Education Planning Group: Schools update... 15 July

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In today's update:


dan barton

Dear Colleagues,

You should all hopefully have now received a letter from myself, Executive Director of People John Readman and Councillor Sue Sanderson reflecting on this year and the work you have done, so I won't cover the same ground here.

Suffice to say a massive thank you to everyone for their work this year. It has been a phenomenal effort. I wish you and your staff all the best for the summer and sincerely hope you do find time to stop and recharge.

The Education Planning Group will be continuing and we'll be back in touch with another update well before the autumn term so look out for that.

Best wishes,

Dan Barton

Assistant Director - Education and Skills


Letter from Colin Cox and Claire King

colin cox

"As we come to the end of another extremely turbulent and challenging year for schools, we just wanted to say a huge “thank you” to you and all your staff for everything you’ve done this year to support the Covid-19 response. Being at the front line of a public health response is not the reason any of you came into teaching, and particularly in recent weeks we know that this will have been a year of many stresses and even more work than usual.

"Your support for our local response to Covid-19 has been phenomenal, including of course helping to manage the consequences of individual cases, through managing outbreaks, to running both routine and surge testing in secondaries – and all while maintaining your absolute focus on what is right for the pupils in your school. We’ve been very moved by many examples of you and staff going above and beyond the call of duty to give your pupils the best and most positive experience they can in near-impossible circumstances...

+ READ THE FULL LETTER


Summer Holiday Activity Programme - publicity to ALL families

Cumbria Holiday Activity Programme banner

We are now promoting the Cumbria Holiday Activity Programme to ALL parents, not just those whose children receive free school meals.

Please support us in raising awareness of the programme. Please share the website - www.cumbria.gov.uk/holidays -  with all parents. You can also share the council's posts on social media.

☑ 200 activities from 60 organisations
☑ All activities free for children receiving benefits-related free school meals
☑ Over 100 activities with paid-for places available to all children
☑ Book now to avoid disappointment

+ facebook.com/cumbriacc

+ twitter.com/cumbriacc 


Latest advice from Cumbria Public Health

Social Isolation advice from 19th July

  • From Monday 19th July, everyone will still be expected to self-isolate when testing positive for COVID-19, or when contacted by NHS Test and Trace because they have been identified as a close contact (the need for close contacts of all ages to isolate will remain in place until Monday 16th August)
  • Any child, young person or member of staff advised by their school or NHS Test and Trace to isolate prior to 19th July should continue to isolate for the full period of time advised if their isolation period goes beyond Sunday 18th July (they should not end their isolation period early)

Social isolation advice from 16th August

  • From Monday 16th August, if you have been fully vaccinated you will be exempt from the requirement to self-isolate if you are a contact of a positive case. You will instead be advised to take a PCR test as soon as possible.
  • You will also be exempt from self-isolation from 16th August if you are under 18 and a contact of a positive case. As with adults, you will be advised whether a PCR test needs to be taken. If you are 18 years old you will be treated in the same way as under 18 year olds until 4 months after your 18th birthday, to allow you the opportunity to get fully vaccinated.
  • If you test positive you will still need to self-isolate regardless of your vaccination status or age.

Participating in Lateral Flow Device (rapid antigen) testing over the summer

  • Whilst education COVID-19 guidance specifies which staff and young people should continue to LFD test over the summer, as members of the public we still strongly advise anyone aged 12+ to continue LFD testing twice a week.
  • Staff and secondary school-aged children should continue to LFD test regularly if they are attending settings that remain open. They can collect home test kits either from their local pharmacy or by ordering online.
  • There is no need for primary age children (those in year 6 and below) to test over the summer period. They will be offered 2 tests at the beginning of the autumn term when they start at their secondary school as a new year 7.
  • Anyone testing positive via a Lateral Flow Device should isolate at home and get a PCR test.

Education COVID-19 support over the summer

  • The Cumbria County Council Education IPC team will continue to be available to offer advice and support over the summer to settings that are continuing to operate as normal. Please email EducationIPC@cumbria.gov.uk with any queries. The inbox will be monitored Mondays – Fridays 9am – 5pm.
  • If your query is in relation to a summer school activity, please contact the DfE helpline on 0800 046 8687 (Monday – Friday 8am-6pm and Saturday/Sunday 10am – 4pm)

COVID risk assessments for autumn term

Many schools will already be considering their covid risk assessments in anticipation of the autumn term and in light of the forthcoming changes to national restrictions.

While the vaccination programme means the current rising case rates are not resulting in large numbers of hospitalisations, the potential for covid to cause disruption to staffing and school operations in the new term will still exist.

Our Health and Safety team will be reviewing the guidance to schools that is expected from the DfE and will be updating our local approach to risk assessments, including the risk assessment template. 

In summary, we do not expect there to be a wholesale removal of covid-safe arrangements in schools and schools will have to be ready to strengthen or ease arrangements in response to local circumstances.

Please look out for further information in the coming weeks.


REMINDER: Directed time planning

As education continues to be impacted by coronavirus, ensuring all union members have agreed and negotiated directed time calendars becomes even more important to ensure a reasonable work/life balance for all staff.

The following must be part of directed time for full and part-time teachers: 

  • Teaching time,
  • PPA time,
  • Break times (but not lunchtimes, when teachers can’t be required to do this),
  • Cover,
  • Parents evenings,
  • After school meetings,
  • INSET/CPD
  • Anything else which teachers are “directed” to do and which requires their professional skills. 

The full list is in sections 51 & 52 of the 2020 School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD).


REMINDER: Summer ‘Free School Meal’ Voucher Offer

·         Voucher scheme opens on Wednesday 7 July 2021 at 8am

·         Please ensure your school administrator is aware of this date and orders accordingly

·         WONDE's new name is Evouchers.com

You can log on the old system schoolvouchers.com and you will automatically be taken to the new site. It looks the same and ordering is the same, it’s just a new name.

Wonde have also introduced an optional App for parents to download, this does not affect the ordering or spending of vouchers, and parents are not obliged to use it.

The county council has again committed to ensuring every benefits-eligible free school meal young person is able to access a meal voucher over the Summer holiday. The vouchers will have a value of £99 (33 days at £3 per day) for each eligible child and are fully funded by Cumbria County Council using COVID Grant Fund monies.

The WONDE system ‘LA window’ (where the LA can be selected on the WONDE system to pay for your order) will open at 8am on Wednesday 7 July and close at 5pm on Tuesday 20th July

The WONDE system we are using enables a clear audit trail for DWP/COVID accounting purposes.

Please note schools should not pay for vouchers on a school card and when using WONDE must select ‘pay by LA’ from the drop-down menu.

Please also note the ‘pay by LA’ option is for your benefits-related free school meal young people to cover summer holidays. You should continue with your own local solutions for term time.

If you need to check the latest free school meal numbers for your school, please contact Jason Spedding on 07774016810 or via email Jason.spedding@cumbria.gov.uk


REMINDER: Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen

The Education (School Day and School Year) (England) (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 came into force on 1 June 2021.

One of the provisions of the regulations is to enable relevant schools to close for the additional bank holiday to take place on 3 June 2022 to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty The Queen.

The effect of this is to reduce the minimum number of sessions which must be held in the school year 2021-22 from 380 to 378. 

The changes are similar to previous amendments eg. the Diamond Jubilee (5 June 2012) and the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (29 April 2011) when schools took a day off in lieu of the additional bank holiday if the bank holiday fell within a school holiday period.

The DfE have indicated that The School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD) will be amended to reflect the changes and allow for an additional day off.  It is expected that there will be a reduction in the number of days a teacher employed full time must be required to work from 195 to 194 days, and a reduction in the number of days they may be required to teach pupils and perform other duties from 190 to 189 days.  The STPCD will address matters related to the payment of staff. 

Any changes/guidance from the local authority will be conditional upon the amendment of the STPCD (which is unlikely to be confirmed until September)

As the employer for community and voluntary controlled schools, community special and maintained nursery schools, the LA will issue revised school term and holiday dates for 2021-22.  It is proposed that the additional day will be added to the end of the summer 2022 half term break resulting in schools returning on Tuesday, 7 June 2022 instead of Monday, 6 June 2022 but other options can be put forward for consideration.

For voluntary aided, foundation, free schools and academies, the governing body or academy trust is the employer and as such are responsible for determining school term and holiday dates.  Dates that have been previously agreed and published for 2021-22 will therefore need to be updated.  Any changes should be shared with staff, parents, TU representatives and any other stakeholders.

It is suggested that schools should alert parents to the potential changes to the2021-22 school term dates before the end of this academic year with revised dates to be agreed, published and circulated following the publication of the STPCD in September.  This will allow for a short period of consultation on the proposed changes.

The Regulations relating to these changes can be found as follows: 

The Education (School Day and School Year) (England) (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 (legislation.gov.uk)

Any enquires can be directed by e-mail to Nicola Shiels: nicola.shiels@cumbria.gov.uk

A further update will be issued in September.