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Education Bulletin - 16 September 2021

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Updated 16 September 2021

Important contact details

From Ming Zhang
Service Director of Education, Participation and Skills

Dear colleagues,

It is another eventful week with some of the changes that will have some impact on schools and future education system. While seeing the departure of Mr Williamson as Secretary of Education surely generated some controversial responses, my past encounters with the new boss of the Sanctuary Buildings Mr Nadhim Zahawi has been a positive one: efficient, caring and listening.

Amid the political development, the Public Security Agency published "COVID-19 vaccination programme for children and young people: guidance for schools", following the Government and Chief Medical Officer's announcement earlier this week

Guidance for School: Vaccination of 12-15 Year Olds

This guidance is for schools on the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination programme for 12 to 15 year olds. Please make sure this is available to all members of school teams who need to know about the programme. This is the link to the guidance:

I attended the Public Security Agency's briefing yesterday on the Guidance and would like to share with you the key messages from the briefing, although schools must always refer to the original guidance for further detail:

  • This autumn all children aged 12 to 15 years are being offered the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination
  • The programme will be administered in schools
  • An NHS-commissioned School Age Immunisation Service (SAIS) team will be the "primary provider" of jabs for healthy 12 to 15 year-olds
  • The SAIS team will provide a consent form and information leaflet for schools to share with parents and children
  • Efforts must be made to avoid giving vaccination without a consent
  • Young people meet the criteria can give consent themselves
  • Schools' local SAIS teams will be in touch to agree a date for the vaccination session
  • Schools need to discuss any practical problems with their School Immunisation Provider
  • Schools need to prepare for possible anti-vaccine protests applying the school's security policy and in close liaison with SAIS.

Self-Isolation Exemption

At PCC Health and Safety colleagues' meetings with Headteachers this week, PCC have been asked to clarify exemption rules for school staff because central government has produced a specific guidance for schools while the City Council has protocols for its employees in LA maintained schools. The difference in guidance and protocols in relation to schools has been fully discussed at our Corporate Emergency Management Team today 16 September, and the following has been agreed:

Education staff may continue to attend work if they meet the Government exemption criteria, whilst taking a daily LFD test for 10 days and it remains negative. This is in addition to the requirement to get a PCR test as soon as possible and for the result to be negative. A risk assessment must also be undertaken to ensure that there are no circumstances present, that indicate a particular circumstance or health vulnerability for staff or students that mean the PCC Staff Protocol should be invoked. Public Health and Health and Safety advice should be sought in these circumstances.

(DfE guidance only requires twice weekly LFD testing)

For full details, please refer to the documents attached to this bulletin.

Vulnerable Learners' KS4 Outcomes

Our Virtual School for Children in Care (CiC) report that Plymouth Year 11 CiC cohort celebrated one of the best outcomes this year. Those achieving 5 grade 4 or above including English and maths increased by nearly 30%. This highlights the outstanding support provided by schools and PCC Virtual School during the pandemic for all our CiC and the positive impact of smaller class sizes. Rigorous final assessment procedures allowed many of our cohort to perform at their very best due to the blend of portfolio assessment and examinations within familiar classroom settings.

This is excellent news, and I would like to give my heart-felt thanks for schools and VS staff.

DWP School Adviser

I am delighted to introduce Sarah Warne who will be Department of Work and Pensions' School Adviser covering Plymouth and some areas of Devon.

Sarah's role is fully government funded and she offers support to local secondary schools in a wide variety of creative and flexible ways which include:

  • group sessions with pupils using web-based careers information tools such as Career Pilot
  • helping schools identify employers willing to provide suitable work experience placements
  • supporting schools in sourcing appropriate companies for careers fairs
  • arranging inspirational employer presentations in school assemblies
  • attendance at parent/teacher events to promote Apprenticeships/Careers to parents as well as pupils
  • arranging visits to local employers to give pupils a taste of the world of work
  • CV workshops
  • mock interviewing
  • liaising with other providers of careers services to organise joint events

PCC's Post-16 and Skills Team are in discussion with Sarah for a collaborate support for schools and young people, I will keep schools updated on this development so that you are aware of this valuable support from the DWP and that we can work in partnership to best support children and young people making informed decisions regarding further education, training and work opportunities. In the meantime, Sarah has already hit the ground running. Should any school/college like to contact Sarah for an initial meeting to discuss DWP offer, her contact details are or mobile 07786 662964.

Primary School and Nursery Schools' Federation

I am delighted to share with you an exciting collaboration venture between Yealmpstone Farm Primary School, Plymbridge Nursery School and Ham Drive Nursery School. The three schools have formed a soft federation in a drive to revitalise a transitional model of nursery school delivery and reconfirm its role in the city by working in partnership to deliver early years excellence. Through the federation arrangement, the collaborative entity aims to have strong leadership, a robust business ethic, a financially sustainable model and dedicated staff teams, who strive for excellence and places children, families and communities at the heart of their work.

The Plymouth Nursery Schools Federation consists of Plym Bridge Nursery School and Day Care which includes the Early Years Speech and Language Support Unit and Ham Drive Nursery School and Day Care.

Yealmpstone Farm Primary School is a growing school situated in Plympton with a thriving nursery setting, Bright Stars, which was opened three years ago. Yealmpstone Farm Primary school has a well-established culture and ethos of supporting and challenging the city education through system leadership across many working groups and age ranges. The federation set an ambitious outcome for this partnership, which will continue to raise the standard of provision within the settings and improve outcomes for all children across the city by:

  • developing an Early Years Centre of Excellence in partnership with other EY settings and the Local Authority to positively impact the wider Early Years sector in Plymouth.
  • ensuring EY settings across the city have wider access and training from the Early Years Speech and Language Team who specialise in supporting children with developmental language disorder (DLD).
  • supporting a wider range of CPD opportunities through partnerships with other EY settings across the city and the local authority.

Believing in strong school collaboration, I share the partner schools' excitement to be working together striving to give every young learner the best start in life that we possibly can. I would encourage school leaders of all phases to explore more school to school collaboration that can be evolved into a system of viable and lasting federation system.

The partnership's Executive Headteacher Heidi Price and her team are interested in hearing from you if you feel you have something to offer this vision. Email:

Best regards



Education updates

New Early Career Teachers in schools

Final reminder to all schools: if you have employed an ECT this term please check that they are registered on the TRA database. Schools must also ensure ECTs are registered with an Early Career Framework training provider and ascertain whether that provider is authorised to act as Appropriate Body. Any schools wishing to use Plymouth Local Authority as Appropriate Body must also have ECF training package in place and should contact ASAP so that we can claim the ECTs on the Plymouth database.

Ofsted Southwest Region Headteacher's Reference Group

Later this month Alison Nettleship, CEO of Discovery MAT will be attending Ofsted's Southwest Region Headteachers' Reference Group meeting as our local representative. If there are any questions or issues that you would like Alison to raise on behalf of the city, please email her at, and she will be happy to raise them and feedback on your behalf.

Single Multi Agency Panel (SMAP)

SMAP continues to meet every week to discuss requests for EHC Needs Assessment, decisions whether to issue a statutory EHC Plan, banding and other requests such as requests for specialist placement.

What the LA have found is that the number of cases discussed each week continues to increase, as a result we have reviewed the current processes around SMAP, particularly discussions regarding requests for specialist placement.

From September 2021 - August 2022 the 0-25 SEND Team will be trialling a new process. There will be one resource panel a year for consideration of specialist placement at secondary transition, this will be held in early December. All other requests for specialist placements will be discussed on a weekly basis. If a child or young person is considered appropriate for specialist placement they will be added to a 'Register'. When a place becomes available at a special school in the City, the Special School Headteacher will then be able to make a decision based upon all the requests for children considered appropriate for a specialist setting.

Early Years reforms

New vodcast on implementing the revised EYFS

Foundation Years is pleased to share with you a new Vodcast on implementing the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) reforms in infant and primary schools. 

In this Vodcast Anna Jones, from the DfE, will take you through some of the key messages and what the aims of the reforms are. You will then hear from early adopter schools about their experience of delivering the revised EYFS framework during this academic year. First, you will hear from school leaders at early adopter schools of their experiences of the EYFS reforms and how they have implemented them in their school; then, you will hear from reception class teachers how the reforms have impacted their assessment practices and what has been important in their assessments during the early adopter year.

You can find a summary document to accompany the Vodcast here or watch the vodcast


Health, wellbeing and safety in education

MHST Delivery: Appreciative Inquiry Workshops

National DfE and NHSE/I colleagues are setting up a series of Appreciative Inquiry Workshops via Microsoft Teams, to support the continued development and expansion of Mental Health Support Teams working in schools and colleges. The workshops will be focused on four key themes:

  1. health-education partnerships and governance,
  2. inequalities and disadvantage,
  3. MHST service, scope and functions, and
  4. co-production.

These four themes have been identified as areas for wider exploration after considering feedback gathered through MHST programme reporting mechanisms, including quarterly MHST returns, the independent early evaluation and experience surveys of participating schools.

The aim of these workshops is to deepen our understanding of current practice, associated success factors and learning which will inform the development of the national support offer and identify positive practice that can be shared more widely.

There will be separate workshopsfor regional colleagues, MHSTs and education settings. During September and October, there will be interactive workshops to explore the first two themes (health-education partnerships and governance, and inequalities and disadvantage), for the audiences.

Dates and associated audiences are as follows:           

  • 21st September (3:30pm-5pm), for education settings- appreciative inquiry workshop into health-education partnerships and governance. Join the meeting
  • 22nd September (4:00-5:30pm) for education settings - appreciative inquiry workshop into inequality and disadvantage Join the meeting

If you cannot attend for the full duration of the workshop, we still encourage colleagues to join and participate as much as possible. We will also be holding some time for a limited number of 15-minute drop in sessions on the afternoon of Friday 8th October in case people cannot make any of the workshop dates and are keen to share their thinking and practice.

We will be in touch in due course about workshop dates for the last two themes.

Participating schools and colleges are eligible to attend the workshop sessions which are designed to build on the feedback provided via experience surveys for 2019/20 waves and 2020/21 schools and colleges currently hosting EMHP placements, as well as the independent early evaluation.


Government updates

Ministerial appointments: September 2021

Latest updates as Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes government appointments. Gavin Williamson MP has been replaced with Nadhim Zahawi MP as Secretary of State for Education.

Young people aged 12 to 15 to be offered a COVID-19 vaccine

People aged 12 to 15 in England will be offered one dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, following advice from the four UK Chief Medical Officers (CMOs), the Health and Social Care Secretary has announced today (Monday 13 September). In line with the recommendation of the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), the government sought the views of the four UK CMOs on the wider issues that are relevant to the health of children.

Parental, guardian or carer consent will be sought by vaccination healthcare staff prior to vaccination in line with existing school vaccination programmes. Healthy school-aged children aged 12 to 15 will primarily receive their COVID-19 vaccination in their school with alternative provision for those who are home schooled, in secure services or specialist mental health settings.

Funding boost for councils as new Afghan resettlement plans set out

Councils who support people through the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) or Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) scheme will receive £20,520 per person, over 3 years, for resettlement and integration costs. This is based on the previous Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, but over 3 rather than 5 years, with more money provided in the crucial early period to help people settle and become part of their new communities.

The full package will cover:

  • £20,520 to cover the local authority welcome, integration offer and provision of services
  • Up to £4,500 per child to cover education provision, subject to their age (year one only)
  • £850 to cover English language provision, for adults requiring this support (year one only)
  • £2,600 to cover health provision (year one only)

Ofsted launches updated guidance for summary evaluations of multi-academy trusts

Ofsted has launched updated guidance for summary evaluations of multi-academy trusts (MATs).

Summary evaluations look at the extent to which a MAT is delivering high quality education and improving pupils' outcomes. The updates to this guidance ensure that summary evaluations will mirror the education inspection framework, introduced in 2019, to focus on the quality of education as seen through the curriculum. It will also allow us to increase the volume of summary evaluations, and the breadth of MATs inspected, so that we gain better insight into the role of multi-academy trusts.

Relationships and sex education (RSE) and health education

Statutory guidance on relationships education, relationships and sex education (RSE) and health education. Updates to the page text to make it clear this guidance is now statutory. Updated the drugs and alcohol section of annex B to include a link to the teacher training module on drugs, alcohol and tobacco and removed the link to the research and briefing papers.

School suspensions and permanent exclusions

Updated statutory guidance on the suspension and permanent exclusion of pupils from local-authority-maintained schools, academies and pupil referral units.

COVID-19 vaccination: resources for schools

COVID-19 vaccination guidance and resources for schools. Added COVID-19 vaccination programme for young people: guidance for parents.

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