Education Planning Group: Amendment to SEND update.. 31 July

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In today's update:

A warm welcome

dan barton

Dear Colleagues,

With just over a month now until schools reopen our Education Planning Group has been continuing its work to address some of your key issues and concerns and today's bulletin includes updates to HR guidance notes, risk assessments and more.

We have also created an equality impact assessment (EIA) in draft form which has been useful for us in making planning decisions so far and which we will share with you in our next update to use in your own local planning.

As always, while the focus is very much on the 'return to school' in September, I very much hope you find time to relax over the weekend and in the coming weeks. 


Dan Barton
Assistant Director, Education and Skills

HR guidance note on staffing matters

In consultation with HR providers, Trade Unions and head teachers, we have created an updated HR guidance note on staffing matters in preparation for a return for all year groups to all education settings from the beginning of the autumn term. 

The DfE has produced several items of guidance on fully opening schools in September, following its initial statements on 2 July. These brought up some concerns and issues in relation to staffing which we hope will be addressed in this updated guidance note using the DfE guidance and HR advice from the local authority.

We anticipate further government guidance will be published and we plan to update this note accordingly in late August. 

SAR and FOI requests around exam results

With the cancellation of this year’s exams we anticipate that there could be a high number of freedom of information (FOI) and subject access requests (SAR) around the time of results. Our GDPR experts are working to develop guidance for schools around these requests, which we will share with you in due course. In the meantime schools may find it useful to refer to the guidance issued by the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) on exam script exemption and access to teacher assessments here.

SEND huddle referral line opens again on 24 August

The Inclusion team has set up a SEND huddle which is an education, health and social care multi-agency response to supporting the needs of SEND pupils during the COVID-19 pandemic. The SEND huddle referral line will open again the week beginning the 24 August.

The purpose of the huddle is to:

  • address general SEND queries which arise during the COVID-19 pandemic through signposting to relevant resources/guidance as appropriate;
  • allocate appropriate staff to provide advice and information for known individual SEND children;
  • assist schools and parents with planning for the return of pupils with SEND, to school, in September.

The SEND referral help line is available 10am to 12pm, Monday to Friday on 03330150816. We will aim to respond to all enquiries within 24 hours. Please use the SEND referral helpline if the issue cannot be resolved locally (between parent and school) or there are specific queries. 

School transport guidance update

We are still awaiting DfE guidance around school transport and once this is published we will review it against a draft document we have been updating this week. Following this we will be communicating with transport providers, parents and pupils, as well as schools, to explain how things will work in Cumbria. We are also working with Active Cumbria on plans to promote active travel options and reduce demand for bus places.

Updated guidance COVID-19 risk assessment review

Most schools will by now have completed their review of their existing COVID-19 risk assessments or have plans in place to complete them before the start of the Autumn Term. If you have yet to complete yours you can download a copy of the guidance here. Whilst there is no expectation for you to send in your reviewed risk assessments, many of you have chosen to do so and the Health and Safety team have been happy to support. The Health and Safety team are available throughout the summer break if you have any queries or questions. Always happy to help!

Risk assessment for visiting officers and healthcare workers

A multi-agency task group have developed a risk assessment pro-forma for professionals to use when visiting schools. Copies of the risk assessment will be circulated to schools so that Head teachers can have confidence that risk assessments carried out by external partners marry up with what they are using internally. This risk assessment will be used across CCC Externally by partners (such as Barnados/Action for Children and Family Action etc.) and  internally (Ed Psychs, Advisory Teachers, Early Help, Social Care, Music etc.)

Returning to the workplace risk assessment 

HR & Payroll have produced guidance and an individual risk assessment template to be used after lockdown to assist Head teachers/Managers with discussing and assessing the risks with individual employees returning to work. This document is available on the Schools Portal here.

If you require support, please contact the team at: or call the office on 01228 221616.

EYFS reforms

A revised EYFS Framework will become statutory next year from September 2021. This is likely to be identical to the Early Adopters framework which comes into use by some schools this September – some infant and primary schools have elected to become early adopters. This is a completely separate decision from those who have elected to become early adopters of the Reception Baseline Assessment. Early years providers other than schools cannot become early adopters. This change map sets out the key changes.

You can read the government's response to the consultation here.

EYFS reforms early adopter framework

This framework is for schools participating in the EYFS reforms early adopter year from September 2020 to August 2021.

EYFS reforms early adopter profile handbook

This handbook is for schools participating in the EYFS reforms early adopter year from September 2020 to August 2021.

The Department for Education has said that it will publish FAQs about the reforms shortly. Development Matters is also being refreshed and will be published in due course. The DfE have also indicated that they will be developing an online support package for PVI settings and childminders around the new framework.