COVID-19 Education Update - 18 March

Would you like to view this email in a web page? Click here

Cornavirus (COVID-19) Education Update - 17 March

What's in this update?


Priority Childcare Capacity – Coronavirus Bill

The government is in the process of preparing legislation which will come forward in the form of a ‘Coronavirus Bill’, which, amongst other things, will create the power to ‘require’ some schools to stay open in order to release NHS and Social Care staff to continue to perform essential life-saving duties at the peak of the epidemic.

In anticipation of this, we are asking schools across the county to volunteer to act in this capacity. You can do this by emailing, with a subject title – PRIORITY CHILDCARE. Please can you indicate in this message what capacity you might be able to provide.

Identifying which parents would need priority childcare in this instance will be a significant piece of work. Please can you send this letter (DOWNLOAD) to ALL PARENTS, which asks them to self-identify on an online form if they:

  • Are a frontline staff member in NHS or Social Care involved in direct work with vulnerable people
  • Do not have alternative options at home to look after children if schools close
  • Would like to take advantage of the priority childcare offer

Please offer support to parents who may not be able to complete it online.

Free School Meals/Vulnerable children plan

Thank you to those who have so far submitted information about vulnerable children. We are collating this data and are working alongside County Council Area Teams, commissioned services, 3rd and voluntary sector and community groups to target the most vulnerable children and families for support in the event of school closure.

We are aware that there is already a wide variety of excellent activity going on at a local level to support local communities in this way.

Please can Head Teachers send a very brief detail of the programmes of work in relation to Vulnerable/FSM that you are working on in your schools, with your families, so that we can support co-ordination of finite resources around this at the county level, please?

Email to inform us of your activity.

Providing vulnerable child/young person data

In anticipation of school closures being mandated nationally, we are keen to enlist the support of Head Teachers,  Early Years settings and leaders of Further Education and Adult Learning settings to help identify vulnerable groups of children and young people.

This includes your intelligence about those children on Free School Meals whose families may struggle to feed them over a protracted period of time at home.

Please provide this information in an Excel file to the address, column headings should be:

  • Unique Pupil Number
  • Name
  • Age
  • Address
  • Contact number
  • Reason for concern (i.e., type of SEND, underlying health need, lack of adult supervision)

We will use this information to share with other agencies across the County and District Councils and 3rd sector in order to prioritise visiting and support in the event of closures.

Pooling of online study resources

It is recognised that colleagues will all be independently creating banks of online resources ready to use in the event of mass closures. Clearly it makes sense to share this work rather than duplicate. Therefore, the County Council is aiming to create a curated list of online resources which we will make available to all schools, similar to the TES (

If Head Teacher colleagues are happy to share their work in this area, we will create a simple page, searchable by subject area and Key Stage. Please use the address to send links to online resources. Links should be marked with:

  • Subject
  • Key stage/Year group

Please do not send files, online links to online resources.

Communicating schools closures

The situation we are all working in is live and changeable. This means that schools taking the decisions locally to close or to partially close are doing so in real-time and under pressure.

To support schools and local communities in communicating these decisions widely, and to support the County Council is maintaining up to date situational awareness, can I remind colleagues to use the school closures processes on the council website please. This has the advantage of being immediately pushed out through our social media channels as well. You can find the link here:

Anysecondary schools announcing the decision to close please inform your feeder primaries please.


Managing staff anxiety

Feedback from colleagues yesterday was that many staff are understandably feeling anxious and stressed, and that in some cases they are finding it difficult to reconcile the general advice around social distancing with the requirement that schools stay open. This is making them feel vulnerable and that they are at greater risk than others.

Unfortunately there is no easy or reassuring response to this, but this text might be helpful in having discussions with staff.

The Government approach to dealing with Coronavirus now accepts that very large numbers of people are likely to become infected. Their aim now is to delay the spread as long as possible to try and avoid very high numbers of people becoming ill at the same time, requiring medical care and overwhelming the NHS. It is important to stress though that for the vast majority of people Coronavirus is a relatively mild infection that they will recover from. But even if only a small proportion of a very large population become seriously ill this will still put massive strain on the NHS.

Currently Government believes that closing schools will be counter-productive. Their analysis indicates it will have a relatively small impact on slowing the spread but a very large impact on the ability of the national workforce to operate, in particular it would require many parents to stay at home who would otherwise be doing essential work preparing for the anticipated peak of infection.

The situation is moving quickly though and this position may change in the coming days and weeks.

Already for increasing numbers of schools locally it is proving impossible to stay open because staffing levels have reduced due to staff-self isolating as a precaution (not necessarily because they have symptoms, but they are following the very broad Government guidance).

This wellbeing guidance may provide some useful information to help staff manage their anxieties.

The work schools and teachers are doing is always vital, but in these difficult times it is more true than ever. Thank you for your continued commitment.

Early Years: Information for PVI providers who are funded to deliver free nursery provision

Following an announcement yesterday from the Department for Education we are able to confirm payment of free entitlement funding relating to Coronavirus / Covid-19 related closure of early years’ provision and absent children.


Early Years: Frequently Asked Questions


Talking with children about COVID-19

Children may find the current disruption to daily life quite disturbing, especially if it affects those who are close to them.  Whilst it may be tempting to shield them from potentially upsetting information, they will be in a better emotional state if simple, appropriate information is shared with them.


Education, Health and Care Plans - changes to approach

Due to the current circumstances we understand that schools may be struggling to meet all requirements/timescales relating to EHC plans. As of yet there is no national guidance/regulations on how to tackle these issues.

We understand that schools and settings are seeking to restrict nonessential meetings and visits therefore we would encourage making telephone or email contact as needed.

It may mean that for the foreseeable future external professionals will be unable to visit individual children and young people and offer advice and support as would usually be the case.

Regarding EHC assessments we are suspending family meetings and encouraging parents to discuss any concerns related to the draft plan firstly with school and if necessary via telephone, conference calls or skype with the relevant EHCP Coordinators or LEO.

As a result of the current difficulties it is going to be difficult to achieve a full and timely assessment for new referrals. Please be assured that we are very keen to work with and support you through this very difficult time, but the reality is that assessments are unlikely to be completed within the usual timeframes.  

As and when guidance is issued by central government we will update you further. In the meantime, we would encourage you to make remote contact with relevant professionals as needed.

National Governance Association - guidance

The NGA have produced the guidance below for Governing Boards in respect of how to conduct business in the current situation.