Education Planning Group: Schools update... 28 January

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In today's bulletin:

National Tutoring Programme (NTP) webinar

The National Tutoring Programme (NTP) makes high-quality tutoring available to schools to help disadvantaged pupils through two pillars: Tuition Partners, delivered through the Education Endowment Foundation; and Academic Mentors, by Teach First. 

The NTP are running an information webinar for Cumbria on Wednesday  24  February at 4pm where you can hear directly from Tuition Partner organisations and learn about the subsidy. Sign up here and submit your questions ahead of the webinar using this form.

You can find out more in the NTP newsletter and can find tutoring in your area on the NTP website. You can also keep up to date on NTP news via Twitter or LinkedIn. If you have any questions please contact the NTP team at

Virtual school role for previously looked after children

A reminder that during the pandemic our Virtual School continues to offer information, advice and support to schools and colleges in relation to previously looked after children (PLAC) and adopted children (who live in and attend educational establishments within Cumbria). 

They can also provide training to help colleagues support this group of pupils in relation to their education or training needs. Designated Teachers may seek the advice of the Virtual School about meeting the needs of individual children, with the agreement of the child's parents or guardians.

It is worth noting there is no expectation for education providers to complete Personal Education Plans (PEPs) for PLAC. 

Find more information and contacts for the Virtual School here

February Half-Term Free School Meal voucher system now in place

Schools will close as usual over February half-term and are not expected to remain open to vulnerable children and the children of critical workers during that week.

However, the county council has again committed to ensuring every benefits-eligible FSM young person is able to access a FSM meal for the five days over the February half-term holiday. The vouchers will have a value of £15 (£3 per day) for each child and are fully funded by Cumbria County Council using Winter Grant monies.

The system we are using enables a clear audit trail for accounting purposes. Please ensure that your admin team/person is aware of the process, and has sight of this communication so they can manage the process on your behalf.

We will again be working with Wonde to assist in our work. 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. More support and information can be found by visiting the school vouchers website and the recorded webinar.

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 MI 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. If you have not used Wonde previously, please can you confirm the number of vouchers you intend to order with Jason Spedding before placing the order. If you did use Wonde at Christmas and your numbers are now larger than the number of vouchers you ordered for the last holiday, please email Jason Spedding to confirm the number of FSM benefit-related vouchers you will be ordering.
  3. Order vouchers: If your system is installed you can begin ordering vouchers for the February half-term period from 9am on Wednesday 3rd February 2021. When asked to choose voucher value on the Wonde system, select ‘custom’ and input £15 (£3 per day for 5 days). When placing the order, select the option ‘send invoice to LA’. We strongly recommend that all vouchers are ordered by Wednesday 10th February 2021.

If you require any assistance, please contact

Please note that for February half-term, schools should not pay for vouchers on a card and should not select invoice the ‘school option’. Please also note that the invoice ‘LA option’ is only for the 5 days of February half term and only for benefits-related FSM. This option to invoice the LA will be removed at 5pm on Monday 15th February 2021.

What are the arrangements for schools not using Wonde?

The Cumbria/WONDE e-voucher scheme is the FSM 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 or Ez Wealleans  so this can be discussed.

Guidance on remote learning

As you will no doubt be aware, Cumbria Alliance of System Leaders (CASL) are working hard to ensure that pupils in Cumbria have access to devices and connections to support online approaches to remote learning.

To save leaders time and effort when developing remote learning provision, the Learning Improvement Service have provided an overview of current research findings underpinning effective remote learning

Thank you to those who have already managed to complete the very short Google survey sent last Friday. This will allow us to explore and address potential gaps between technology and learning. Please ensure you complete the survey as soon as possible. 

We will ensure that training opportunities are in place as soon as possible to support schools in their provision of effective remote learning.

Reminder: Please complete DfE attendance monitoring

It is really important that all schools complete the daily attendance monitoring requested by the DfE before 2pm each day. The Local Authority is not collecting its own data, so the DfE is our only source of information about what is happening in schools.

Currently 75% of schools are completing the return. We are very keen that this increases.


Changes to confirmatory PCR testing for Primary schools

Changes to the need for confirmatory PCR testing were introduced yesterday by Public Health England. Please read this briefing from the Public Health England to get their latest position.

In line with clinical advice, confirmatory PCR testing will remain in place for primary school workers where testing is done at home, but not for secondary school workers who take tests at school.

Utilising confirmatory PCR in settings that use a self-reporting tool will minimise the risk that incorrectly reported positive results are registered. Confirmatory PCR testing will also be used for vaccine and LFD testing surveillance, genome sequencing and for self-administered tests.

All test results must be recorded on the digital portal.

EYFS Disapplications – Paediatric First Aid

The DfE have updated the disapplications guidance

If Paediatric First Aid certificate requalification training is prevented for reasons associated directly with the COVID-19 pandemic, or by complying with related government advice, the validity of current certificates can be extended to 31 March 2021 at the latest. This applies to certificates expiring on or after 1 October 2020

This is in recognition of the fact that some practitioners are facing difficulties in accessing requalification training due to courses being cancelled. If asked to do so, providers should be able to explain why the first aider has not been able to requalify and demonstrate what steps have been taken to access the training.

Employers or certificate holders must do their best to arrange requalification training at the earliest opportunity.

Practitioners are strongly encouraged to use online resources to refresh their knowledge of Paediatric First Aid procedures if they need to extend their certificates while waiting to access face-to-face training. Providers such as St John Ambulance offer free online resources to support this.

Family Learning opportunities from the Community Learning and Skills team

A reminder that Family Learning has moved online to help support schools, nurseries, parents and carers during COVID 19. You can check out the new offer of QUICK-SKILL courses to help you through lock-downs, self-isolating, home-learning, homework and catching up here – Family Learning Flyer.pdf

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

Home learning – activities to support speech, language and communication

Following on from research carried out by Ofsted linked to lessons learned from the first lockdown, it was found that in the area of speech, language and communication some children had regressed during this time. The EY team have developed some weekly ideas to help support practitioners and teachers with home learning. All of the activities support the prime area of speech, language and communication.  Each week there will be a range of activities for practitioners to share with parents to support home and remote learning, including activities that promote language and communication,  books and some extension activities linked to the rhyme or theme for that week. We hope you will enjoy sharing these activities with your families.

Chat Play Share - Incy Wincy Week 1 completed.pdf

EYFS Disapplications – EYFS Profile

Ministers have decided it will not be mandatory to complete the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile (EYFSP) assessment in 2021 but instead will be asking schools to make ‘best endeavours’ to undertake it. Teachers and early years practitioners are being asked to use their best endeavours to still complete the EYFSP for children in the summer term if at all possible and to provide this important information to parents and to year 1 teachers, should the situation at the time allow. This change also applies to schools who are ‘early adopters’.

Support Bubbles

No parent should be struggling alone at this difficult time. Please remember that a support bubble with another household can be formed for people in the following groups:

  • your household includes a child who is under the age of one or was under that age on 2 December 2020
  • your household includes a child with a disability who requires continuous care and is under the age of 5, or was under that age on 2 December 2020
  • you are a single adult living with one or more children who are under the age of 18 or were under that age on 12 June 2020

The full list of people who can form a support bubble is available here.