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Education Bulletin - 26 November 2021

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Updated 26 November 2021

Important contact details

From Ming Zhang
Service Director of Education, Participation and Skills

Dear colleagues,

On Friday, I attended a regional event where the DfE, Ofsted and LAs had some very helpful discussions and briefings on Ofsted next steps, future school education system and the Education White Paper 2022.

Education White Paper

The Government tried in 2016 to put forward a plan for full academisation of schools before being hastily withdrawn when the difficulties of the ambition were exposed. Now the Government has reiterated its ambition with a new narrative of seeing "all schools in multi-academy trusts" and the pending White Paper was mentioned in the new Secretary of State's speech to the Conservative Party Conference. In preparation this time, local authority officers are being invited to roundtable discussions by a third-party organisation to help develop government thinking.

We have also been assured that the new White Paper will be developed with a full review and consultation on future models and that maintained schools, academies and MATs will all have the opportunity to have their voices heard. 

What Plymouth City Council as a local government are focusing on is the added-value of local democracy for the school system in the City and the partnership of all schools, irrespective of their governance arrangements.


The Ofsted presentation highlighted the future direction of the regulatory body while it has been asked by government to inspect all schools and further education (FE) providers by summer 2025, to give a quicker assessment of how well education is recovering from the pandemic.

We have also heard at the briefing about the next step of Ofsted inspection while Covid challenge remains. Since September 2021 we have already seen routine inspection restarting, and largely a return to normal inspection, with some minor differences. A key change is how the pandemic will affect the timing of inspection.

  • The requirement for schools to be inspected every five years was paused in March 2020.
  • When the requirement comes back in September, this window has been extended to seven years.
  • Schools can expect their first inspection since the pandemic began to be up to six terms later than it would have been before the pandemic.
  • Once a school has been inspected, its next inspection will be according to normal time scales (for example, a good school will be inspected about four years later).
  • Separately, previously exempt outstanding schools will now be routinely inspected.

Some specific and important inspection issues were also discussed including:

  • KS3 length
  • RHSE
  • Behaviour and safety
  • sexual abuse and harm
  • off-rolling
  • Stage 2 of MAT summary evaluations (MATSEs)

If you would like to have a copy of the full Ofsted briefing presentation, please email

Operation Encompass

The aim of Operation Encompass is to enable staff in every school to understand how to support children who are experiencing domestic abuse, no matter where in the world the child lives.

Devon and Cornwall Police have informed us that in June 2022 they 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 currently contains the information about domestic abuse incidents that we share with schools under Operation Encompass.

From June any officer attending a safeguarding incident will be required to complete a Public Protection Notification (PPN). Within the PPN there is a request for the officer to choose a 'nature of concern'; where the concerns are 'domestic abuse' and 'child concern' the officer will then select a school from an address list. The system will then send a notification to that school (or multiple schools where there are siblings at different locations). Where there is no school entered, or a school with no recognised email address has been entered this will default to the Central Safeguarding Team for manual review and data sharing as appropriate.

The letter to schools from Devon & Cornwall Police is attached to this bulletin.

Best regards.



Education updates

2022 KS1-2 statutory assessment training

A reminder to all maintained primary schools and academies working with Plymouth local authority to book teachers on essential courses if this hasn't been done yet:

  • KS1 statutory assessment: details of administering tests and teacher assessment, for Y2 teachers; 3.30 - 5pm 8th OR 9th February 2022
  • Preparing for moderation; an in-depth look at end of KS1 teacher assessment, 3.30 - 5pm 29th  OR 30th March
  • Administering the Y1 phonics check, 4 - 5pm 24th OR 25th May 2022
  • KS2 courses:
  • KS2 statutory assessment training: details of tests and teacher assessment, for Y6 teachers; 3.30 - 5pm 15th OR 16th February 2022
  • Assessing English writing at the end of Y6, 3.30 - 5pm 8th OR 9th March 2022
  • Administering the KS2 multiplication check, 4 - 5pm Monday 23rd May 2022

Also available for MAT leaders - overall statutory assessment briefing for the CEO and academy headteachers group, 1.5 hr session, online or in person.

Please email to make bookings.


Implementation of the Early Years Foundation Stage reforms 

On 1 September, the new Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework became statutory for all early years providers in England. To aid implementation of the reforms the DfE have delivered various resources and supporting materials, including: 

The DfE are producing materials to explain the new EYFS profile. These intentionally take a different format and approach to the existing ones to reflect the changes to assessment under the revised EYFS framework. The DfE will provide a collection of video case studies to demonstrate teachers and leaders having professional discussions about individual children's holistic development in order to make EYFS profile judgements. 


SEND updates

An exciting partnership between Devon County Council, Plymouth City Council and The Special Partnership Trust brings a new free school a step closer

The innovative partnership will deliver a special school providing 120 places for children aged from 5 to 16. The school will become a centre of educational excellence for pupils who have a significant level of ASD and Social Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs.

In a statement the DfE confirmed the Special Partnership Trust has been chosen to work with Devon County Council and Plymouth City Council to deliver this resource. Devon County Council is working hard to secure a suitable site well located to serve both Devon's and Plymouth's children and young people.

Devon County Council's Cabinet member for schools, Andrew Leadbetter, said: "This is part of a multi-million programme by the county council to open new special schools and increase the number of places in our existing special schools.

This means some of our most vulnerable children can have the education and care they deserve closer to their homes and communities and it reduces our reliance on expensive, private provision. This is a real, joined-up partnership between Devon County Council, Plymouth City Council and the Government to provide extra special school places for this part of south west Devon."

Plymouth City Councillor Dave Downie said, "we are delighted to see that big progress has been made in moving forward this innovative partnership. Children in Plymouth City with specific needs will benefit from the new provision when it is ready. It is one of our top priorities to meet every child's need enabling them to achieve best outcomes."

Executive Director of the Special Partnership Trust, Guy Chappell, said: "The Trust has a track record of providing high quality educational provision and this is an exciting opportunity to extend the high-quality offer. The Trust has been working very hard to develop the strategy, the resources, and the capacity to develop and meet the needs of children, young people and families. 

"This announcement endorses the work of the Trust schools, staff and the wider community. The development of the Free School marks the next phase of the Trust's development. Whilst the current period is very challenging, these are exciting times for the development of SEN education in Devon and Plymouth."

All pupils who attend the school will be placed by Devon County Council and Plymouth City Council equitably and have education, health and care (EHC) plans. Council staff are already working closely with the Department for Education on the design for a smart, purpose-built new school building.


Health, wellbeing and safety updates

Snapshot of You(th) Survey

This survey is now open and will close at the end of January 2022, please see press release attached for more details. Please share the attached poster with colleagues and young people. Please note that this survey is now on the PCC Youth Service Face Book and Twitter (please like and share).

Supporting Romanian Day

Romanian Day will be officially celebrated in Plymouth for the first time on 1 December. Celebrations on this important day of religious and cultural significance will be supported by the Lord Lieutenant, Honorary Consul of Romania, the Lord Mayor and Councillors, as well as the religious leaders of the community. Headteachers may be contacted by parents from the Romanian community requesting authorised absence so that children can take part.

Schools should of course, regard absences as authorised if they are due to religious observance, and whenever parents request leave of absence to celebrate cultural days the headteacher can authorise if they feel the absence request meets exceptional circumstances, or if the event involves religious observance. It is always a good idea to consult with and find out more about the diverse communities in your school in order to celebrate important cultural days as a way of reducing absence.

Supporting safer streets outside schools

Last week six Plymouth schools took part in one-day trials whereby streets outside the schools were closed to traffic at peak school drop-off and collection times. The trials aimed at increasing safety, and encouraging walking and cycling, was reported to have been met with a very positive response. Schools involved over the week included Mary Dean's Primary, Ernesettle Community School, Whitleigh Primary, Stuart Road Primary, Elburton Primary, and St Paul's RC Primary.

Organisers Sustrans hope that more schools will become involved in future supporting both road safety and a greener, healthier environment for children. 


Government updates

Government funds new tech in the fight against online child abuse

The government will fund new innovative technology to help stop the spread of child sexual abuse material on end-to-end encrypted social media and online messaging platforms. The five projects - including tech companies in Edinburgh, Poole, St Albans and London - are the winners of the Safety Tech Challenge Fund, which aims to encourage the tech industry to find practical solutions to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse online, without impacting people's rights to privacy and data protection in their communications.

New rules to drive down cost of school uniform for families

Schools will need to follow statutory guidance which requires them to make sure uniform is affordable for all. The Department for Education cost of school uniform guidance means schools in England must ensure that school uniform costs are reasonable, and parents get the best value for money.

Information on mental health and wellbeing support scheme and the Education Staff Wellbeing Charter

The Department for Education (DfE) has launched a new support scheme for school leaders to improve and promote good mental health and wellbeing. An updated Education Staff Wellbeing Charter was also launched setting out commitments from the government, Ofsted, and schools and colleges, to promote and protect the mental health of the education workforce.

National Transfer Scheme to become mandatory for all local authorities

Children's services across the UK have been informed of the Government's intention to temporarily mandate the scheme. Under this change, all councils have been given legal notice to accept transfers of children into their care, providing crucial placements to unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC).

New levelling up plans to improve student outcomes

Universities will be required to improve outcomes for disadvantaged children by driving up education standards in schools and colleges in the local community, which could include providing activities like tutoring.

They will also be required to set new ambitious targets to support students throughout their time at university by reducing dropout rates and improving progression into high paid, high skilled jobs.

Universities will be expected to improve education outcomes for disadvantaged students in the schools and colleges across the region. Measures could include running a summer school, supporting curriculum development or offering students and lecturers to tutor pupils. There will be a shift away from working only with those pupils with the potential to go onto university as well as marketing activities that just benefit universities to an approach that improves education attainment.

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