Education Planning Group: Schools Update... 29 April

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In today's update:

Relaxing COVID-safe arrangements

After many children were unable to attend school last summer, it is really positive to see children enjoying being in school at this time of year. As the COVID-19 case rates continue to fall and lockdown measures are eased, we know many schools and other educational settings will be keen to review their COVID-safe arrangements and risk assessments.

Whilst we support schools in relaxing measures in line with changes to national lockdown restrictions, we still advise all schools follow the current COVID-19 and education guidance wherever possible because:

  • Children are not vaccinated against COVID-19
  • Many school staff are still not fully vaccinated against COVID-19
  • Variants of concern (such as the South African variant) remain a concern and are being closely monitored

The current guidance can be found here.

We want to do everything we can to support schools to take steps back towards operating in ways they did before COVID-19 (where the guidance recommends this).

We acknowledge that it can be tricky to achieve the balance between maintaining safety and stepping down COVID-safe measures, so if you have any specific queries in relation to reviewing COVID-safe practices (especially in relation to measures such as bubble mixing, seating desk layouts, school trips and extra-curricular activities) please email either the Health & Safety team on or the Public Health team:

Seating in schools

A couple of primary schools have been in touch to ask what if any of the rules can be relaxed around seating the children in groups rather than facing forward. The reason being that the front facing configuration is impacting on how some of the curriculum subjects are delivered. 

As this is only one of the recommendations in the Government guidance, we have discussed other mitigating factors that would allow for this to be done whilst still keeping within the key requirements of the guidance.

This includes discussing it with Governors and staff to ensure that they are happy to operate under these circumstances, reinforcing the key prevention controls as identified in the guidance document, the number of staff who have had one or both of their vaccinations, the number of parents who are doing their own home testing and ensuring that all of these controls are included in an updated risk assessment. 

Regarding grouping pupils the government guidance states ‘Both the approaches of separating groups and maintaining distance are not ‘all or nothing’ options and will still bring benefits, even if partially implemented’.

We will update further once new guidance is released.

Emotionally Based School Avoidance questionnaire

A group of Educational Psychologists are asking for data as part of a scoping exercise related to how much ‘Emotionally Based School Avoidance’ (EBSA) is an issue in schools. We are asking for this data in order to consider how best we, as a service, can effectively support schools. For a brief outline of what EBSA is, please click here.

Once inside the link, there is a 2-page introduction to ‘school refusal’ which gives a quick overview. There are also other helpful links.

We would be very interested to find out some general information about EBSA in relation to your school. Please see the attached one-page questionnaire for details. If you could return to your named EP or to or that would be much appreciated.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) summer schools programme funding

As part of the wider recovery package to support children in catching up on missed face-to-face learning and development, and providing an opportunity to support their mental health and wellbeing, we are providing £200m to enable as many secondary schools as possible to deliver face-to-face summer schools this year.

Schools are free to identify the pupils who would most benefit from summer school. We recommend a focus on incoming year 7 pupils, giving those pupils an opportunity to build a community with their new classmates and teachers and familiarise themselves with their new school environment.

Funding is calculated based on 50% of a school’s year 7 cohort being offered a place on a two-week programme, or 100% of the cohort being offered a week-long programme and equates to £597 per two-week place (£1791 for pupils in special schools or units and alternative provision). You can view each school’s funding allocation.

Eligible secondary schools should access the sign-up form to register their intent to run a summer school by 23:59 on 7 May 2021. We will ask schools to confirm their plans in June. In September, schools will be asked to confirm that the summer school has taken place and provide information on the pupils who took part. Funding will then be provided.

Further information is available in the ESFA summer schools guidance and any questions should be directed to

Early Years update for school

Home learning

This week our focus is on the rhyme 'Hey Diddle Diddle’.   Please share with parents to support home learning around the development of speech, language and communication.

Chat Play Share – Hey Diddle Diddle

For a range of fun activity ideas, please share What Can I Do This Week? Remember that the activities contained in this communication are for the week starting next Monday.

As May is National Smile Month next week’s activities focus on teeth cleaning.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday

Reading webinar

We have recorded a short training session focusing on how reading and storytelling can be used to support young children’s wellbeing and language development.

To view the video please follow the link below which takes you to the Early Years Foundations Stage webinar page.


Please then enter the county password for this webinar.

Lateral Flow Test kit supply issues update

We are aware that some secondary and primary schools have experienced supply issues with their LFT kits. Dan Barton has been in touch with the DfE, who have asked us to share a reminder of the process around missing supplies, so that they can monitor and manage any problems going forward. 

If your test kits do not arrive as scheduled, schools must check the latest delivery schedule and review the delivery status. This is available on the 'planning tools' folder of the document sharing platform.

If your school has: missed the delivery of testing kits, not received the expected number of kits or their delivery has arrived damage, they must complete the contact us form which is available via the document sharing platform. Orders placed before 5pm on Wednesdays will arrive the following week. Orders placed after this time will be processed and delivered the subsequent week.

Finally, if this does not resolve their issue, schools should contact the DfE coronavirus helpline on 0800 046 8687. 

Please also let us know if you are running low on supplies and have followed the above process and we will do our utmost to support you.

LEP recruiting young leaders for its Futures Forum

Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (CLEP) is looking to recruit two young leaders aged 18-35 to join its Futures Forum, which is responsible for influencing CLEP’s Board and wider governance structure on the issues that matter to younger people.

The new members of the Futures Forum will receive developmental support, including mentoring, to equip them to operate at Board level.

Laura Kay, Co-Chair of Cumbria LEP’s Futures Forum, said: “It is vitally important that those with the longest-term stake in Cumbria are influencing the LEP’s decisions and taking forward those issues most important to younger people.

“The Futures Forum really brings the views of Cumbria’s younger leaders forward and we strongly encourage applications from young people from diverse backgrounds, including the Black Asian and Minority Ethnic communities, and also any young people with experience in the rural sector.”

Find more information and how to apply here. Please share this information with relevant pupils.

Step Up Cumbria transition materials for Year 11

Step Up Cumbria is an online platform developed for school leavers to find information on Further Education opportunities in Cumbria.

Please find a link to the Step Up Cumbria website here with the transition materials on for year 11s.

For further information or to offer feedback, please contact