Education Planning Group: Update... 14 August

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In today's update:

A warm welcome

dan barton

Dear Colleague,

I know that all of us who are working in partnership within education will have had our A Level students and their school teams in our thoughts this week. Even more so over the last 48 hours.

This has been a very challenging week and on behalf of everyone working to do our very best by our children and young people, I want to say that we are proud of our young people and equally proud of their teachers and leaders. While not all directly experiencing the anger and frustration felt, we understand and urge you to rest this weekend and keep faith, as we have in the job you do.


Dan Barton
Assistant Director, Education and Skills

Short survey around schools reopening

As plans for the reopening of schools to all pupils continue to progress, we know that you will undoubtedly have Plans A, B, C and more in place for September. We fully appreciate this and that your current plans may be subject to further change between now and the start of term.

With that in mind, the Department of Education (DfE) has asked us for indicative time frames for full reopening of our schools. While reluctant to add to your workload at this time we feel it will also be beneficial for us to to have some basic information on your current planned timescales.

So we kindly request that you complete our very short survey so that we can capture at county level the information requested by DfE, along with with key reasons for schools not opening to pupils on the published Cumbria autumn start date of 2 September.

No individual school responses will be shared. If you could complete and return the survey to us by Wednesday 19 August, it would be hugely appreciated.

It also seems likely that schools will be required to return daily attendance data to the DfE (at least for the first half of the autumn term).  We will be able to confirm this with you in due course. 

Digital devices for children who cannot attend school due to coronavirus (COVID-19)

You may already be aware that the government has just published new guidance on how schools can access digital devices for children requiring access to remote education due to shielding or local coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions.  The full guidance can be accessed here. The summary is that:

  • In the event of a disruption to face to face education at schools due to coronavirus (COVID-19), DfE can provide devices to help disadvantaged children and young people and those shielding due to medical reasons who are otherwise unable to access remote education.
  • Devices will be available for disadvantaged children in certain year groups who are affected by disruption to face to face education at their school, or have been advised to shield because they are clinically extremely vulnerable.
  • Schools would be responsible for placing orders if required and devices will be delivered to schools within two working days of an order being confirmed, subject to stock availability.
  • Once delivered by DfE, all devices will be fully owned by the schools or academy trusts who receive them. It will be the responsibility of the school to loan the devices to those who need them.

What you need to do now

In order to be prepared before the start of the autumn term, local authorities and academy trusts will be contacted to request details of people within each school who would be responsible for placing orders if required.

Therefore please can all LA Maintained Schools provide the following details (School Name, DfE Number, Contact Name, Contact E-mail Address, Contact Telephone Number) to by Friday 21 August. If no details are provided the contact details held for the Headteacher at each school will be provided to the DfE to ensure they have a means of contacting each school and each school has a means of ordering devices if required.

Support for students around A Level results

Following on from the release of A Level results yesterday and ahead of next week's GCSE results, we would just like to highlight a number of services which you can signpost to your students and their parents if they need further guidance and support:

National Careers Service Exam Results Helpline: The Exams Results Helpline runs from Wednesday 12 August and continues until Friday 28 August. It is available for young people, and their parents or carers looking for careers support, who can contact the helpline on 0800 100 900 from 8am to 10pm, 7 days a week. Please visit the National Careers Service website for further information.

Inspira: Their website offers a lot of useful tools and advice along with appointments with a Qualified Careers Adviser. Please visit their website for further information. 

Kooth: The Kooth website provides an excellent resource for peer support, as well as quality information and advice for young people to help them process receiving their results. 

UCAS: Access the clearing website here

Public Health briefing regarding Carlisle cluster cases

During July and early August our Public Health team at Carlisle County Council led the strategic response to a number of complex clusters of COVID-19 cases that occurred in the Carlisle district.

Overall, the learning from the Carlisle incident indicates that there is no increased risk to schools and other educational settings opening fully in September. Please see full briefing here.

SEND risk assessment update

Schools and settings should now consider reviewing risk assessments for children with an EHCP to help them identify what additional support may be needed to enable them to make a successful return to education. These will also help schools and settings with their planning should these children need to self isolate or if a local outbreak of COVID-19 requires a temporary closure.

Settings should involve parents and young people in this planning for the return to education. Possible approaches that may support a child or young person with SEND with their return to education might include visits to the setting or social stories.

The SEND huddle will re-open from 24 August until the October half term so that schools, settings and families can contact the multi agency panel for support with any issues around the return to full time provision. The purpose of the huddle is to;

  • address general SEND queries that arise through the COVID-19 time by signposting to relevant resources/guidance as appropriate
  • allocate appropriate staff to give 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 line is available 10am to 12pm Monday to Friday on 0333 0150816.  We will aim to respond to all enquiries within 24 hours.

A suggested risk assessment pro-forma is attached here.

The government guidance on these matters can be found here for schools and here for specialist schools.

PHE guidance on supporting children's mental health and wellbeing translated into a number of languages

Public Health England guidance on supporting Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Wellbeing during the pandemic has now been translated into a number of languages and is available here.