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Education Bulletin - 24 June 2021

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Updated 24 June 2021

Important contact details

From Ming Zhang
Service Director of Education, Participation and Skills

Dear colleagues,

In a recent school bulletin, I highlighted the Ofsted recommendations derived from the review of sexual abuse in schools and colleges. I know that all school leaders and governors will have read the Ofsted Review into sexual abuse in schools and colleges and have been struck by the findings shared within the report. Many of the findings give us an insight into the experiences of children and young people which can be painful to consider, but the report challenges everyone (school leadership, multi-agency partners and central government) to consider the recommendations arising. While I am sure school leaders and governors have been working on the implementation of the recommendations, the safeguarding partners in Plymouth have been working together to co-ordinate a support plan for schools and colleges in their response to the Ofsted recommendations. As this week's highlighted topic, I would like to update you further on this matter and the local response.

Child Abuse Review Local Response

The Ofsted report sets out evidence indicating that sexual harassment and online sexual abuse is much more prevalent amongst children and young people than adults realise. Children and young people said sexual harassment occurs so frequently as to be described as 'commonplace' and some young people may consider sexually harmful experiences to be normal.

The report is not saying this is solely a risk in the school setting, and findings reflect the breadth of children and young people's experience. However, as school leaders we know that the impact is far reaching for children and young people, and we also know that a child's school plays a key role in creating a culture that enables a young person to talk about their concerns and feel able to ask for help. The report highlights a multi-agency approach in understanding and responding to sexual harassment and sexual violence is needed.

As a City, it is through Plymouth Children's Safeguarding Partnership, working together, that we will achieve the changes needed to better protect our children and young people from harmful sexual experiences and the impact of this on their wellbeing. We have the benefit locally of NSPCC and Barnardo's knowledge and experience to support our local response across school leadership, and the Plymouth Children's Safeguarding Partnership activity. There will be work across the partnership and I would ask you to be part of this work, particularly in sharing good practice that supports this area of work in schools.

In the first instance, I would suggest that all schools and governing bodies take time to read the review report and consider the recommendations if this has not been done. I know that you will prepare action plans needed at an individual school or MAT level. We have included an assurance question regarding this in the forthcoming s175/s157 Safeguarding audit (summer term).

Alongside this, we will be working in partnership on themes including:

  • Review local delivery of RHSE curriculum against the recommendations in the report 
  • Consider training requirements, information and advice offer for school staff and governors
  • Consider multi-agency information/data to understand local risks around sexual harm better to inform response.

COVID/Delta virus update

In my recent meetings with Headteachers, it was suggested that I continue to share with you COVID related messages from the City Council and our public health services.

Rates in Plymouth are continuing to rise, and an increasing number of schools are being affected. Rates remain below the SW average, and well below the England average, but are still of concern. We know many of the cases are now the Delta variant which is more transmissible. Lessons from Plymouth and elsewhere show that more contacts will be infected and are often developing COVID, hence the additional step we are taking for close contacts to have a PCR test as soon as possible.

Dr Ruth Harrell, PCC's Director of Public Health advises, "If they are identified quickly, we can then ensure their contacts are traced, thus trying to break the chain of infection more quickly. We may also ask for a wider group to have PCR tests, for example in a school setting, as a precaution. This would be discussed as part of an Incident Management Team with PHE." Ruth also advises communities and settings to reinforce the messages around LFTs; twice a week, and just before returning if people have been isolating as a contact but did not have a positive PCR during that time.

We were expecting to see increases linked with the opening of the roadmap, but this has been exacerbated by the Delta variant. We are likely to be in for a few more difficult weeks before the end of term; I know this is difficult for you and your staff, and I would like to thank you again for the way in which you have been working with us to manage the situation (or may have too shortly)!

COVID Local Support Grant

DWP announced on 21 June an extension to the COVID Local Support Grant (CLSG) and extra funding. This grant was initially called "COVID Winter Grant Scheme" for holiday food, and other help for children who are entitled to FSM, or where families are experiencing financial difficulties. My team is working hard, to an extremely tight deadline, to develop and implement a plan for the distribution of an additional £871,567.58 for the summer break. I will be in touch with you with further details once plans are agreed and finalised.

Best regards.



COVID updates

A new flow diagram for reporting and responding to COVID 19 incidents has been produced by PHE SW HPT (2021.06.22). These have been updated to include the recommendation around PCR testing for close contacts as well as a refresh of various links. The escalation criteria for contacting PHE has also been updated. Please delete all previous versions and use this new version attached.

There is also an updated (18 June 2021) version of the Coronavirus (COVID-19)contingency framework for education and childcare settings to be found at contingency framework - you are likely to have already been made aware of this.

Arrangements for end of year events - please see attachments (checklists)

We acknowledge the work of colleagues in Devon County Council (Health and Safety & Public Health) for their work on the checklist. The checklist provides a useful method of ensuring key mitigations are in place.

Transition Events

DfE advice is 'complete thorough risk assessments before running transitional, taster and open days in your setting, to ensure that they are run in line with your system of controls and align with the advice contained within the guidance for your setting and the system of controls and the roadmap out of lockdown'

  • Traditional Y6 transition days are unlikely to be feasible this academic year as schools must maintain the integrity of bubbles/consistent groups. PHE advice if they can't be delivered in this way is that they should not happen. However, for children with an EHCP plan etc. then schools should explore how transition appointments for individual children can take place by risk assessing and adhering to the system of controls
  • If a school can maintain existing y6 bubbles and adhere to the system of controls, then please refer to the attached checklist developed by H&S and PH Devon
  • If either of the schools visiting or receiving are in an outbreak situation or have rising number of cases, then the event would not be able to go ahead
  • Y6 parents' evenings - the advice is to hold online/virtually in the first instance, if held indoors the rule of 6 or 2 households applies which is likely to make them unviable

Leavers' Events

  • Avoid hosting large group gatherings indoors for more than one bubble (or consistent groups in early years), e.g., assemblies/mass worship.
  • Children should be kept in separate, independent groups or bubbles.
  • For early years minimise contact between groups within settings
  • Schools may consider an outdoor event (leaver's event/prom) for more than one bubble/ consistent group; groups must be kept separate and there must be a risk assessment (planned in line with controls).
  • Parents attending outdoor events must follow social distancing. Where outdoors spectators can gather in groups of up to 30 and multiple groups of 30 are permitted.

Sports Days

Sports days can go ahead.

  • Pupils should stay in bubbles, early years children should stay in their consistent groups
  • Sports equipment should be regularly cleaned throughout the event.   
  • Spectators must keep to social distancing guidance.
  • Outdoors, spectators can gather in separate groups of up to 30 - the legal gathering limit. Multiple groups of 30 are permitted.  


If you are planning an indoor or outdoor face-to-face performance in front of a live audience, you should continue to follow the latest performing arts guidance, and the guidance on delivering outdoor events. Registered early years settings, schools and colleges are exempt from the requirement to limit group numbers to 6 for singing indoors.

School Health Related Behaviour Survey (HRBS) 2021/22

As you may recall we had to stop the last HRBS that was due because of the pandemic. It is our intention to work with the school system to undertake the survey during 2021/22. Funding to undertake the survey is in place and there will be no financial cost for schools to take part. We have not been able to progress this work earlier due to the on-going impact of the pandemic and implications on our capacity. However, we will take this forward now.

We have a survey ready that can be used to go out - though we have an opportunity to make some changes if necessary. The survey will allow you / City to compare pre-pandemic data with data we collect across 2021/22 and so this should provide useful insight into the impact of the pandemic on behaviours / need amongst our school age population.

Next steps

  • It is planned that the survey will be discussed at next week's mental health leads meeting (secondary schools)
  • For Primary schools, can colleagues email me if they are willing to be part of a small group to help support use among Primary Schools
  • For Special Schools I will be in contact with Heads over the next week

Further updates will be provided in the bulletin.

Please communicate with me using the following email:

COVID educational settings webinars

The Southwest Health Protection Team will be running more COVID-19 educational setting webinars for any educational setting to attend on Thursdays. The sessions will cover infection prevention principles and then discuss scenarios to illustrate this.

If you would like to attend, please use our Eventbrite page to register by visiting the link below. The webinars will run on Thursdays between 4-5pm. All dates our listed on our Eventbrite page, please follow the link below:

Please register for a ticket on the date that you would like to attend. Registering for a ticket is free, it does not cost anything to attend these webinars.

Once you have registered, you will receive a confirmation email with details on how to join. On the day of your webinar another email containing a copy of the presentation for you to access will be sent out.

If you have any difficulties, you can contact the Southwest Health Protection Team on 0300 303 8162 or via email contact


Education updates

IMPORTANT - Registering Early Career Teachers with an Appropriate Body

Any schools that have recruited Early Career Teachers (ECTs) must register them with an Appropriate Body before they take up post. Failure to do so may delay the start of the induction period.

If your school is using Plymouth as the AB the deadline for registering your ECTs is Friday 16 June. To register ECTs please complete the attached ECT REG. FORM and send via email

The Local Authority will inform the Teaching Regulation Agency of all ECTs who start an induction period and contact the ECT to outline the role of the AB named contact, with whom they may raise concerns about their induction programme that they are unable to resolve and share DfE published guidance.

Lockdown Heroes Award

Congratulations to the team at Tor Bridge Primary who have received a Certificate of Excellence in the Lockdown Heroes Award for Learner & Community Support in this year's Pearson National Teaching Awards. The award winners are being honoured as part of the wider celebrations for 'Thank a Teacher Day', a national campaign to honour and recognise school staff for their incredible work.

The celebrations follow new data which shows how the previous year's lockdowns have significantly changed how families across the country view the role of teachers. The Tor Bridge Primary staff were congratulated on their innovative and inspirational ways of engaging with pupils during the lockdown periods which included online bedtime stories, Easter competitions, virtual catch-ups and indoor exercise challenges.

We know how hard schools across the city have worked over the past year - please let us know of your celebration stories so we can share in the Schools Bulletin.


Supporting Children and Families in education

Update on Access - Community Health, Wellbeing and SEND

In 2018 Plymouth began developing an integrated offer for Community Health, Wellbeing and SEND support for children, young people and families. This involved incorporating services currently delivered by Plymouth City Council (PCC) University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust (UHP) and Livewell Southwest (LSW).

Unfortunately, the Coronavirus pandemic has prevented us from moving forward as quickly as we had hoped but we are now ready to progress to the next phase. The focus of this phase is to develop an improved early help response so that children and young people (CYP), families and professionals can get advice and support at the level required in a timely way without having to keep repeating the same story.

Access is based on the i-Thrive model of support with the vision that CYP, families and professionals will be able to get advice and help from the most appropriate service, at the level required and in a timely way without having to keep repeating the same story.

More details about Access, i-Thrive and the next phase of the integration plan can be found in the attached guidance document.

On pages 4 and 5 of the Access guidance you will see a section on "How to get more help" This is for CYP where it has been agreed between families and professionals that a request for a more specialist assessment or intervention may be required. Please read this section carefully as there are various ways to do this. In some cases, it might be appropriate to complete the attached "request for more help form". Full details of how to complete the form and where to send it can be found in the guidance.

If you have any questions about the above information, please email or telephone 01752 305252 and ask for Access Early Help.

Schools Elective Home Education Information Form (Safeguarding and SEND)

When children are withdrawn from a school to be home educated the Inclusion Attendance and Welfare Team ask schools to complete and return the Elective Home Education Information Form (Safeguarding and SEND). There have been several instances of the form being completed by support staff in school which has on occasion created gaps in our understanding of risk and of need. Please ensure that the form is completed by the appropriate member of the schools Senior Leadership Team. The form and further information about the local arrangements for Elective Home Education can be found here using the following link:

Changes to penalty notices in relation to unauthorised holiday absence during term time.

Plymouth's Penalty Notice Code of Conduct sets out our policy on how and when we issue penalty notice fines for unauthorised absence from school.

The Code of Conduct has been changed to clear up the confusion around unauthorised holiday absence and to support both schools and families when families take a holiday in term time. These changes will come into effect on 1 September 2021.

The changes to the Code of Conduct mean that no penalty notice will be issued for unauthorised holiday absence which is equivalent 10 sessions (5 days) in a rolling 12 month period. For all other types of unauthorised absence, the threshold will remain at 8 sessions (4 days within a rolling 12 month period).

The amendment to the Penalty Notice Code of Conduct will provide an opportunity for families to take up to a week of unauthorised holiday during term time without incurring a penalty fine, whilst also enabling schools to continue to tackle other types of unauthorised absence of children and young people from their school at an early stage.

If a pupil is taken on an unauthorised holiday during term time and the total number of unauthorised absences in a 12 month period meets the threshold of 11 sessions or more, a penalty notice may be requested by the Headteacher.

Plymouth City Council recognises that families may have booked a holiday during term time prior to the new Penalty Notice Code of Conduct coming into force. As a result, if families can provide evidence that the holiday was booked before 31 August 2021 a penalty notice will not be issued in relation to the unauthorised holiday during term time.

We also recognise that many families were unable to go on the holidays that they had booked due to COVID-19. As a result, if families can provide evidence that their holiday has been rescheduled for an alternative date which falls in the school term time, no penalty notice will be issued for the unauthorised holiday absence.

For more information, you can speak the Duty Education Welfare Officer between 15:00-16:30 Monday to Friday on 01752 307405.

A template letter for schools to share the information is attached to this bulletin.

S157/157 Safeguarding Audit

Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 places a statutory duty on local authorities to have a multi-agency safeguarding arrangement in place. In Plymouth, this function is carried out by the Plymouth Safeguarding Children's Partnership (PSCP).

As a relevant agency under Working Together all education providers in the Plymouth are required to act in accordance with the arrangements of the PSCP. In setting out how they will work with relevant agencies the PSCP are required to assure themselves that education settings have appropriate and robust safeguarding policies and procedures in place.

You will be aware that section 175 of the 2002 Education Act requires local education authorities and the governing bodies of maintained schools and FE colleges to plan to ensure that their functions are carried out with a view to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children. Section 157 of the 2002 Education Act and the Independent School Regulations 2003 convey the same responsibilities on all other non-maintained settings.

Plymouth City Council (PCC) supports the annual s.175/157 audit work by co-ordinating the sector-wide monitoring and oversight of the safeguarding audit activity. The purpose of the s.175/157 audit is to enable PCC to carry out its statutory responsibility with respect to monitoring safeguarding compliance and reporting back to the Plymouth Safeguarding Children's Partnership under S11 of the Children Act 2004.

The audit will be available for all relevant settings to complete online from 2 July 2021, the deadline for returns is 22 October 2021. Following this PCC will facilitate partnership discussions to provide support and challenge through the thematic analysis of our safeguarding audit activity.

The Chair of Governors/Trust Body will have a significant role in quality assuring and contributing to the audit activity of your setting. Further information about the audit activity will be provided at the DSL Briefing on 1 July 2021.

Attached to this bulletin is a word version of the audit. This template document is to be used as a working document only. Schools and FE colleges must register, complete and submit their audits online using the Plymouth City Council Self Service Portal. The online audit will go 'live' on 2 July 2021 and must be submitted by 22 October 2021.

Holiday Activities and Food Programme

Please see the attached letter to schools from Marcus Rashford MBE, outlining the exciting resources available to support the Government's new Holiday Activities and Food programme. Please share this letter with parents.

The programme provides free places to all children eligible for free school meals but is open to all children and backgrounds. Experienced providers are putting on activities in local authorities across England. This means that children from disadvantaged backgrounds can enjoy delicious, healthy food, take part in lots of great activities and hang out with their friends as well as making new ones. 

If you would like to share the film to promote the local HAF scheme in your area, you can download the film and other resources here: 2 min version final 1 min version final:

Training by Circles Southwest

Please see attached fliers on forthcoming training on preventing sexual harm:

  • Working with people who have sexually harmed - 14 July
  • Living and working in a 'pornified' world - 21 July

PANTS Week 11-15 October 2021

As part of the NSPCC city-wide PANTS campaign, we are holding a fun-filled PANTS Week this October. Whether it's hosting a PANTS information session for parents, using the PANTS resources in the classroom or a story time session with the new Pantosaurus book, there will be lots to get involved in! There may even be the chance of a visit from Pantosaurus himself!

Please make a note of the week. More information and the opportunity to book your sessions and get involved will be sent to you in July.

Further information:


Government updates

More support for FE teachers to develop

The new £9.5 million Further Education Professional Development Grants pilot will support the commitment made in the government's Skills for Jobs White Paper to strengthen the professional development offer to the workforce, and boost teaching practices.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) local restrictions in education and childcare settings

How settings can prepare for restrictions to help contain community transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). This guidance has been updated to reference enhanced response areas and information on the principles of managing local outbreaks including the types of measures that settings should be prepared for, who can recommend the measures, when measures should be lifted, and how decisions are made.

Induction for newly qualified teachers during the coronavirus outbreak

Guidance about changes to newly qualified teacher (NQT) induction during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Added information about additional funding for those currently undertaking induction.

Attendance in education and early years settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak - 23 March 2020 to 17 June

A summary of attendance in education and early years settings 23 March 2020 to 17 June 2021.

SMC responds to report on White working class pupils being 'let down'

The Social Mobility Commission has responded to The Education Select Committee's report The forgotten: how White working-class pupils have been let down, and how to change it found "White working class underachievement in education is real and persistent". The Committee has called on the government to take steps to ensure disadvantaged White students fulfil their potential.

£483 million investment to boost and improve school buildings

Pupils across England are set to benefit from improved school facilities, thanks to half a billion pounds being invested in school buildings this year. £483 million from the Condition Improvement Fund will go to 1,199 schools, 23 of which are in Plymouth. The Department expects to confirm a further 50 projects in the next wave of the School Rebuilding programme later this year.

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