Education Planning Group: Schools Update... 15 October

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In today's update:

dan barton

Dear Colleagues,

Very brief comments from me this week, the main updates are below. 

We're almost at half term and that feels like a real milestone and an achievement to be celebrated. So well done, we're nearly there.

However, the news locally and nationally in terms of rising infection levels is not positive, though Cumbria (with the exception of Barrow) remains in a better position than most areas in the region, it remains to be seen if more drastic action will be taken by Government and what that might mean for schools. It's very uncertain at the moment but we will of course keep you updated.

As ever, thank you for your incredible hard work and skills, this is not easy.


Dan Barton

Assistant Director - Education and Skills

Barrow now 'high risk' for COVID-19

barrow high risk covid

The Barrow Borough Council area has today been classified as high risk for COVID-19 under the Government's new system. The new rules will come into force from Saturday.

The key change is that mixing indoors with people from outside your household or bubble will become illegal. Outside the 'Rule of Six' will apply.

The full guidance can be found at:

The current local advice for schools in the Barrow Borough Council area to restrict non-essential visitors to school remains in place.

The latest COVID-19 data for Cumbria can be found at

Supporting public awareness

Local schools have a key role in supporting awareness of the new rules among parents and pupils.

A wide range of posters and social media graphics are available to download from the Public Health England website.

We would strongly encourage all schools to be proactive in promoting these messages.

Helping to reduce transmission within school settings: Learning from the Cumbria Education Outbreak Control Team

The Cumbria Education Outbreak Control Team is managed by Cumbria County Council’s Public Health team and supports educational settings in Cumbria who are experiencing positive cases of COVID-19. Overall, the rate of transmission within educational settings is low, which reflects how hard everyone is working to create COVID safe environments, however team wanted to share some tips informed by learning to date:

  • If you are notified of a positive case linked to your setting and you need to identify close contacts, remember to consider interactions outside the classroom, including:
    • Travelling to and from school (car sharing, school transport, walking with others)
    • Breakfast club/After school clubs
    • Break and lunchtimes
    • Sports clubs
  • Minimise the amount of non-essential contact that staff have with each other, for example:
    • avoid face-to-face staff meetings unless 2 metres distance can be strictly adhered to (and the room is well ventilated)
    • When sharing communal areas (such as staff rooms) avoid close contact with staff outside your bubble
  • Isolate as soon as you have symptoms and get tested (do not wait until you get your test result)

In addition, please continue to encourage everyone to wash their hands regularly and use tissues when coughing/sneezing (catch it, bin it, kill it).

Public Health advice out of hours

Please note that out of office hours and on weekends any urgent requests for advice should be made to the DfE schools helpline:

Telephone: 0800 046 8687
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Saturday to Sunday, 10am to 4pm

NHS app youtube screenshot

NHS COVID-19 app

Following instances of teachers being advised to self-isolate by the app inappropriately, it is advised that school staff switch off the contact tracing function on the app while in school.

This can be done using the switch on the home screen.


Free school meals during half term

The provision of free school meals over the half-term break is an issue we know school are worried about. We recognize that it is not reasonable to ask schools to do this.

We are working hard to find a way forward and the issue has been escalated to the county's Children's Trust Board. We aim to be in a position to provide a solution next week.

Flu vaccination update

Following discussion it has been agreed that this year the Local Authority will extend the free flu vaccination voucher scheme to all Cumbrian schools, not just LA maintained schools as in previous years.

Unfortunately, national shortages of the vaccine means that vouchers cannot be distributed at the current time.

We are working closely with health colleagues and will update as soon as possible.

Remote learning guidance

With reference to the recent guidance and statement of intent from the government in relation to remote learning. I want to recognise that the additional workload and challenge that this presents has probably not been fully thought through. It isn’t possible to deliver a system of remote learning, at the same time as in situ learning, which lasts for the same length of time, or which delivers the same quality, without significant additional capacity, and even then, would be a very difficult job. Instead, some sensible exceptions and adjustments ought to be made to get best value, whilst protecting you and our staff from the additional burden.

One of our Head Teacher representatives attended the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) webinar last week in relation to this subject. The link to the evidence review, and notes from the webinar are below. We hope you find them helpful.


Bullet Point Summary:

  • Develop asynchronous lessons so that children can access at their most convenient time and not all at the same time. Record inputs rather than live lessons to make this possible
  • In your videos add in pause moments where you tell the children to pause the video at that point to practise
  • For children without internet provide paper packs
  • Aim for 3 hours of learning a day as children will not sustain concentration at home for any longer
  • Focus on Maths, English, Science, PE, History and Geography.
  • Daily wellbeing questions to answer
  • Consider Microsoft SWAYS, which seemed similar to Showbie and Tapestry, as they said it is a platform to provide the work, for parents and children to feedback.
  • Another programme they used for assessment was Microsoft Forms (apparently there is a google version). You create quizzes based on the learning for the end of each session and it turns the results into graphs.
  • EYFS should mainly focus on phonics, songs and stories as well as sharing ideas for parents to at home with their child. 
  • Make adaptations for SEND

Race and Education - online meeting

All schools in Cumbria are being invited to attend an online event being hosted by Anti Racist Cumbria on Thursday 22 October.


antiracist cumbria