Education Planning Group: Schools update... 14 January

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In today's bulletin:

dan barton

Dear Colleagues,

Week 2 almost complete and I'm hearing lots of positive feedback about the great work that schools are doing to facilitate remote learning and provide for vulnerable and key worker pupils in school.

I know you all put a lot of effort into planning for this scenario and I think that has stood us in good stead, so thank you.

Free School Meals have been high profile this week and we've included more information below on the latest Government position. Please get in touch if you are having problems.

There's also news about the roll-out of COVID-19 Lateral Flow Testing for Primary School staff. This good news, but obviously some more work to implement. A small number of local Primary Schools which have experienced significant outbreaks recently have already been doing this with support from Public Health colleagues and it has been working well.

So, as ever, thank you for everything you are doing to support Cumbrian children and young people's learning and welfare.


Dan Barton

Assistant Director - Education and Skills

Providing school meals during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

Please refer to full Government guidance to support decision making.

For children attending school

Schools should speak to their school catering team or provider about the best arrangements for providing school meals for those pupils in school.

Schools should provide meal options for all pupils who are in school, including vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. Meals should be available free of charge to:

  • all infant pupils
  • pupils who meet the benefits-related free school meals eligibility criteria

For children at home

Support should be provided each week for benefits-related free school meal pupils at home from the week beginning 4 January to the week beginning 8 February.

Schools do not need to provide lunch parcels or vouchers during the February half-term. Please see below for details of Cumbria’s support for benefits-related FSM over half-term.

Schools have the freedom to decide on the best approach for their pupils and have a range of options which include lunch parcels, local vouchers or the Department for Education’s national voucher scheme. The steps schools take during this national lockdown period will depend on local circumstances.

This could include:

  • Providing good quality lunch parcels through the school catering team or food provider. Schools can claim for additional funding of £3.50 per week for each eligible pupil receiving lunch parcel provision at home.
  • providing vouchers for a local shop or supermarket. Schools can claim to be reimbursed up to £15 per eligible FSM pupil per week. (This includes using WONDE voucher system; invoice paid for by the school, and reclaimed from DfE).
  • using the Department for Education (DfE)’s national voucher scheme, which will reopen on 18 January 2021. You will receive an email from our supplier Edenred by 14 January, advising you how to either reset your password or activate your account for the first time.

Further details on how and when additional costs can be reclaimed will be provided shortly.

Schools should be assured that valid claims for costs will be met in full. The cost of vouchers provided through the national voucher scheme will be met centrally by DfE.

Cumbria County Council FSM Offer during February half-term

Cumbria County Council will continue to support benefits-related FSM young people over the half-term holiday through the WONDE voucher system. Details of the Cumbria WONDE ‘window’ for ordering will be made available shortly.

Additional laptops for schools announced by Government

The government has announced a further 300,000 laptops and tablets to help disadvantaged children and young people learn at home.

Part of the Get Help with Technology Programme, the 300,000 boost takes the total number of laptops and tablets for disadvantaged young people up to 1.3 million.


COVID-19 staff testing in primary schools

Government has now confirmed that Primary schools, including school-based nurseries and maintained nursery schools, should expect to receive a delivery of home testing kits from 18 January for testing of staff.

If you have not received a delivery by close on Monday 25 January, or have missing or damaged items, please complete this contact form. You will need the URN for your school or college to complete this form. You do not need to start any testing before the week commencing 25 January.

Primary schools including school-based nurseries will receive sufficient test kits to test their primary and early years staff. Maintained nursery schools will also receive testing kits to offer to their staff. Private early years providers will be eligible for regular asymptomatic coronavirus (COVID-19) testing through local community testing programmes (and will be contacted separately about this by the Local Authority).

Together with NHS Test and Trace, DfE will be hosting a series of webinars for primary schools that will provide information on testing and discuss any issues that may arise, they will also publish guidance. Each webinar will last for 60 minutes and there will be an opportunity to ask questions. Each webinar has a maximum capacity of 10,000 attendees.

The webinars will be repeated, and recordings made available online. You will only need to attend one on each topic. They will be available on the following dates (click on the link to join):

Introduction to testing in primary schools.

·         Monday, 18 January, 10am to 11am

·         Monday, 18 January, 2pm to 3pm

Reporting and recording of results.

·         Tuesday, 19 January, 10am to 11am

·         Tuesday, 19 January, 2pm to 3pm

We strongly encourage primary schools to attend these webinars. If you have any difficulties logging in, then it is very likely that they have reached the maximum capacity. If you are unable to attend the live webinar, recordings of these events will be uploaded onto the Department for Education YouTube page. We will provide links to these in a future email, once they are available.

Family Learning opportunities from the Community Learning and Skills team

The county council's Community Learning and Skills Family Learning Team are keen to support families with home-learning, with their exciting and varied offer of free, short, online "Family Learning Quick-Skill" courses, all packed with ideas and activities.

Please circulate the flyer below to your parents and carers.


You can also direct people to the Community Learning and Skills website.

February 1st – 7th  CYP and Families Campaign to support the national ‘Children’s Mental Health Week’ campaign

Cumbria is supporting the Children’s Mental Health Charity Place2Be with it’s 2021 campaign which runs during the first week of February.  The theme for this year is ‘Express Yourself’ and as part of this we are putting a call out to children and young people via Schools, Services working with CYP and Families and Youth Organisations. 

In Cumbria we are asking children, young people and others to share with us the ways they express feelings, and thoughts about what has helped them cope or what they have learned in this time from the COVID pandemic or maybe what they wished they had known at the start.  There a number of ways to get involved:

  • Draw a picture
  • Write a poem
  • Produce a short piece of writing (200 – 400 words)
  • Make music, write a song (audio only)
  • Send us a photo of an object that helped you cope with ups and downs (something you made; your goldfish; houseplant; fave book/game

We will be collating contributions and sharing via the CSCP and websites. We have £50 of prize vouchers to give away, every entry will be entered into a prize draw.

Other things that will be happening that week:

  • My Time Cumbria will be delivering 40 min webinar sessions for parents on anxiety – what’s normal and when you might need some help
  • Kooth online chat forums will be taking place on different themes.
  • E-school nurse clinics

Please send your contributions in digital format to by the end of Wednesday 27th January

During Children’s Mental Health week we will also be launching a longer public information campaign to support CYP, Parents and Carers access to resources and services supporting Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health