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COVID-19 Schools' Bulletin - 18 November 2021

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Updated 18 November 2021

Important contact details


From Ming Zhang
Service Director of Education, Participation and Skills

Dear colleagues,

Last Friday, 12 November in an open letter, to parents and carers of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), Minister for Children and Families, Will Quince, confirmed that the SEND Review is expected to be published early in 2022.

For school leaders, it has been two years' long wait from starting the review, with the government delaying the publication of its findings a couple of times. It is encouraging to hear that the new Minister is prioritising the delivery of the SEND Review early next year.

SEND Review and Local Demands

Nationally, school leaders have been urging the government to complete the SEND Review and publish its outcomes, committing essential funding, implementing the changes required to address long-standing systemic shortcomings.

Same as other local areas in the country, we are experiencing a significant increase in SEND demands which in turn put greater pressure on all sectors' capacities. Our 0-25 SEN Statutory Assessment Team are seeing a large increase in the amount of work that they are dealing with in relation to children with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) and I am sure that this is also reflected within your settings.  As a city, we want to work together to identify new ways of working that will mitigate the demands while ensuring that children and young people's needs are met. I have included some additional information about the SEND annual review process within this bulletin.

We welcome your contribution in our exploration of how to move to a more preventative and early intervention model of SEND support. Our Head of SEND and Disability Penny Whitell's email address is: penny.whitell@plymouth.gov.uk

Skills and Post 16

In partnership with City College Plymouth, our Skills and Post-16 Service held a successful Skills Summit with the attendance of DWP, major businesses, employers, training and education providers who took part in this exciting co-production event planning Skills4Plymouth Strategy for the next 5 years. The conference on 11 November was the first Skills Summit that we have had in the city. A big thank you to Steven Cardew of Kawasaki Precision Machinery (UK) Ltd, who had chaired the city's Employment and Skills Board for several years and a key driver of the city's skills initiatives under the Resurgam programme. Paul Turner from Princess Yachts is the city's new chair of Employment and Skills Board. 

With the strong line up of the city's major employers and businesses, sitting next to Barclays Bank's representative at the discussion table I saw the fantastic employment and training opportunities for young people in the city. The key to future success lies with robust labour market intelligence, skills gaps bridging as we as connection between school curriculums and skills opportunities.

Therefore, one of the topics being raised and discussed at the Skills Summit is how we make a good link between schools and the opportunities afforded by the local businesses. This is a good start and our Skills and Post-16 team will explore this further with the city's school leaders.

In the meantime, if you would like to know more about this development, please contact Tina Brinkworth, Head of Skills and Post-16, email: tina.brinkworth@plymouth.gov.uk

Kind regards.

Ming

 

Education updates

Ensuring Racial Equality whole school training

This term the Ethnic Minority Achievement Team have been in demand delivering Ensuring Racial Equality training in schools, and as this is national anti-bullying week, it's a good time to consider booking this popular CPD if your school policy and practice have not been reviewed recently. The training ensures a comprehensive understanding of racism, and how to effectively deal with racist incidents, as well as supporting strategic policy and promoting a positive whole school culture.

Positive praise for this course:

The session was informative, inspiring and engaging and has been extremely helpful and supportive when dealing with and discussing incidents linked to racism, equality and diversity. Colleagues have been extremely positive about the training and how this has really helped them. Our Head of Year 8 commented 'It was one of the most thought provoking and useful pieces of CPD we've ever been offered. We were guided through the stark reality of racism from history right up to the present day and how this will be experienced by young people in our educational settings. We were also given a safe space to probe and reflect and ask difficult questions of ourselves and others as practitioners'.

We cannot recommend this training highly enough, any organisations working with children and young people within the city needs to engage with this training. We are looking forward to the next opportunity for the team to visit us again as we work in collaboration to ensure we remove all forms of racism.Plymstock School

Our staff received some really valuable, thought-provoking CPD... some of the statistics really hit home with our teaching team. The training provided much greater awareness and helped us make subtle changes to our behaviours and practice that will have a positive impact on children and families of different races and cultures. The Cathedral School of St. Mary and St. Joseph's RC Primary School

This whole staff training was very thought provoking and provided lots of opportunities for us to reflect on our own practice. The sections on racist incidents and positively challenging racism were particularly useful. We thoroughly enjoyed the Ensuring Racial Equality training - so much to think about especially around perception and institutionalised racism.St Andrew's Primary School

Training can be delivered in school or online, and the 1.5 hr. session is charged at a rate of £180. For bookings please email: Lucinda.ross@plymouth.gov.uk

 

Plymouth's Diverse Curriculum - school CPD and resource pack

In addition to the training outlined above, we are excited to share information about new school CPD aimed at supporting schools in decolonising the curriculum: Plymouth Diverse Curriculum CPD and resource pack has been developed in response to calls from students motivated by the Black Lives Matter campaign, and we have worked with groups of students, teachers, trade unions and other local authorities over the past year to finalise this training pack, which we hope will inspire teachers in all phases, and be the start of citywide best practice.

Training sessions and accompanying resource packs, featuring guidance, reading lists and sample planning across curriculum areas and phases, is aimed at teachers and school leaders, with interactive CPD sessions lasting two hours and charged at a rate of £240. For more details or to arrange bookings from January 2022 please email: Lucinda.ross@plymouth.gov.uk        

 

LEGO® Learning System!

Plymouth City Council, in association with LEGO®Education partner Raising Robots, and Scientrific are excited to invite primary school educators to a morning of hands-on learning.

LEGO Education has been bringing STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Maths) learning to life in schools across the world for 40 years. If you are new to LEGO Education - come and join us to find out more!

The LEGO Learning System is a series of solutions that work seamlessly together to deliver engaging, hands-on STEAM learning experiences for pupils of all ages. It combines Key Stage 1 & 2 curriculum linked units, stackable LEGO bricks, a simple coding progression, intelligent hardware, and professional development - creating limitless possibilities for playful STEAM learning.

Who:           Primary school educators including management, teachers, learning support staff

When:        Friday 3rd December, registration from 8:45am for 9:15am start. Finish 12:45pm

Where:      Crowne Plaza Plymouth, PL1 2HJ

Cost:          Free

How to register:        Visit raisingrobots.com/plymouth. Places are limited so book now!

 

SEND updates

Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) Annual Review Reminder

In September 2021, the Annual Reviewing Officers within the 0-25 SEND Team sent out editable draft EHC Plans to all Primary schools who have pupils in Year 6 with an EHCP.  This was to enable SENCOs to using these plans to hold an Annual Review and to request amendments if needed and also make requests for specialist placement for Year 7, if appropriate.

This is just a reminder that all Year 6 Annual Reviews need to be completed between October and December 2021 and submitted to the 0-25 Team by 17th December 2021.

The deadline day for submitting any requests for a specialist placement for Year 7 is 19 November 2021. The Specialist Placement Panel itself will be held on 1 December 2021.

For Annual Reviews in general, please ensure that all paperwork is submitted to the Annual Review Team along with all supporting documentation within 10 days of the Annual Review meeting being held. 

This is in accordance with the Code of Practice 2015 guidelines.  To ensure our compliance with the Code Of Practice we will begin to monitor city-wide this 10 day timeframe in anticipation of this becoming a DfE key performance indicator.

And finally if there is any type of request that needs to be discussed by the SMAP Panel please can you ensure that all relevant documentation is attached to the request this helps to prevent delays in any decision being made process.

 

Health, wellbeing & safety updates

Vaccination information from Public Health

Vaccines have helped us build a wall of defence and return to a more normal way of life, which is why this autumn and winter it's vital that eligible people come forward for their COVID-19 booster vaccine and flu jab to protect themselves, their loved ones and the NHS.

Due to colder weather which favours transmission experts have warned there could be a significant flu surge this winter coinciding with continuing or rising COVID-19 cases.

The government has launched a nationwide advertising campaign to encourage those eligible to get their COVID-19 booster and flu jabs, to protect themselves and their loved ones this winter.

People will be invited for the COVID-19 booster jab when it's their turn - if they have not been contacted within a week of reaching 6 months since their second jab they can call 119 or book online.

Those who are eligible for a free flu vaccine can book an appointment through their GP surgery or local pharmacy.

Current eligibility:

For the COVID booster vaccine: people with long term health conditions, people 50 years old and over and health and social care workers​ 

For the flu vaccine: people with long term health conditions, people 50 years old and over​ , health and social care workers, pregnant women and young children (up to secondary school year 11).​ 

To find out if you're eligible and book your winter vaccines visit: www.nhs.uk/wintervaccinations 

Benefits to schools of Flu vaccination programme:

  • helps protect children against flu which in turn reduces pupil and staff absenteeism rates
  • promotes a healthy working environment in schools and the wider community, including amongst the children's immediate and extended family
  • reduce the likelihood of flu outbreaks in schools, where symptoms may be confused with those of COVID-19
  • the engagement in NHS public health programmes, including vaccination, is recognised by OFSTED as being important and provides an opportunity to discuss vaccinations as part of Health Education, which is compulsory in primary and secondary schools from September 2020
  • provides an opportunity to integrate learning about the benefits of vaccination into the school curriculum including history and science

A range of resources are attached to this bulletin highlighting the importance of the COVID booster and flu vaccines for those eligible. Please could any information leaflets be sent to secondary aged students and parents of primary aged children, and any posters be placed in settings for the appropriate target audiences.

For further guidance and a winter readiness toolkit for educational settings please use the following link: https://www.england.nhs.uk/south/info-professional/public-health/infection-winter/schools-and-nurseries-guidance/

 

Government updates

More support for schools to tackle bullying

Thousands of schools in England are set to benefit from further support and training to help pupils combat bullying, learn to value each other's differences, and improve wellbeing for staff.

As Anti-Bullying Week gets underway, the Department for Education has confirmed funding for five leading organisations, worth over £1 million in total, to support schools and colleges in championing tolerance and respect as part of their responsibility to tackle all forms of bullying.

Education staff wellbeing charter

The education staff wellbeing charter is a declaration of support for, and set of commitments to, the wellbeing and mental health of everyone working in education.

The charter is for education staff in England. This includes temporary and support staff. All state funded schools and colleges are invited to sign up to the charter, as a shared commitment to protect, promote and enhance the wellbeing of their staff. Sign up is voluntary and there is no deadline to sign up.

Managing coronavirus (COVID-19) in education and childcare settings

What measures education and childcare settings should be prepared to introduce to manage coronavirus (COVID-19) - the guidance has been updated on the use of face coverings in communal areas in secondary schools, as part of protective measures to manage local outbreaks.

Schools' views: benefits and obstacles to joining academy trusts

This research report presents the results of a survey designed to understand the experiences and perceptions of schools about multi-academy trusts (MATs).

This research was designed to answer 3 key research questions:

1.     what are the experiences of schools or academies that have joined a MAT in the last couple of years?

2.     why have maintained schools decided not to convert to join a MAT?

3.     why have standalone academies not joined or formed a MAT?

It presents the difference between the experience of being within a MAT and perceptions of what being in a MAT would be like.

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