Education Planning Group: Update... 25 September

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In today's update:

dan barton

Dear Colleagues,

Another week goes by in a whirlwind and I know you and your teams are all working hard to stay standing. 

Unfortunately, as we all know, the road ahead looks rocky. At the moment Cumbria as a whole has a relatively low number of COVID-19 cases, unlike neighbouring areas in the north west and north east. Multi-agency partners in the county are working hard to keep it that way, and this will continue to be challenging. We all need to have a plan for how to manage if the situation deteriorates therefore.

Our teams are working on new guidance to support your planning, particularly in relation to Tier 2 measures, and we hope to have that available soon.

We have seen more schools affected by COVID-19 this week, with some schools now dealing with small outbreaks with the support of the Outbreak Control Team. This will be the norm and it is good to see schools responding calmly and effectively to these situations, that's not easy I know.

Lots of updates today, with much work in progress. We're still aiming to move these bulletins to Thursdays from the week commencing 5 October.

As ever, thank you for your hard work, dedication and skill.


Dan Barton

Assistant Director - Education and Skills

Letter thanking all schools staff

Please find via the following link, a letter of thanks to all of your staff members from Councillor Sue Sanderson (Cabinet Member for Schools and Learning at CCC), Dan Barton (Asisstant Director for Education & Skills at CCC), Sue Blair (Chair of Cumbria Primary Headteachers Association) and Judith Schafer (Chair of Cumbria Association of Secondary Headteachers).

Please circulate to your staff.


School open days and evenings

We are aware that some schools are choosing to hold face to face open days/evenings for prospective students and their parents.

This is a decision for schools but the strong public health advice is that face to face events of this kind should not be going ahead.

Many schools have moved to virtual events and we recommend that this approach is adopted wherever possible.

Planning for Tier 2 measures

As we enter what will increasingly feel like the ‘routine’ of isolation, part closure, and closed bubbles, colleagues will inevitably be turning their thinking to the question of how to manage eventual Tier 2 measures which, if implemented in response to outbreaks locally, would see schools working on a rota basis, with students being at some for periods at a time, and then rotating into face to face learning.

It’s encouraging that people are already thinking seriously about this. We will produce some guidance and support in relation to this question in the coming weeks, but would urge colleagues, if they have not done so already, to begin planning with your teams how you will implement tier 2 measures in your school.

Identifying siblings in other schools

As bubbles close, and members of the same family are affected, albeit attending different schools, this can pose a challenge for Head Teachers where intelligence about incidents in siblings’ schools are not known about.  

To that end, we intend to share a summary of schools affected through your CASH or PHA representative, so that you can have access to the most recent, live data in relation to incidents locally. Please look out for these. We hope they will support you in your planning and risk assessments.

DfE school attendance return

All schools are exceptionally busy, but if possible schools are asked to prioritise completion of the DfE school attendance data return.

It is important that we do it and the data the return generates for the DfE will be used to help the prioritise the future allocation of future ICT devices for pupils.

+ Find out more about the data return

Barrow COVID-19 restrictions - update

The revised public health guidance for the Barrow Borough Council area announced last week remains in place - this includes restriction of non-essential visitors to schools. Full details here.

It will be formally reviewed by the Health Protection Board next week.

Supporting community awareness

To support increased community awareness of the strong advice that outside of school groups of six should include people from no more than two households, please could affected schools print and display this poster where parents and carers can see it.


barrow covid 6 2 banner

Drop-in surgeries for headteachers - update

To support Headteachers, we will be hosting a series of drop-in online surgeries where you can "ask the expert" on key issues. We had hope to be able to confirm dates today, but we now expect to be able to do so early next week.

Surgeries will take place from 4.00-4.30pm via Microsoft Teams.

Dates are being finalised and links will be forwarded soon. Planned topics include:

  • Public Health concerns
  • Health and Safety
  • Finance
  • Family Round the School 
  • General concerns surgery

They will be open to all Headteachers and we will review and refine the format as we go forward.

Online mental health support for staff and parents

Together All is a free mental health online support resource for adults where people can access:

  • An anonymous community where members can support each other
  • Access 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
  • Trained professionals available 24/7 to keep the community safe
  • Self-assessments & recommended resources
  • Creative tools to help express how you’re feeling
  • Wide range of self-guided courses to do at your own pace

It has been commissioned by the NHS across Cumbria (so both North and South) for anyone to register and use.

+ Visit

NHS Test & Trace App now available to download for those aged 16+

NHS covid app logo

The national NHS Test and Trace App is now available. The app is key part of the country’s fight against COVID-19.

Cumbrians aged 16+ are being strongly encouraged to download the app to their smartphones now. Please circulate this information to all staff and pupils over the age of 16.

The app is available via 

The app will be used, alongside traditional  contact tracing, to notify users if they come into contact with someone who later tests positive for coronavirus.

The app will also help local authorities understand if the virus is spreading in their area, helping them to respond quickly to stop it spreading further and save lives. The app does this while protecting a user’s anonymity. Nobody, including the government, will know who or where a particular user is.

Find out more about the app

Key documents finder

We have provided a huge amount of information to schools in recent months. But it isn't always easy for schools to go back and find key information that was sent in previous weeks.

We've produced this quick guide which provides links to what we think are the most important information updates, hopefully helping you to find what you need more quickly.


Current Public Health guidance for schools & outbreak update

School have been provided with a COVID-19 flowchart explaining what do to if a child or staff member is has COVID-19 symptoms. This includes advice on how to get staff tested via local NHS testing facilities.

This is a critical document and all schools should be familiar with it and refer to it in the first instance. Many of the issues being raised with the Public Health team are already covered in the flowchart.

View the flowchart here

Currently the county's Education Outbreak Control Team are supporting five schools experiencing outbreaks (two or more linked cases) and 23 schools experiencing incidents (one confirmed case).

The Cumbria Public Health resource pack for schools, circulated at the start of term, is available here .

The latest national guidance from the DfE to support the safe opening of schools is available here.

PHEs Chief Nurse and Director Maternity and Early Years and the Interim Chief Medical Officer NHS Test & Trace have written a joint letter for schools / parents setting out who should book a test and who shouldn’t. You may already have received this via the DfE. Schools may wish to share this with parents if they have not already done so.

Flu vaccinations for schools staff

Flu vaccine vouchers will be available for school staff again this year through community pharmacies. We are currently finalising the process and further information will be shared with schools when confirmed'