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Education Bulletin 9 September 2022

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Updated 9 September 2022

Important contact details

From Ming Zhang
Service Director of Education, Participation and Skills

Dear colleagues,

I hope you have all had a well-deserved rest.

As I put the finishing touch on Autumn Term's first education bulletin to be distributed yesterday, we heard the sad news of the passing of The Queen. This bulletin was not issued yesterday so that we can share with you today the City's arrangements to express our sadness and to pay our tribute.

Remembering The Queen

Plymouth is joining with the rest of the country and the commonwealth to mourn the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

As a mark of respect the flags on Council buildings and key city landmarks will be flown at half-mast and the Lord Mayor's Civic programme of events and engagements are being cancelled.

Books of Condolence are available to sign at the following locations from Friday 9 September:

  • St Andrew's Church
  • The Council House
  • The Royal British Legion in Crownhill

You can sign the books from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday and from 10am-4pm, Saturday to Sunday, until the day after The Queen's funeral.

Books of Condolence will also be at the following libraries during normal opening hours:

  • St Budeaux Library
  • Southway Library
  • Plympton Library
  • Plymstock Library

You can also sign the online Book of Condolence via this link Sign the Book of Condolence The completed books will then go to the local archive based at The Box.


Residents wishing to lay flowers in tribute to The Queen can do so at St Andrew's Church.

 Gun Salute

A 96-round gun salute will fire from HMNB Devonport at 1pm on Friday 9 September.

One round will be fired for every year of The Queen's life, followed by a 10 second silence.


Tomorrow (Saturday 10 September) will be the Proclamation Day when the name of the new sovereign will be announced.

On Proclamation Day, flags on Council buildings will be raised to full mast from 11am for 24 hours, to coincide with the reading of the Principal Proclamation. At 1pm on Sunday 11 September, they will be lowered again to half-mast. They will remain at half-mast until 8am on the day after the State Funeral of The Queen.

On Sunday 11 September, The Lord Mayor of Plymouth will read the Local Proclamation from the steps of the Guildhall at 4pm.

I am sure schools also received the message from the DfE last night, which I have added to today's bulletin together with our advice for supporting pupils during this sad time for the nation.

Cost of Living Crisis

While the cost of living crisis is becoming a more dominant national issue that the central government are trying to address, as a City Council we want to gather local intelligence to inform our local approach. So far we have no information received from our local schools on this matter, although there have been national press reports that some schools are considering certain actions to save energy. I therefore would be grateful if schools could share with me any consideration or suggestion that you may have to inform our local approach. What has been reported in the national press include the questions of:

a)     Any alternation to the school schedule or activities to reduce energy costs

b)     Are any schools considering opening for longer hours to give pupils somewhere warm by

  • starting the day early or
  • doing homework in the evenings?

In the meantime, the LA is running a campaign to encourage families who qualify to apply for free school meals. We have put information out on social media and in the Plymouth Residents Newsletter. The City Council's education team are promoting family's take up of free school meal entitlements. Amid the current concern about the current cost of living, I would particularly urge colleagues to promote the FSM take up among the parents who have not done so while their children are entitled to it. Below is the wording that City Council have put out to residents, please feel free to send it out to all of your families via your school networks.

Is your child eligible for free school meals?

Getting ready for children to go back to school? Make sure you check if your child is eligible for free school meals.

If you receive certain benefits, such as Universal Credit, then your child may be entitled to a free lunch at school. Schools receive extra funding for children entitled to free school meals which means it's important to apply if you can, even if your child is in reception, year 1 or year 2 and so already receives a free lunch.

It's easy to apply, just complete the form on our website and we can check your eligibility online. You'll then receive an email confirming the outcome of your application, which is also sent directly to your child's school.

Check the criteria and apply"

Interim Head of SEND

Due to the departure of Penny Whitell two weeks ago, we have made an interim arrangement to cover the role of the City Council's Head of SEND Service, ensuring that clear lines of accountability and support for managers and employees will continue uninterrupted, initially for up to three months, pending possible recruitment to the role and consideration of any more permanent changes.

Amanda Paddison has started the new role as Interim Head of SEND from this term. I am sure that many colleagues know Amanda well and that her substantive role is Head of Access to Learning. Amanda has previous experience of managing a SEND team and is familiar with our SEND strategic priorities and operational delivery.

The service has realigned the capacity during the pandemic and delivered some really positive interventions during the pandemic in supporting children, young people and families. The teams will now want to work even more closely with the schools and SEND partners to ensure that local area will deliver high quality service and fully implement the graduated model.

While the teams will reach out to schools to share the local area's recovery and improvement priorities, please contact Amanda Paddison if you have any queries on SEND. Amanda's email is

DfE Attendance Guidance

Toward the end of last term, the DfE issued the school attendance guidance, setting out new direction for the Local Authorities to work with MATs and schools, with the Councils' attendance support pivoting to advisory and quality assuring functions, as a core offer adding value to schools' work of individual pupil support to improve school attendance.

We have therefore made some transitional realignments to the attendance service in line with the new DfE guidance. You may have already received a letter from Isabelle Morgan earlier this week in this regard. Please contact Isabelle if you have any enquiries at

2022 Provisional Exam Results

There are some impressive successes in both Primary and Secondary schools' attainment results. This year, 58% of KS2 pupils has met the expected standards. It means for the first time of past 5 years, Plymouth is now better than the Southwest Region's average (57% in 2022). I know that nationally, this year's KS2 outcomes were significantly affected by the pandemic and there was a national decline in primary schools' attainment outcomes and that we are still one percentage point below the national average.

Last year (2021), we have for the first time achieved better than the national average KS4 attainment 8 and basis English and Maths pass rates. Consolidating that progress, the initial data of 2022 indicated Plymouth Secondary schools continue to make steady progress with an improvement in both Attainment 8 and Progress 8, although the initial data should be treated with care due to the transitional exam arrangement.

The trend of improvement is clear, which gives much cause for optimism for the future of Plymouth education, although there is still a long way to go to realise our ambition of world class education in Plymouth. While individual schools and Trusts will now be embarking on a detailed analysis of subject performance in order to inform school improvement planning for this academic year, my congratulations to students, staff and school leadership.

Best regards.


Department for Education Message (08.09.22) - The Passing of The Queen

It is with sadness that Buckingham Palace announced today the death of Her Majesty The Queen.

We have now entered a period of national mourning that will continue until the end of the State Funeral. Guidance providing the public, businesses and institutions with advice on the period of national mourning following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will be issued by the Cabinet Office and available on GOV.UK.

Once details of the funeral are confirmed by the Royal Household, we will write to you with further guidance and information.

For early years providers, there is no obligation for settings to observe particular behaviours during the mourning period. Depending on the nature and location of your setting and the tone of planned events, some settings may wish to consider closing or postponing events.

Schools and Further Education settings should remain open. Whilst normal attendance is expected, headteachers continue to have the power to authorise leaves of absence for pupils in exceptional circumstances. Any requests for leave of absence should be considered on a case-by-case basis taking into account individual circumstances.

Education and childcare settings may want to consider conducting special activities, holding assemblies or adapting planned lessons to reflect the period of national mourning and commemorate the life of Her Majesty may wish to repurpose the lesson materials about The Queen's Jubilee produced by Royal Collections Trust and The National Archives. Primary schools may also wish to adapt 'Queen Elizabeth: A Platinum Jubilee Celebration', the commemorative book distributed to state-funded primary schools across the United Kingdom in 2022.

If children and young people are upset, MindEd is a source of information to support children and young people to manage death and loss.

Education and childcare settings wishing to pay their respects by flying any flags at half-mast or holding silences should follow the guidance on GOV.UK

You can also visit the Palace's website for more information about the mourning period:

We know teachers, lecturers, early years colleagues and social workers around the country have an important role to play in reassuring children and young people at this difficult time.

Guidance for supporting children and young people - the passing of The Queen

When a public figure dies, the news can elicit a range of emotions. There may be a deep sense of loss especially if they admired The Queen. Some children will feel these feelings deeply or they may be indifferent depending on their view about The Queen. It is important to be respectful and understand that everyone grieves differently.

If children have experienced death it may bring feelings of grief to the surface again. The important thing to remember is that there is no right or wrong response and we should respect that everyone will feel differently. It is likely that there will be a sense of sadness and for some children they will find it difficult to understand that people feel sad when she was not known personally.

Death and therefore bereavement is a typical/normal human experience and whilst it is a difficult experience, the vast majority of children and young people will recover. Allow them time to celebrate her they may want to commemorate her passing.

Adults in schools should be available to listen to children and young people. Empathic listening and understanding and being available to respond to children's questions will be what the majority of children and young people will need. By acknowledging and normalising their experiences and reactions the adults will help them to restore feelings of safety and security.

Tips for supporting children and young people

  • Use words they can understand and are age appropriate.
  • Show children how you are feeling. This is helpful to model and "normalise" the feelings they may be experiencing.
  • Give them the opportunity to ask questions. It's ok to do this is in a group so they know how others are feeling. Older children will want and be able to handle more information. Answer questions simply and honestly. If you don't know the answer, say so.
  • Use pictures and storybooks. These are particularly helpful for younger children or those with special educational needs.
  • Tell them that the reactions they are having are normal.
  • Accept there may be changes in behaviour or personality. This is typical and they will return to their usual selves in time.
  • Help them to understand the relationship between their feelings and the loss. Help them find safe ways to express their feelings e.g. by drawing, taking exercise or talking.
  • If you notice a change in a child or young person pay extra attention, spend extra time with them, be more nurturing and comforting.

If you need further advice, Plymouth City Council's Educational Psychologist can be contacted via


Education updates

Government policy, legislative announcements and news - w/c 05 September 2022

£200 million of funding announced to address the disadvantage gap

Funding will increase access to English and maths schemes in schools, and the Education Endowment Foundation is backed to continue to improve attainment. Education trials and interventions to improve attainment will be carried out across schools, colleges and early years settings, backed by a new multi-million government grant.

The Department for Education is to continue funding the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) with a new grant of £137 million, cementing the independent charity's role as a central part of the education landscape for at least the next decade.

Attendance drive steps up as new term starts for millions of pupils

Families will receive targeted support to improve school attendance with new advice and innovative interventions for schools this term. Schools are being advised to work in partnership with councils and consider targeted family support or home visits where there are barriers to attending school.

This is part of a package of new and innovative measures to ensure that more children are in school every day, including targeted support for individuals who need it and improved data tools that will better identify and solve consistent issues.

ACTION: Schools and local authorities to submit the mandatory 2021/22 year-end statement for school-led tutoring by Friday 16 September

The year-end statement return must be completed, even if you did not use your grant. The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) will recover your funding if the form is not submitted.

To ensure the accuracy of your return, please use the school-led tutoring: allocations April 2022 to check how much you received.

You will need to enter:

  • Your school-led tutoring spend - the total should include the funding we provided and your school's contribution. If you used all your DfE funding, the number you enter will be higher than your allocation.
  • How many hours of tutoring were delivered - if tutoring was delivered in groups, count the number of hours for each pupil. For example, if one tutor delivered a 15- hour package of tutoring to 3 pupils, count this as 45 hours.
  • How many pupils received school-led tutoring - if pupils received tutoring in multiple subjects, only count each pupil once.

Technical and policy guidance and a short tutorial video are available to help you.

2023 Primary assessment

This week all primary schools will have received the first Standards & Testing Agency Assessment Update from STA. It is essential that school leaders receive and read these regular updates so please ensure that they are forwarded to you if they arrive in the general school mailbox.

Included below are links from the first update, including several key actions for September such as completion of the KS2 checking exercise, MTC results checking and of course, the need to administer the Reception Baseline check for all children in their first six weeks in the Reception class. Please feel free to contact at any time for assessment advice and support.


Year 6 and Year 11 transition for children and young people with EHCPs

The 0-25 SEND Team have been developing procedures over the summer to support children and young people in the city with EHCPs. Discussions have included improving the processes when requests are made for specialist settings at key stage transitions. As a result we would like to make you aware of two key dates to support this.

If a request is expected to be made for a Y6 pupil with an EHCP to transition to specialist placement for KS3, please do ensure their completed annual review and all relevant paperwork, such as assessment levels are received by the 0-25 SEND Team by October 31st 2022 at the latest.

If a request is expected to be made for a Y11 pupil with an EHCP to transition to specialist placement for Post 16, please do ensure their completed annual review and all relevant paperwork are received by the 0-25 SEND Team by December 30th 2022 at the latest.

All paperwork is to be submitted to


Health and wellbeing updates

Message from Kooth PLC - Online digital mental health and wellbeing support

We are thrilled to announce that NHS Devon, Devon County Council. Plymouth City Council, and Torbay Council have worked in partnership to commission Qwell (delivered by Kooth), to provide all adults aged 18+, living in Devon, Plymouth and Torbay with access to free Online digital mental health and wellbeing support.

Qwell ( is a free, safe and an anonymous mental health and wellbeing online service. No referrals are required and there are no thresholds required to access the service.

The team at Kooth plc have arranged a number of webinars to introduce and officially launch Qwell to our key stakeholders across Devon, Plymouth and Torbay.

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