UPDATED: Education Planning Group: Schools update... 3 December

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Email address for Jason Spedding is jason.spedding@cumbria.gov.uk

Apologies for confusion.

In today's update:

Christmas Free School Meal voucher system now in place

The county council has committed to ensuring every benefits-eligible FSM young person is able to access a FSM meal for the 11 days over the Christmas holiday.

To do this the council has commissioned an e-voucher scheme from Wonde. The Wonde system is proven to work well and over half of Cumbrian schools already use Wonde for other purposes.

The vouchers will have a value of £33 for each child and are fully funded by Cumbria County Council using Winter Grant monies.

The Wonde system is simple. Schools upload information on eligible FSM young people and parents/carers are then contacted direct by Wonde with their vouchers. The system also enables a clear audit trail for accounting purposes.

What do schools need to do to access vouchers via Wonde?

  1. Sign up: If your school is not currently using Wonde, simply click here and fill out the form ASAP. Wonde will contact you to install their software which will enable you to launch the voucher system. It is essential the school’s administrator has access to the Management Information system admin and passwords at the time of downloading the software. This will enable an offer to secure immediate installation when the school is contacted by Wonde, which can take up to 15 minutes to complete. Alternatively, a call back will be arranged.
  2. Confirm FSM numbers: In order to ensure the funds allocated to Wonde are sufficient to cover your school numbers, we need you to confirm your FSM numbers. The FSM numbers we hold for your school will be sent to your private folder on the School Portal over the next couple of days. If the number you have is the same or below, please proceed to step 3 below. If your numbers are larger than the number we provide, please contact Jason Spedding immediately on 07774016810 to clarify or email jason.spedding@cumbria.gov.uk
  3. Order vouchers: Once the system is installed and FSM numbers confirmed you can begin ordering vouchers via Wonde. When asked to choose voucher value on the Wonde system, select ‘custom’ and input £33 (£3 per day for 11 days). When placing the order, select the option ‘send invoice to LA’. We strongly recommend that all vouchers are ordered before 14 December.

What are the arrangements for schools that do not wish to use Wonde?

The Wonde e-voucher scheme is the preferred option due to administration and funding arrangements.

If you do not wish to use the e-voucher scheme because you have an existing local solution, please get in touch with either  Dale Hill dale.hill@cumbria.gov.uk or Ez Wealleans ellen.wealleans@cumbria.gov.uk  so this can be discussed.

Frequently Asked Questions and Template Parent/Carer letter


Explaining Tier 2 restrictions

C19 High Alert graphic

All Cumbria is now under Tier 2 High Alert COVID-19 restrictions. We would appreciate schools support in reinforcing with parents and pupils what this means to ensure improved public understanding.

Full details of restrictions can be found at GOV.UK.

Home to School Transport - face coverings

From 02/12/2020 the Government’s guidance regarding the use of face coverings on school transport has been updated. In accordance with advice from Public Health England, face coverings must be worn by children and young people aged 11 and over across all transport to secondary schools and colleges, whether public transport or dedicated school transport.

This requirement does not apply to those who are exempt from wearing a face covering on public transport and children and young people who may not be able to handle them properly, including children under the age of 3. The Council’s School Transport Guidance Notes have been updated to reflect these changes and are attached to this message. We would welcome colleagues’ assistance in disseminating this information to parents and carers.

Any concerns regarding home to school transport provision should be referred to school.transport@cumbria.gov.uk.

Reminder: Letter to parents and carers from CCC

Earlier in November we provided schools with a letter for onward circulation to parents and carers. The letter explained how we were working with schools and the way outbreaks are responded to will differ between schools.

Some schools have asked for this letter to be circulated again.


Ofsted phased return to inspection

Ofsted have today released plans for phased return to inspection from January 2021.  Summary from Ofsted below: 

January 2021: our phased return to inspection

We are not planning to carry out graded inspections of education or social care providers before the summer term.

Maintained schools and academies

From January, we will resume monitoring inspections of schools judged inadequate at their previous inspection and some schools graded as requires improvement. These will not result in a grade.

Emergency inspections of schools will continue as they have done throughout the pandemic, in response to any serious concerns raised with Ofsted.

Routine inspections, which result in a school being awarded a new grade or being confirmed in its current grade, will resume in the summer term.

Independent schools

Throughout the spring term, all inspections will be at the request of the Department for Education (DfE).

Routine inspections will resume in the summer term.

Further education and skills

From January, we will resume monitoring visits to providers that would be monitored in normal times – in particular new providers and those graded requires improvement and inadequate.

Colleges that do not receive a monitoring visit may receive support and assurance visits. Safeguarding visits will continue in response to concerns raised about providers.

Full graded inspections will resume in the summer term.

Interim education visits to prisons will start in January, to support and challenge prisons to return to full programmes of education and skills activities following COVID-19 restrictions.

Early years

We will carry out a programme of assurance inspections from the start of the spring term. These inspections will confirm whether or not a provider is meeting the early years foundation stage (EYFS) requirements.

Assurance inspections will be proportionate and risk-based. Providers will be prioritised based on the length of time since their last inspection, and any other relevant information.

Routine graded inspections will resume in the summer term of 2021.

Area special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)

From January we will resume joint interim visits with the Care Quality Commission. These visits aim to support improvement and will not result in a published letter or graded judgement.