Education Planning Group: Schools update... 16 December

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In today's update:

dan barton

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome to the final Education Planning Group bulletin before the Christmas break.

I know it has been an incredibly challenging term for so many of you, with the omnipresence of COVID-19, the 12-15 vaccinations programme and Storm Arwen causing widespread power outages across Cumbria being just some of the issues you have had to contend with. However, in spite of this, the resilience, determination and innovation we have seen has been remarkable.

As we head into the break the news regarding the Omicron variant is not positive, as ever the potential is there for it to cause disruption and difficulty for schools. That said, we are well used to this now and we will do whatever needs to be done. The Education Planning Group will be meeting through the holiday period and keeping the situation under review, but for now please try and 'switch off' and recharge.

So in summary, thank you for an incredible effort this year, try and get a rest, and we’ll take on whatever 2022 throws at us as a team.

Best wishes,

Dan Barton

Assistant Director for Education and Skills, Cumbria County Council

Public Health update

Contact Tracing in educational settings

Following changes to national guidance on 14th December 2021, the Department for Education has advised schools that there is no need to contact trace within their settings (i.e., when you become aware of a positive case, there is no need to identify their close contacts from the setting and advise them to LFD test daily).

However, having spoken to a number of Headteachers, the Education IPC team know that many settings with children aged 5+ will still want to contact trace where they can for the following reasons:

  • As part of their perceived Health & Safety responsibility for the individuals in their setting.
  • To protect more vulnerable individuals in the setting.
  • To respond to parents’ requests for information about whether or not their child is a close contact of a positive case.
  • Likelihood of reinfection with Omicron variant in individuals who are vaccinated and/or have had previous infection

Any educational setting that wants to identify close contacts and encourage them to carry out 7-day LFD testing can do so. The Education IPC team has produced a letter template for settings to use with parents/carers. The team can also help you to determine who would be classed as a close contact. Please contact the team if you need further support. See our contact details and Christmas operating hours below.

CCC Public Health Support to Educational Settings over the Christmas Holidays

Request support via email:

Friday 17th Dec

9am – 5pm

Saturday 18th Dec

10am – 4pm

Sunday 19th Dec

10am – 4pm

Monday 20th Dec

9am – 5pm

Tuesday 21st Dec

9am – 5pm

Wednesday 22nd Dec

9am – 5pm

Thursday 23rd Dec

9am – 5pm

Friday 24th Dec


Saturday 25th Dec


Sunday 26th Dec


Monday 27th Dec


Tuesday 28th Dec


Wednesday 29th Dec

10am – 4pm

Thursday 30th Dec

10am – 4pm

Friday 31st Dec

10am – 2pm

Saturday 1st Jan


Sunday 2nd Jan


Monday 3rd Jan

10am – 4pm

Tuesday 4th Jan

9am – 5pm

The DfE helpine 0800 046 8687 is also available (however Christmas opening hours have not yet been published).

Special education needs schools and residential schools can also contact the local health protection team for any additional advice:

  • During office hours: 0344 225 0562 (option 0 then option 2)
  • Out of hours: Public Health England first on call via the Contact People: 0151 434 4819

12-15 vaccination programme latest

Update from Lyn Durrant, Assistant Director of Nursing Children and Young People, NCIC NHS Foundation Trust

We have now received formal notification that we are required to deliver a follow up Covid vaccination programme to 12 -15yr olds in schools. Families will also be able to access community pharmacies and Covid hubs.

The programme is to deliver 1st doses to anyone who hasn’t previously accessed it, including children who have now turned 12 and a second dose to children who received their first dose 12 weeks ago.

We have learnt a lot form the first round so will be endeavouring to reduce the impact and ask of our secondary school colleagues.

We will have a designated project lead who will liaise between schools and vaccination teams to agree a convenient date so we don’t have to change dates in the way we did in round one; we recognise that not only do you have mock exams next term but we are also delivering the DTP and meningitis vaccinations

We will print the consent forms as we do for all other vaccinations but will still ask for them to be distributed via school bags please. We have changed the consent form to make it clearer that the screening questions have to be completed in order for the consent to be valid but there will only be one signature required

We are waiting for confirmation regarding the 15 minute wait for children but are hopeful we will not need to do this so children will be away from the classroom for less time and we will be able to keep a good flow of children going through the vaccinators

We will be using our colleagues from pharmacies and primary care again and all staff will have enhanced DBS checked and fully vaccinated.

We do not anticipate delivering sessions until at least the third week of the new term.

Again I would like to thank everyone for their help and support, school staff were just fantastic and enabled us to have the best uptake in the region!

Changes to EHCP 'hours'

Over the course of the last few years, we have heard from colleagues across the system that the use of hours to calculate amounts of provision in EHCPs can be unhelpful.

This is primarily in terms of managing expectations with parents and carers, but also in terms of the underlying principle, which tends to disable children and young people over time due to the dependence fostered by this arrangement.

Recognisng this,  for all new EHCPs, there will be no future mention of hours as part of the Provision to Meet Need  (Section F). Instead, all new EHCPs will now be worded in the following way, or similar.

Provision Needed to Implement the Plan

This plan carries a funding of £xxx per year and this is broken down as follows, £6000 of delegated funding from the school’s resources and £XXXX from the Local Authority high needs block. The above provision is based on full time attendance.

 As this new approach is in its early stages, we are very keen to hear about any instances where language about hours is creeping into plans, so that we can address this. To that end, I have included a link to our SEND Team structure. If you have any concerns about the language in plans still referring to hours, please contact your local Education Team Manager in the first instance.

Plans to move existing plans to this arrangement are in place, and will require significant engagement with parents and carers and lead-in time. We will communicate with you all, and your SENCOs, through this process, and will share with you copies of any correspondence to parents and carers so that you are kept abreast of any messaging relating to this issue.

COVID19 Workforce Fund - Update

The government have announced today that the window for claiming this fund has now been extended to the end of the Spring 2022 half-term. 

The fund helps eligible schools/PRUs cover the cost of workforce absences experienced from 22 November 2021 until 18 February 2022.  As before, there are strict criteria for accessing the fund.  Before making a claim schools should explore all other options available to manage absence but if these are exhausted schools can claim cover for teaching and support staff absences such as employing agency or supply staff and increasing hours of part-time staff. 

Certain costs not covered by the fund include training or other incidental staff-related costs, increasing pro-rata pay (unless there is a commensurate increase in responsibilities associated with the work), capital costs to support staff delivering education remotely and costs which enable schools to maintain their reserves above the 4% of annual limit set out in the criteria. 

Further details of the grant can be accessed here: Coronavirus (COVID-19) workforce fund to support schools with costs of staff absences from 22 November 2021 to 18 February 2022 - GOV.UK (  Schools will need to make the payments from their existing budgets and will able to make claims for costs eligible for reimbursement through the fund in Spring 2022 when further details will be published.

Cumbria Holiday Activity Programme - spread the word

With spaces still available for the winter Cumbria Holiday Activity Programme, schools have an important role in ensuring that children and families are aware of the free activities they can access over the school holidays. 

In the final days before the end of term, we are asking that schools print out the e-leaflets below (double-sided) and ensure that all eligible children receive a leaflet showing what's available in their district. 


Visit for further information about the programme and to search the range of activities on offer.

Thank you to all schools who have helped disseminate information about the programme to their students.

With spaces still available for the winter Cumbria Holiday Activity Programme, schools have an important role in ensuring that children and families are aware of the free activities they can access over the school holidays. 

In the final days before the end of term, we are asking that schools print out the e-leaflets below (double-sided) and ensure that all eligible children receive a leaflet showing what's available in their district. 


Visit for further information about the programme and to search the range of activities on offer.

Thank you to all schools who have helped disseminate information about the programme to their students.

0-19 Child and Family Support Service (Children's Centres)

The Christmas holidays can be a very difficult time for families with lots of added pressures, including financial worries.

Support and advice is available for families who may need a little extra support to help them to get through the festive period. Please see the attached link for details of the 0 – 19 Child and Family Support Service in your area -

If you wish to refer a family to the service, the referral forms are available here:

Reminder: Christmas Holidays ‘Free School Meal’ Voucher Offer

WONDE FSM ‘LA WINDOW’ CLOSES  Monday 20th December 2021

The county council has committed to ensuring every benefits-eligible Free School Meal young person [including Early Years Pupil Premium and Funded 2’s] is entitled to a voucher over the Christmas holiday. 

The WONDE system ‘LA window’ [where the LA can be selected on the WONDE system to pay for your order] is now open and will close at 5pm on Monday 20th December.

FAQ's, a sample letter to parents and an updated reminder letter to headteachers are included below:

What's new in the Schools Portal?

School Portal updates since 09 December 2021:

Simply click the name of the document to open the file.

 Name of document

 Date added

 December 2021 instal letter 2021

 Monday 13th December 2021

 Summary of Schools Grants 2021-22

 Friday 10th December 2021

Early Years update

Attendance Data collection

The DfE has ended data collection from early years providers for the time being, following feedback from the sector. The information gathered and the announcement can be found here

Thank you once again for your support in gathering this information during the past term.

The DfE have published the Early Years Provider Survey 2021. The report and data tables can be found here.

Active Cumbria survey - chance to win £50 for your setting

Active Cumbria is working with other Active Partnerships across England to understand what physical activity and active play looks like in Early Years settings across the country and they need your help. A short survey has been developed and you can participate by clicking the link here: 

The survey is open to anyone working in an Early Years setting and will take no longer than 5 minutes to complete. Please pass this survey on to your colleagues to fill out too. As a thank you for your time, each entry will be placed in a prize draw to win one of two £50 vouchers to spend on equipment for your setting.

Home Learning

This week our focus is on the rhyme 'Five little Christmas trees'.   Please share with parents to support home learning around the development of speech, language and communication.

Chat Play Share - Five Little Christmas Trees

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

Monday  Tuesday  Wednesday  Thursday  Friday  Saturday  Sunday

Training - new online training course - Brilliant Boys

The early years team have developed a pre-recorded course focusing on supporting boys in the early years. It's aims are:

  • To understand how to develop boys’ independence, emotional resilience and social skills
  • To establish how to develop language and literacy skills that are imperative to boys’ development
  • To gain a clear understanding of how to develop gross and fine motor skills which are vital for writing
  • To plan purposeful indoor and outdoor environments to engage boys in their own learning

The course comprises of 5 sessions of around 30 minutes each and could be used by individuals or for group/whole setting training. It is available from SLA online. 

A Christmas message from the team

Please note there will be no regular early years update for the next two weeks.

The early years team would like to wish you and your staff and famillies a Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year. We look forward to working with you in 2022.