will transition from primary to secondary school this year.

Please book your place through Eventbrite

Government updates

Huge expansion of tutoring in next step of education recovery

The Department for Education announced on 2 June, £1 billion in funding to help children and young people in England to catch up on lost learning during the pandemic. £1 billion will support tutoring courses for disadvantaged school children, as well as an expansion of the 16-19 tuition fund, targeting key subjects such as maths and English. A further £153 million will support professional development for early years practitioners, £253 million will expand existing teacher training and development, and schools or colleges will be able to offer students in year 13 the option to repeat the year if they have been badly affected by the pandemic. Schools and colleges will be funded by DfE help accommodate the additional student numbers.

New education award empowers young people to tackle plastic pollution

The Environment Agency has joined forces with national school network Partners in Excellence to launch a plastic pollution-focused award for young people. Key Stage 3 and 4 students from Partners in Excellence (PiXL) member schools can sign up for the 'Green Edge Award' programme from September and undertake one of three award levels - Apprentice, Pioneer and Graduate.

The award is centred around character development with each award level focusing on 5 attributes - leadership, organisation, resilience, initiative and communication. Students will be encouraged to demonstrate these skills through a series of activities, including plastic waste surveys, organising litter picks and setting up repair cafes.

COP26 launches environment education packs for UK schools and students

Schools across the UK are being encouraged to start a conversation on climate change with their students, ahead of the UK hosting global climate summit COP26 later this year, as the Together for Our Planet Schools Pack launches today (Thursday 10 June).

The pack, which is hosted on the COP26 website and sent to UK schools, is designed to engage students on climate action, encourage conversations about tackling climate change, and help students learn more about the COP26 summit in Glasgow this year. This will include a guide for running a green assembly, along with ideas like a 'walk to school' week and resources that have been created by the likes of WWF and TED Talks to support schools.

More support for schools and colleges to tackle sexual abuse

Teachers and school leaders will be better supported to recognise sexual harassment and abuse and teach confidently about issues of consent, online pornography and healthy relationships. School and college leaders will be encouraged to dedicate inset day time to help train staff on how to deal with sexual abuse and harassment among pupils and how to deliver the Government's new compulsory Relationships, Sex and Health Education curriculum (RSHE).

The measures come as Ofsted publishes the findings from its thematic review into sexual abuse in education, commissioned by the Education Secretary in March following testimonies posted on the Everyone's Invited website which highlighted cases of sexual abuse and harassment of children and young people, including in education settings.

Ofsted publishes research review on languages education

Ofsted has published the fourth in a series of reviews into different subjects across the curriculum. The review explores the literature relating to foreign languages education to identify factors that can contribute to a high-quality languages curriculum, assessment, pedagogy and systems. The findings will be used to examine how languages are taught in England's schools.

Free school travel: funding allocations

An update showing the funding that local authorities were allocated to spend on home-to-school travel for children from low-income families between 2017 and 2021 has been published. Further information is available in the Home to school travel and transport statutory guidance.

Pupils' progress in the 2020 to 2021 academic year: interim report

A research report presenting the findings from analysis into the progress pupils have made during the 2020 to 2021 academic year has been published. A section on understanding progress in the 2020 to 2021 academic year: reports 2 and 3 have been added.

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