Education Planning Group: Schools update... 8 October

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In today's update:

dan barton

Dear all,

Can I start by thanking you all, as ever, for all you are doing to keep our schools open, and children learning. We’ve been having a few conversations corporately at the moment about the six-month lull; adrenaline wearing off, and the prospect of little positive change feeling daunting. All the more so for you and all of our school-based colleagues who have much less flexibility in terms of working arrangements. We are so grateful to you all.

A couple of key messages from me this week in relation to Children’s Centres and some advice about a particular type of cleaning machine. Also note that nominations are open for this year's Children in Care Council Awards. They are a great way to recognise the achievements of Children Looked After and I'd encourage you to think about when you have pupils you could nominate.

In addition to this, the COVID-19 Education Group has been busy this week talking about a range of key issues – see below.

Thanks again for everything you do.


Dan Barton

Assistant Director - Education and Skills

General updates from COVID-19 Education Group

Sharing information about COVID-19 cases involving siblings between schools

We were alerted last week to the need to share intelligence more quickly across phases of education, so that potential outbreaks in a primary or secondary school don’t end up impacting on the opposite phase due to siblings who may need to isolate. We’ve decided that the most sensible way to address this is to adapt the script for our Public Health colleagues working in outbreak control so that they can gather the necessary information, and approach families directly.


Colleagues have been asking about the arrangements for SATs and other exam years. As things stand, whilst we continue to raise this question directly with DfE daily, we’re informed that exams advice is imminent.

Enforcement of self-isolation

A number of schools have expressed concern about families with children who have been sent home to self-isolate who are not doing so. There is broad agreement that policing of self-isolation is not the job of schools, and indeed that any sharing of intelligence could be problematic in terms of the impact on positive relationships. However, balancing these risks, we feel that some kind of system through which schools could refer concerns to the community policing teams is probably the best solution. We’re working on this with the office of Cumbria’s Assistant Chief Constable, and will hopefully share details of a process next week.

Admissions for Year 6 extension

We’ve been asked about whether or not we could extend the deadline for applications for transfer to secondary school this year.

The short answer is that it is not within the Local Authority’s gift to extend the closing date for applications. The reason for this is that the ultimate deadline of the national offer day in March next year is set by the DfE.

Barrow COVID-19 restrictions

Local leaders in Barrow have asked Government to impose new COVID -19 restrictions and bring the area in line with measures taken in the North East and Merseyside. This reflects mounting concern about the speed at which infection is spreading.

Among a range of measures, the new restrictions would make it illegal to mix with people you do not live with in your home, garden or other indoor setting and recommend limitations on non-essential travel. Fines could be imposed for those who fail to comply. Exceptions would apply, including for education settings.

The request covers the Barrow Borough Council area. Government has not yet confirmed that restrictions will be imposed.

Schools in the Barrow Borough Council area are currently strongly advised to restrict non-essential visitors to school and this advice remains in place.

If further restrictions are imposed in Barrow there may be implications for schools. 

For example, in Merseyside the following guidance applies to schools:

Schools and colleges (face coverings)

In education settings where pupils and students in year 7 and above are educated, face coverings should be worn by staff, visitors and pupils/students when moving around in corridors and communal areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain. It is not necessary to wear face coverings in the classroom, where protective measures already mean the risks are lower and they may inhibit teaching and learning.

We will update as soon as the position is clearer.


Children’s Centre re-opening update

A total of 19 Children’s Centres have been made ‘COVID-safe’ so far across Cumbria, and this means that targeted support meetings with families are beginning to take place in centres. Please read the update here

If you would like to refer one of your children or their families for support on a range of issues provided by the 0 – 19 Child and Family Support service, please contact your local Provider:




Telephone number


Family Action

07815 687287


Family Action

01229 821855


Family Action

07734 003789


Family Action

01946 64600



07740 516210

South Lakes

Action for Children

01539 734456

 Support is bespoke for the family and may include advice about parenting, home routines, ideas for home learning, Portage and how to stay healthy and safe.

Use of fogging machines as a method of disinfection.

We have heard that some schools have been contacted by various external suppliers of cleaning and hygiene equipment and we have received several enquiries about the use of fogging machines as a method for disinfecting classrooms.  Fogging machines use a fine spray to apply a chemical solution on surfaces and can be used as a means of sanitising classrooms.

Some schools may be looking into using this method and some may have already purchased their own machines. Below are some of the factors you should consider:

  • it should not be a substitute for other standard cleaning practices, surfaces still need to be wiped clean prior to fogging taking place
  • The overall size of the area can affect the result, if it is too large it could lead to under saturation, too small, over saturation
  • it is only partially effective on vertical walls due to gravity (the disinfectant will drip or fall)
  • it is not effective on the underside of horizontal surfaces (underneath desks)
  • electrical components can be damaged
  • once treated, the area must be sealed off for up to 6 hours to prevent inhalation of the aerosols and to allow the aerosols to settle

Anyone using fogging machines must be fully competent and properly trained to use the machine and the disinfectants used, must comply with the Biocidal Products Regulations (BPR).  Material Safety Data Sheets should be obtained for the disinfectant which must meet the requirements of BS EN 14476 meaning the cleaning product contains antiviral ingredients that are required to kill viruses.  The Safety Data sheet will list the PPE required but is likely to include a chemical suit, gloves, an air fed ventilator, sealed mask etc. A risk assessment for operation and use must be completed prior to use.

The HSE has produced specific guidance on Disinfecting premises during the coronavirus outbreak

The key to reducing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace remains to be:

  • Frequent cleaning of high contact areas and surfaces that are frequently touched e.g. door handles, computer equipment, touch screens and handrails etc.
  • Maintained robust cleaning schedules.
  • A high standard of personal hygiene through regular handwashing with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Where soap and warm water are not readily available, at least 60% alcohol-based sanitiser is to be used.

We continue to follow the PHE guidance  Cleaning in non-healthcare settings outside of the home    last updated 15 July 2020.  If that guidance changes, we will ensure that you are kept updated.

Children in Care Council Awards nominations open

Children in care council

The children in care council are working incredibly hard to organise a virtual awards ceremony which will celebrate the successes and achievements of children and young people who are looked after, care leavers and the people who support them.

To help make this event a huge success, we would appreciate all schools to nominate any children looked after who have gone the extra mile or achieved something special in the last year.

Nominating someone is easy and won’t take more than 5 minutes per nomination, you can nominate as many people as you like, in as many categories as you like.

The 10 award categories are:
• Educational achievement of the year (Primary/ Secondary/Further Education)
• Foster carer of the year
• Inspirational child or young person of the year (under/over 18)
• Inspirational worker of the year
• Lockdown Hero
• Outstanding Lockdown Achiever
• Young Citizen of the year

The deadline for nominations is Sunday 18 October 2020, please go to for more information and to nominate.