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Education Bulletin - 24 September 2020

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Updated 24 September 2020

Important contact details

Children's Service general queries

General Covid-19 queries to the Local Authority


Message from Judith

Dear colleagues

As always a busy week for everyone with much to challenge us but also lots of success to note. Today's Bulletin has a lot of information and is quite varied: I hope as always that some of the updates are helpful in your context. We're aware that the guidance comes to you from many sources - thick and fast - and we don't want to add to the burden. Please remember that all current guidance alongside other useful information is on the Plymouth Online Directory.

You will see that PCC are stepping down from the WhatsApp group for Headteachers as we have put in place other ways for you to get advice and guidance. The insert on this explains the options you have to contact us and share ideas with other Heads.

A few schools have asked this week about changes in the LA as we are undertaking a redesign of EPS. I will give you an update when that process is complete and it will be worthwhile discussing the best way of working together going forward. The consultation with staff has ended and you will find that the principles behind the redesign follow the partnership discussions we have had with schools in the past. We want to be clear about our role and the way in which we will work with all of you to support and challenge, and achieve good outcomes for all children. In the meantime, some school leaders have asked for an updated 'Who's Who in the LA' and we will send a revision of the previous guide out to you as soon as possible. When visiting schools I see some of you use it as a safeguarding assurance; I think this is a good idea.

Overall attendance has dropped in the city; this will not come as a surprise to those of you managing confirmed or suspected cases and pupils who are self-isolating. The DfE have asked us to discuss higher absence with you if there does not seem to be a reason, such as suspected or confirmed cases. We understand that some parents are concerned about their child being in school, and we are seeing a rise in EHE applications. Please bear with us if we contact you to discuss attendance. So far, there have been two explanations for reduced attendance: it transpires that some schools are not inputting data correctly. If there has been an error, we just report that in and the DfE do not need you to try to backdate your figures. The other reason is that you have sent children/bubbles home as suspected cases and we are not aware. Please let us know the numbers out of school, as we have to look for geographical clusters and risks to the delivery of front line services. No public service is an island!

Thank you for the feedback on the information for parents: we will be maintaining communications with the public and have attached an updated parents' poster for you to use on your website. We will also be communicating shortly to parents that children eligible for FSM can receive a weekly food parcel. CATERed have written about the plan in today's Bulletin. Please let us know if you are not a CATERed member but would like to talk to us about the offer.

As stated last week, we hope you find the DfE Helpline useful. The DfE know that the local system works well and so are setting up a mechanism whereby LAs can see if you have contacted the Helpline for advice on a confirmed case. We cannot see that yet though so please continue to let us know and we will continue to support you alongside PH colleagues.

Finally, from me, I am not available from Friday 25th for a week so please use the email or contact Simon, Jo, Amanda or Kathy!

Take care everyone.


Access to testing for those who are symptomatic

Please advise families requiring a test to first try the national routes. This is via the web site:

If families continue to have problems getting through or the offer is not practical, for example the test offered is a long distance to travel then use the following email address to request a test: as this may help.

This offer is for households where there is a child 0-19 who is attending an early years setting, school or further education college. School staff can also use this offer.

Please see the updated flowchart attached to this Bulletin.

Further clarification on self-isolation - supplementary guidance from the NHS website

It is very important that staff living within a household where an individual is displaying symptoms of COVID-19, or has tested positive for COVID-19, stay at home. If the member of their household has had a test, and the result is negative to COVID-19, they may return to work / school as long as they are fit to do so.

School leadership must support members of staff in adhering to the government guidance, by ensuring that they self-isolate if a member of their household is displaying symptoms of COVID-19, if they have tested positive, have had an inconclusive result, or have not been for a test.  Staying at home is important in the prevention of the spread of the virus to the wider community.

Staff members who share a household with a symptomatic individual should remain in self-isolation for 14 days, with the first day starting on the day the first person in the household became ill. At the end of the 14 day period, anyone in the household who has not become unwell can return to work.

Should someone develop COVID-19 symptoms late in the 14 day household isolation period (e.g. day 10 or later) the isolation period for the rest of the household does not need to be extended. Only the person with the new COVID-19 symptoms has to stay at home for at least a further 10 days and should arrange to have a test.

If anyone within the household develops COVID-19 symptoms again at any point after ending the first period of self-isolation, staff members should follow the guidance on self-isolation again. This means, staff must stay at home for at least 10 days from when their symptoms started and arrange a test for themselves. All other household members need to stay at home for 14 days. This will help to ensure that staff are continuing to protect those within their bubble, and the wider community.

Notification of suspected cases of Covid     

Thank you to all schools who have responded to Judith's letter of 15 September 2020 by sending in details of suspected Covid cases amongst children and staff. This continues to be helpful in enabling us to manage services across the city. As a reminder, and being mindful of data protection, please send numbers only for suspected cases and do not provide names or any other identifying information for individuals. For further details please email:

Weekly Food Parcels for FSM Eligible Pupils who are at home for reasons related to COVID19

You will have read in the Schools Bulletin last week about the requirement for pupils eligible for benefit-based free school meals and at home for reasons of COVID19 to receive food parcels.

The government have said that schools should work with their suppliers to prepare meals or food parcels for pupils who are eligible for benefits-related free school meals and who are not in attendance for reasons related to COVID19 including: -

  • are self-isolating
  • have had symptoms or a positive test result themselves
  • are a close contact of someone who has coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • are not attending as a result of local lockdown arrangements

CATERed have been working closely with the Council and attached to this bulletin are the details of the CATERed offer and process for ordering weekly food parcels for eligible pupils.  The deliveries are already underway and this week CATERed have supported 46 pupils in nine schools.

Please see the attachment to this bulletin for further details. For any queries please email:

NHS Test and Trace App in schools

The NHS Test and Trace App, launched today, refers to the benefits for schools and settings allowing students (aged 16+) and staff to download the app and make use of it through the day. However, the local authority advice to schools and settings remains that students' mobile phones should be switched off and/or left in lockers due to wider safeguarding issues that should take precedence at all times. Similarly, school policy on staff use of mobile phones should remain unchanged to maintain the emphasis on safeguarding.

Autumn Exam Series (GCSE, AS, A level and VTQs)

See full guidance updated 18 September 2020

For students wishing to sit exams in the autumn, the school or college who entered them in the summer (including private candidates) should enter the students in the autumn and ensure that they have somewhere suitable to sit their exams.

Exception - students who are required to continue to study mathematics and English as they have not yet achieved Grade 4 or above, should be entered by their current school or college.

The DFE exam support service will help schools and colleges to book sites and invigilators. 

Funding is available for the additional costs to cover exam fees, alternative site and invigilation.  However, schools and colleges are expected to pay fees for all students who were due to sit exams in the summer and should not pass on the cost to students or their families.  See guidance. Awarding institutions will provide information to schools and colleges about any rebates they can expect in relation to summer 2020 exam fees.  DFE will not fund administrative charges.

Further information about conducting exams is published by JCQ - see information about timings; instructions for exams officers for conducting examinations and specific details for reasonable adjustments and the use of alternative sites.  As always, Exams officers should ensure they are aware of specific guidance from the exam boards and awarding organisations.

Whilst local arrangements can be made for individual students (e.g. If they have moved etc.), the original school retains overall responsibility for ensuring the candidate has somewhere appropriate to take their exams and that no charges are incurred.

September thinking group

You will be aware that a group of primary and secondary Head teachers have been meeting regularly to discuss this term's return to school - much of this work has been captured on our information website:

Now that pupils and staff are back, we are very much aware that our approach needs to change in order to reflect this new phase. 

Moving forward:

  1. The title of the 'September guidance for schools' website will change to 'Essential information for schools 2020/21'
  2. We will schedule a weekly Teams meeting.  These will be an opportunity to discuss matters arising with colleagues or to address specific themes with colleagues in the Council, for example, public health.  The first meeting is scheduled for Monday 28 September at 12pm. If you wish to join the meeting or have an item for the agenda please contact by Friday 25 September.  Sessions will be recorded and a link will be made available in the bulletin to schools.
  3. Over the last few months, communication with schools has been vital and a variety of ways to discuss issues and report concerns have developed between PCC and Plymouth schools.  Going forward, effective communication remains our priority. To ensure consistency and continuity of messages, PCC will be withdrawing from the Head teachers' WhatsApp group. From Monday 28 September, the two main methods of contact will be by email to and via the weekly Teams meeting detailed above.  [PCC will remain a member of the MAT CEO WhatsApp group].

PlymouthStandards Partnership Plan (Draft) - primary working group

Following the successful collaborative working of partners on the Standards Partnership Plan, and in response to feedback from headteachers, the local authority are putting together a short term working group to draft a primary action plan which will sit beneath the overall Plymouth Standards Plan. The timeline is tight for this task and finish group and so we would ask any primary headteachers interested in being part of the group, especially those who may not have had opportunity to contribute to previous working groups, to contact by 4pm on Friday 25 September.

Virtual School

During the summer term What Works for Children's Social Care requested local authorities to enter a process to enable secondary schools to work with Whole Education, as part of a research led change project. This focused on improving reading skills for those children with a social worker and previously looked after (last 6 years).  The project has shown significant impact in improving reading outcomes for the most disadvantaged. 

After a robust selection process we are pleased to announce Plymouth have been successful in their bid against significant interest from other local authorities. 

Six Plymouth Secondary schools have offered to be part of the project which will enable them to receive freeresources including training, physical resources as well as the opportunity for change leadership experience and training. The project organisers will be in contact in the next week to discuss project scope with the nominated members of staff.

This is a brilliant opportunity for Plymouth schools to be involved in a nationally recognised research project which is endorsed by EEF as showing significant impact.  I have attached a flyer which gives a snapshot of the project.  Please contact if you would like the opportunity to be considered if we are able to widen the scope of the project.

Black History Month

Whilst schools should focus on addressing issues of racial equality at all times, October marks national Black History Month, and events highlighting inequalities in the UK and overseas, make this opportunity to focus on educating young people about racism and the impact of systemic inequality, more relevant than ever before.

The Black History Month 2020 website contains a wealth of information and resources for schools available at:

In response to requests from young people the Ethnic Minority Achievement Team are supporting and facilitating a working group of sixth-form students looking at positive ways to decolonise the curriculum, aiming to make positive recommendation to school leaders in the coming year. This initiative enables young people with a lived experience of racism, or those who are allies and advocates of equality to have a voice in progressing this issue in the city. Any schools who are not yet involved and would like to nominate one or two students to participate in this work should email: 

Early Years Support

Families,early years setting and schools requiring advice or information about  children in respect of coronavirus, you can contact Livewell Southwest Public Health Nursing on  01752 434008.

You will be able to speak to a Health Visitor or School Nurse or if the lines are busy, someone will return your call as soon as possible,

You can also ask questions via the new ChatHealth service.

ChatHealth enables you to send text messages to a dedicated number which will be delivered to a secure website. The texts will be responded to by the Health Visiting and School Nursing team within one working day.

Numbers to call:

  • Livewell ChatHealth 0-5 years Parents Service - 07480 635188
  • Livewell ChatHealth 5-10 years Parents Service - 07480 635189
  • Livewell ChatHealth 11-19 years Young Peoples Service - 07480 635198

Opportunity for primary schools to receive EEF Promising Project, Nuffield Early Language Intervention, at no cost.

The DfE will be working with the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and other partners to scale-up delivery of the Nuffield Early Language Intervention (NELI).

NELI is a high-quality, evidence-based, 20-week intervention designed to improve the language skills of reception age pupils. It involves scripted individual and small group language teaching sessions, delivered by trained school staff, usually teaching assistants. Several EEF trials have found that NELI improves both children's oral language and early literacy skills. A recent trial of the programme found that children made on average three months of additional progress compared to children in the comparison group.

The DfE are inviting schools to register their interest using this application form. All state funded schools with a reception class can apply but places are limited. If places are over-subscribed, schools will be prioritised based on their percentage of free school meals (FSM) eligibility. The closing date for schools to register their interest is 30 October 2020.

If you have any questions, please email

CTPHQ and DFE Counter Terrorism Briefing for Schools and Colleges

Important information for senior leaders, teachers and safeguarding leads in schools and further education providers on how extremists are using COVID-19 to promote disinformation, misinformation and conspiracy theories. This non-statutory advice, from the DfE has been produced to provide a short summary of the extremist response to COVID-19, highlighting the additional radicalisation risks for children and young people and suggested actions for settings to take.

Full Briefing: COVID-19 Prevent Guidance For Schools and Further Education Providers

Short Blog Post: Extremists are targeting young people during the pandemic - so what can you do to tackle this in the classroom?

Please share and promote this guidance within your schools and colleges and provide support for staff, students and pupils with the appropriate, suggested actions within the briefing note. Schools should also adapt PREVENT awareness training to highlight additional radicalisation risks. For further support and/or advice, please email

Early Years tooth brushing schemes

Public Health England has recommended that supervised tooth brushing schemes may resume in early years settings and schools and updated guidance is available at:

With reduced access to dental services it is even more important to prioritise prevention and regular tooth brushing. Tooth brushing and handwashing are two key measures in protecting children's health and wellbeing.  We would encourage you to re-instate this free programme when contacted by Well Connected (the Team commissioned to lead the programme in Plymouth) telephone: 01752 981071

Our Story, 400 Years of Wompanoag History

This Saturday, 26 September, join Plymouth 400 and Mayflower 400 UK for a live virtual tour of 'Our' story: 400 years of Wampanoag history, a new exhibit in Massachusetts.

Hosted by Plymouth 400, the Facebook live event will offer an exclusive opportunity to experience this unprecedented exhibit which reveals little-known historic and cultural realities of the 'people of the first light'.

The short film will play on the Mayflower 400 website and the Plymouth 400 Facebook page at 5pm UK time and 11am EST on Saturday, 26 September.

Government updates

The following guidance documents have been updated to include sections on managing confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19). Updated guidance 17 September

Guidance for full opening: special schools and other specialist settings

Actions for schools during the coronavirus outbreak

Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

Actions for FE colleges and providers during the coronavirus outbreak

Responsibility for autumn exams

Use of the NHS COVID-19 app in schools and further education colleges

Attendance in education and early years settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

Boosting children's physical activity in school

Next Bulletin: 1 October 2020

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