COVID-19: Schools & Early Years update... end of term

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In today's update:

A huge thank you!

Cllr Sue Sanderson

Dear all,

We’d like to take the opportunity to thank you all, and all of your staff teams, for the phenomenal effort over the last 20 weeks since the beginning of the Covid 19 outbreak.

The effort, commitment, innovation and patience of our educators in Cumbria has been excellent. In the face of a constantly challenging and evolving situation, our schools and all educational settings have done a marvelous job. On behalf of all of the children and families in Cumbria; Thank You!

dan barton

Whilst we are no strangers to disaster management in Cumbria, it is fair to say that this experience has had no precedent. Colleagues are exhausted, and ready to down tools for the summer. On that note, we want to encourage you all to be deliberate and intentional in this regard; please do ensure that you all take a good amount of time away from work and from planning for work. The whole of the educational establishment, along with you and your teams, has a very busy term to look forward to in September, and you need a good rest to refresh you.

With regard to September and the new term, you will find some information below about the work which is going on to support planning for the autumn. We hope that this will give you some reassurance that work will be continuing over the summer break on the systems and structures which will be needed. Please do not be tempted to ‘over plan’ anything for September now, based on recent and changing guidance.

Given the work that has already been done on risk assessments, and the fact that the national guidance has had several iterations already, there is a limited amount of certainty for heads at this time, and any planning that can be done, given this context, will be consequently limited. We hope that the work of the September Planning Group will deal with some of the large scale tasks, with the benefit of developing a consistent approach to many of them, and taking some of the thinking and planning burden away from you and your colleagues.

Once again, with best wishes for a well-deserved and relaxing break away; THANK YOU!                   


Cllr Sue Sanderson, Cabinet Member for Schools and Learning

Dan Barton, Assistant Director - Education and Skills

September Education Planning Group: Briefing

This briefing sets out the remit and work of the September Planning Group that has been convened to support schools to open fully for all year groups in September.

National policy

On 19 June the Prime Minister announced the full opening of schools to all year groups in September. The DfE has published guidance setting out how this should be done, and that each school is responsible for risk assessing and putting in place any mitigation to reduce risk of infection.

September Planning Group

 In Cumbria we currently have around 70,000 school age children, and approximately 10,000 are currently attending a school. Given the timescales imposed by the government we have convened a working group that can provide countywide support to individual schools tasked with being ready to open for all year groups.

Our approach

When the COVID lockdown happened we convened the Education Tactical Co-ordination Group to oversee the school closures, establishment of hubs and the return of targeted year groups. The September Planning Group is a continuation of the same approach, involving representatives from all age phases of the school system and post-16 education, including: a range of officers from the county council alongside the Chairs of CASH and PHA, representatives from the West Lakes MAT, Cumbria Education Trust, The Good Shepherd, both Dioceses, Cumbria FE colleges and the Cumbria Local Economic Partnership.

Cllr Sue Sanderson, Cabinet Member for Schools and Learning, chairs the meeting and Dan Barton Assistant Director – Education and Skills is responsible for co-ordination of the workstreams.


Given the complexity of the task the following workstreams have been established:

  • Communications – with schools, parents and children.
  • Curriculum – focusing on how the curriculum can be reshaped to meet the requirements of year bubbles.
  • Staffing, HR and legal
  • Exams and Qualifications
  • Home to school transport
  • Property – including onsite adjustments and health and safety
  • Contingency planning – i.e. if local or national policy has to change before September – or during September (i.e. a second outbreak, local lockdown etc.)
  • SEND / Inclusion
  • Data and Technology
  • Pastoral Support (head Teachers and staff)
  • Post 16/Post 19

We are also carrying out an Equality Impact Assessment to ensure that children and staff who fall into groups identified by Public Health England as being at greater risk of infection or mortality are adequately taken into account.

Planning activity taking place during the holidays

A number of services will be working over the summer break to support schools including:

  • The Learning Improvement Service developing support around curriculum, SEND and pastoral support
  • Wider corporate from the County Council’s Health and Safety Team, People Management, Property, Procurement, Public Transport, Communications Transformation and Policy Teams;
  • Support from the NHS.

School leaders will continue to be involved throughout, and Trade Unions will be as much a part of the process as they have been since the start of the COVID outbreak.

Wrap-around support for schools

 A key concern has been whether schools will have to deal with a surge in demand for Early Help. For the wider opening in June we established a team around each school. Dale Hill and Lesley Sanczuk from the County Council have been tasked by the Children’s Trust with ensuring there are area based systems in place to strengthen this approach.


We hope this briefing sets out the remit and focus of the group, and gives schools assurances that work is underway over the holidays to help prepare the system for what is required in September.

Operation Encompass: email address correction

Please note the correct email address for the Operation Encompass team is:

Apologies for the confusion.


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