COVID-19: Schools Update - 6 May

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schools update

Latest update for all schools - 6 May

dan barton

Dear All,

As always I would like to start by thanking you for your continued support during these challenging times.

There is a lot to read through in today's bulletin, including an update on where we are at with the allocation of laptops for vulnerable children and young people and also news of a new DfE return for vulnerable children.

As I am sure you are aware the early May Bank Holiday has been moved to this Friday, May 8 to coincide with Victory in Europe Day, or VE Day, which marks the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe. It will be the first day of a long weekend featuring numerous commemorations across the county and the country and I hope you find the time to enjoy the celebrations. Due to this Friday being a Bank Holiday please be aware that we will not be sending out our bulletin as usual and you can expect the next update from us on Monday, May 11.

Take care this weekend,

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


Government laptop initiative

As you will be aware, The Department for Education (DfE) has launched an initiative to provide digital devices (laptops/tablets) and internet access for some disadvantaged and vulnerable children and young people who do not currently have access to them, to help them stay in touch with the services they need, keeping them safe and supporting home learning. Those in the following groups are potentially eligible:

  • Care leavers
  • Children and young people aged 0 to 19 with a social worker
  • Disadvantaged Yr 10 pupils

The Council will receive an allocation for care leavers, children and young people aged 0 to 19 with a social worker, and the disadvantaged Yr 10 pupils at Local Authority maintained schools who do not have a social worker (Academy Trusts will receive an allocation for disadvantaged Yr 10 pupils who do not have a social worker at their school separately).

The Local Authority will own the laptops and tablets they receive, and loan them to children and young people. The Council has established a project group to manage the co-ordination of the devices allocated to it by the DfE for the cohorts for which it is responsible. The group’s initial actions, involving social work teams, The Learning Improvement Service and schools, include:

  • Establishing the needs of children and young people, as the allocation is insufficient for everyone eligible to receive a digital device and/or internet access. Our valued partners, CASH and PHA will be supporting us to coordinate this task, avoid duplication and identify school’s preferred devices if pupils in a school and academies are identified as a priority.
  • Determining which types of device would be most suitable for whom.

Our efforts are all designed to ensure the most effective utilisation of Cumbria’s allocation. Once these initial actions are progressed the group will move onto the logistics of ordering and arranging to provide these.

It is difficult to be precise on timescales for delivery of devices at this time, but the process is likely to take several weeks and will be dependent on the DfE’s delivery partner to provide the devices to the Council.


DfE Survey – Attendance of Vulnerable Children

Since the opening of School Hubs and Standalone Schools, following the nationwide closure of schools as a consequence of Covid-19, colleagues have been asked for and have largely been providing attendance information regularly.

DfE are moving to a more prescriptive position in relation to how well we are monitoring the attendance of vulnerable children, starting with a weekly survey, the first iteration of which will be completed today, and repeated each week on a Monday.

The key information that we are being instructed to gather and report is in relation to those specific young people who have been identified as ‘vulnerable’ (open to social care, and defined as being safer at school than at home). We must provide assurances now to DfE about the attendance of these young people at present, and describe what actions we are taking, as urgently as possible, in relation to non-attendance.

In order to do this, we must gather child-level attendance data on a daily basis in order to perform the necessary (and admittedly very simple) calculations to feed back to DfE with certainty. What this means for colleague Head Teachers is that the Local Authority is developing a definitive list of those identified vulnerable children, which schools and School Hubs must provide a register for on a daily basis to inform the DfE survey.

We continue to work with the department to ensure that this is manageable and will aim to make clear definitively which surveys need to be completed. It is clear that, whilst summary information is required by DfE, we will need to provide child-level data locally, in order to inform the high-level information required, which means the LA register survey will be required, at least in the short to medium term.

Thank you for your patience and commitment getting this done daily.


Information for non-cheque book maintained schools

As part of the review of services provided to non-cheque book schools, please note that from 1 November 2020 the provision of monthly TABS reports, journal and budget entries and adjustments in the ledger (E5) and ad hoc ledger enquires will no longer be provided by Capita/Entrust. Instead the County Council will be providing the service as the Council’s own systems hold and produce this information.

We will be in touch again shortly to confirm the charge for this service for the period 1 November 2020 to 31 March 2021. As the service uses the Council’s own E5 system, charges to schools will be at cost i.e. there will be no profit element included.

Please ensure that you only pay your current service provider for the period 1 April – 31 October 2020 to avoid duplication of charges.


Governor Support Team

Even though many schools are closed, governance still needs to continue and the Governor Support Team are available to provide support and advice as usual.  Information in relation to Covid-19 and advice for governors can be found on the Governor Services website.

Regular updates will be available on the website, along with links to DfE and National Governance Association Covid-19  advice.  

For queries and advice, please contact the Governor Support Team:


WELL Project delivers breakfasts to schools and nurseries

WELL logo

We are really pleased to announce that this week the WELL Project has started delivering breakfasts to every child attending School or Nursery hubs during the Covid-19 lockdown this Summer Term. The Western Excellence in Learning and Leadership project (WELL) is committed to improving outcomes for all pupils, including the vulnerable and those facing disadvantage, across Allerdale and Copeland. The WELL’s sponsors and supporters, Sellafield and NDA LTD, generously agreed to open the funded breakfasts to all Cumbrian school hubs during the period of school closure.

If you are not yet receiving these breakfasts at your setting please email Vicki.Clarke@Cumbria.gov.uk to discuss and agree the number of breakfasts you require a week and any dietary requirements within the setting.


School transport this Friday

Can you please advise parents that this Friday (May 8) there will be no school transport available for children attendings the hubs and standalone schools, as it is a Bank Holiday.

Any queries please email school.transport@cumbria.gov.uk


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. 

DATA COLLECTION FORM