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Education Bulletin - 23 September 2021

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Updated 23 September 2021

Important contact details

From Ming Zhang
Service Director of Education, Participation and Skills

Dear colleagues,

One day this week, on my way to visit Knowle Primary School I received a call from Ofsted, coincidently mentioning their positive inspection experience of the very school while I stopped my car and talked in front of the school gate. It is most encouraging to hear how a regulatory body clearly recognised one of Plymouth's schools as an excellent example of achieving steady and sustainable improvement in their pursuit to be outstanding while having an impressive inclusion system to ensure every child is flourishing. I would like to congratulate Cameron, his staff, pupils and parents for achieving this marvellous milestone moving from double RI status to Good across the board. In an area with significantly higher than the average percentage of pupils with FSM we have another school that has proved we can deliver the best outcomes for all children, including those who are vulnerable with high needs or with a disadvantaged background.

Inclusion Strategy Board

As an education community, I have heard that we have collectively come to realise that inclusion is an integrated part of school improvement. The message from my latest catch up with Ofsted is clear that there will be a refocus on inclusion in their inspection practice.

At yesterday's Inclusion Strategy Board, Phil Wicker, Independent Chair of Canterbury Schools' Inclusion Collaborative shared with us their experience of local schools working closely together in a school-led inclusion cluster system, which has been recognised by the DfE as a good practice that has led to zero permanent exclusion and an increase in the number of Good or Outstanding schools in the County. Thanks for the MAT CEOs and Headteachers who came to listen to Phil's presentation at the Inclusion Strategy Board and shared your thoughts on next steps of the city's inclusion collaboration among schools, including cluster working.

Inclusion has been identified as one of the priorities for Plymouth's Place-based Education Improvement Programme, jointly delivered by the RSC and PCC. I will work with Dean Ashton, Gavin Gracie and inclusion cluster leads to move forward the cluster working agenda, building on the strength that we have established in the city.

Vaccination of 12-15 Year Olds and Reporting of Anti-vax Activity:

The vaccination of 12-15 year olds started this week and I am pleased to hear that all secondary schools are well prepared for it.

Together with my public health colleagues, I had earlier this week met the Programme Assurance Lead of Devon Mass Vaccination Programme to discuss potential Anti-vax protests in or outside schools. Within the wider Devon system, cases of anti-vax disruption are on the increase. We are aware that some schools have already received communications from some groups and organisations wishing to disrupt the vaccination/immunisation process as the programme moves into education and learning settings with the 12-15 year old cohort.

While the SAIS provider (Virgin Healthcare) will take responsibility for the reporting of anti vax disruptions experienced during the day of vaccination at each school, we would like to ask that any anti vax disruption that you experience (email, telephone, physical demonstration) at your education setting outside of the immunisation sessions are reported through the simple form, known as an 'SBAR'. This is attached to today's school bulletin.

The completion of the SBAR form will ensure that the issues that you have seen can be reported both nationally and locally and will support our Devon-wide intelligence gathering and also ensures that we can work with Devon and Cornwall Constabulary to provide local support where needed. This approach is being led by Devon CCG.

COVID Outbreak Management Tool - Public Health Update

We have had feedback from some settings in regard to the Outbreak Management Planning Tool which has been circulated in two recent School and Early Years bulletins. This tool is to help schools develop / update their own contingency plan / outbreak plan / risk assessment. The tool sets out a number of escalation levels one of which is called, 'Enhanced Outbreak Control Measures'. These measures are not related to Plymouth currently having the status of being an Enhanced Response Area (ERA). The measures set out in the Tool give an indication of the controls an individual setting could use to respond to and manage positive cases / outbreakin their own individual setting.

I have included in today's bulletin the detailed advice from Public Health.

School Attendance

As pupils have returned to school-based learning for some time now, attendance is once again a priority. The DfE has highlighted persistent absence as an issue that schools will now need to address taking into account local Covid situations. The latest attendance returns show that Plymouth's attendance rate is broadly in line with the national average.

While most schools continue to make daily status returns to the DfE, we have a number of schools that have not done so. Please be reminded that schools and settings are still expected to make a daily return.

COVID-19 School Bulletin - School Attendance 16 September 2021




Education updates

NELI update

In response to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on nursery children's access to education, care and enriching activities, the Department for Education has provided further funding to the Nuffield Foundation for schools in England to receive and deliver the Nuffield Early LanguageIntervention (NELI) during the academic year 2021/22. There is an opportunity for state-funded English schools with Reception pupils to receive NELI at no cost this academic year although limited places are available.

NELI is a programme for children in Reception (4-5 years) which has been found to improve children's language and early literacy skills. The initiative was developed by leading academics in the field of language and literacy development. The aim was to design an evidence-based early intervention programme that could be easily delivered by schools to address children's language needs. Several robust evaluations has led to NELI being the most well-evidence early language programme available to schools in England. Find out more and how to register at


Health, wellbeing and safety in education

Trauma Informed Practice Training - TISUK

TISUK is delighted to be working with education leaders in Plymouth to offer 'whole school' and 'practitioner' level training to settings across the city. Following a procurement process run by Plymouth City Council on behalf of Plymouth schools, TISUK has been commissioned to offer fully funded training to Plymouth school staff over the next academic year. This training offer will include- 

  • 2 Day Senior Lead Training in the Autumn term 2021 and Spring term 2022
  • Day Level 5 Diploma Training in Trauma and Mental Health Informed Schools and Communities in the Spring and Summer term 2022

Senior Lead Training

This course is designed to support Senior Leads to implement trauma-informed and mentally-healthy practices into their schools and organisations. TISUK recognises the importance of the commitment and determination of Senior Leads to fully embed any approach or cultural change. The course will ensure that Senior Leads have the knowledge, skills and understanding to optimise the well-being of both adults and pupils in their school and drive this crucial cultural change.

Dates and Eventbrite booking links for the SLT training can be found on the attached flyer. All training will take place face to face and more details can be found on Eventbrite. 

Mental Health Support Teams (MHST) In Schools Pilot

In 2017, the Government published its Green Paper for transforming children and young people's mental health, which detailed proposals for expanding access to mental health care for children and young people, building on the national NHS transformation programme which is already underway. Jointly delivered with the DfE, MHSTs provide early intervention on some mental health and emotional wellbeing issues, such as mild to moderate anxiety, as well as helping schools to provide a 'whole school approach' to mental health and wellbeing.

The MHST team is now in a position to expand our current offer beyond the current 22 primary and secondary schools within the Plymouth area. We are available to support more schools in delivering the Whole School approach, as well as individual support for children and young people. We aim to target a total population of 7000 pupils with the focus on primary schools, whilst continuing to work with secondary schools as well.

If you would like your school to access support please submit an expression of interest at: Deadline 5 November 2021.

Annual Emotional Health and Wellbeing (EHWB) in Schools Survey

We would like to gain your views on the commissioned Emotional Health and Wellbeing Services delivered in your schools over the previous academic year 2020-2021. This annual survey is to be completed by secondary schools, special schools and alternative provision.

Please use the link to the online EHWB in Schools Survey below:

The survey will close on 31st October 2021.

Designated Safeguarding Leads Professional Development Sessions

Please find below the dates for this year's DSL Professional Development Sessions which are being held via Teams:

18 November 2021, 3.30-5.00pm

15 March 2022, 3.30-5.00pm

27 June 2022, 3.30-5.00pm

These meetings will be held online via Microsoft Teams

Join on your computer or mobile app

Join the meeting

Updates from Devon & Cornwall Police

Please see the attached fliers for schools to share. 

Further details of the DCD hub:


  • News
  • Resources (Videos, Documents, education resources, links to websites and organisations)
  • Links to e-learning and podcasts
  • Uniform database, School's upload school uniform images to assist us in ID'ing uniforms for offending and incidents
  • Trauma informed Policing and ACEs
  • International students portal

Trauma and Mental Health Informed Schools

As part of the ongoing work by Plymouth City Council and in conjunction with the Trauma Informed Plymouth Network we are pleased to announce a training course that will allow senior school leaders to implement trauma informed and mentally-health practices into our schools

Delegates on the course will gain a wealth of effective, time and money saving ways of working with a child's challenging behaviour and the mental health issues that block learning.

The course provides a comprehensive overview of the 10-day course "Diploma in Trauma and Mental Health Informed Schools and Communities" (Practitioner Status) enabling Senior Leads to fully support the TMHi practitioners they send on the Diploma course, many of whom could then become the school's Mental Health Lead.

Further information and links on how to book are on the attached leaflet entitled "Plymouth Trauma and Mental Health informed Schools" with links to the various dates and how to book. Please note there are only TWO places per school available

If you require any further information on this or any training for senior leaders at schools then please contact the Health Safety and Wellbeing team at Plymouth City Council on 01752 312523 or


Government updates

Training launched for mental health leads in schools and colleges

Schools and colleges to benefit from a trained senior mental health lead for those who need support. Pupils in up to 7,800 schools and colleges will benefit from a trained senior mental health lead tasked with identifying those who need support and improving access to specialist services.

Eligible schools and colleges will be able to apply for a grant of £1,200, which can be used to enable senior leaders to gain the knowledge and skills they need to roll out an effective 'whole school or college approach' to mental health and wellbeing.

Backed by a total of £9.5 million, announced in May, this grant funding includes training on how to use existing mental health resources more effectively, identify students who need mental health support, and on how to improve working with local mental health services. The government remains committed to offering this training to all state schools and colleges by 2025.

Ofsted to review two education catch-up reforms

Ofsted has been asked by the government to carry out an independent review of two key catch-up reforms: tutoring and teachers' professional development.

The reviews will investigate how the government's policies are working on the ground, through a mixture of research visits, evidence from our inspections and other methods. They will assess the progress and, where possible, the effectiveness of the government's education recovery plans.

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