Education Planning Group: Schools update... 5 November

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In today's update:

dan barton

Dear Colleagues,

Another incredibly busy week with yet more change to deal with. I can't stress enough how impressive the response from Cumbrian schools continues to be. There's a lot in today's update so I'll keep this note brief.

I do however want to draw your attention the Help is Here campaign being run by the council and partners. The campaign is signposting people to the range of support available in the county if they are struggling, be that financially or with their mental health due to current circumstances and I'd appreciate if you could make your school community aware.

Thank you for your outstanding contribution.


Dan Barton

Assistant Director - Education & Skills  

National restrictions guidance for schools

Guidance has now been published here for education and childcare settings on the impact of the New National Restrictions from 5 November until 2 December 2020. Please note the following key points:

  •  Schools continue to remain open for all children and young people, as they have since the start of the autumn term, for the duration of the national restrictions.
  • Music, dance and drama can be undertaken in school so long as safety precautions are undertaken. The full opening guidance for schools has not changed and can be viewed here. Schools can therefore continue to engage peripatetic teachers, including staff from Hubs and the guidance highlights that ‘all pupils should have access to a quality arts education’.
  • Only out-of-school activities which are being used for the primary purposes set out in the new guidance (registered childcare, respite care, by home educating parents and certain youth support services) may continue to operate. All other out of school activities should close for face-to-face provision for the duration of the national restrictions. Remote education (i.e. digitally) can continue to be offered though.

Alongside the Government guidance, the LA is recommending that non-essential visits to schools should cease.

Essential visits could include visits related to:

  • Curriculum delivery
  • Safeguarding
  • Statutory work (eg. EHCP assessments, Health visits, Team Around the School)

Any visits must be conducted in a COVID-safe way, and the ultimate decision rests with headteacher with regard to the own risk assessment. To minimise risk, wherever possible it is recommended to move activity online.

Ensuring pupils are aware of new national restrictions

Schools are being asked to help ensure pupils are aware of the new national restrictions and how they apply to them.

While pupils may be outside to travel to and from school, other than for those journeys the same rules apply as to the general public.

Pupils should only be outside for exercise, either with people from their household or one other person, or for one of the other reasons specified in Government guidance.

We appreciate this may feel particularly challenging for young people who spend their day with their friends but have only very limited scope to meet with them outside of school.

We are working with Cumbria Police to agree a process for schools to raise concerns where national restrictions are not being followed.

Cumbria Police will be taking a proactive approach to engagement and enforcement activity with the whole population.

Clinically Extremely Vulnerable staff

Under new lockdown guidance people who are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable are being advised to work from home. 

If they cannot work from home, they are advised not to go to work and may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or Employment Support Allowance (ESA).

The full guidance is available and the Government will write to everybody who is clinically extremely vulnerable to set out detailed advice while the new restrictions are in place.

However, in some cases colleagues who are classified as CEV may still wish to attend work. We are developing some further local guidance to support schools in this scenario.

Parents choosing not to send children to school

Some schools are seeing parents choose to remove their children from school due to the lockdown.

If there is no medical or other valid reason, other than parental preference, then there is no expectation that schools should continue to provide Free School Meals to a child's home or provide a home learning curriculum.

Such absences should be recorded as unauthorised.

Free School Meals planning update

For awareness, work is ongoing to develop a system to support schools with Free School Meal provision in the event of bubble closures or Tier 2 measures.

In addition consideration is being given to the Christmas holiday period but we are clear that schools do not have a responsibility to organise food for children during holiday periods.

Update on flu vaccinations

The county council has committed to ensuring flu vaccination vouchers are available to all staff in Cumbrian schools (maintained and Academies).

For maintained schools

The Local Authority is finalising arrangements for distribution of vouchers to schools. Schools should receive vouchers within the next 7 days.

For academies and Voluntary Aided schools

If you wish to receive vouchers for your staff you must complete this form by Tuesday 10 November, providing details of the number of vouchers required. We anticipate vouchers will be supplied within the next two weeks.

If schools/staff do not wish to wait for vouchers

If staff choose to purchase a flu jab, they should seek reimbursement from their school/college, providing a receipt.  Reimbursement of staff should be made via payroll as an expenses claim. 

Once a school/college has reimbursed all staff they should send a claim for reimbursement to with a list of staff who have received a flu jab, the total value to be reimbursed and scanned images of receipts provided by staff. 

Payment will be made as quickly as possible and schools/colleges will be notified when they should receive payment.  Unfortunately it is not possible for the Council to reimburse staff directly as this would require each member of staff to be created as a ‘supplier’ on the payment system which will be more resource intensive for schools/colleges to provide the necessary information.

Ventilation critical in reducing aerosol transmission of COVID-19

Recent evidence is increasingly pointing to the significance of aerosol transmission (droplets in the air) of COVID-19. This has implications for education settings.

The article linked to below provides an overview of the current evidence.

The key message is that ventilation plays a very important role in reducing spread and steps should be taken to ensure classrooms are well ventilated during and between lessons.


Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service Fire Safety Talks

Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) sees schools as one of the key settings within which to promote the health of young people and the wider community. The knowledge, skills and attitudes that we learn at school stay with us for life. Schools can be the springboard for long term health and safety and education is a vital element of our strategy. CFRS provides three major packages to be delivered within schools:

  1. Fire Safety Messages
  2. Road Awareness Training
  3. HeartStart Training

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, Cumbrian firefighters are currently unable to visit schools and give educational talks, which are very informative and enjoyed by both the children and the fire crews alike. We are therefore offering virtual visits using Microsoft Teams.

If you would like to arrange a visit or discuss the programmes please contact your nearest fire station who will be happy to arrange a visit or phone 0800 358 4777.