Education Planning Group: Update... 4 September

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In today's update:

Celebrating #backtoschoolcumbria

dan barton

Dear Colleagues,

What a week! It has been absolutely fantastic to see and hear your reopening stories in recent days. It has felt genuinely uplifting to see students and teachers back in school and getting on with it.  It really has brought home just what we've been missing. Thank you to everyone who has been able to share their stories on social media using #backtoschoolcumbria, please keep doing so!

I've no doubt that this week will have thrown up many challenges, some expected, some less so. There will be demands from all quarters and there is still significant uncertainty about what the future holds. It is my hope that we all have a period of relative stability where we can all settle into the new rhythms that are being imposed on schools by the COVID-safe arrangements now in place.  

For now the Education Planning Group will continue to meet to help ensure that the Local Authority is providing the right support to schools as they move forward. It has been extremely helpful to have the input from primary, secondary and FE leaders over recent months and our intention is to continue these weekly updates while there is still value.

I would welcome your feedback on their usefulness and where you think our focus needs to be as we head into term.


Dan Barton

Assistant Director - Education and Skills

Maintained Schools – COVID19 School Fund

The LA has now received the first tranche of payments in respect of claims submitted by schools that did not include a claim in the ‘other’ category.   For non-chequebook schools the funding will be allocated to school budgets this month and will appear on the period 6 E5 school budget report.  Chequebook schools will receive payment into their bank accounts on Wednesday 9th September. 

The ESFA have advised that the claims for those schools that did include costs in the ‘other’ category are still being reviewed.

DfE attendance survey

Following various conversations about the time pressures colleague Head Teachers are facing at this time, and acknowledging that the need for pupil level data relating to vulnerable children is less of a concern at this time, we’ve decided to stand down the Local Authority attendance return for vulnerable children.

The guidance is very clear regarding the duties of Head Teachers to ensure follow up in the event of pupil absence, and the expectation currently is that all pupils attend school.

Therefore, we’re proposing that schools all prioritise the DfE attendance survey daily as requested. DfE and the Local Authority will receive school-level vulnerable children attendance data from this return, and schools should use their ‘Family Around the School’ named contacts to follow up absence where necessary.

School transport - parent/carer survey

In supporting the full re-opening of schools in September the Department for Transport via Cumbria County Council have requested schools contact parents to complete an on-line survey to assess the demand for school and public transport and also to promote sustainable travel (walking, cycling and scooting) to school with regard to social distancing. 

This survey is designed to capture as much information as possible at the start of the new academic year on how children travel to school at the same time establishing if there are any road safety issues preventing your children from walking, cycling or scooting.  The results of this survey will assist the Council with implementing measures to improve travel options, liaise with the relevant partner organisations and investigate concerns raised by parents on routes to school.   

Please can you circulate the letter below to parents and carers (also include is a link to Word version of the questionnaire for any parents without internet access).


+ MS Word version of questionnaire

Letter to SEND children and families from Minister

Minister for Children and Families Vicky Ford has written to children and young people with SEND, their families and carers, and those who work to support them. The letter provides advice and guidance on several issues, including behaviour, risk assessments, face coverings, specialist and visiting practitioners, mental health and wellbeing, aerosol generating procedures and hospital schools, as well as linking to some of the support available to help.

Please make any parents/carers of SEND children aware of the letter.


PHE letter to school and college leaders on COVID-19 testing

The Department of Health and Social Care, NHS Test and Trace, and Public Health England issued a letter to school and college leaders today providing clarity on when students and staff should be tested for coronavirus (COVID-19).

It is vital that only if children or staff develop symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) – a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – do educational settings ask them to self-isolate and recommend they get a test. The NHS Test and Trace system is fully up and running, but capacity must be protected for those with symptoms of the virus.

Cumbria weekly COVID-19 situation report

Cumbria County Council publishes a weekly report providing the latest COVID-19 data for the county, including the number a location of new cases. The report is published on Thursdays.



The current Cumbria County Council Public Health COVID-19 guidance for schools can be found at: