COVID-19: Schools Update - 21 April

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schools update

Latest update for all schools - 21 April

dan barton

Dear All,

Lots of information to digest in today's bulletin, including a reminder that the deadline for our best practice for schools audit is this Friday and also new request forms for transport and PPE. 

I hope your week has started well and thank you as always for your ongoing support in these challenging times.

Take care of yourselves. 


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

PPE requests

The Learning Improvement Service (LIS), the CCC Health and Safety team and a number of colleagues from Cumbria Primary Headtachers' (PHA) and Cumbria Association of Secondary Headteachers (CASH) have worked to develop a process for PPE requests.

We are really grateful to Ged Acton, Project Lead for Capital Programme, Economy and Infrastructure, for his support. Ged has the strategic overview for PPE requests across services. To support and coordinate, rather than emailing many single requests to Ged, we have developed a request form. If you have not had time, please could you familiarise yourself with the PPE guidance outlined on the form and use the form to submit future requests to Judith Chandler, who will collate and submit to Ged each week.

Reminder to complete best practice audit

Please can we remind hubs and schools to complete the practice audit by this Friday (April 24). We need these back to share best practice across the county, to enable us to follow up and broker support for any challenges faced, and to provide essential assurances of effective practice.

Please return completed forms to the LIS Business Support team for your area:


Letter about predicted grades

Please find attached a letter regarding our position on predicted grades for GCSEs and A Levels, which will be sent to all FE colleges and employers in due course. 

Education Tactical Co-ordination Group Recovery Planning

We recognise that the return to normality may feel a long way off. However, we also know that many of your collaboratives are already having purposeful conversations about a range of key issues. These include, transition, curriculum, well-being, the disadvantaged, learning readiness, progression and more.

We have established a recovery planning group, comprising colleagues from all phases in schools, settings and establishments, together with colleagues from across CCC education services to develop a plan and to ensure connectivity and a strong education voice within the wider Cumbria Recovery Strategy.

The first meeting has been arranged by Dale Hill and will take place today to agree purpose and scope and to consider the best structures to support recovery in the different localities and phases of education in our county. Progress will be shared with you as we move forwards together, and there will be opportunities to maximise the work you are already doing.

Hub school model provides greater resilience

As you are aware we have a mixed-economy approach (school hubs working alongside standalone schools) to providing childcare to children of key workers and for vulnerable children across the county.

We appreciate that more standalone schools have taken the initiative to open recently in order to provide essential care for our more vulnerable children in particular.  However, this can make it more difficult to have resilience plans in place within local solutions. The more standalone schools we have operating, the more difficult it is to develop resilient staffing rotas etc and to maintain hub relationships. Where possible we would urge schools to try and work with their local hub to enable us to maintain resilience going forward. 

Transport requests

Children with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) may already be in receipt of school transport. If this is the case, schools need to provide a list to the School Transport team of those children who are accessing the current provision.

There is also a new transport request form which can be completed and sent to This form should be completed with parents and with the social worker where the request for access is supported by social care.

The transport team are working hard to arrange transport for children to the hubs but to do so safely will take time and schools and parents should expect some delay in transport being put in place. The transport team will contact families to update them on their individual cases but providing as much information as possible at the time of making a request will expedite arrangements.

Laptops for disadvantaged and vulnerable children

Over the weekend the Education Secretary announced that vulnerable and disadvantaged young people across the country will receive free laptops.

Disadvantaged children across England are set to receive laptops and tablets as part of a push to make remote education accessible for pupils staying at home during the coronavirus outbreak.

Devices will be ordered for children in the most vital stages of their education, those who receive support from a social worker and care leavers.

The government will also provide 4G routers to make sure disadvantaged secondary school pupils and care leavers can access the internet – where those families do not already have mobile or broadband internet in the household.

We will be working with the DfE today to figure out how this will be deployed and will update you accordingly. 

Operation encompass

We are aware that the operation of School Hubs has implications about the implementation of Operation Encompass, and the timely communication from the Police/Safeguarding Hub about incidents of domestic violence. We are working with colleagues on a solution which will be acceptable to colleague Head Teachers and which will still allow for transparent communication.

We’ll let you know about how this process will be able to work as soon as we have a solution.

SEND risk assessment update to guidance

Thank you to all colleagues in schools and settings who have completed risk assessments for children with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). The government has recently updated their guidance around this process.

As the situation for individual children is likely to change over time and as schools are in regular contact with families, colleagues will wish to review the risk assessments at times and will find this guidance helpful to them at this point.

An interesting aspect of the guidance to note is the section relating to equipment. If any school or setting has equipment for the use of a particular child, they should consider whether it would be appropriate for that equipment to be sent to the child's home. For children with an EHCP it is often particularly important to be aware of other professionals involvement with the child. Regular contact with the family will help provide a clear picture of how the child is being supported by all agencies and determine what support should be offered by the school or setting.

Government has also provided advice for parents and carers on supporting their child with SEND with their education at this time and schools may wish to share this with their families. There is also a range of information on the Local Offer and we would be happy to share there any resources school colleagues would like to share.

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.

Due to a steady increase in demand and context of those attending, we appreciate that the hub and stand-alone structures will change. This does place some challenge in updating the survey. If you cannot find your details in a drop down menu or feel that the drop down does not include your correct details, please use the standalone section to submit your return and use the comments to clarify. Please be assured, these are read each day and LIS General Advisers will follow up with you. We ask for your patience if the form is not accurately showing the context of your own hub/school immediately after your return.

Please continue to complete the DfE data return alongside our own form. We are  not providing data to the DfE. 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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