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Education Bulletin - 26 November 2020

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Updated 26 November 2020

Important contact details

Children's Service general queries

General Covid-19 queries to the Local Authority


Message from Ming

Dear colleagues

In my first Bulletin as the new Service Director for Education, Participation and Skills, I would like to warmly thank Judith for her support during the transition period of the past two weeks and for the legacy of great education teams that she has built.

I am delighted to be joining Plymouth at this extraordinary time and to have the opportunity to build on the strengths in leading the LA's education services and in working closely with school leaders to achieve better outcomes for children and young people.

I have met many school leaders at various online group meetings and forums in the past few days. For the remaining weeks of the term, I have scheduled to see as many individual Headteachers as possible via virtual meetings and next term I look forward to visiting and meeting you physically if the school's Covid safety rules allow more visitors. Throughout my LA education management career, I have found listening to school leaders is imperative to taking forward our important education agenda for children and young people.

There are some exciting and challenging times ahead for education in Plymouth and I look forward to working with school leaders to ensure that we share and achieve our ambition for Plymouth to be the most forward looking area in England for education and skills so that it is the best place for children and young people to grow up, learn, develop and achieve.

In working together with school leaders, I will be supported by a most talented and able education management team in Plymouth, which this week welcomes a new Head of Service. I am pleased to inform you that we have appointed Tina Brinkworth to the Head of Skills and Post-16 role. Some of you will know Tina as she has worked on STEM and other skills projects in the city for a number of years and will bring a wealth of knowledge, experience and ideas to the City Council. I am sure Tina will be making contact with schools and other partners to meet you formally and to discuss priority areas of working.



Updated guidance as Plymouth moves into Tier 2

Plymouth has today been placed with Devon in Tier 2 and so, in addition to other Government updates, please see the updated guidance outlining what schools will need to do following the end to the current lockdown. Details at: Actions for schools during the coronavirus outbreak

This guidance, together with agenda items will be covered in 'matters arising' at the next Monday Headteacher Teams meeting.

Headteacher Teams meeting - change of time for this week

The weekly Headteacher Teams meeting is an opportunity to discuss matters arising with colleagues or to address specific themes.  The next meeting is scheduled for Monday 30 November at 12pm.  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 the Microsoft Teams Meeting

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

Covid 19 Secure Marshalls for school gates

A number of schools have contacted Plymouth City Council to request their assistance regarding concerns of the lack of social distancing outside of school at the beginning and end of the day.  We have a number of Covid-19 Secure Marshals (PARC rangers) who are currently working across the city to help educate businesses and members of the public in ensuring Covid-19 secure guidance.    The Marshalls will visit the schools that have contacted us as part of their patrols and will not enter the school grounds but will be walking around the surrounding area.  All Marshalls wear uniform and carry ID. 

If you would like any support from the PARC rangers in your area, please email

Clarification on CATERed Covid measures in relation to positive cases and self-isolation of other staff.

With growing numbers of confirmed or suspected cases of Covid rising over recent weeks we have been liaising with the Covid19 Team and reviewing our Risk Assessments, social distancing and safe working practices. We thought that it would be helpful to outline the updated procedure we will follow, as advised by Public Health.

When a school catering staff member notifies CATERed of a positive Covid result an assessment will be undertaken to ensure that all staff within a certain unit have adhered to the safe systems of working implemented.  If this is the case and staff are not identified as a contact of the positive case, then the remaining members of staff will not be required to self-isolate.  However, if a staff member has been identified as a contact, then the 14 days self-isolation period will be required for that staff member. 

CATERed are assured by the PCC Covid Team that this is safe practice i.e. that unless a staff member is identified as a contact of the positive case they are not required to self-isolate. We are aware of the definition of what constitutes a contact (namely, if a staff member is within 2 metres of someone who has tested positive for Covid for more than 15 minutes, regardless if they are wearing a mask) and will ensure that this is clarified on the assessment that follows identification if positive case. A copy of the assessment will be signed and stored securely in the unit and sent to the school for their records. 

PHE- SW HPT new webinars for educational settings

The South West Health Protection Team are offering further free Covid webinars for educational settings. Sessions will cover infection prevention principles and then discuss scenarios to illustrate this. Any schools or settings wishing to attend can check dates listed at: For further information contact the South West Health Protection Team on 0300 303 8162 or via email

NQT Online Hub Wednesday 2 December 4.00 - 5.30pm.

Just a reminder that our autumn NQT Hub online meeting takes place next Wednesday 2 December at 3.30pm. All NQTs registered with Plymouth Local Authority are welcome to attend, and can simply book by emailing  Agenda items include: managing the impact of Covid restrictions on lessons observations and assessments; NQT SW online resources; and of course, an opportunity for NQTs to raise any issues, questions, etc. We also encourage NQTs to let us know in advance if they have any specific issues which they would like to add to the agenda in order to ensure that meetings meet the needs of all our NQTs.

Reporting Y2 autumn phonics check data

We know that many schools have begun administering the autumn phonics check to Y2 children.  Just a reminder that results must be uploaded to the Local Authority between Monday 7 December, when COLLECT opens and the national deadline on Monday 14 December.

We have emailed each school with full details and instructions regarding data upload via COLLECT and DfE guidance can be found at:

Should you have any difficulties uploading your data please contact:

NSPCC Together for Childhood

Throughout December there will be a PANTS advent countdown happening on the Together for Childhood Facebook page. Aimed at helping parents to Talk PANTS with their children, the advent will share lots of PANTS info, activities and a prize giveaway EVERY WEEK. At the end of the month, anyone who has liked and shared the advent posts will be put in to a draw to win a bumper batch of Pantosaurus goodies on Christmas Eve! Please share with parents and head over to the Together for Childhood- Plymouth Facebook page from 1 December to get involved.

Putting Plymouth on the map

Congratulations to Ernesettle Community School, included in last weekend's national press guide to the highest achieving primary and prep schools in England, in a feature which recognised the way in which outstanding results in learning at primary school can drive social mobility and impact on life chances for young people. Raising awareness of high quality learning in the city impacts positively on all our school communities, please keep sharing good news stories with us, it is heartening to hear of schools doing well at this time!

SEND updates

Please see the attached information on Language Matters.

Government updates

Guidance for full opening: special schools and other specialist settings

What all special schools and other specialist settings will need to do during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak from the start of the autumn term to support the return of children and young people with special education needs and disability (SEND). Updated guidance on SEND legislation (to reflect that temporary changes have now ceased), the system of controls, residential settings, attendance, workforce, safeguarding, wraparound provision and extra-curricular activity, curriculum expectations, behaviour expectations and contingency planning for remote education.

Help with accessing and buying resources for remote education

Information for schools and school buying professionals on sourcing educational resources during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The Department for Education has collated a list of resources and initiatives to support schools to plan and deliver remote education. This includes a range of DfE-funded curriculum support as well as a list of DfE-approved frameworks, which schools may find helpful.

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

This national data provides attendance in education settings since Monday 23 March and early years settings since Thursday 16 April. The data has been updated to include 'Attendance in education and early years settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak: 23 March to 19 November 2020'.

  • Attendance in state-funded schools has steadily increased from 87% in early September, to a period of stability of between 89 to 90% from 1 October to 15 October.  Immediately after half-term, this period of stability continued, with attendance at 89% on 5 November. Since that point, attendance has decreased for two consecutive weeks from 86% on 12 November down to 83% on 19 November.
  • On 19 November, attendance in state-funded primary schools was 87%, down from 90% and attendance in state-funded secondary schools is 78%, down from 83%. The decrease in attendance is mainly due to the continued increase in the number of pupils self-isolating due to potential contact with a case of COVID-19.
  • On Thursday 19 November, 99.0% of state-funded schools were open, compared with 99.6% on 12 November. This is the smallest proportion of open state-funded schools since the beginning of September. The drop this week is driven by an increase in the number of schools closed for COVID-19 reasons.
  • Well done to our schools that our latest average attendance among Plymouth schools is better than the national average.

Next Bulletin: 3 December 2020

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