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Education Bulletin - 11 February 2021

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Updated 11 February 2021

Important contact details

Children's Service general queries

General COVID-19 queries to the Local Authority


From Ming Zhang
Service Director of Education, Participation and Skills

Dear colleagues

As February half-term is approaching, the emerging topic that school leaders asked in my conversations with them in the past few days was around when and how schools will fully reopen.

School return in full

Yesterday, DfE, Regional Ofsted Office and Regional Public Health Resilience Lead held an update meeting with local areas' DCSs and Education Directors. The meeting did not make an announcement on the full reopening. However, options were explored for the full return of schools and colleges, as part of DfE's effort of engaging school leaders, Unions, Public Health and local authorities at the earliest possible opportunity. Schools, colleges and universities will be the first parts of society to open up as soon as the public health picture allows it.

The strong preference of the government is that they should be able to do so fully from 8th March. The discussion of possible order of return includes the proposed hierarchy and rationale of the pathway to full reopening, involving the return of:

A)   all student groups at once;

B)    multi-groups at the same time; or

C)   these groups in a staggered order (i.e. students on priority, practical HE and FE courses, reception and key stage 1, key stage 2, Year 10 - 13 and exam years in colleges, remaining students on practical HE and FE courses, remaining secondary groups, remain students in HE and FE)

Before the final decision is made, the government continue to work closely with academics to understand the potential epidemiological and public health impact of easing restrictions. DfE is still committed to two weeks' notice and it is likely that there will be an announcement on 22nd February.

The expansion of TS Hubs

Further to last year's identification of six Teaching School Hubs in the country, the government has announced plans to invest £65 million in 81 new teaching school hubs. Through the expansion, the DfE want to realise its ambition that every school in England will have access to a "local centre of excellence for teacher training". The 81 hubs, announced yesterday include the following in SW:

  • The Quay School (Poole)
  • Pate's Grammar School (Gloucestershire)
  • Colyton Grammar School (Devon)
  • Montpelier High School (Bristol)
  • Mangotsfield Church of England Voluntary Controlled Primary School (South Gloucestershire)
  • Glenmoor Academy (Bournemouth)
  • Trenance Learning Academy (Cornwall)
  • Colston's Girls' School (Bristol)
  • Balcarras School (Gloucestershire)
  • The Roseland Academy (Cornwall)

(Last year in SW, Kingsbridge Community College in Devon was announced as one of the first six hubs in the country.)

Local collaboration

I am sure, for school leaders it has been another challenging and tough week. On a positive note, I would draw your attention to the summary attached outlining the remote learning provision amongst a sample group of primary schools. Clearly school leaders and teachers have been working very hard, and working collaboratively, to develop a broad range of new skills in teaching remotely. I cannot be more proud of our Plymouth schools for the learning that you are providing in this extraordinary time. This, and the stronger collaboration that I have seen among CEOs, are the evidences of the strength that our area's place-based partnership will build on going forward.

To end the message for this week, I hope you will all manage to have some well-deserved break during half-term.

Kind regards.



COVID information

Headteacher Teams meeting

The next weekly Headteacher Teams meeting will take place after half term on Monday 22 February at 1pm.  Those of you who join the meeting regularly will already have the link in your diary.  If you wish to join please use the link below:

Join Microsoft Teams Meeting

Sessions are recorded and can be found on the 'Essential information for schools' web page


1.        EHAT - Penny Whitell (SEND Service Manager)


Education and information

Remote learning self-evaluation

Many primary schools have shared their remote learning self-evaluations with the Local Authority and it has been inspiring to see the flexibility and creativity that teachers have applied to developing new skills in teaching remotely, ensuring that engaging learning opportunities are available to all children. Under these challenging circumstances innovative new practice has emerged that will no doubt, change and shape pedagogy in the future. A brief summary capturing key themes from the schools that shared is attached to this bulletin. All schools are reminded that there is a statutory duty to publish their remote education offer on their websites by 12 February.


SEND updates

Early Years Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) Specialist Education Offer

Plymouth City Council are seeking the views of parents of children who are currently in Early Years setting across the city. We would like to ask you to take the time to complete the Survey Monkey (link below) to help us to better understand the needs across the city and how these needs can best be met. Please note this is not a consultation about the Livewell Speech and Language Offer in the city this is about the Early Years Education Offer.

The survey will close at the end of February and is open now for you to take part in.


Keeping children safe in education

Vulnerable Children's Spreadsheet

Thank you so much to all schools who have worked incredibly hard to complete and return the spreadsheet.

The return rate is really positive and hopefully the subsequent consultation between yourselves and the EWO/SEND link has enabled everyone to plan together so that CYP are supported.

Could we remind you that the next return is due tomorrow?

Contact from and with CYPFS

We included on last week's bulletin, information about the need for our social care colleagues to know whether those students with a social worker are attending school based learning, home learning, or a blended approach. We also added in a CPYFS structure chart; a request is being made to have phone numbers added to it! Email addresses follow the normal Plymouth format; eg

They have identified that a couple of schools were reluctant, or didn't know that the calls were being made this week. Hopefully, if social workers know that children are working at home, there will be enhanced contact with families, and working with the EWOs, try to pick up any issues of non-engagement. Therefore, if the information could be shared when requested, it would be much appreciated.

Annual Survey of Emotional Health and Wellbeing Services

We would like to gain your views on the commissioned Emotional Health and Wellbeing Services delivered in your schools. This survey, to be completed by secondary schools, special schools and alternative provision is available here and will close at midnight on 31 March 2021. The findings will be shared with the schools and relevant partners to make improvements to services.

Mind the Gap - Young Carer Engagement Opportunity

Barnardos Young Carers Service are working with Plymouth City Council and other partners on the NHSEI funded Mind the Gap project to engage with young carers from ASR (asylum seeker/refugee) and migrant communities in order to gain their views and improve the support available. If you are aware of young carers who are from these communities and who may like to be part of this project then please contact Barnardos Young Carers Service at: to discuss how they can engage.


Government updates

New Commissioner appointed to oversee education catch-up

Prime Minister and the Education Secretary appoint Sir Kevan Collins as Education Recovery Commissioner. The Department for Education have announced plans to roll out new teaching school hubs to give the workforce best practice advice on pupil engagement, lesson planning and classroom management.

81 hubs are to be set up to provide high-quality professional development to teachers and leaders at all stages of their career, and play a key role in helping to build up trainee teachers as they enter the workforce. The Hubs will also help in delivering the Early Career Framework, and will be in operation from this September. Hubs will have a defined set of schools in a specific area to support; each hub will be expected to serve around 250 schools. This programme will run for an initial three years and be supported by £65m in funding.

School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said:

'We know teachers are already providing the best education possible for pupils, and this is especially true while schools are closed to most pupils. These new Teaching School Hubs will further support the profession by providing the best possible training and development opportunities.

It is important that teachers and school leaders feel supported in their career. The Hubs will make this substantially easier, with expert practitioners able to give experienced advice to those schools able to benefit from it.'

The full press release can be found here.

Providing school meals during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

Guidance for schools and local authorities on school meals arrangements during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Guidance has been updated to include information about supplier relief payments, and changes to the period the support covers. Farmfoods have also been added to the list of supermarkets available, and information updated on how to order vouchers.

First phase of school transformation launched

First phase of Prime Minister's transformative school rebuilding programme launched, to level up opportunity for all. The Department for Education has announced that 50 schools are confirmed for the first wave of the Prime Minister's ten-year rebuilding programme, which are expected to be completed within 3-5 years. The first 50 projects are supported by £1bn in funding and mark the start of the School Rebuilding Programme which is due to deliver 500 rebuilding projects over the next decade.  More than 70% of the schools are to be in the North and Midlands.

Actions for schools during the coronavirus outbreak
Information on what all schools needed to do during the coronavirus outbreak since the start of the autumn term, has an updated 'Introduction' section to reflect correct position for early years provision over half-term and 'Remote education' section to reflect a duty for schools to publish their remote education offer on their websites by 12 February.

Responsibility for exams

Guidance for schools and colleges on who should enter students for exams, the health arrangements for exams and the support DfE is providing. Added information to 'Public health guidance to support exams from January 2021' about scheduled assessments in February and March.

Laptops and tablets progress data as of 9 February 2021

Information about how many laptops and tablets that have been delivered or dispatched to local authorities and academy trusts. The LA data shows that Plymouth has received 1,704 - devices (laptops and tablets) delivered or dispatched to LAs or directly to LA-maintained schools since the start of the scheme. This does not include devices delivered to academy trusts which are listed in the trust data.

ESFA Update: 10 February 2021

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

Coronavirus (COVID-19): initial teacher training (ITT)

Information for providers about managing initial teacher training courses impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19). Updated the critical workers section and added a section about legal requirements and planned amendments to regulation. Also updated the remote observations, moderation and assessment section with information on the Assessment Only (AO) route.

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