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Education Bulletin - 24 March 2022

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Updated 24 March 2022

Important contact details

From Ming Zhang
Service Director of Education, Participation and Skills

Dear colleagues,

Just after my office issued last week's Schools Bulletin, I was delighted to hear the news that by the end of last week the city Story Telling Project has involved 52 primary schools, with almost 9000 children in the city receiving an in person read of the books chosen by volunteer readers, including the brand-new children's book - Stop Dropping Litter on the World Book Day.

World Book Day In-person Reading

The list of those taking part as readers of the Story Telling Project and donating books is extensive and includes the book authors, city MPs Luke Pollard, Johnny Mercer and Sir Gary Streeter, local councillors, the Lord Mayor, Laura Horton (Plymouth's Laureate of Words 2021-22), chief officers of the City Council and readers from University, local businesses, charities and a team of volunteers from Theatre Royal Plymouth, including the new CEO James Mackenzie-Blackman ... Thanks to Plymouth Drape Foundation, PWC and Plymouth Child in Poverty (PCIP) group for sponsoring and organising this inspirational event.

The city's partners intend to deliver an even larger World Book Day Event March 2nd 2023 - Save the Date!

School Leadership Programme

School improvement Leadership programme has successfully rolled out across all phases, initially starting with a focus on Secondary schools. As part of the programme, the next Cross Phase events of Curriculum Excellence will take place at Crowne Plaza Hotel 9:00 am to 3:00 pm on

  • 30 March 2022
  • 25 May 2022
  • 29 June 2022

All three events are opened to Plymouth MAT CEOs, Headteachers, Deputy Headteachers, Assistant Headteachers, Faculty Leads, Trustees and Chairs of Governors. We already have more than 70 school delegates booked into the events and would encourage more, in particular Chairs of Governors to register for the conferences. The flyer for registration is attached in today's bulletin. Updated Covid advice Please see the latest 'Living with Covid' government guidance in this week's bulletin. We understand that schools are still experiencing a high level of pupil and staff illness. My thanks for all school leaders and staff for their continued efforts and excellent work to manage the challenging situation well.

Best regards.


COVID updates

Living with Covid - key changes from 1 April 2022

  • Living with COVID (COVID-19 Response: Living with COVID-19 - GOV.UK ( sets out that from April 1 there will no longer be free to order symptomatic and asymptomatic testing for the general public in England (including ordering by an education setting of LFD kits). Final confirmation of at risk populations that may be able to access free symptomatic testing has not been confirmed as we write this apart from social care staff.
  • DfE Helpline will be available from April1 but will only be for advice and information. They will not support management of an outbreak through for example undertaking a risk assessment with you.

Note: we are expecting a further Government announcement (March 24) on the post April 1 situation which may affect the information above.

If schools are experiencing a higher than usual level of Covid infection amongst pupils or staff at present (such as to potentially compromise normal school operations), please email to share details so that the local authority can collate information and feedback to regional/national partners.

Free Timers

The Covid Coordination Hub have a handful of timers available to local schools for free. Due to the limited number of timers, these will be allocated on a first come, first serve basis. For more information please email


Education updates

KS1 Teacher Assessment & Preparing for External Moderation training

A reminder to any Y2 teachers in maintained schools or those academies that have a statutory assessment agreement with Plymouth that this online training takes place next week 3.30pm on Tuesday 29 OR Wednesday 30 March and is essential for anyone making end of KS1 teacher assessments this year.

Any Y2 teachers who have not booked on the course already should email stating which session they wish to attend.

Any teachers who have already booked a place but who have not received their pre-session task materials should also contact Lucinda Ross before the session.

NEW 2022 - 23 Plymouth Oracy Project

We are delighted with the enthusiasm for the new PTSA led 2022-23 Plymouth Oracy Project, starting in April, however, we do still have some available places.

We know that this excellent CPD programme has a strong impact on outcomes in schools: improved attainment in key areas of learning in EY, and for all other age groups in English and Maths; a significant reduction in disadvantaged gaps; improved attendance, behaviour and well-being; and an increase in the number of pupils attaining ARE in the four strands of Oracy - and this year, schools participating in the project, with EAL learners in the EY, will also have access to additional CPD focused on supporting early language amongst EAL children in this phase.

This professional development is especially recommended for schools at the beginning or their Oracy journey or for Early Career/ New Teachers in schools where Oracy is already being embedded and developed.

To book a place, schools should email:

Early Years Foundation Stage Profile - agreement trialling 2022

Following this week's Early Years statutory assessment training, as promised, we are sharing details of optional EYFSP agreement trialling to be held in May.

Although it is no longer a statutory requirement for the Local Authority to moderate EYFSP judgements, we are offering schools this opportunity to meet with colleagues from the Early Years Improvement team, and other teachers from across the city, to engage in professional discussions about their EYFSP assessment judgements. EY practitioners will be able to share and agree assessment judgements in a group, supported by LA EY officers, in order to support a shared understanding of the new Early Learning Goals.

These sessions are voluntary and will be offered free of charge to all maintained schools and those academies who have a 2022 signed written agreement for statutory assessment, with Plymouth.

Sessions will take place on 17 and 19 May am OR pm.

Further details, including how to book will be outlined in future bulletins and letters to headteachers.

Ensuring political impartiality in teaching

Over recent weeks several schools have raised concerns around how teachers can confidently teach about complex social and historical issues, ensuring that young people are guided to learning that allows them to question and interrogate different perspectives, whilst at the same time, avoiding risks of alleged political bias. Guidance has become more complex in recent years and it is no longer the case that teachers should simply avoid sharing party political views, however, government guidance is clear and includes a number of useful case studies which highlight how to proceed. We strongly advise all teachers to read this guidance at: schools


Health, wellbeing and safety updates

Invitations to join the Elective Home Education Working Group

Iinclusion in education means providing the right support at the right time to vulnerable children so that barriers to learning and school attendance can be reduced. The Rapid Review into Child C highlighted vulnerable children and young people who are deregistered from school to be home educated. Vulnerable learners are those who have or have had a social worker, are at risk of being marginalised from education, excluded or underachievement.

The Inclusion Strategy Board and Plymouth Safeguarding Children's Partnership are committed to reducing the numbers of vulnerable children in the city who move into home education. Achieving this

will involve applying effective systems for early identification so that children and young people can be monitored and, where necessary, steps taken to provide the right support at the right time.

The purpose of the Elective Home Education Working Group will be:

  • To support the work of the Plymouth Inclusion Strategy Board in ensuring relevant stakeholders are aware of how data is being used to inform the Strategic Vision and associated implementation plan in respect of Elective Home Education (EHE).
  • To support the work of the Inclusion Strategy Board to use data to disseminate knowledge to stakeholders across the city as appropriate.
  • To design and implement a robust EHE data monitoring mechanism to help inform provision in the city and by which the quality, efficacy and cost effectiveness of the Inclusion Strategy can be measured.
  • To report the findings of the EHE working group, around the quality and efficacy of the Inclusion Strategy to the Plymouth Inclusion Strategy Board.
  • To act as a 'critical friend' to project leads involved with the delivery of the EHE implementation plan to facilitate the development and sharing of effective practice across the city.

The meetings of the working group will start after the Easter holidays and will initially be once a month during term time, this will be reviewed as the projects progress. If you would like to be involved in this important work please email you interest to by 1st April 2022.

Free seeds for schools

This spring, every school child in Plymouth will be given the power to become an eco- hero!

Local pollinator conservation group Pollenize CIC successfully raised over £75, 000 for their Seeds for Schools Project (S4S). A scheme that will equip every school child in Plymouth with a FREE packet of their wildflower seeds.

In April, ahead of the Easter holidays, Pollenize will be delivering the seed packets along with other educational resources to all schools across the city. The aim of this project is to engage the younger generation in pollinator conservation and increase forage and habitats for all pollinators!

Please see email attachments for further information.

Op Encompass briefing March 2022

In November 2022 Devon and Cornwall Police will be moving to a new IT system called Niche.

With this move they will no longer use ViSTs (Vulnerability Indicator Screening Tools) to record vulnerability concerns for children and adults at risk but will move to the Niche product called the Public Protection Notice (PPN). ViSTs contain the information about domestic abuse incidents that we share with schools under Operation Encompass.

PPNs are already widely used in Forces who have adopted Niche (over 20 Forces). It has some similarities to the ViST but does have the capability to capture more information from the child with the questions the officers need to go through.

OP Encompass is now being undertaken in all 43 Forces, but Devon and Cornwall Police is the only Force that passes information through direct phone calls. In most other forces an email notification is made to schools. We have been working with the Op Encompass founders Lis and David Carney- Hayworth and Dorset police on an automated replacement process to the telephone process. The focus has been on ensuring that the information shared will be sufficient to enable the school to provide the right level of support to the child.

Unlike a significant number of Forces who have decided to share a relatively limited amount of data (essentially that a domestic abuse has occurred) Devon and Cornwall Police and Dorset Police have opted for a reasonable level of detail. This has been supported by David and Lis Carney-Hayworth.

The information will be sent to schools via an email notification - an example email has been included with this briefing. The officers attending the incidents will use a hand-held electronic device to record the PPN and will then email directly to the school immediately after the incident.

The benefits of moving to an automated system will mean that the schools will have the information at the earliest opportunity, and we will no longer have delays that can sometimes result from our current IT systems and Op Encompass process. The making of phone calls can rely on available resources and can also rely on the ability to make efficient contact with the key adult at very busy times of the day, which can present challenges.

The Central Safeguarding Team (CST), who currently delivers the calls, would still be accessible if the school did require additional information and would still make contact directly with schools if a PPN was submitted without school details (if, for example, parents refuse or are unable to provide school details).

Devon Platinum Jubilee Cake Competition: Fit for a Queen

Please see the two attachments outlining further details of this competition.


Government updates

A level playing field - all pupils entitled to high-quality PE

Ofsted has published the latest in a series of reviews into different subjects across the curriculum. This review looks at physical education. The review draws on a range of sources, including the Ofsted Education Inspection Framework and other literature, to identify factors that can contribute to a high- quality PE curriculum, assessment, pedagogy and systems. Ofsted will use this understanding of subject quality to examine how PE is taught in schools, before publishing a subject report to share what they have learned.

This type of publication is especially useful in primary schools, where Ofsted expect to see a broad, balanced curriculum, and a good level of subject knowledge from teachers who are required to teach a broad range of subjects.

All schools to have high speed internet by 2025

Every school across the country will be able to access high speed internet by 2025, the Education Secretary has announced this week. To achieve this ambition, the Government has also announced a£150 million fund to support schools most in need to upgrade their WiFi connections.

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