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COVID-19 Schools' Bulletin - 22 April 2021

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Updated 22 April 2021

Important contact details

From Ming Zhang
Service Director of Education, Participation and Skills

Dear colleagues,

I hope you all managed to have some well-deserved rest before starting this summer term, which will be another significant phase of our education recovery journey. As well as some key developments taking place this week, there are welcome news items that I would like to share with colleagues:

Primary National Offer Day
On the Primary schools offer day 16 April, nearly 99% of Plymouth children due to start in Reception from September (2536) were allocated one of their three preferences this year. This is a better performance than the national average and a significant improvement on the result of last year's 94%. My thanks to School Admissions Team for their hard work, and all Primary School colleagues for making our schools so popular with parents.

Parents' Feedback on Re-opening
The Plymouth Information Advice and Support for SEND (PIAS) Parenting Team have been supporting parent/carers on virtual groups from July 2020. The Team routinely offer opportunities for feedback as to how the pandemic has been affecting both them and their child/children during this difficult time. I am delighted to hear that there have been some encouraging early indications that the return to school on Monday of this week has been very positive for our families. One parent shared that her 5 year old, "has settled really well back in to school and received rewards wristbands both days so far. Been giving lots of praise". This is a testimony to the good support that schools have put in place and the joint efforts of all agencies in the transition to new normal.  

PIAS is an independent service whose Parenting Team provide a range of evidence-based parenting interventions across Plymouth. Many parent/carers attending their parenting courses have children with some level of special need.

Post-16 and Skills
Our Post-16 and Skills Service work with a wide range of partners in the city to gather labour market intelligence in closing skills gaps, and in ensuring that young people leaving schools will be in education, employment or training. This week's published outcomes show a 10% increase in job postings in the city from February 2020, which is fantastic news, given the national average currently is at a 16% decrease. We also know the growth postings are in health, social care, professional technical and science roles, along with engineering and manufacturing. Apprenticeships are also high, with the South-West currently offering 1 in 3 young people apprenticeships. The Post-16 and Skills Service have already begun working with some schools and colleges, using the labour market intelligence to inform curriculum design and implementation. As part of the skills strategy, we want to make a strong connection between schools' curriculums and the City skills strategy.

Ofsted's review of sexual abuse in schools and colleges
On 7 April, Ofsted published plans for a review into safeguarding policies and practices relating to sexual abuse in state and independent schools and colleges. The review was announced after anonymous testimonials of sexual abuse were published on the website "Everyone's Invited". The review will seek to find out whether schools and colleges have appropriate safeguarding processes in place. It will also consider whether current guidance is understood by schools and colleges, and whether it is sufficient to help schools respond effectively to allegations. The terms of reference for the review have been published during the Easter break. While expecting the Ofsted review, Plymouth Safeguarding Children Partnership are working to arrange a multi-agency twilight online information session for school leaders. I will keep you informed of this development.

In the meantime, we include in today's bulletin a message from NSPCC to remind schools and colleges of the resources and information available to you to support your efforts to have a proactive policy to prevent sexual harm in schools.

April governance update
These are links to the main guidance pages that cover a range of topics. While these may cover issues related to the operational running of schools and academies, it is important for those on school governing and Trust boards to be aware of this information, as part of their role in supporting and challenging school leaders on their duties:

COVID Local Support Grant
We were informed by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) on 14 April that Winter Grant Scheme were renamed Covid Local Support Grant (CLSG). A £40 million CLSG will be made available to cover the period to 20 June 2021 to support those most in need across England with the cost of food, energy (heating, cooking, and lighting), water bills (including sewerage) and other essentials. Effectively, this is an extension of the Covid Winter Grant Scheme (CWGS) that closed on 16 April 2021. Plymouth is set to receive circa £217,892. Given the short notice, our intention is to continue with the eVoucher code model and I have asked my team to make this so. Further details are included in today's bulletin.

Finally I am excited that I will meet many of you in person at your schools from this term.

Best regards.

Ming

COVID-19 information

Covid local grant scheme - communications to schools and settings

Please see the detailed information attached outlining all key updates relating to the Covid local grant scheme.

Young Carers vaccinations

Please see the attached fliers on Young Carers' vaccinations, please can secondary schools share the information on booking appointments with any 16-17yr old young carers.

Education information

Early Career Framework - changes to NQT induction

The Local Authority act as Appropriate Body, overseeing and supporting the new teacher induction process for many schools in the city. To support schools in preparing for the September introduction of the new two year Early Career Framework for new teachers we provided the first of two online briefing sessions via Microsoft Teams for school leaders and/or NQT mentors earlier this week. This was evaluated as being extremely helpful and we encourage all schools to attend the repeat session, being held at 4.00 - 5.30 pm on Wednesday 12 May in response to requests from schools.

These briefings are the first in a series of regular CPD sessions supporting schools step by step in preparing for roll out of the new ECF which will be provided online over the summer term. There is no need to book in advance, please use the link below to attend:

Microsoft Teams meeting

Join on your computer or mobile app

Click here to join the meeting

NQT training - Decolonising the Curriculum

This session for current NQTs registered with Plymouth Local Authority will provide understanding of what is meant by 'decolonising the curriculum,' and inform understanding of the different ways teachers can diversify, decolonise and provide inclusive learning in all areas of the curriculum. The session will offer ideas for creating a curriculum that celebrates and catalogues the BAME contribution across all subjects, throughout British history and in the present time.

This session offers a first taste of more extensive CPD that will be on offer to schools from September as part of the Plymouth Decolonising the Curriculum project.

NQTs not already booked can access the training by emailing Lucinda.ross@plymouth.gov.uk

EYFS profile assessments summer 2021

Schools will be aware that for the academic year 2020 to 2021, the Secretary of State for Education has decided that the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile (EYFSP) assessment will not be mandatory. However, schools will be required to use their "best endeavours" to complete the EYFSP and provide the information to year 1 teachers and to parents where possible.

The Early Years team will be offering FREE virtual EYFSP agreement trialling sessions which will provide an opportunity to discuss EYFSP assessment given the challenging circumstances presented by the COVID 19 pandemic and establish a common understanding of Early Learning Goals through sharing evidence and professional dialogue. There will be a separate session for any schools who are Early Adopters of the revised EYFS. See attached fliers for more detail.

Please also see the flier promoting the forthcoming session on EYFS reforms for all schools.

Supporting children and families in education

NSPCC update - sexual abuse in schools

With recent allegations concerning sexual abuse in schools in the media, and the focus on Everyone's Invited (website where victims post anonymous accounts of abuse) the NSPCC want to remind schools of the resources and information available to support your efforts to prevent sexual harm in schools and ask you to share with staff, families and children as appropriate.

NSPCC are currently in the process of updating our two e-learning courses on harmful sexual behaviour (HSB), Managing sexualised behaviour in primary schools and Managing sexualised behaviour in secondary schools. As soon as these are ready we will be circulating information signposting to their availability on our NSPCC Learning website. In the meantime, please find below a link to information on NSPCC new national dedicated helpline: Report Abuse in Education, offering support to CYP and education staff; amongst info on the helpline you will also find key information and resources to support safeguarding in schools and preventing problematic peer to peer relationships:

https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/news/2021/april/sexual-abuse-in-education-helpline-launched#heading-top

Listen to our podcast - in addition we offer a range of podcasts created to support schools responding to harmful sexual behaviour:

Report Abuse in Education Helpline - the DfE have commissioned the NSPCC to establish a dedicated independent helpline for people who have experienced abuse in education in response to a high number of anonymous testimonials submitted to the Everyone's Invited website, documenting abuse in schools, colleges, and universities. The helpline provides support to both children and adults who have experienced sexual abuse in schools, including onward action such as contacting the police if they wish to, and also provides support to parents and professionals. Anyone who gets in touch through this dedicated helpline will also be signposted to other relevant support services available, including ChildLine, which provides ongoing support and counselling to children and young people.

The Report Abuse in Education helpline can be reached on 0800 136 663 or by email at help@nspcc.org.uk

Together for Childhood - preventing sexual harm conference - for those who managed to join this event on the week of the 22 March you may have managed to see Maree Crabbe (from It's Time We Talked/Australia) talk about the incredibly damaging influence of pornography on young people's sexual development. Although based in Australia 'It's Time We Talked' provides transferable resources we would endorse for schools, please see the resources available:

https://itstimewetalked.com/resources/

https://itstimewetalked.com/resources/school-staff-presentation/

Together for Childhood Plymouth and the PSCP will be providing a number of resources, training and development opportunities this year in developing our approach to preventing problematic and harmful sexual behaviour and look forward to working with all schools in the city.

EU Settlement

All EU citizens and their children must apply for either pre-settled (lived in the UK for less than 5 years) or settled status (lived in the UK for 5 years plus) and applications must be submitted before the deadline of 30 June 2021. For many the application will be straightforward, however, some people may need support, and we would ask schools to share the attached flier, or promote this offer of support to parents who may find this useful.

Notice of change to CYP Speech & Language Service

Please see the attached flier outlining changes to Speech & Language Service applications.

Government updates

Thousands more pupils to benefit from cadet programme

Thousands of pupils in schools all over England will benefit from life skills that set them up for success as adults through a new £1.1 million investment to expand cadet units in schools.

Face coverings in schools and colleges to remain in place

The government has today confirmed that face coverings should continue to be worn in secondary school and college classrooms as a precautionary measure when students return after the Easter break. It is expected that face coverings will no longer be required to be worn in classrooms, or by students in other communal areas, at step 3 of the roadmap, which will be no earlier than May 17th. Guidance on face coverings in education has been updated to reflect this.

Catch-up premium: coronavirus (COVID-19)

Find out which schools are eligible, what the funding is for, when payments will be made and how funding can be used to help pupils catch up on missed education. Added information about registering interest for NELI in the 2021 to 2022 academic year.

Ofsted's review of sexual abuse in schools and colleges

Ofsted has published plans for a review into safeguarding policies and practices relating to sexual abuse in state and independent schools and colleges. The review was announced by government after anonymous testimonials of sexual abuse were published on the website 'Everyone's Invited'. It will seek to find out whether schools and colleges have appropriate safeguarding processes in place. It will also consider whether current guidance is understood by schools and colleges, and whether it is sufficient to help them respond effectively to allegations. The terms of reference for the review have also been published.

Behaviour experts to support schools with poor discipline

Heads and behaviour leads from some of England's highest performing schools and Multi Academy Trusts (MATs) have today been confirmed as mentors and trainers as part of £10 million Behaviour Hubs programme. Twenty two schools and two multi academy trusts from secondary, primary, special and alternative provision have been selected as leads for the programme. The lead schools and MATs will work closely with the schools they are supporting to diagnose what could be improved, develop and launch new behaviour approaches and policies, and provide ongoing mentoring and support.

£280m capital funding boost for children and young people with SEND

Children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), or requiring alternative provision in England, will benefit from a £280 million investment, the government has announced today. Councils will receive the funding to create new places in schools, academies, colleges and early years settings. The funding will improve existing provision to create modern, fit-for-purpose spaces that are suited to a wider range of pupil needs. This could be by contributing to the cost of creating a whole new special school, or by improving accessibility, such as installing ramps, handrails or ceiling hoists.

£18 million announced for cycle training for children and their families

As COVID-19 restrictions lift, the Transport Secretary is investing in the Bikeability cycling proficiency training scheme so that more people can feel confident about cycling.

Providing school meals during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

Guidance for schools and local authorities on school meals arrangements during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Updated information about claiming for additional costs, the Winter Grant Scheme and the Covid Local Support Grant, plus further information about free meals in further education.

School governance update: April 2021

Important news and communications from the Department for Education (DfE) relating to governance in maintained schools and academy trusts in England.

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