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Education Bulletin - 20 January 2022

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Updated 20 January 2022

Important contact details


From Ming Zhang
Service Director of Education, Participation and Skills

Dear colleagues,

Yesterday the Prime Minister announced the lifting of COVID Plan B restrictions. I am sure school leaders want to know the implications and current local situation. Ruth Harrell, Director of Public Health has kindly contributed to today's bulletin to provide a heads up message around this development.

I would also like to highlight the review of elective home education (EHE) in the city. As part of the national trend, the number of EHE has been growing in the past two years. Elective home education can be a positive choice for families, if children are receiving a successful and suitable education. Therefore, there is no evidence to suggest a direct causal link between elective home education and increased safeguarding risks. However, in the EHE cohort there is a higher than usual proportion of vulnerable children who have already been known to Children's Social Care and/or have SEND concerns. Unlike in a school setting, teachers or other professionals do not necessarily see home educated children on a regular basis. This can cause particular vulnerabilities for a small minority of home educated children, particular the vulnerable ones.

We have therefore reviewed the EHE with our education, health and safeguarding partners and revised the local procedure to work together safeguarding this cohort of learners. I have included in today's bulletin the document, 'Learning on a Page' for EHE, that has been drawn from the recent EHE review. For further details about the local authority's EHE service, please contact Isabelle Morgan via email (Isabelle.Morgan@plymouth.gov.uk)

Best regards,

Ming

 

Message from Ruth Harrell - Director of Public Health

It is really good news that the number of cases has fallen nationally, and also in Plymouth, from the peak of 1,661 per 100,000 in a week to our current figure which is around 940. But we must remember that this case rate is still incredibly high; it is about the same as our last peak in mid-July. Although it has dropped a lot over the last few weeks, cases are remaining high and in fact increased in today's data, with signals that it is not likely to reduce much further in the short term. Let's hope this is just a blip and we continue our downward trend; but let's not just assume that will happen.

Case rates in children (0-15) dropped after the end of term, reaching a low of around 667 in late December. They have risen since then, more sharply in the last week or so, and are now the highest age group at 1,672. It feels like this is a long way from an endemic position that we can safely 'live with'. I hope we will get to that point soon, but we are not there yet.

My messages to the general public are that this is very fragile situation, and that we can hope for the best but we still need to be very cautious. The dropping of Plan B for many people just means that they should be making a free choice (rather than a legal requirement) to keep themselves and others safe.

I recognise that this can be different within the school/EY settings; I assume we will see updated DfE guidance shortly around this. I know that you are all experts at managing COVID19 in your schools/EY settings now, and I am sorry to say that I think, at least in the short term, many of you will be dealing with high community rates impacting your settings, even if there is no evidence of transmission within the setting. You will need to use the tools available to manage this, and you will have my full support in using those measures.

Face Coverings

DfE have stated (19 January 2022):

Local directors of public health are able to recommend the use of face coverings in communal areas, across their area only, where DfE and public health experts judge the measure to be proportionate due to specific health concerns. This is a temporary measure. Directors of public health will continue to advise individual settings experiencing outbreaks. Any local introduction of face coverings will be subject to routine review and removed at the earliest opportunity.

Dates

From 20 January: Face coverings will no longer be advised for staff and pupils in secondary school and college classrooms.

From 27 January: Face coverings will no longer be advised for staff and pupils in communal areas of secondary schools, nor for staff in communal areas of primaries.

Updated documents

Colleagues, further updates on key documents are attached to this bulletin. Apologies for so many recent updates and trying to keep up with this, but there has been a number of announcements in regard to changes to guidance recently which have required these documents being amended. Please delete all previous versions of the attachments provided with this bulletin and only use these.

Contacting COVID19 inbox (COVID19@plymouth.gov.uk)

When using the COVID19 inbox please state either for information or please contact us. We do look at all emails that come in but if it is for information only we may not confirm that we have received it due to work volume which is very high. Any request for us to contact you will be done as soon as is possible - always usually within the same day.

Best wishes,

Ruth

 

Education updates

Anthology 2022

The 'Call of the Wind' anthology of young people's creative writing and illustrations is looking for submissions from Plymouth students aged 5 -11. This year's theme centres around climate change, sustainability, and its effects on nature. We are working on this in collaborations with Green Minds, a local nature project aiming to create nature-based solutions to climate change (https://greenmindsplymouth.com). Entries can be from groups or individuals, and should be made via email to plymouthanthology@outlook.com. Entries can take the form of poetry, prose or illustration, and should respond to one of the following questions:

  • What impact is climate change having on nature?
  • What does climate change mean for your future?
  • Do you have a message for the people of Plymouth and beyond?

The deadline for submissions is Friday 18 February 2022. We intend to hold a small launch where successful entrants will receive a printed copy of the anthology, COVID-permitting. Please visit https://plymouthanthology.wixsite.com/anthology2022 for more information and see the attachments to this copy of the Schools Bulletin.

 

Health, wellbeing and safety updates

DfE Harmful Sexual Behaviour Support Service

The Harmful Sexual Behaviour Support Service, run by SWGfL in partnership with the Marie Collins Foundation, is now available to safeguarding professionals across England and provides the tools to equip practitioners to address the alarming normalisation of harmful sexual behaviour in children and young people.  The telephone and email support, funded by the Home Office and developed in collaboration with the DfE, is available Monday - Friday, 8am to 8pm, telephone: 0344 255 0623 or email: hsbs@swgfl.org.uk

The Harmful Sexual Behaviour Support Service is for education and safeguarding professionals and will provide: advice on individual cases or incidents of harmful sexual behaviour, to ensure an appropriate response both for children displaying this behaviour and others affected by it; guidance on policy development on tackling harmful sexual behaviour; and relevant resources, best practice and contacts around harmful sexual behaviour, both locally and nationally, for further details: Find out more about the service

Together, we can keep every child safe online

It is really encouraging to be having more conversations in many forums about keeping children safe online, we continue to see this area of concern grow in its breadth and complexity both locally and nationally, but we have some fantastic resources and tools to combat this and make childhoods safer.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how urgent it is for us to come together to stop online abuse. Last year our helpline saw a 45% increase in contacts from people worried about children experiencing online sexual abuse. That's why we're campaigning for laws to protect young people online.
We all have a role to play - please use, share and promote our advice, tools and resources to help keep every child safe online.

https://www.nspcc.org.uk/keeping-children-safe/online-safety

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