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Education Bulletin - 29 December 2020

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Updated 29 December 2020

Important contact details

Children's Service general queries

General Covid-19 queries to the Local Authority


Message from Ming

Dear colleagues

In this fast developing situation, I have to write to you again to clarify a couple of matters after my meeting with DfE and RSC this morning and the email that was sent to you from DfE last night.

Remote Learning

Thanks for your responses to my message on 29th December. I am pleased to read that 100% of the feedback indicates that schools in Plymouth are fully prepared and will have a robust remote learning programme for those pupils who need it. The DfE's January Return Guidance has helped to distinguish the pupil cohorts who will attend school in person from those who will be provided with remote learning:

  • Early Years, primary schools, special schools and AP in Plymouth back to on-site education as normal (the Guidance allows certain flexibility for special schools);
  • At secondary schools and colleges, full-time on-site provision from the first day of term for all vulnerable children and young people, and the children of critical workers;
  • Remote education being prioritised for pupils in exam year groups (primarily years 11 and 13) during the week commencing 4 January;
  • Remote education being provided for all other pupils from 11 January,
  • All pupils back in school for face-to-face education from 18 January

Would you please let me know if there are any barriers to students' access to remote learning due to a lack of devices within their homes. The LA's School January Reopening Inbox is:

Special schools

I was advised that a DfE guidance for special schools will be available today. However, the expectation in Government's current guidance is that children in special schools, as vulnerable children with EHCPs, will be returning to school as usual at the start of term. For those special schools with secondary age children, and post 16 students, the government guidance references that there is some flexibility regarding face to face attendance of pupils in the first week of term to enable schools to appropriately mobilise testing.  The expectation would be that schools' planning takes account of home learning options, on-site provision for children with critical worker parents, and those where vulnerability would indicate that an alternative to face to face attendance was not appropriate.

Therefore, I agree that for those special schools with secondary age children, you and your governing body may consider it necessary to push back your start date to Monday 11th January for all students so that you will have sufficient time to plan and train staff. If your school decide to delay the starting date this way, please ensure that parents are informed in advance and there is an appropriate offer should pupils need help with their learning.

Schools will be continuing to undertake the risk assessments and implement the systems of control as usual. Please let us know by emailing the designated inbox regarding any concerns or risks that you may need help and support with, and we will do our best to assist.

Messaging to parents

We know that you have been keeping parents up to date with the plans for the start of term - thank you for this. As the situation changes rapidly, please continue to update parents on the key developments and the decisions that your school will make. The LA are also using the City Council's communication channels and local press to keep parents and the general public informed of the developments.

Testing support

DfE now expect all secondary schools and colleges to take part in the testing programme. Support from the military is primarily advisory, centrally co-ordinated in the SW region. Support from Ofsted has also been offered, which can be facilitated by the DfE if you require Ofsted input. Any school that needs further support and advice, please in the first instance inform the RSC's Hannah Woodhouse or the LA.

For schools seeking advice, the LA have a designated inbox for Schools' January Return, email address is

The DfE Helpline is 0800 046 8687

Good practice

Julie Bevan, Principal of Sir John Hunt Community Sports College kindly shared the following link to some very useful tips of test planning

As we are finally approaching the end of this long and unusual year, I would like once again to thank you for your strong leadership throughout the pandemic and your staff's hard work and strong commitment to ensure the learners' needs are fully met.

Best wishes for 2021.

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