COVID-19: Amended Governing Board FAQs - 15 April

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schools update

Latest update for all schools - 15 April

dan barton

Dear All,

Thank you to everyone who has been operating a school, or School Hub over the Easter break, and thank you to all of you who opened again yesterday, either as a School Hub, or standalone for now. Cumbria couldn’t function without you. Please do share my thanks with all of your members of staff.

We are seeing relatively low numbers attending at present, but the forecast is for numbers to increase slightly over the coming days and weeks – watch this space.


Dan Barton, Assistant Director - Education and Skills
Cumbria County Council

Deployment of staff

Colleagues will be concerned about how best to ensure that colleagues are working productively at home over the coming weeks and months. Whilst this is understandable, it important to remember the national guidance which is very clear; we are safest when we stay at home. No member of a school’s staff should be deployed to work in a school building unless they are directly supporting the functioning of a School Hub or a stand alone school.

Free School Meal vouchers

Colleagues will be aware of the national outcry in relation to accessibility of Edenred’s online form. Whilst it is not directly within our compass to solve this problem, I would like to confirm with colleagues that the issue within Cumbria has been escalated DfE and will also be raised at the multi-agency Strategic Co-ordination Group. This means that our concerns will be captured at a ministerial level. I will update you as and when we are able to.

Best practice support for governing boards

Our Governor Support Team (GST) have put together some useful FAQs to support governing boards during the Covid-19 period.  Please note, this document will be updated as new guidance is released. 

The updated version will be available on the GST website.

PPE focus group update

The PPE group is focused on trying to provide the appropriate level of protection for a wide range of key workers in different roles and circumstances. This involves collecting donations, procuring PPE and accessing the government’s alternative supply chain; then working to ensure the correct PPE gets to the priority areas.This includes a range of specialist PPE, rather than cleaning or sanitary products.

We’re currently involved in assessing the PPE requirement of school hubs, special schools and PRUs so that it can be considered in relation to the levels we have available in stock.

School meal supplier payments

Following requests from schools to provide advice with regards to payments being requested by school meal suppliers the Council’s advice to schools is as follows:

Please note that any payments in respect of school meals should only be made after a contract modification has been implemented and signed by both the school and supplier. We will provide further guidance and assistance with contract modifications this week.

Following the contract modification process being completed:

Universal Free School Meals / Free School Meals (FSM)

In accordance with Procurement Policy Note PPN 02/20 invoices received in respect of the usual volume of FSM’s, at or below the contractual price, should be paid without delay.

Furthermore schools should discuss with suppliers whether an advance payment to the period 30th June 2020, the date PPN 02/20 is effective to, would assist with suppliers cash flow. Payment can be made in advance and should this present cash flow challenges for cheque book schools your usual finance contact will be able to assist at that time. This will assist with suppliers cash flow. 

Parent paid for meals

Schools are directed to Department for Education guidance Coronavirus (COVID-19): free school meals guidance for schools which includes the paragraph below under the heading “School food contracts”

You should, therefore, continue to make payments to food suppliers that are considered at risk in relation to the cost of free school meals and universal infant free school meals. This can apply to up to 25% of the value of a contract and applies until the end of June 2020. It does not apply to the costs of meals usually purchased by parents for children who are not eligible for free school meals.

In light of this guidance schools are advised not to make any payment in respect of invoices received for meals previously paid for by parents. In addition there is no funding within school budgets to support any such payments.


Hubs will be contacted separately with regards to payments for meals.

A reminder to complete our data collection form

Please complete and submit the survey each day before 11am. Please only complete this survey if you are open and providing provision. If you are working as part of a schools hub, the lead hub should complete the survey and report all children that attend. Do not submit a survey if you are closed, or the children from your school now attend another Childcare and Learning Hub.

Please continue to complete the DfE data return alongside our own form. This is something of a duplication, I know, but necessary. The DfE site will be feeding us information which is 24 hours out of date, and will not allow us to support and co-ordinate support for hubs in real time. 



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