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Education Bulletin - 15 October 2020

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Updated 15 October 2020

Important contact details

Children's Service general queries

General Covid-19 queries to the Local Authority


Message from Judith

Dear colleagues

We haven't seen much change in the volume or pattern of cases in schools and over the last few weeks there have been a steady 300-650 pupils at home due to confirmed cases in their family or emerging at school. We attend a daily 'huddle' with PH and PHE to look at the schools affected and identify any recommendations that are to be made. They have requested that schools are reminded to continue reporting cases through the DfE, but given the lag of up to 48 hrs in this information being distributed to PH and PHE, letting us know too is also essential to receive a swift response and support. Therefore, please continue to let us know if you have sent pupils home as part of a bubble or have confirmed cases amongst staff or children. I have spotted that there is a difference between the figures that are recorded and the information we hold: this is because some pupils or bubbles are home due to suspected cases. So please keep all information coming and we will manage the city data and hold a picture of how we're all affected.

I'm told by DfE there is NO 'circuit break' planned despite the media headlines and the hope remains that good implementation of safety measures and controls alongside the tier system will allow the situation to be managed and schools remain open. The DfE have been speaking with us daily since the start of term but from next week we will move to weekly meetings. The intention is that they can use the additional information on the portal so please make sure you submit in a timely and accurate way. The DFE intend to focus once more on working with LAs to understand the experience and attendance of vulnerable groups and provision in the city; we've got a good track record in the city on working together towards that understanding so we'll keep you up to date as the detail emerges.

Finally from me, you'll see more information about the Wellbeing for Education programme in the Bulletin. I want to remind colleagues that the local Wellbeing for Education Return Webinar training programme will shortly be coming to an end; the final sessions will be delivered on 23 October. If you have not yet booked onto the training, then I strongly recommend that you reserve a place within the next couple of days. The training is delivered by the Progeny mental health service at the Zone in Plymouth. They have advised us today that demand for places in the final week of delivery is growing and places are likely to be limited.

Take care colleagues,


Headteacher Teams meeting

The weekly Headteacher Teams meeting is an opportunity to discuss matters arising with colleagues or to address specific themes and we strongly encourage all headteachers to attend these, particularly as we are seeing some very valuable information shared on a weekly basis. The next meeting is scheduled for Monday 19 October at 1pm.  If you wish to join the meeting or have an item for the agenda please contact

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

Agenda 19.10.20: feedback on issues and special item on 'School closure': feedback from Sara Jordan, Brook Green Centre for Learning

New Plymouth Headteachers Support Group

Acting upon requests from schools, the Local Authority will re-launch an induction support package for new headteachers in the city, starting after half term. This annual package, offered free to maintained schools and at a cost of £200 to academy trusts will include:

  • A welcome meeting with the Service Director for Education, Participation & Skills outlining the functions and statutory duties of the LA
  • A session on how the LA advise Schools Forum and the way in which the funding formula is developed
  • A series of three termly hub meetings for the new headteachers, providing opportunities to share and discuss issues raised
  • Allocation of an experienced headteacher mentor, and another headteacher 'buddy'
  • Dedicated Twitter feed or WhatsApp for New Plymouth Headteachers Group members offering fast access to LA advice and support.

In addition, all new headteachers will be offered three LA support visits per year if required.

We shall be contacting schools with new headteachers over the coming week to discuss details and very much hope to secure maximum engagement with this initiative, which will strengthen leadership capacity across the city - and give new headteachers a head start. We would very much welcome expressions of willingness to mentor or 'buddy' new heads from experienced colleagues. If you think you can help in this way please email: 

Wellbeing for Education Return: Mental health training & support programme, led by local mental health experts and free at the point of delivery

The Wellbeing for Education Return Programme was launched by Government in September 2020 to provide schools and colleges with the knowledge and resources needed to respond to the pressures that children, young people, families and staff may be feeling as a direct result of the Covid 19 pandemic.  

A local training offer is now in place, led by local experts from the Progeny mental health service at the Zone. Training is freely available to all schools and colleges in Plymouth.

The Zone has 30 years of experience in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people and is one of the city's premier youth enquiry and support services. Participation in the local Wellbeing for Education Return training will help schools support children and young people's wellbeing, resilience and recovery and prevent longer-term mental health problems from developing. Resources are also available to help manage and support those who have existing difficulties that may have been exacerbated by coronavirus.

Nominated staff can access the training through two interactive webinars which can then be shared more widely within schools, with all training materials and resources made available, as part of the training programme.

Opportunities for schools to book places are limited and we anticipate that demand will be high during the final week of delivery - training is only available until Friday 23 October.  For further information and to book a place on the webinar training programme, Please contact Jodie Frost at The Zone Plymouth: Tel: 07158206626.

Creative Solutions Panel

The Creative Solutions Panel is a multi-agency panel that meets fortnightly to discuss children, young people and families that are vulnerable but not requiring statutory intervention from Children's Social Care. The purpose of the panel is to consider those children and families that may have an EHAT in place that may be blocked or not making progress or where the plan is being progressed but the situation is deteriorating and would benefit from multi-agency consideration to progress. Any referrals to panel would be considered by the referral panel co-ordinator and the referrer would be invited to a slot during the meeting to discuss. Any families that are referred to the panel must have a signed consent form to share information.

Referrals or queries should be sent to the Creative Solutions Panel should be sent to

School reassurance visits

In July 2020 the Plymouth City Council Health Safety and Wellbeing team carried out several reassurance/engagement visits to those schools under local authority control and those who requested such a visit through our HSW buy back services. Overall, findings were good and consistent with measures outlined in schools' risk assessments and best practise has been shared where possible

To continue our support for our schools the HSW team will be carrying out another round of reassurance visits in the weeks beginning the 2nd and 9th November. This will present another chance to proactively engage with schools and offer the chance for Heads and key staff to meet with a representative of the team to discuss any questions or concerns that might have arisen since the return to school in September

If you have had a previous visit, or are part of a local authority controlled school you can expect to be contacted to arrange a visit during this period. If schools buy back PCC health and safety services and want to take the opportunity to arrange a visit then please contact the team at copying your email to and we will get back to you

These visits will be considered alongside any visits by the HSE, Ofsted or enforcement officers to schools. Health and Safety information and guidance can be found on our POD pages and our school room pages

We look forward to continuing to work with you during this unsettled times and if you have any queries or questions then please do not hesitate to contact us

Mayflower 400 activities 1

Mayflower 400 'Settlement' commemoration Native American project goes digital

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, 'Settlement' - originally scheduled as a month-long artist encampment in Central Park, Plymouth as part of the Mayflower 400 commemorations will now become a digital based programme. Featuring art, performance, discussion and social interaction from 29 key artists indigenous to North America and the Pacific, Settlement will launch online from 13 October 2020. The Settlement website will showcase creative works that question the impacts of colonisation on a wide number of tribal nations who continue to thrive despite the long-term effects of this history and will respond to the previously untold side of the Mayflower's history.  Discover 'Settlement' online from 13 October. For full information visit

Mayflower 400 activities 2

Clan-Kind Schools Project - Autumn-Winter 2020

Clan-Kind is a Mayflower 400 project that connects people living in Plymouth to lost landscapes. It creates 'micro-nations' or clans focused around celebrating their natural or built heritage, be that prehistoric cave, silted creek, orchard, forest, castle or cove. Our Covid provision for schools includes 6/7 half hour zoom sessions and videos of creative makes online to reinforce learning. Children can create in the classroom or at home or both.

A typical Clan-Kind course includes: a history session exploring the heritage of your local natural or built space with historian Richard Fisher (zoom) 30 mins; a remote foraging session with Tess Wilmott (zoom) 30 mins; a visioning session devising a clan identity/logo with artist Karen Evans (zoom) 30 mins; a blanket session producing motifs for sewing onto a community blanket (zoom) 30 mins plus video make online to reinforce learning; a mask making session to develop unique clan headwear (zoom) 30 mins plus video online to reinforce learning; a show and tell session ( zoom) 30 mins. and a ritual session outside in nature (socially distanced) or online to create a short ceremony to connect the children to their space.

Clan-Kind is part of the Mayflower 400 commemoration and the sister project of Settlement, a creative digital occupation by 30 contemporary Native American artists launching in October 2020 and running until the Spring. Joining Clan-Kind will give your school first options on any Settlement activities. To find out more please see the attached flier or email us at

Mayflower 400 activities 3

Try a walking trail this Trailtober and you could win a trip to Drake's Island and more! Plymouth Trails would love for you to try one of the new walking trails and is looking for your experiences and feedback of the new Plymouth Trails app. 

Get walking any of the three new tailored trails: Mayflower Trail, City Centre Trail or Plymouth Hoe Trail and submit your feedback by 1 November. Simply download the free interactive Plymouth Trails app here and log your feedback to win a fabulous prize including a trip to Drake's Island, membership to The Box, a preview to The Elizabethan House and more as part of Trailtober.

Get Active and off the couch this October - run the distance between Plymouth UK and Plymouth USA.This October, as part of the Mayflower 400 Get Active programme, Plymouth Argyle Community Trust is bringing together a team of runners to cover 5,029km - the distance between Plymouth UK & Plymouth USA. In addition, for those wanting to Get Active and get off the sofa, try the Couch to 5K challenge and sign up here.

Green Minds

Next week sees the launch of a programme of free activities for the Launch of Green Minds,Plymouth.Please see the attached flier for further details and check the Green Minds website coming soon

Teaching Remembrance

The RBL, as the national champion of Remembrance, has a key role in ensuring that Remembrance is understood and available to every child and community in the UK - ensuring that the torch of Remembrance is passed to the next generation. To enable this, they have created a range of learning materials for Key Stages 1-4 for children to enjoy in the classroom and at home.

These resources come in a variety of formats, from book clubs and lessons to assemblies and arts projects. Teacher and parent notes accompany these child-focused resources to ensure their relevance both in the classroom and at home. Created in partnership with the National Literacy Trust and others, the resources work alongside the curriculum, enabling teachers, parents and families to bring Remembrance to life. In this unique and challenging year, these resources support the wellbeing of children by giving them the space to explore their experiences and feelings of the Covid-19 pandemic, drawing parallels between now and the Second World War generation, highlighting the relevance of Remembrance to today.

Resources are free to download and be found on the Teaching Remembrance hub:

Use of hydrotherapy pools in Special Schools

Although this will only apply to a small number of schools in Plymouth, we have been asked to share the following: before the reopening of a hydrotherapy pool a school should actively engage with the competent contractor that advises on your water treatment risk assessment.

In this conversation you should outline what the present situation is with regards to your hydrotherapy pool:

  • whether the pool is currently full or not
  • if it has remained full, the duration
  • any TVP testing or chlorination that has occurred during the lockdown
  • control measures have been put in place since lockdown.

Your water treatment competent person should then be able to advise you on whether the pool will need to be drained and cleaned or if it can go into operation if the regular checks have been maintained. They may wish to see a copy of your Water Treatment Risk Assessment and may wish to review it in light of the information provided

Once you have received this advice back from your competent person you should follow the instructions given by them and then carry out the guidance as below for its continued operation

  • Every child and member of staff should confirm they are without symptoms before accessing the hydro therapy pool
  • Temperature checks of the children should be taken before the session
  • If therapy can be directed by poolside, maintaining social distancing this should be the first option
  • Where social distancing is not possible then the activity needs to form part of the individual risk assessment for the pupil and any support worker to understand if the activity can take place, given COVID risks
  • User numbers should be 1:1 and if large enough 2m social distancing should be observed within the pool as well as reception/waiting area, changing area, showers and poolside
  • All users must comply with infection prevention and control
  • Pool users should shower before pool use to reduce cross contamination and the likely pressure this may place on the free chlorine reserve for each pool
  • Swim hats may prevent the need for hair washing (may be clinical reasons as to why this can/cannot occur)
  • It may be necessary to wear a face mask in the pool environment and should be aligned with any PPE conditions/requirement within the school, bearing in mind the possible increased risk from the hydrotherapy pool environment
  • If there is to be a risk of splashing/submerging then wearing a face mask is not possible the mask should be removed and stored in a disposable bag for the duration of the session
  • Emergency evacuation trained staff should be within the pool area as directed by risk assessment and users individual needs, appropriate emergency PPE should be provided and readily available
  • Sessions should be limited to, wherever possible, school defined bubbles
  • After each session, all areas must be cleaned and disinfected as per ATACP guidance
  • Particular attention should be given to the cleaning of complex items such as hoists
  • Items such as toggles (floatation devices) should be soaked/immersed in a cleaning solution and left 72 hours before reuse
  • Air conditioning should operate on 100% fresh air with no recirculation
  • Adequate ventilation should be maintained at all times given the nature of the environment
  • Water treatment should be in line with advice as per your Water Treatment risk assessment
  • The free chlorine reserve for each pool should be monitored, checked and topped up regularly (reserves should not be depleted by having to cope with dirty bathers or equipment) as per your water treatment assessment
  • A suitable time period between sessions to allow for ventilation, stringent regular cleaning and free chlorine reserve dosing (if required) should be put in place .i.e. a minimum of 30 minutes

Further advice and guidance can be sought from the Pool Water Treatment Advisory Group (PWTAG) and should be discussed with a suitable competent person

Government updates

Effect of pandemic on children's wellbeing revealed in new report

This State of the Nation report provides an in-depth picture of the experiences of children and young people during the pandemic and how it affected their wellbeing. The Government's second annual State of the Nation report finds that children and young people aged five to 24 generally responded with resilience to changes in their lives between March and September 2020, and despite indications of challenges to their mental wellbeing they report stable levels of happiness and only slight reduction in satisfaction with their lives.

Home Secretary and international partners tell tech companies to put child safety first

Seven countries, whose populations represent a fifth of Facebook's users across the world, have published an international statement on the impact of end-to-end encryption policies which erode the public's safety online. A year after the Home Secretary wrote an open letter to Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg requesting the company halts its end-to-end encryption plans unless they can address child safety fears, the UK, alongside the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, India and Japan, have called on all tech companies to ensure they do not blind themselves to illegal activity on their platforms, including child abuse images. The UK and its international partners are clear that they support strong encryption, but not where it is applied in a way that precludes all legal access to content, therefore putting the public at significant risk of harm.

Students to be given more time to prepare for 2021 exams

Exams will go ahead next summer, underpinned by contingencies for all possible scenarios. The government has announced the summer exam series will start on 7 June and end on 2 July for almost all AS/A levels and GCSEs. Results days are Tuesday 24 August for A/AS levels and Friday 27 August for GCSEs so students will start the following academic year as normal.

Vocational and technical qualification assessments in 2021

Ofqual have published the Extended Extraordinary Regulatory Framework (ERF), on which they recently consulted, to put the arrangements into effect. The Extended ERF sets out the regulatory arrangements and statutory guidance with which awarding organisations must comply when adapting their qualifications. It includes four principles with which awarding organisations must comply when making their decisions around adaptations, supported by statutory guidance. They have also included statutory guidance on Special Consideration within the regulatory framework.

Attendance in education and early years settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

This data provides official statistics on attendance in education settings since Monday 23 March and early years settings since Thursday 16 April. 'Attendance in education and early years settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak: 23 March to 8 October 2020' has been added.

Safe working in education, childcare and children's social care

Guidance on preventing and controlling infection, including the use of PPE, in education, childcare and children's social care settings during the coronavirus outbreak. Updated to include new guidance on the test and trace process, social care visits, shielding, staff who have been in close contact with a positive case and the use of face coverings.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): test kits for schools and FE providers

Guidance for schools and further education (FE) providers on the initial supply of coronavirus (COVID-19) home testing kits for pupils, teachers and staff. 'Making an order for additional coronavirus tests' section updated with additional information for schools and FE providers in particularly high risk areas who may be eligible for an additional delivery of test kits.

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