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Education Bulletin - 15 July 2022

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Updated 15 July 2022

Important contact details

From Ming Zhang
Service Director of Education, Participation and Skills

Dear colleagues,

There is currently a very unusual amber heat warning covering most of England and the Plymouth area from Sunday to Monday. You may have read and heard the press reports on this matter and the related advice. We have worked with the city's Civil Protection Unit and the City Council's Health and Safety team to provide you with advice.

Heat Wave and Education Settings

The MET Office latest brief describes the heatwave in detail:

Looking further ahead we will start to see some hot air from France arrives in the UK this coming weekend, and that is likely to start building temperatures again during Saturday - with hot weather peaking on Sunday and Monday. At this stage it looks as if we will see temperatures in the Southwest England region reach well into the mid 30's perhaps higher.

Schools and other education settings follow the same rules as workplaces for staying open in the heat, as set out in HSE guidance, "During working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable." Therefore, schools and other education settings have to provide "clean, fresh air" as well as keeping temperatures at a comfortable level. Additionally, they are expected to provide adequate shade and deploy special measures when necessary. This can mean fans or portable air conditioning. Some schools may choose to relax their uniform rules, such as switching from trousers to shorts or removing ties and blazers, but this is up to the individual schools.

However, there is no maximum temperature at which children and other learners must legally be sent home.

I include in today's bulletin an important guidance for schools on looking after children and those in early years settings during heatwaves, from the UK Health Security Agency. The guidance set out the steps that education settings should take.

For staff Health and Wellbeing in the situation, I have attached PCC advice for indoor and outdoor working which applies to maintained schools' Council employees. Academies may want to adopt it if they do not have existing guidance, although I am sure there is guidance from MATs for their schools on staff health and safety during a heat wave.

Embedding of RSC Office in Regions Group

The DfE Regions Group was launched on 4 July 2022 and the Regional School Commissioner is now Regions Group Director. Regions Group is a key part of our Future DfE transformation and will have a central role to play in helping to develop policy across the Department that reflects local needs and drives our ambition to become a more place-shaping and influencing organisation.

Over the next few months the Group will be fully embedded so that it is fully operational by September 2022. As part of these changes, non-financial responsibilities which have previously sat in the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) - including safeguarding, funding agreement changes, whistleblowing and complaints - will move to Regions Group, as well as Children's Social Care and Special Educational Needs and Disability improvement and intervention.

I include in today's bulletin a letter from Hannah Woodhouse, the Regional Director of Southwest Regions Group.

With Gratitude - Retirement of Headteachers

It is with a sense of gratitude that we mark the retirement of Brian and Tracey Jones at the end of this academic year. With over sixty years of service between them, Brian and Tracey have made a significant contribution to education in the city, and will undoubtedly have positively impacted the lives and learning of many Plymouth children.

Brian has had a long career in schools in the city for over thirty years, in the most disadvantaged communities of the city with the success of ensuring that all children have been well cared for and provided with excellent learning opportunities. He first took up headship of Bull Point Primary, after working as Deputy Headteacher at Chaucer Primary, and led the school for 19 years, before becoming Headteacher of the new Riverside Community Primary School fourteen years ago. Overcoming many considerable challenges the school has faced over the years, Brian has successfully built a strong team, who work effectively with the local communities to improve and maintain good standards at Riverside, a place where children thrive and excel. I am sure colleagues share my feeling that Brian is a fantastic colleague who is always willing to support other school leaders and to share best practice.

Tracey has also given over thirty years to education, working tirelessly for the best outcomes of children with barely a day off throughout her career. Since starting teaching at St Andrew's CE Primary in 1989, she has played a significant role in providing high quality learning opportunities for children in Barne Barton, Salisbury Road, and Whitleigh primary schools, before taking on the challenge of successfully improving a challenging Torbay school. For the past eight years, Tracey has been Headteacher of Mary Dean's CE Primary where she has added great value to the work of her team, the school community and to the learning experience of children. Her work is highly valued and will be greatly missed.

On behalf of the City Council and local school partnership, I would like to say a big thank-you to both Brian and Tracey for their tireless commitment to children and to education in Plymouth. Between them they have made a considerable difference to the lives of many and to the overall work of educators in Plymouth, and we wish them every happiness in their retirement.

Best regards.



Education updates

New Policy, Guidance and Advice

Guidance for Schools on looking after children and those in early years settings during heatwaves, from the UK Health Security Agency

This guidance provides education settings with detailed advice on the steps that should be taken in education settings during heatwaves.

Protecting children outdoors

During periods of high temperature, the following steps should be taken:

  • children should not take part in vigorous physical activity on very hot days, such as when temperatures are in excess of 30°C
  • encourage children playing outdoors to stay in the shade as much as possible
  • children should wear loose, light-coloured clothing to help keep cool and sunhats with wide brims to avoid sunburn
  • use sunscreen (at least factor 15 with UVA protection) to protect skin if children are playing or taking lessons outdoors for more than 20 minutes
  • provide children with plenty of water (such as water from a cold tap) and encourage them to drink more than usual when conditions are hot

Protecting children indoors

During periods of high temperature, the following steps should be taken:

  • open windows as early as possible in the morning before children arrive, or preferably overnight to allow stored heat to escape from the building - it is important to check insurance conditions and the need for security if windows are to be left open overnight
  • almost close windows when the outdoor air becomes warmer than the air indoors - this should help keep the heat out while allowing adequate ventilation
  • use outdoor sun awnings if available, or close indoor blinds or curtains, but do not let them block window ventilation
  • keep the use of electric lighting to a minimum
  • switch off all electrical equipment, including computers, monitors and printers when not in use - equipment should not be left in 'standby mode' as this generates heat
  • if possible, use those classrooms or other spaces which are less likely to overheat, and adjust the layout of teaching spaces to avoid direct sunlight on children
  • oscillating mechanical fans can be used to increase air movement if temperatures are below 35°C - at temperatures above 35°C fans may not prevent heat-related illness and may worsen dehydration
  • if necessary, consider rearranging school start, finish, and play times to avoid teaching during very hot conditions
  • encourage children to eat normally and drink plenty of cool water

For further information on reducing temperatures within school buildings and grounds see UK Health Security Agency's (UKHSA) Heatwave Plan for England.

The school sun policy

A sun protection policy will assist in protecting children - Cancer Research UK's sun protection policy guidelines advise that schools allow the reapplication of sunscreen, particularly around midday.

Advice on developing a school sun protection policy is available from the Cancer Research UK Sun Smart.

Plymouth City Council Guidance on Indoor and Outdoor Working

City Council heatwave advice for its employees including maintained school staff. In the anticipated heatwave, for some people there is a risk of heat stress occurring and the attached alerts provide information and guidance about how to reduce the likelihood of this happening due to work activities. There are two alerts for your action in today's bulletin:

  • Heat stress safety alert for outdoor workers - review of risk assessments and safe systems of work
  • Heat stress safety alert for indoor workers - cascade to employees working from indoors for their attention

Changes to Education Inspection Handbooks (effective September 2022)

Ofsted on 11 July published updated inspection handbooks for all their education remits. The main changes to be aware of include

  • Impact of COVID-19 - making it clear that inspectors will continue to take account of issues that providers may be facing.
  • Transitional arrangements, recognising that the new focus on the curriculum would mean schools and FE providers might want to change their approach - and would need time to do so. Any school or FE provider that was still in the process of updating its curriculum could receive a good grade, provided other aspects of the provision were good.
  • Graded and ungraded inspections - Section 5 inspections now to be referred to as 'graded inspections' and Section 8 inspections of good and outstanding schools called 'ungraded inspections'.
  • Enhanced inspection of colleges - added a new narrative sub-judgement on how well colleges are contributing to skills needs.
  • Structural changes to the EY inspection handbook - added a new part, which includes guidance on how to apply the EIF in specific contexts and provisions, such as childminders and out-of-school settings.

New Uniform Guidance (effective from September 2022)

We would like to remind schools of the new school uniform guidance that will become effective from September 2022. These new binding national rules will mean a lot to our local communities, in particular those of low incomes and those who are affected most by the current costs of living crisis. The statutory guidance was published on 19th November 2021, requiring schools to make uniform affordable for all. From September this year, schools will be required to help keep costs down by taking steps to remove unnecessary branded items and allowing more high-street options, like supermarket own-brand uniform.

Intervention to improve underperforming schools to begin from September 2022

Underperforming schools will be the focus of new government powers to raise standards of education for young people locally. The new powers will mean schools with two or more consecutive Ofsted ratings below 'Good' may be matched with a strong multi-academy trust, to support their improvement. The government laid regulations in Parliament on the Thursday 30 June, to enable this to happen from 1 September.

Many children placed in homes far away from their families amid national sufficiency challenge

An Ofsted report 'What types of needs do children's homes offer care for?' suggests that there are too few suitable places to keep children in care close to home. The report finds that children with mental health problems, or experience of abuse and neglect, are likely to be living the furthest away from their home prior to coming into care, and above the average distance of 36 miles.

Drive to reduce the cost of childcare for parents

Package of measures will increase childcare support for parents, boost the number of childminders and drive take up of childcare offers, to address rising costs. To drive down costs for providers and parents, a new childcare regulatory changes consultation will look at increasing the number of children that can be looked after by each staff member in early years settings. It will propose changing staff-to-child ratios from 1:4 to 1:5 for 2-year-olds, giving providers more flexibility in how they run their businesses while maintaining safety and quality of care. The government will also increase choice and affordability for parents by taking action to open up the childminder market.

Thousands of rural primary schools to get broadband upgrade

Up to 3,000 primary schools across rural England will get lightning-fast gigabit broadband over the next 3 years.

Plymouth Libraries Summer Reading Challenge

This summer, join the Gadgeteers, a group of 6 young friends who enjoy creating new inventions and working together to solve problems. Discover the amazing science and innovation of the world around you with this year's Summer Reading Challenge.

Aimed at ages 4 to 11 year olds, the Summer Reading Challenge encourages children to read 6 (or more) library books (including eBooks and eAudiobooks) during the summer holidays. Every child that completes the challenge receives a medal and a certificate.

Signing up

Children can join this year's challenge from Saturday 16 July at any Plymouth library. They will receive a pack so that they can track their progress.

They can also create a profile on the Summer Reading Challenge website to get online rewards, play games, and earn badges as they discover new books to read.

Reading books from Plymouth Libraries

Children's books are available to borrow from the library. eBooks and eAudiobooks can be downloaded for free with a Plymouth library card number and PIN.

After reading 2 books, visit the library to tell us about what you have been reading and collect your sticker.

The Summer Reading Challenge will run from Saturday 16 July to Saturday 17 September and is produced by The Reading Agency and delivered in partnership with libraries.

All information can be found at this link Summer Reading Challenge | PLYMOUTH.GOV.UK and there is a Summer Reading Challenge video which can be shown in schools -


Health and wellbeing updates

Fit and Fed Holiday Clubs

Plymouth City Council has received funding from the Department for Education to coordinate a city-wide holiday activity and food programme during the 2022 summer holiday, primarily to support families with children who receive benefit related free school meals.

A list of all the opportunities and other eligible groups can be found on our webpage

Fit and Fed on Tour

This year we are taking Fit and Fed 'On Tour' and delivering 6 free community events at a number of different parks and green open spaces across the city. These events will take place every Tuesday during the summer holidays between 10am and 2pm. These events are free and open to anyone in the local community.

Restoring Relationships Training Offer

Restoring Relationships training and workshop dates and all booking information is included in the attached flyer. If a setting has a large number of staff wishing to attend the training, whole setting full day training can be arranged.

Restoring Relationships Compact Training Offer

This is a reduced version of the full Restoring Relationships Training offer aimed at settings who struggle to release staff for full day training. This can be run as a twilight session or on an inset day to support staffing needs.

*the toolkit will not be included in this session, it is advised that one member of staff if possible can attend the full day training to support colleagues ongoing and have access to the toolkit.

Public Health Information

School Aged Immunisation (SAI) programmes

See attached NHS England letter for circulation to all schools. The letter is about planning for future procurements of School Aged Immunisation (SAI) programmes. Feedback from the school, students and parents (carers) on this is strongly welcomed.

IPC Checklist for Educational Settings

See attached document which is a really important tool along with helpful information. Relationship and Sex Education

Here is an excellent article in SecEd by Lucy Emmerson, Chief Executive of the Sex Education Forum (SEF), about the importance of all teaching staff in implementing RSE.

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