Education Planning Group: Schools update... 14 October

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Education Planning Group update from Cumbria County Council

In today's update:

dan barton

Dear Colleagues,

First off a very warm welcome to you all to this week's bulletin. I know from my conversations with many of you, that you are still universally struggling with pupil and staff absence. We are hopeful that the measures we have taken will soon start to combat this. 

In this week's bulletin we have some FAQ's regarding the Enhanced COVID-19 Education Guidance for Cumbria which should clarify any lingering confusion surrounding the updated guidance. We also have an update on attendance codes for registers and the Free School Meal vouchers during the October half-term.

Next up, a reminder that we have a series of Whole School SEND training sessions being held this Autumn. We have also included a few surveys which we would really value your feedback from, along with Education, Health & Care Plan Annual Review Resources for Schools.

Finally, we have our Early Years update, which contains some helpful updates for the Early Years teams.

Thank you for your continued efforts during this immensely stressful time.

Best wishes,

Dan Barton, Assistant Director - Education and Skills

Image description: Head and shoulders photograph of Daniel Barton, the Assistant Director - Education and Skills.

Enhanced COVID-19 Education Guidance for Cumbria FAQ's

Colin Cox, Director of Public Health, issued new enhanced COVID-19 guidance to early years settings and schools in Cumbria on Friday 8 October 2021. The new guidance has been issued because although the case rates in children and young people had levelled off, they were still higher than the national average and were not yet reducing.

A set of Frequently Asked Questions has been issued for the Enhanced COVID-19 Education Guidance for Cumbria which seeks to clarify any confusion surrounding the updated guidance.

Free School Meal vouchers during the October half-term

Further to the very recent government confirmation of additional funds to support food poverty, we are currently awaiting a legal ‘sign-off’ on the October half-term holidays Free School Meal voucher offer, which will be in place for a separate communication tomorrow.

All technical requirements are in place and we have worked with WONDE to provide vouchers for benefits-related FSM families as previously.

Please prepare your admin for the purchasing window to open from 08.00 Monday the 18th October to 17.00 Tuesday the 26th October.

We completely appreciate the ultra-tight timescales for everyone involved in this work, and thank you for your patience and support.

Attendance Codes

The DFE guidance for coding absences related to Covid is that the X code should be used if a child is self-isolating awaiting a PCR test result and the I code should be used if the test is positive or if a child is unwell and unable to return to school following a negative PCR test.

The X code should also be used if a child is required to quarantine. There is no longer reference to the X code sub categories in the guidance.

See the current DFE guidance here

The DFE guidance should be considered alongside the Cumbria County Council advice to settings which was issued on 11th October.

This advice would allow for the X code to be used if members of the same household are self-isolating following a household member receiving a positive test result through either a PCR or LFT.

Early Help Practice and Approaches in School Survey

As part of our plans to develop Early Help in Cumbria, we want to identify and share best practice across schools and settings. The basis of this process is for us to understand all the things that you do in your practice as a school in regards to Early Help.

Please can you complete the following short survey by Tuesday 30th November 2021:

Early Help Practice and Approaches in School Survey

Education, Health & Care Plan (EHCP) Annual Review Resources for Schools

A number of key resources for the EHCP Annual Review can be found below:

Education, Health & Care Plan (EHCP) Annual Review Resources for Schools


A new programme of SEND training and resources is being launched this Autumn.

The Whole School SEND Consortium is delivering a series of training sessions to support the development of SEND within the local authority.   

The programme is free to schools and will provide school leaders and SENCO’s with free training and useful tools to support SEND practice.

The project will run from October 2021 to December 2021 and will consist of six sessions. Details of which can be found in the Whole School SEND invite letter.

Children and Families Health and Wellbeing Survey

We know it can often be hard to find information about children's health, wellbeing and development when you need it. 

In Cumbria, we would like to find the best way to share information and advice from pregnancy through to teenage years.

We would like you to help by telling us what information you think is easily available and which could be more accessible.  

Please complete our 5-minute survey

Early Years update

Please ensure that this update is forwarded to your Early Years Teams weekly.

Share a book a day

Share a book every day – THIS WEEK and beyond……

Thank you to all of you who have told us about what you are doing this week, it is really great to hear about all the FUN things you are doing. This is what you have told us so far:

Our story times will be recorded and shared with parents alongside photos and words capturing the ‘child’s voice’.  We have also invited parents to share photos from home, these will be displayed in our book area for the children to view and chat about.

A different book every day, each with accompanying story sack.  Asking parents to share them reading to the children on Tapestry. There will also be creative activities that be themed on the stories and we are turning the outdoors into a themed ‘We're Going on  Bear Hunt’ using all the outdoor equipment as props e.g. climbing wall as the cave etc. It should be a lot of fun, hopefully the weather will stay dry!

Videoing ourselves reading favourite stories and posting to our private Facebook group every day next week. Asking parents to send clips of children enjoying a book at home (whether lone reading, being read to, bedtime story.)

We have set up a lending library to access a variety of books, invited parents in to share/read a story, made some story spoons, story baskets and story sacks.  Our preschool is making a visit to the library.

Invitations to play using the staff and children’s favourite children’s stories, having a PJ day and a teddy bears picnic. We are also going to do a competition on our Family app for the best photo of reading your book in a funny place.

A relaunch of our outdoor lending library, we have new books and props added for parents and children to take and return them when finished.

Please do keep sharing your plans and experiences this week on our Facebook page or by emailing:

For more information, please go to our Share a book every day web page.

Physical Development Skills Pack

We want children to develop the skills to move well and confidently. Providing fun, interesting, and challenging opportunities to support a child’s all-round physical development is key to a happy and healthy child.

This set of cards is based around skill progression within Physical Development and focuses on opportunities for children to develop their skills and knowledge by engaging in activities based around:

  • Music and Movement
  • Cooking
  • Weaving
  • Gardening

Each activity card breaks down the skills required into three broad sections with examples in each of possible activities, resources and opportunities which could be used to support children to develop their skills. There are no age bands assigned to the sections, as the focus is on where the unique child is developmentally in their own individual learning journey. The cards will be useful to assist practitioners in planning activities that are suitable for each child as they progress from mastering simple actions to more complex ones.

On the back of each card are a selection of supporting materials including home learning ideas, songs, stories, other resources, and useful links.

There is a blank template provided in the pack which can be completed for any area of the curriculum. This is for adults to devise their own sequence of skills for particular activities or use of resources.

The introductory webinar, four skills progression cards and blank template are available from the website here

Early Years Foundation Stage Profile Handbook

The Early Years Foundation Stage Profile remains a statutory requirement for schools in the 2021/22 academic year. The handbook has just been released to support Reception EYFS teams in making accurate assessments.

For further information on the EYFS reforms, you can view the YouTube clips on the Department for Education YouTube channel here

Early Years Developmental Journal

The Ealry Years Developmental Journal has now been updated along with guidance on how to complete it.  These documents are now available in the Professional section of the Local Offer- SEND in the Early Years.

Free sector event

The Nuffield Foundation are hosting a webinar on 20 October, 11.00-12.15

Early education and care: where next for an effective system?

This webinar will explore the role of early childhood education and care, how it has changed over the last twenty years and how it can be improved through changes to policy and practice.

Reminder about the Early Years SENCO Networks

We would like to invite you to attend an Early Years SENCO Network via Teams on either Tuesday 19 October or Thursday 21 October 2021.

  • Tuesday 19 October 2021 Session 1) 3:30-5.00 pm or Session 2) 6.30-8.00 pm
  • Thursday 21 October 2021 Session 1) 3-30-5.00 pm or Session 2) 6.30-8.00 pm

The session will include a focus on –

  • some relevant SEND updates
  • Observing and assessing children with SEND – a positive approach
  • Exploring tools to support children with sensory processing difficulties
  • Offering parental support
  • Finding out about portage and social care for children with SEND

There will also be the opportunity to discuss any queries and/or questions you may have with the Area SENCOs leading the meeting. Please note due to confidentiality we will not at this session discuss specific children by name, but we can answer questions around general issues, strategies, support, and inclusive practice. These SENCO networks are now county events which gives you the opportunity to meet with colleagues from across the county.

Please can you confirm your attendance with your name, the name of your setting and state your preferred date and time by emailing: by Friday 15 October 2021


Effective Communication training – the first of this 3-part training is Wednesday 3rd November 4:00 – 5:30pm. We will let schools and settings know before half term if you have a place on the Autumn training.

Developing Early Phonic Skills - Reminder about our Developing Early Phonics Skills training for all Nursery teachers and practitioners. This training is face to face. Places are still available.

Developing Early Phonics Skills

EY 103 A


3.00pm - 5.00pm

St Gregory and St Patrick’s Catholic Community School, Esk Avenue, Whitehaven, CA28 8AJ

EY 103 B


3.00pm – 5.00pm

Morton Community Centre, Wigton Road, Carlisle,


EY 103 C


3.00pm – 5.00pm

Outback Hall, Leven Valley School, Backbarrow, Ulverston, LA12 8QF


EY 103 D


6.00pm – 8.00pm

St Gregory and St Patrick’s Catholic Community School, Esk Avenue, Whitehaven, CA28 8AJ


EY 103 E


6.00pm – 8.00pm

Morton Community Centre, Wigton Road, Carlisle,



EY 103 F


6.00pm – 8.00pm

Outback Hall, Leven Valley School, Backbarrow, Ulverston, LA12 8QF


Please book the phonics training through School Development –

School Development Team

Tel: 01228 221354


Home Learning

This week our focus is on the rhyme 'A sailor went to sea'. Please share with parents to support home learning around the development of speech, language and communication.

Chat Play Share: A sailor went to sea

For a range of fun activity ideas for children and families, please share What Can I Do This Week? This week's activities all involve yoghurt pots. Remember that the activities contained in this communication are for the week starting next Monday.

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