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Education Bulletin - 25 February 2021

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Updated 25 February 2021

Important contact details

Children's Service general queries

General COVID-19 queries to the Local Authority


From Ming Zhang
Service Director of Education, Participation and Skills

Dear colleagues

Thank you for taking part in yesterday's Headteachers/CEOs twilight meeting, which was called at the last minute to ensure that we all have the most up to date understanding of the school full reopening. It has always been a pleasure and reassuring to see so many of you taking part and showing great confidence in managing this further challenge presented to school leaders.

I would like to take this opportunity to recap some key takeaways from the meeting:   

Full reopening
From 8th March, all students will return to schools, colleges and universities and other education settings. Secondary schools will have the option of having a phased return arrangement in the week beginning 8th March.

Catch up
Summer schools will be introduced for pupils who need it most, potentially starting with those who will be moving up to Year 7 at secondary school this year. Holiday Activities Fund will be part of the Catch up (we are waiting further guidance on this).

Secondary Testing
On site testing: Secondary schools expected to test returning pupils three times on site; Operational guidance for schools states they will have "flexibility to consider how best to deliver testing" but vulnerable children, children of critical workers and those in years 10 to 13 should be prioritised. While we were meeting, the government announced that school COVID testing is allowed to take place before 8th March if a school chooses to do so.

Home testing
After that, they will be expected to be tested twice weekly at home and report results to NHS Test and Trace, as well as to their schools to record. Secondary schools will also be expected to retain a "small" testing site for those unable to test at home.

Primary Testing
Staff only twice weekly undertake home testing; pupils will not be tested.

Early Years
Primary school home testing extended to Early Years staff including PVI settings. DfE have clarified that testing kits will be delivered direct to PVIs.

Specialist settings
For alternative provision settings and special schools, the guidance acknowledges that administrating tests on-site or at home may be more challenging and that "greater flexibility" may be required to achieve this.

Face covering
The policy of secondary school pupils in England having to wear masks in classrooms would be reviewed over Easter. Secondary pupils will have to wear face coverings indoors, including in classrooms where social distancing isn't possible. The school face covering guidance will be reviewed and updated during the Easter holiday. In terms of social distancing in schools, The DfE new guidance (applies from 8 March) on system of controls stipulates that schools to "consider how to minimise contact across the site and maintain social distancing wherever possible."

Therefore our interpretation is that;

  • Social distancing requires 2m.
  • If that cannot be maintained then face coverings should be worn for pupils in year 7 and above, in which case less than 2m (but an absolute minimum of 1m) is acceptable.
  • It is recognised that this may not be possible for those with complex needs and for younger pupils. 
  • Attendance - Schools should use "code Y for secondary age pupils not attending school for lessons during this week due to the symptomatic testing programme".
  • Examinations will not be happening in 2021 and pupils will receive results based on teacher assessed grades.

Today, the DfE announced how students will be assessed and awarded their GCSE, AS and A levels this year. It was confirmed that GCSEs, AS and A-levels will be cancelled in England this summer and they will be replaced by grades decided by teachers. Teachers will be able to choose the evidence they want to use to determine their students' grades, according to the plan announced by watchdog Ofqual. Schools won't be forced to use externally-set questions when determining their pupils' GCSE and A-level grades this year, the government has confirmed. This is the link to the exam announcement.

The Government is working on arrangements for Year 10 and 12 students due to sit their major exams next year (2022).

Best regards.



COVID-19 information

Essential Information Headteacher meeting

The next weekly Essential Info. Headteacher Teams meeting will take place on Monday 1 March at 1pm.  Those of you who join the meeting regularly will already have the link in your diary.  If you wish to join please use the link below:

Join Microsoft Teams Meeting

Sessions are recorded and can be found on the 'Essential information for schools' web page


1.     Full opening for schools: matters arising

Provision of Free PPE Resource Packs

The DfE are undertaking an exercise to ensure that educational and early years settings are provided with the necessary PPE during the current pandemic. I am pleased to inform you that Plymouth City Council is now in a position to provide our educational settings, including maintained settings, academies, Further Education and all Early years Settings with the provision of monthly Resource Packs as agreed with the DfE and these packs will be provided free of charge.

We have sent out emails to all settings with more details and you will receive further information from the PPE distribution cell week commencing 22 February 2021. 

If you have any questions or have not received the information please email marking your email Free PPE Resources

COVID Winter Grant Scheme End of Project Report - school case studies

PCC are in the process of drafting a COVID Winter Grant Scheme End of Project Report (EPR) and would like to include short case studies, (approx. 500 words) showing where the Winter Grant Scheme has had a real, positive impact. We are particularly interested in highlighting the schools' view of how the eVoucher codes were received by families, together with any highlights.

If your school has a positive story to share please email your case study to by Friday 5 March.

COVID-19 educational settings webinars update

The South West Health Protection Team will be running COVID-19 educational setting webinars for any educational setting to attend on Thursdays. We currently have sessions scheduled up to 25 March 2021. The sessions will cover infection prevention principles and then discuss scenarios to illustrate this. If you would like to attend, the webinars will be run on selected dates that are listed on our Eventbrite page at:

Please register for a free ticket on the date that you would like to attend. 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 South West Health Protection Team on 0300 303 8162 or via email contact

Yealmpstone Farm Primary - LFD update

Yealmpstone Farm Primary School wish to share the following link to order new LFD. Schools need to ring 119 to get the school's UON in order to log on:


Education information

KS2 Moderation Team - commemorating the contribution of Jody Barnes

Whilst some in education may not favour annual SATs tests, we all recognise the value of reliable, accurate teacher assessment, aligned to national standards and regularly moderated, which supports pupil progress. We recognise that the work of the Local Authority moderation teams is so important in upholding this and are thankful for the contribution of those experienced teachers who each year undergo STA testing procedures and additional training in order to become accredited external moderators.

Sadly, over half term we lost our most longstanding KS2 Lead Moderator, Jody Barnes who taught at Compton CE Primary, and for many years enriched the work of the moderation team: supporting teachers through moderation that was always praised as a positive learning experience; supporting the induction of new moderators; sharing her valuable insight during team training, and annual STA training events. Jody's knowledge and experience of how children learn in English was unsurpassed (at times she even corrected errors made by the STA assessment gurus!) and she always worked with kindness, humility and humour. The Local Authority are more than grateful for her support, and send heartfelt condolences to her family and her friends at Compton Primary School.    

Assessment training for teachers in years 2 and 6

Earlier in the year, as 2021 statutory assessment in years 2 and 6 was cancelled, we informed schools that all statutory assessment training had been rescheduled for dates in 2022, and teachers booked on training had been informed of new dates. We also shared that, in order to support Y2 and Y6 teachers in making end of year teacher assessments, we would be offering the following courses, free of charge to all maintained schools and those academies who commission PCC to provide their statutory assessment support:

KS1 Making Teacher Assessment (under challenging circumstances) - 3.30 - 5pm, Tuesday 2 OR Wednesday 3 March

KS2 Making Teacher Assessment (under challenging circumstances) - 3.30 - 5pm, Tuesday 16 OR Wednesday 17 March

Both online courses are very well booked. However, we are keen to ensure that as many schools as possible benefit from this training. If your Y2/6 teacher/s have missed this, please remind them to book places by directly emailing     

Plymouth Anthology 2021 - new extended deadline for submissions

In the Schools Bulletin 4.2.21 we shared details of the Plymouth Anthology 2021: Save our Seas. Since then several schools have requested an extension to the original deadline for submissions, and we are pleased to announce that the Anthology is now open to entries until midday on Friday 12 March.

Plymouth City Council is pleased to be working together again with the University of Plymouth to produce another Anthology of creative writing and illustration, focusing on the impact of pollution on our ocean environment - an issue we know many young people are passionate about.  

The University have provided digital workshops to encourage children to get creative, available via the links below:

Workshop age 5-7:

Workshop age 7+:

All Plymouth school pupils under 18 can enter their original work. Further details are set out in the attached flier and schools can contact  for more information on how to enter, or to receive a download of the videos and the accompanying worksheets. Again, the new deadline for submissions is now Friday 12 March, and we look forward to seeing a broad range of inspiring entries.

Update from Sport England

Link on funding to get schools to reopen sports facilities available at:


SEND updates

Please see attached flier for virtual SEND conference.

COVID-19 School Bulletin - PPCV Virtual Conference


Keeping children safe in education

New online Psychological First Aid (PFA) training course

The new PFA online course for people who care for or work with children and young people aged up to 25 who have been affected by COVID-19 (or other emergencies or individual crisis), developed by Public Health England offers training on how to provide practical and emotional support to children and young people affected by emergencies or crisis situations.  It is suitable for all frontline workers such as teachers, health and social workers, charity and community volunteers and anyone who cares for or is regularly in contact with children and young people aged up to 25, including parents and caregivers. The course is free, takes about 3 hours to complete (split into 3 sessions that the learner can complete at their own pace) and no previous qualifications are required.

Details available at:

Home Learning Resource - Emotional Wellbeing

Please see attached the Home Learning Resources for primary and secondary schools. These are optional and alternative ways within which to explore and support Emotional Health and Wellbeing and have been developed in partnership through the Mental Health Support Teams, CAMHS, Progeny and Wellbeing for Education Return.


Government updates

Ofsted released the following data and information over the half term week:

Data on COVID-19 inspections: non-association independent schools (Updated to 31 December)

Data on COVID-19 visits: registered early years providers (Updated to 31 December)

Remote and Digital Learning in Schools: YouGov findings

Data on COVID-19 visits: schools

Mass testing for secondary pupils as all schools and colleges fully re-open from 08 March

All students will begin to return to face-to-face education on 08 March with the following testing measures in place:

  • All primary school children will return on Monday 8 March. Primary school staff will continue to take two rapid COVID-19 tests each week at home.
  • All secondary school and college students will take three COVID-19 tests as they return to the classroom from 8 March at existing school testing facilities. Schools and colleges will have discretion on how to test students over that week to enable their return to the classroom. After the initial programme of three tests in school or college, students will be provided with two rapid tests to use each week at home.
  • Secondary school and college staff will also be provided with two tests to use each week at home.
  • University students on practical courses who need to access specialist facilities and equipment can return to in-person teaching and learning from Monday 8 March. Twice weekly testing will continue to be available for all on campus.

New education recovery package for children and young people

The government has today announced further elements of the recovery support package so children and young people can catch up on missed learning and development due to the pandemic. The new recovery package for England includes:

  • A new one-off £302 million Recovery Premium for state primary and secondary schools, building on the Pupil Premium, to further support pupils who need it most. The average primary school will receive around £6,000 extra, and the average secondary school around £22,000 extra to help schools bolster summer provision for their students.
  • £200 million (from the £300 million announced by the Prime Minister in January to expand successful tutoring programmes). This will fund an £83 million expansion of the National Tutoring Programme for primary and secondary schools, a £102 million extension of the 16-19 Tuition Fund for a further year to support more students in English, maths and other vocational and academic subjects; and £18 million funding to support language development in the early years, supporting a critical stage of child development.
  • £200 million (including the final £100 million from the Prime Minister's announcement) will be available to secondary schools to deliver face-to-face summer schools. Schools will be able to target provision based on pupils' needs but the government is suggesting they may want to initially target incoming year 7 pupils.
  • A range of high-quality online resources will be available for all teachers and pupils, starting from the summer term and throughout summer holidays.

What parents and carers need to know about early years providers, schools and colleges

Information for parents and carers about attending schools, nurseries and colleges in the spring term 2021. Guidance updated in line with the full reopening on 8 March 2021.

Actions for schools during the coronavirus outbreak

What all schools will need to do during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Added the 'Schools coronavirus (COVID-19) operational guidance' which explains the actions schools will need to take from 08 March. Removed 'What to do if a pupil is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19)' as this information is now in the operational guidance.

Special schools and other specialist settings: coronavirus (COVID-19)

What all special schools and other specialist settings will need to do during the coronavirus outbreak. Added 'Additional operational guidance for special schools, special post-16 institutions and alternative provision'. Removed 'Guidance for special schools, specialist post-16 providers and alternative provision during the national lockdown' and 'Guidance for full opening: special schools and other specialist settings'.

Guidance for schools: coronavirus (COVID-19)

What school leaders, teachers and school staff need to do during the coronavirus outbreak. Added 'Evidence summary: COVID-19 - children, young people and education settings' to the collection.

Direction to Ofqual's Chief Regulator about how GCSE, AS, A level and vocational and technical qualifications should be awarded in 2021.

Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE MP, Secretary of State for Education sent a letter to Simon Lebus, Ofqual's Chief Regulator. It sets out how:

  • GCSEs, AS and A levels should be awarded this year using teacher assessed grades based on a range of evidence
  • vocational and technical qualifications will be split into three, each with a different approach to awarding
  • other general qualifications will be awarded through alternative arrangements.

Students will receive grades awarded and determined by teachers, with pupils only assessed on what they have been taught. Fairness and flexibility are at the heart of the Government's plans to ensure young people get to their next stage of education or training. Teachers will be able to draw on a range of evidence when determining grades, including the optional use of questions provided by exam boards, as well as mock exams, coursework, or other work completed as part of a pupil's course, such as essays or in-class tests. No algorithm will be used.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) contingency framework for education and childcare settings

How settings can prepare for restrictions to help contain community transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). Updated sections on possible restrictions for primary schools, secondary schools and further education. Added further detail for special schools, special post-16 institutions and alternative provision. Added section for higher education. Clarified when the guiding principles of the contingency framework apply.

Guidance for parents and carers of children attending out-of-school settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

Guidance for parents and carers of children attending community activities, holiday or after-school clubs, tuition and other out-of-school settings. Guidance updated to outline who can attend out-of-school settings and what precautions parents who are sending their children to these settings should take from 08 March. A new section on face coverings has been added.

Protective measures for holiday or after-school clubs and other out-of-school settings for children during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak (Updated)

Protective measures for providers of community activities, holiday or after-school clubs, tuition and other out-of-school settings offering provision to children during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Guidance updated to outline who can attend out-of-school settings and what actions providers will need to take from 08 March. Added new sections on advice for pregnant staff members and engaging in asymptomatic testing.

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