Education Planning Group: Schools update... 25 March

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dan barton

Dear Colleague

I’m reflecting on the fact that, somewhat amazingly, we’re nearing the Easter Holidays. The last month has been so busy for us all, but for colleagues in schools especially, that time has flown – despite things still being very challenging. I hope that when the holidays arrive, you all get a chance to wind down and enjoy what I hope will be some more clement weather.

A feature of our discussions this week has been the ongoing challenge around finances. I know that many of you will continue to worry about the financial burden caused to your coffers caused by staffing availability, or lack thereof, at the moment. This might be caused by vaccine reaction, shielding (set to end very soon) or other issues. You’re all under pressure to keep schools open and at the same time under pressure to balance budgets.

For me, the answer to this is pragmatic and, whilst not advocating financial irresponsibility, it seems to me that costs incurred by engaging supply staff to keep classes going at this time is the lesser of two evils, and my advice to you would be to make judicious decisions about what money you need to spend on staffing  to keep your schools open, and your classes safe. Beyond this, the conversation around reconciling this spend will need to be addressed at a later date. I’m very happy to hear from you directly in relation to this question.

Good luck for the final week…

Dan Barton
Assistant Director - Education and Skills

In today's update:

Holiday activities & food (HAF) programme announced for 2021

Cumbria County Council has been given £1.2 million by the government to spend in 2021 to provide high-quality fun activities over the holidays for school aged children and young people eligible for and receiving benefits-related free school meals.

The programme will run over the Easter, summer and Christmas holidays with the aim being to provide fun physical activities, a nutritious meal and enrichment sessions around cooking, eating well and learning new skills for those young people who prefer a less active holiday.

The Easter holiday offer will be virtual due to Covid-19 restrictions still being in place and will include:

  • A  series of ‘live’ interactive exercise and fitness sessions delivered by Active Cumbria and CandoFM.
  • A range of activities of which include cooking lessons, picnics,  art/craft sessions and lots more, delivered by Our 0-19 Child and Family Support Services (CFSS) from Barnardo’s and Family Action.
  • An online activity programme in the second week of the Easter holiday delivering virtual stories, art & craft sessions provided by the Library service. 

The plan for the summer and Christmas holidays will be to provide face to face sessions in local settings such as schools and Leisure/Community centres; allowing children and young people to choose from a wide range of activities which will include sport, outdoor activities such as climbing and canoeing, and a raft of enrichment sessions followed by a nutritious meal.

Children and their families can find out more about the Easter activities by emailing or can sign up to the activities on the lnks below:

Easter Exercise and Fitness Offer:

Active Cumbria in partnership with CandoFM have organized a series of ‘LIVE’ exercise and fitness sessions for children and young people from Primary Schools, Secondary Schools, those pupils at risk of being NEET (Not in Education or Employment and Training) and those pupils with a SEND who are entitled to free school meals. To register, participants will need to visit the following link: so that they can access the zoom link to the activity session they wish to attend.

The number of participants for each activity session is limited, so please do register early to avoid any disappointment. 

Barnardo’s Eden – ‘Families Together’ Time

Children and their families will be encouraged to look out for information which will be shared by schools and on our Facebook page.

In Eden, families can register their interest by using any of the following and then complete the booking instructions once confirmed to enable resources to be delivered and / or collected:

Telephone: 01768 899901


Family Action – Families, Food and Fun (HAF-DfE)

Throughout the Easter holidays children, young people and their families will be invited to get involved with a wide range of fun activities - arts and crafts, nature detectives, fun food recipes, and much more. Find out more on our 0-19 district Facebook pages:

Guidance on the use of part time timetables

Following the return of all pupils from the 8 March we recognise that in some circumstances schools may be considering using part-time timetables to support the transition back to the school setting.

With this in mind we wanted to share the legal position and advice regarding the use of part-time timetables to support colleagues in making these decisions.

+ Download guidance

Schools are also required to notify the LA if a pupil is placed on a part-time timetable and we have attached the notification form.

Public health update

The latest news from our Public Health team including updates on:

Any queries about this update, please contact the Cumbria County Council Public Health Team by emailing

Student guide to managing mental health during Covid-19

Many students have become less motivated with their education due to the emotional and psychological effects lockdown has had with 41% believing that their future career aspirations and goals now seem impossible and 72% of young people reported to be feeling more stressed and anxious than usual

Schools may wish to share details of a new guide to managing mental health with their older students and their parents or carers. The guide aims to give students practical tips and guidance on what steps they should take to help improve their mental health and development.

The guide also includes useful tips on how students can effectively manage their mental health as we start to come out of lockdown over the next few months.