Education Planning Group: Schools update... 21 October

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Education Planning Group update from Cumbria County Council

In today's update:

dan barton

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome to the final education planning group bulletin before a much needed half-term break. From my conversations with many of you, I know that this break can't come soon enough, so a massive thanks again for all of your hard work so far this term and throughout this whole period.

Something I wanted to flag before the half-term break was that attendance figures in Cumbrian schools have risen to above the national average. So, we are cautiously hopeful that some of the measures we introduced earlier in the term are starting to have a positive effect.

Now, let's dive in to this week's bulletin.

Firstly, we have two important pieces regarding the 12-15 supplementary offer and a new electronic reporting system for cases of COVID-19. We also have a quick update from Colin Cox surrounding the local guidance for schools.

Next, we have some good news that the excess surplus balances policy against maintained schools’ surplus balances will not be applied at the end of financial year. Also, a reminder that the Free School Meal vouchers purchasing window is still open.

Following that, we have more information on the Teachers’ Model Pay Policy and an opportunity to get involved with developing a "charter" for SEND young people.

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

Best wishes,

Dan Barton, Assistant Director - Education and Skills

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

12-15 Supplementary Offer – in addition to (not a replacement for) the in-school offer

NHS England have now opened an additional route for 12 to 15 year olds to get their COVID-19 vaccine.

Parents of children aged 12 to 15 are now able to book an appointment for their child out of school, such as through vaccination centres, via the NHS website.

On Monday, parents of children aged 12 to 15 will receive a letter direct from the NHS with more information on the vaccination programme, and how to book an appointment out of school.

It is important to note that this is not a replacement for the in-school vaccination offer, all eligible pupils will continue to be offered the vaccination in school if they want it.

Unfortunately, some 16 year olds will receive the letter (given that 15 year olds are becoming 16 every day). For the same reason, some 12 year olds will not receive this letter - but they should be flagged and contacted in the coming weeks as the system catches up with itself. This automated flagging and scheduling usually happens weekly, but there may be a slight delay due to the numbers involved in this first tranche.

Not all children will be able to attend an out of school site, and so in continuing to support the in-school programme, you are helping to ensure all children and young people have an equal opportunity to be vaccinated.

Visit the NHS page for more details on the updated guidance for 12-15 vaccinations.

Update from Cumbria's Director of Public Health, Colin Cox, on the local guidance for schools

colin cox

Colin Cox, Cumbria’s Director of Public Health, said:

"Given where we are with cases, feedback from schools and the IPC team, and that we’re about to go into half term, we have reviewed the current advice to schools and we are not proposing to make any changes to the local guidance at this point."

"However, I would like to clarify that the expectation is for secondary school children who are household contacts of a case (but are not themselves symptomatic) should be doing a daily Lateral Flow Device (LFD) test up until their day 5 PCR test in order to release them from self-isolating. This is also an option in primary schools where schools and parents agree."

Image description: Head and shoulders photograph of Colin Cox, Cumbria's Director of Public Health.

New electronic reporting system

A new electronic reporting system has been developed for educational settings to notify Cumbria County Council’s Education Infection Prevention and Control (EIPC) Team of COVID-19 cases.

Once the system goes live, each setting will be able to complete and submit an online form with the details of any staff or pupil that has tested positive for COVID-19.

These details will automatically be added to the Cumbria County Council electronic records system, and the EIPC team will be alerted to the update.

This system can be used instead of the previous email notification process. However, settings will still be able to email the EIPC team with updates or requests for support at the usual email address:

It is anticipated that the new system will streamline the process of reporting cases and save educational settings time. It will also enable the EIPC team to concentrate on supporting those settings that need it most.

The new system is currently being tested, and we expect to be able to roll it out after the half term break.

Each setting will be contacted individually and sent a bespoke electronic link that they can use for reporting, along with further instructions. We will be working our way through the list of settings, so until settings receive their electronic link, they should continue to report as normal.

Maintained Schools’ Excess Surplus Balances

At the Schools Forum meeting held on 20 October the maintained schools’ forum representatives have agreed not to apply the excess surplus balances policy against maintained schools’ surplus balances at the end of financial year 2021/22.

This is a one-off exceptional decision due to the continued impact of COVID-19.

REMINDER: Free School Meal vouchers during the October half-term


Please ensure your school administrator is aware and orders accordingly.

Please ensure your school administrator is aware and orders accordingly.

WONDEs FSM software’s new name is

As per the summer offer, you can log on to the old system ‘’ and you will automatically be taken to the new 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 FSM young person is able to access a FSM meal voucher over the October half-term holiday. The vouchers will have a value of £15 [5 x £3] for each eligible child and are fully funded by Cumbria County Council using the government replacement for the COVID Grant scheme.

The WONDE system ‘LA window’ [where the LA can be selected on the WONDE system to pay for your order] will close at 5pm on Tuesday 26th October.

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 FSM young people to cover the October half-term holiday. You should continue with your own local solutions for term time.

If you need to check the latest FSM numbers for your school, please contact Jason Spedding on 07774016810 or via email

Other useful resources:

October Half-Term Holidays ‘Free School Meal’ Voucher Offer FAQ's

October Half-Term Holidays ‘Free School Meal’ Voucher Offer sample letter

Teachers’ Model Pay Policy / Appraisal Procedure 2021

The Teachers’ Model Pay Policy effective from 1 September 2021 has now been published and can be found in the HR and Payroll section of the Portal, along with a covering letter. 

A refreshed version of the Appraisal Procedure for School Based Teachers and Centrally Employed Teachers has also been added. Schools should liaise with their payroll providers to implement the changes.”

SEND Transition Charter

The Cumbria SEND Team are working in close partnership with the National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTi) to develop and implement a Transition Charter for all young people in Cumbria with Special Educational Needs, to support them in preparation for adulthood.

The charter will detail the agreed local area pledge to children, young people and their families so that they know what to expect during transition to adulthood.

Our aim is to co-produce this with young people and their families in Cumbria, and therefore we are holding a number of online workshops across Cumbria, one in each of three areas:

  • South (Barrow and South Lakes) 9.30 -11.30 21st October 2021
  • North (Carlisle and Eden) 12.30 -14.30 21st October 2021
  • West (Allerdale and Copeland) 9.30 - 11.30 22nd October 2021

If you are interested or know somebody who would like to get involved book a place through Eventbrite.

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

Early Years update

A year of transition

New- Cumbria Transition Toolkit

A year of Transition- Transition toolkit

Transition to school is not just a process that happens in the last few weeks of a child’s nursery year. Helping children to be resilient, confident learners, who settle well into school is a process that takes a long time.

The early years team have developed a toolkit to support early years settings, childminders and schools to work together to ensure children’s transitions from one setting to another are a positive experience for children and their families. It is primarily aimed at supporting children moving into the Reception class of a school, but many of the resources are equally useful for children moving to a school nursery from another setting, or for children moving between or within settings at any point in the year.

The toolkit draws together a series of resources for schools and settings to use to plan a successful transition for their children. It contains resources to help settings consider the skills and attributes children will need to prepare them for the move and how to support them to develop these. It also contains tools to support families during what can be a daunting process for some, acknowledging that they are their child’s primary educator and that their expert knowledge of the child is vital to the transition process.

It is acknowledged that many schools and settings have developed successful transition processes already. For others this is an area they wish to develop. This toolkit may help you to evaluate your current practice and suggest ways to improve the experience for all. Each of the resources can be downloaded separately and you are free to use those you feel will be useful to your transition process.

The toolkit is now available on the early years pages of the Cumbria County Council website (link below), along with a short introductory video explaining how each of the documents can be used:

Transition toolkit

Transition toolkit introductory video

Image description: A year of transition logo. Logo reads: Cumbria Early Years, A year of transition.

Support for children with SEND and their families

The charity CONTACT are offering free virtual workshops for parents on a range of topics SEND workshops for parents flyer

There are a number of other workshops planned so please keep checking the webpage for more details -

NASEN are also offering free webinars to support inclusive practice:

Meeting the needs of every child - course information

The importance of play and relationships - course information

NASEN have also produced a quick reference guide to the key messages in the code of practice and revised EYFS. This resource highlights the key messages for SEND in the context of early years. It can be printed out and displayed, used as the focus of a staff meeting or kept in the front of a practitioner’s planning folder for example. To access this resource log in to the NASEN website.

Share a book every day logo

Share a book every day

Thank you so much for taking part in ‘Share a book every day’ last week, the responses from you all have been wonderful.

We are sharing some more comments from you:

  • We have story/ rhyme time every day, I inform the parents via our WhatsApp group of the rhyme of the week, we link our crafts to a story as far as possible.
  • We visit the library every Monday for story and singing time, some children are not with me on a Monday so we are making our very own library in the playroom.
  • We will be reading our favourites, making story sacks to go along with them and incorporating them into our play. Our first book ‘Spot at the Aquarium’ with chiffon scarves and sea life finger puppets.
  • We have been exploring books in a very curious way, the babies have enjoyed exploring the Halloween story of ‘Peppa Pig Pumpkin Competition’. Toddlers have acted out ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’ and done various Gruffalo activities. The pre-school unit have read ‘There was an old lady who swallowed a fly’ and have been using puppets. We have also made a lending library in the shape of a fridge.
  • We've been promoting the Share a Story with our parents and families.  Children have been relishing all the stories in school as well as taking home some of our "Best Books" (core texts) to share with families at home. We've encouraged families to get involved and they've responded by sending in photos of the kind of things they're doing at home.  We've also been able to reinstate our school Library system (after Covid) where children take home books from Nursery each week to add variety to their book sharing at home. We're asking parents to complete a little reading diary and send it in so that we can talk with children about favourite books they've shared with us too.

We have updated an poster so that you can display or share it with parents.

Share a Book Every Day poster

Please do keep sharing your experiences on our Facebook page or by emailing:

For more information, please see our updated web page.

Home Learning

This week our focus is on the rhyme 'Tiny Tim (I had a little turtle)'. Please share with parents to support home learning around the development of speech, language and communication.

Chat Play Share: Tiny Tim (I had a little turtle)

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 water. Remember that the activities contained in this communication are for the week starting next Monday.

Monday  Tuesday  Wednesday  Thursday  Friday  Saturday  Sunday


Developing Early Phonic Skills - Reminder about our Developing Early Phonics Skills training for all Nursery teachers and practitioners on 11th November at various venues around the county.

This training is face to face. Places are still available.

Please book by contacting the School development team on Tel: 01228 221354 or Email: