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Education Bulletin - 10 December 2020

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Updated 10 December 2020

Important contact details

Children's Service general queries

General Covid-19 queries to the Local Authority


Message from Ming

Dear colleagues

Further to my email message yesterday and some queries from you, I have sought clarification from the RSC and DfE with reference to their announcement relating to the end of term date.

While some schools may wish to consider making Friday 18 December an INSET day, it is confirmed that schools may simply make it the last school day, as long as teaching time is made up at another point in the academic year. However, in Plymouth, many schools have decided to keep open on Friday 18 December.

Some colleagues have asked whether the local Public Health Team are able to take over track and tracing from Monday 21 December on behalf of schools. Unfortunately, they are not able to do this due to the very small team they have in Plymouth.

Irrespective of the decision you have made for next Friday, I would like to take the opportunity to say a huge and heartfelt thank you to Head Teachers and school staff, who every day make a real and vital difference to the lives of our children and young people in Plymouth in these challenging times.

Department for Education coronavirus (COVID-19) helpline - holiday hours

The Department for Education coronavirus (COVID-19) helpline and the PHE Advice Service (option 1) will be available over the holidays to answer any questions you have about coronavirus (COVID-19) relating to education settings and children's social care. These helplines will close on the bank holidays, and have shortened opening hours on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. Call 0800 046 8687

Both the Children's Services General Enquiries inbox and General Covid-19 queries to the Local Authority inbox will also be operational throughout the Christmas break.

In addition, throughout the Christmas period, if you have an urgent matter to discuss with me, please do so anytime via my email or mobile number.

As this is the last briefing for this term and 2020 I would like to wish you and your families a restful and peaceful Christmas.


End of term arrangements

As shared with all schools in Wednesday's email to schools, Plymouth CC is recommending a flexible approach, based on what works best for each individual school or Trust, in relation to this week's DfE announcement that if they wished, schools might close early on Friday 18 December, using this day as a professional day, in order to ease the burden of track and trace impacting on school staff over the Christmas holiday.

To confirm, Public Health England have agreed that schools should not be expected to track and trace contacts after a period of six days since a child's last day in school, meaning that if a school's final teaching day is 17 December, there will be no pupil contact tracing beyond 23 December (or alternatively, if the final day is 18 December, there will be no contact tracing beyond 24 December). Where a pupil or staff member tests positive for COVID, having developed symptoms more than 48 hours since being in school, the school should not be contacted.

Parents and carers should follow advice available at:

As we explained in Wednesday's communication, since the DfE announcement, we have spoken with many head teachers and MAT CEOs; we recognise that whilst staff in school are tired, many schools wish to remain open on 18 December in order to support working parents, and to honour arrangements made for children's celebrations. We also understand that some schools have decided to close early and have communicated this message to parents. Therefore, it is not practical for Plymouth to provide a clear, citywide steer on this matter, and instead are recommending flexibility so that head teachers and governing bodies, who know their schools well, are able to consider what is in the best interests of their particular school community.

PHE weekly webinars for education settings

The South West Health Protection Team have set up free COVID educational setting webinars for any educational setting to attend. The sessions, which will run weekly on Thursdays between 4-5pm in the New Year, will cover infection prevention principles and then discuss scenarios to illustrate this. If you would like to attend, please use our Eventbrite page to register by visiting the link below:

Please contact the South West Health Protection Team on 0300 303 8162 or via email at for further information.

Medigold One - upgrade to Occupational Health Portal (For Schools and Academies who use / buy back PCC HSW Services)

On Monday 7 December our Medigold Occupational Health referral portal was upgraded. You will still be able to access the old portal if you have any active referrals. When you make your first referral through the new portal, you will be prompted to create a user name and password. The new portal will not store any information about you, or any personal details about the person you are referring; this will need to be entered by you at the time of each new referral. The upgraded system is intuitive, and there will be guidance available on staff room if you need it. If you cannot find what you need, colleagues in the Employee Relations Team, HSW and OD will be able to assist you. Please contact: with any queries. - support for young people

Kooth offers wellbeing advice and support on-line for all young people in Plymouth aged 11-18. We provide a much needed out of hours' service for advice and support, and have a range of support tools available on the site including:

  • Pre-Moderated Discussion boards on mental and emotional health themes
  • Moderated live group discussions
  • Mini Activity Hub
  • A magazine
  • Self-Help Tools.
  • Chat & Messaging Service

The counselling service is available from 12 noon- 10pm Monday- Friday & 6pm-10pm Saturday and Sunday. We also offer a free 1 hour Professionals Training session which covers everything you need to know about Kooth and how it works. For further information and to book this session please contact our Integration & Participation Worker Carina Miles  

Southampton City Council's Cultural Services - online workshops for schools

Southampton City Council are offering a range of History and Art interactive workshops to all UK schools, prices starting from £80 per class. Topics include:

Online History Sessions (Titanic, the Tudors, the Stuarts, the Anglo-Saxons, and World War Two)

Workshops combining the following games and activities:

  • Fantastic stories and facts
  • Object (Artefact) demonstrations with interactive elements
  • Games and quizzes
  • Q&A time (we suggest writing these before the session)
  • Additional downloadable resources to aid your teachers in preparing for the session
  • Additional supplementary online videos, which will be available as a special playlist for your class to use after the workshop.
  • Free downloadable activity packs.

 Explore & Create Virtual Art Sessions 

 1-2 hr. workshops including:

  • A pre-recorded virtual gallery tour with the focus of your choice 
  • Live Q&A time following the tour. 
  • Accessible paper based art activities using readily available classroom resources and exercises. These are designed to develop new skills and empower children to engage with the artwork explored in virtual tour. 
  • Free downloadable 'how to guides' or examples if appropriate and activity ideas for follow up work
  • Additional supplementary online videos, which will be available as a special playlist for your class to use after the workshop.
  • Interactive feedback on how to develop drawing skills
  • The option of booking an additional in depth practical artist led workshop*

For more information or booking please contact or call 0238 083 2810.

Government updates

School funding: exceptional costs associated with coronavirus (COVID-19)

Guidance on funding available to schools to support them with costs associated with coronavirus (COVID-19). This guidance has added details of how schools can claim for funding through the second claims window.

Ofsted to carry out thematic survey on T levels

The Department for Education has commissioned Ofsted to carry out a thematic survey on the implementation of T levels and the T-level transition programme. The survey will take place over their first 2 years of operation, 2020/21, and 2021/22. T levels are challenging new technical qualifications at level 3. They are equivalent to 3 A levels and include a substantial industry placement. They are intended to deliver high-standard technical education to prepare young people to work in a number of important occupations that meet the needs of industry.

Ofsted's plans: 2021

Guidance and details of plans from January 2021 as part of a phased return to full inspection. Ofsted's return to inspection in 2021 will happen in phases, with no graded inspections for education or social care providers planned before the summer term - the guidance for providers has been updated.

Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children, and young people to get extra education support (new)

Over 100 children and young people will receive extra tutoring, one-to-one support, and expert guidance to help them progress in education or find employment.

What parents and carers need to know about early year's providers, schools, and colleges during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak (updated)

Information for parents and carers about going back to schools, nurseries, and colleges in the autumn term. Updated the information on primary assessments and GCSE and A Level exams in summer 2021, Ofsted inspections and exams for selective schools.

Get help with technology during coronavirus (COVID-19) (Updated)

Guidance for local authorities, academy trusts, and schools on devices and support available to provide remote education and access to children's social care. Updated information on how to get a grant and support to use a digital education platform.

DfE exam support service: claiming costs (Updated)

Information for schools and other exam centres needing to claim costs for autumn exams.

Guidance for full opening: special schools and other specialist settings (Updated)

What all-special schools and other specialist settings will need to do during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak from the start of the autumn term to support the return of children and young people with special education needs and disability (SEND). Updated sections on assessment and accountability, and contingency planning for remote education.

Next Bulletin:  This is the final Bulletin of 2020, the next Schools Bulletin will be published on Thursday 7 January 2021.

We wish you all a restful break over Christmas, and all good wishes for the New Year.

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