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Education Bulletin - 15 July 2021

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Updated 15 July 2021

Important contact details

From Ming Zhang
Service Director of Education, Participation and Skills

Dear colleagues,

Following on the Prime Minister's announcement of Step 4 lifting of restrictions on 19 July, you will today receive further communication from the DfE directly with a pre-recorded Webinar link on managing the remaining school days this term and beyond after the PM's "freedom day." I also share the link with you here:  RP147.0 Webinar What Step 4 changes mean for Education and Childcare Settings

COVID-19 Update

At yesterday's catch up with the DfE a colleague asked the following question, 'from September, are LAs and schools at liberty to not test returning students, if judged to create a greater risk of transmission?'

The answer from the DfE is:

'We are asking schools and colleges to test all students at an on-site asymptomatic test site (ATS) on return following the summer holidays. This approach is based on the latest public health advice and will help us break chains of transmission in education settings after the summer holidays when students may have been mixing with lots of people. We know that on-site testing participation rates amongst students are much higher than when testing at home so this is the most effective way to identify as many positive cases as possible at the start of the autumn term.'

This information is no doubt, useful for us all.

Locally, cases have gone up and currently Plymouth is sitting at 459.6 per 100k so we have leapfrogged England's national average of 343.5 and the SW average of 279.5.

Increase is driven by those in the 15-24 year old age group. The infection rates are also high, with younger children in the 10-14 year old group at 480 per 100K, and those in the 15-19 year old group showing a 1.3% average positive test result. Our Public Health Department advises that not all have symptoms or are tested and so we know that infection is extremely widespread in these groups at the moment. It is difficult to say whether transmission is happening in or outside of school. The positive side of the development is that residents in the city are generally behaving responsibly in getting tested, with a test rate higher than the England average, and vaccination rates amongst younger age groups 18-24 higher than national average.  Overall, most people are reported to be behaving responsibly and making every effort to care for each other.

New School Admissions Code 2021

As you are aware, last year the government consulted on changes to the School Admissions Code (the Code 2021).

The new draft Code and associated regulations were laid before Parliament on 13 May. As neither Houses of Parliament objected to the draft Code within a 40 day period, it will now be brought into force from September 2021.

The main purpose of the changes to the Code 2021 is to improve the in-year admission process, in particular for vulnerable children. The changes include introducing more detail on the process for managing in-year admissions; changes to improve the effectiveness of Fair Access Protocols; giving children adopted from state care outside of England equal admissions priority as children who were previously looked after in England; and clarification of which address to use for the admission of service or crown servant children. There are also further minor changes for clarification purpose.

A link to the new School Admissions Code 2021 can be found here. Please also see the attached annex for more information on the changes. You will need to amend your 2021/2022 Admissions policy to reflect these changes. Copies of the amended policies need to be forwarded to the School Admissions team at

NPQ Scholarship

Last week, the DfE updated National professional qualifications (NPQs) reforms - GOV.UK to include an eligibility list of schools that are within the top 30th percentile in relation to pupils on pupil premium as at the end of the previous academic year.

The latest detailed information about NPQ scholarship eligibility was published through the updated guidance: National professional qualifications (NPQs) reforms - GOV.UK. Eligibility (based on proportion of PP) criteria is explained and covered in the guidance, which links to another page where there is a funding eligibility list. There are many schools in Plymouth that are eligible for the scholarship. I would encourage all eligible schools take up this opportunity.

We will also send out the guidance to the eligible schools individually.

End of term

Finally, as we are aware that a number of schools will end term early next week, this is the final issue of the Schools Bulletin this academic year. I would like to take this opportunity to extend grateful thanks, on behalf of the Education, Participation & Skills Team to all those working in schools who have made such great efforts over what has again been a most  challenging year, to support children and young people in their learning and wellbeing.

Members of the EP&S team will, as ever, be on hand over the school break should urgent support be needed, but we hope that colleagues in schools will take a well-deserved rest.

I wish you all a safe, healthy and restful summer break.

Best regards.



Education updates

URGENT - DfE communication

Many induction tutors/coordinators are yet to sign in to the DfE's new Teacher CPD Service to confirm how they plan to deliver statutory inductions next year, or to confirm that their school does not expect any early career teachers (ECTs).

Before September 2021, induction tutors/coordinators should:

  • read the updated statutory guidance on inductions for early career teachers
  • choose a delivery approach in order to meet the new requirements. The easiest way to sign up to a provider-led programme is to contact your local teaching school hub or your appropriate body - schools can also contact lead providers, or other known delivery partners, directly - they will talk you through how to access this support for your early career teachers and mentors
  • set up their programme through DfE's online service if they want to use an approved funded provider, or deliver the accredited materials themselves.  We would encourage schools on these routes to access the digital service and nominate an induction tutor before the end of the summer term, or use the service to confirm that you are not expecting any ECTs to start in September
  • To find out more about the Early Career Framework reforms, please visit GOV.UK.

For help using the new service please contact

Farewell and thank you - retiring headteachers

This year sees the retirement of a number of academy headteachers from Plymouth Multi-academy Trusts: from Horizon, Kevin Duggen, Liz Hill, Tina Jackson and Claire Prynne; from Discovery, Lisa Evans, and from CAST, Brendan Gill. We take this opportunity to join Trusts across the city in thanking these school leaders for their contribution to children's learning, and wish them every future happiness.

Within our Local Authority maintained schools group, Kim Dorian-Kemp will also retire as headteacher of High View School this term, and we would like to take this opportunity to celebrate the significant impact Kim has made to the education and wellbeing of many children and families in the city, and her contribution to developing high standards of education amongst Plymouth schools.

From the outset of her career, Kim has actively supported and developed teachers and schools, and from taking up leadership of what were originally Highfield and Plym View schools, has worked with relentless enthusiasm and energy to create the outstanding National Teaching School that is Highview today - a school that the city is proud of, and a school which has led innovative practice and professional development, and maintained a heart in the community of Efford. Promoting inclusion and seeing challenge as an opportunity, rather than an obstacle, Kim has actively engaged with parents and families in order to build positive relationships and secure foundations that have enabled children to thrive.

Many schools in the city have been supported by High View, and many have benefited from Kim's passion and commitment to children's learning. On behalf of us all, we express gratitude and thanks to Kim and wish her the very best for her retirement.     


Early Years updates

We will continue to support schools in rolling out the new EY arrangements in the new academic year with further updates early in September. In the meantime, guidance for schools to meet existing expectations for teaching early reading:

Choosing a phonics teaching programme - what the government is doing to help schools choose a phonics teaching programme:


Keeping children safe in education

Reducing Parenting Programme

This programme, extended until end of March 2022 provides direct support for families where parents are in conflict (not domestic abuse situations). In Plymouth the programme is run by HOMESTART and a referral can be made directly to Dorset County Council. Please see attached fliers for further details.


Government updates

£10 million scheme to help pupils boost core skills

Programmes targeted at pupils starting primary and secondary school, who will take part in focused English and maths catch-up sessions will begin in the autumn term. Specialist training and materials will be provided to support focused sessions to boost numeracy and literacy skills and help pupils recover lost learning in core subjects. Schools with high proportions of children from disadvantaged backgrounds will be prioritised for the schemes:

More children to benefit from free breakfast clubs

National School Breakfast Programme to support children in disadvantaged areas over the next two years. Family Action has been confirmed by the DfE as the delivery partner for the National School Breakfast Programme - building on the Government's commitment to level up children's outcomes across England. Backed by up to £24 million of government investment, Family Action will source and deliver breakfast food products to schools from September, and through the programme support up to 2,500 schools between 2021-22 and 2022-23.

Proposals set out for exams and assessments in 2022

Exams next year are set to recognise and mitigate the disruption to students' education, under proposals on arrangements for 2022 launched today. The DfE and Ofqual are seeking views from students, parents and teachers on proposed arrangements for GCSEs, AS and A levels in summer 2022, along with vocational and technical qualifications in academic year 2021-22.

1.     Proposed changes to the assessment of GCSEs, AS and A levels in 2022 - Closes 01 August 2021.

2.     Arrangements for the assessment and awarding of vocational, technical and other general qualifications: 2021 to 2022​ - Closes 26 July 2021.

Simply 'doing' music is not enough

Ofsted has published its latest research review looking at music education in schools and will publish a report on the quality of the music curriculum taught in schools in 2022. They will gather the evidence for this through subject 'deep dives' during inspections under the EIF.

Learning during the pandemic

A collection of 5 reports from Ofqual studying aspects of learning during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in 2020 and 2021.

Reconciliation thresholds for ESFA grant funded providers 2020 to 2021

In March, it was announced that due to the impact of COVID-19, the reconciliation rate threshold would be lowered from 97% to 90% for grant funded adult education budget (AEB). Following the year-end claims submissions, the 90% threshold remains unchanged, ESFA are developing arrangements to allow grant funded providers to apply for support on one or both of the following grounds:

  • that local circumstances made it impossible for the provider to deliver at or close to the 90% level and recovery of funds based on the 90% threshold would lead to the provider's costs of AEB delivery not being covered
  • that applying the full amount of AEB clawback would cause significant financial difficulties for the provider.

The evidence supplied in any business case would be assessed against criteria to determine whether support should be provided, and if so, how much. The details of the new arrangements, including how this will operate, are being finalised and expect to be published in early September 2021.

Letter to academy trust accounting officers: July 2021

Eileen Milner, Chief Executive and Accounting Officer of the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), has written to accounting officers of academy trusts. The letter includes information about the academy trust handbook 2021; published on 16 June 2021. It also draws attention to the recently published academies accounts direction, the financial management and governance good practice guides, the school resource management self-assessment tool, and the timetable for financial returns for 2021/22.

Responsibility for exams

Guidance for schools, colleges and exam centres on who should enter students for exams, the health arrangements for exams and the support DfE is providing. Updated 'Exam centre responsibility for students retaking qualifications from summer 2020 and summer 2021' and 'DfE exam support service: autumn 2021 exam fees, venues and invigilators'.

Reforms to post-16 education and training

The DfE has announced a series of reforms to the post-16 education system which will be phased in from 2023. The new system will create two paths for those who have completed GCSEs or similar courses: academic qualifications that primarily lead to further study, and technical qualifications that primarily lead to skilled employment. Apprenticeships, A levels and new T Levels will become the main progression options after GCSEs. The system announced today forms part of the government's reforms to post-16 education and training as set out in the Skills for Jobs White Paper.

COVID-19 test inventory survey for schools

The DfE is inviting secondary schools and colleges to participate in a short test kit inventory survey. The survey will assess education settings' total stock levels of home self-test kits and availability to receive deliveries over the summer ahead of the autumn term. The survey will take a few minutes to complete and closes on 20 July.

Building 'layers of knowledge' - what makes a great history education?

Ofsted has published its latest research review looking at history education in schools.

The review explores how pupils get better at history. It emphasises how essential it is for pupils to develop 'layers' of knowledge, which they can draw on to make sense of more complex ideas, and to construct their own historical arguments and accounts.

Amanda Spielman, Ofsted's Chief Inspector, said: A good history education is so important to children's education. Studying history helps children to understand their place in the world, and in the long story of human development. And it challenges them to make sense of the similarities and differences in human experiences across time and place.

Ofsted publishes annual report and accounts 2020-21

The latest annual report and accounts for 2020 to 2021, highlighting the work and financial information for the last year. As routine inspections were paused during 2020 to 2021, this year's report does not include the usual performance data. Instead, it reflects on how Ofsted adapted to the changing COVID-19 restrictions, supporting the sectors they inspect and regulate as well as the national COVID-19 response.

Use of PPE in education, childcare and children's social care

Updated guidance - When to use PPE, including for aerosol generating procedures (AGPs), in education, childcare and children's social care settings for COVID-19.

Reformatted into HTML and clarified sub-headings and structure. We have also updated our guidance on transporting children, following confirmation that from 19 July, the Government is removing the requirement to wear face coverings in law but expects and recommends that they are worn in enclosed and crowded spaces where you may come into contact with people you don't normally meet. This includes public transport and dedicated transport to school or college.

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