COVID-19: Schools update... 26 June

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schools update

In today's update:

Changes to coordination arrangements

dan barton

Dear Colleagues,

As government announcements this week have made clear we are now moving into a new phase of the country’s pandemic response. Reflecting this we are also making changes to how we co-ordinate arrangements in the education sector going forward, with our focus shifting onto planning for the summer, and September reopening. From next week the Education Tactical Co-ordination Group will be stood down. The group has been absolutely critical to the county’s response to COVID-19 and I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to everyone who has been involved. It has been demanding of people’s time and energy but it has added huge value and helped us all negotiate the uncharted territory we have been in since March.

Looking to September it is clear that a huge amount of work is required across a range of fronts to ensure we are all prepared for what will certainly be a challenging term. We are keen to build on the cooperation and collaboration that has been successful thus far and to that end we are now establishing a new set of structures to support planning for September, and for the summer break. Under the overall strategic leadership of the September Education Planning Group and Summer Planning Group we will be establishing working groups, including LA and schools representatives, across a number of topic areas: curriculum, transport, mental health etc. The groups will be action focused, with the aim of ensuring that all schools are supported in their preparations for the new term. I will provided further details on the work of the groups shortly.

As we move forward, it’s easy to lose sight of what has gone before. So I’d just like to repeat my thanks for all the work and effort that has gone on in the county’s schools. It has been unprecedented but you have risen to the challenge. There’s more to come no doubt, but by continuing to work together I am confident that we will manage the significant challenges to come.

Dan Barton

Assistant Director - Education and Skills

School Meal and ‘Exceptional Costs’ update

Further guidance has been issued by the DfE with regard to meals provision and ‘exceptional costs’.

The latest Free School Meal update includes:

  • further information on the Covid Summer Food Fund

The payments for the Covid Summer Food Fund will be met centrally by DfE. This is in addition to the free school meals national voucher scheme and will support children who usually receive benefits-related free school meals.

  • further information on free meals in further education
  • the final ordering timescales for the national voucher scheme
  • guidance on ordering vouchers in multiples of £5
  • an update on school food contracts to include further guidance from the Cabinet Office on Procurement Policy Note 04/20
  • information on wider support for families

The link to guidance on ‘exceptional costs’ can be found below.

It covers support for schools up to the end of the 2019 to 2020 summer term.

Guidance on funding available to schools to support them with costs associated with coronavirus (COVID-19).

The government has issued details about how schools can claim for exceptional costs associated with COVID19.  The deadline for submitting the online claim is Tuesday 21 July 2020 for eligible costs incurred to the time of the submission.   There are 3 agreed cost categories against which you can make a claim:

  • increased premises related costs of keeping schools open over school holiday periods, for vulnerable children and children of critical workers
  • support for free school meal (FSM) children who are not attending school, other than through the national voucher scheme
  • additional cleaning, over and above existing cleaning arrangements, where you have a suspected or confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19).

To access the claim form you will need a DfE Sign-in account.   Click here for the updated Published guidance and the Claim Form

Heads up - School Readiness Questionnaire

As a result of the current climate there is potentially a significant issue regarding children’s readiness for school in September. To help to identify these issues the 5-19 Public Health Service are sending a School Readiness Questionnaire  to every parent/carer of a child starting school this September.  The questionnaire covers various health and wellbeing issues and will help highlight key areas for schools, which the 5-19 Public Health Team will be able to offer support and advice to address. 

As part of the questionnaire there is also the opportunity for parents/carers to request further direct support which will also be followed up by the 5-19 Public Health Nurses. We hope that by identifying issues early, we can help to ensure that children, families and schools get support they need in a timely manner to help ensure they have a successful start at school. 


Reception baseline assessment - important update

The Government has announced that plans to introduce the Reception Baseline Assessment this Autumn have now been moved back a year to Autumn 2021, due to the unforeseen challenges posed by the pandemic



Quick guide - important numbers and links