Education Planning Group: Schools update... 6 January 2022

Would you like to view this email in a web page? Click here

In today's update:

dan barton

Dear Colleagues,

I hope you all have had the chance to fully unwind and relax after what was an immensely stressful term for you all.

Unfortunately, we are all still facing many of the same challenges. 

The rapid spread of the Omicron variant in Cumbria through the festive period and into the New Year has meant a lot of staff absences, threatening the prospect of partial or full closures of schools in Cumbria.

We are also experiencing a national shortage of LFD test kits. Although the government hopes to resolve supply issues soon, it is possible that there will be some periodic shortages into next week. Our advice remains the same, you can notify shortage of LFD kits by writing to this email address:, although we cannot guarantee supply. We advise that Head Teachers order any further test kits required as soon as possible using the national system.

This is indeed a tremendously difficult period, however we will get through this together, with the hope that 2022 will be significantly better year than 2021. 

Finally, moving to today's update, we have a number of important Public Health updates, including a set of FAQ's surrounding the national self-isolation guidance, a shortened notification form for informing the EIPC team of positive cases and updated risk assessments, so please do take the time to read this update carefully.

Best wishes for the new term,

Dan Barton, Assistant Director - Education and Skills

Public Health updates

Updated national self-isolation guidance Frequently Asked Questions

A series of frequently asked questions about the updated national self-isolation guidance have been answered by the Public Health team and can be found below:

Temporary change to COVID-19 notification form

In light of the current pressures on education settings, we have shortened the notification form for informing the Education Infection Prevention and Control (EIPC) team of positive cases. This is a temporary measure while COVID-19 case rates are high.

A copy of the new form can be found below:  

Education settings should continue to email their notification forms to In the meantime, work is continuing on the new electronic reporting system, and we hope to roll this out in the coming months.

Updated model risk assessment

The Schools IPC Model Risk Assessment's have been updated.

Changes are highlighted in Blue so they can be easily seen. Download the risk assessment's below:

Improving ventilation during COVID-19

An updated ventilation guidance document has been produced by the Health and Safety team.

The updated guidance includes links to the BOHS ventilation tool, a useful video issued by the HSE and details including eligibility criteria for schools to apply for DfE funded air cleaning units.

Changes are highlighted in Red so they can be easily seen. Download the updated guidance below:

DFE guidance: Pupils who are required to self-isolate as they have symptoms of COVID-19

Pupils who have symptoms of COVID-19, or have had a positive lateral flow device (LFD) test, should follow the latest government guidance on whether they need to take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.

Where a pupil is required to take a PCR test, and they test negative and feel well, they can stop self-isolating and return to school. If the pupil remains unwell following the PCR test (such as with a different illness), then they should be recorded as code I (illness). Code X should only be used up until the time of the negative test result.

Schools should not retrospectively change the attendance register due to a negative test result. For symptomatic pupils, Code X should be used for the period of self-isolation until the test.

After a pupil tests positive for COVID-19 (LFD or PCR), they should be recorded as code I (illness) until they are able to return to school. They should continue to self-isolate in line with public health guidance

Read the DFE guidance below:

What's new in the Schools Portal?

School Portal updates since Monday 3 January 2022.

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

 Name of document

 Date added

 Heads up temporary changes to fit notes and self   certification for sickness absence

 Wednesday 5   January 2022

 Letter to Head Teachers Eye Care Scheme

 Wednesday 5   January 2022


 Letter to infant schools - 7+ applications received   05012022

 Wednesday 5   January 2022


 Holocaust Memorial Day 2022

 Tuesday 4         January 2022

Eye Care Voucher Scheme - expression of interest

Cumbria County Council currently has an eye care voucher scheme which is available to employees, but it is currently not available to school employees.

However, with the increased use of display screen equipment in schools, especially during and following the Covid response period, the Council is looking into the possibility of supporting schools to offer a voucher scheme as part of a wider health safety and wellbeing programme working with recognised Trade Union colleagues

If a voucher scheme is able to be offered, it may be similar to the Council’s current scheme which is available to all employees who use display screen equipment for work purposes. Please note however that the scheme contracted by the County Council limits the vouchers to be only available for use at Specsavers Opticians.  

In order to consider the potential options for school employees to access eye care vouchers it would be helpful if you were able to assist in the options phase by co-ordinating some information from you and your school.  

If your school is interested to be considered for the scheme (planned to be a one off eye test offer at this stage), could you please feedback the following information to by 14th January 2022:

  • Name of School:
  • Type of School – LA Maintained / Non-LA School:
  • Location:
  • Do you already have an eye care voucher scheme in place for Display Screen Equipment users?
  • How many of your employees would likely access the eye care voucher scheme for a Specsavers test in the County, based on the criteria that they use display screen equipment for work purposes?

Please note at this stage we are assessing the viability of the offer without guarantee that we will be able to progress.

Once all of the information has been gathered and the options and logistics considered we will be in touch again to confirm the decision regarding a potential voucher scheme for school employees.  

Temporary changes to Fit notes and Self Certification for Sickness Absence 

To allow GP’s to prioritise the coronavirus (COVID-19) booster campaign temporary changes have been made to when an employee is required to provide a fit note.

For sickness absence starting on or after 10th December 2021 an employee can now self-certify for up to 28 calendar days (including weekends or non-working days).

If an employee is absent for longer than 28 calendar days (including weekends and non-working days) they will need to provide a fit note from their doctor.

Employees should use the usual self-certification form to self-certify for the first 28 days whilst this temporary change is in place.

If an employee knows they are likely to be absent from work due to sickness for longer than 28 days they should try and get the fit note to their manager on the 28th day of sickness absence. It is recognised that GP’s might not be able to provide a fit note before the 28th day of absence. If there's a delay getting a fit note, for example difficulty booking a GP appointment, employee should contact their manager and explain.

Early Years update

Congratulations – New Years Honour

We would like to say an enormous congratulations to Mrs. Margaret Bravo, Manager of St Peter’s Pre-school, Carlisle for being awarded Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the Queen’s New Years Honours List, for services to Education. We join with all the children and families that Margaret has served for many years, in admiration and appreciation.

Early Help assessments

Referrals to the Early Years Area SENCO or Early Years Specialist Advisory Teacher  

Over the last few months there has been a significant increase in the request of Area SENCO and/or EYSAT support. We would like to take this opportunity to remind you of the procedure for submitting a referral for support and the paperwork to include.

Many referrals are being submitted without the required paperwork which can result in a delay processing the request and making it more difficult for the referral to be assessed effectively and directed to the most appropriate professional/service

Please ensure that when you are submitting a request for support you enclose the following:

  • A completed Early Help Assessment – Signs of Wellbeing and Success, which fully details the child’s needs. The Early Help paperwork can be found here
  • A completed consent form which has been signed and dated by the parent/carer and the assessment coordinator (Appendix 1 in the Early Help paperwork)
  • A completed service request form with Early Years ticked (Appendix 2 in the Early Help paperwork)
  • Evidence of the Assess – Plan – Do – Review process such as a SEN Support Plan or IEP

Assessment Information – the recent changes to the EYFS mean that our preferred option for children with additional needs is the Early Years Developmental Journal which is available here

Please ensure that this information is sent securely via e-mail (Egress) to your nearest office below or through the school portal.

Furness and South Lakes to

Carlisle and Eden to

Allerdale and Copeland to

If you do not receive an acknowledgment letter within a few days, please get in contact to check that your referral has been received.

Early Years information

Please see the following CCC websites for further EYFS support and resources:

Support for Early Years and Childcare Provision – this is where key resources are available such as the training programme, early years PEPs, Healthy Families Pledge, exemplar documents for observation/assessment, support for communication and language, home learning resources, the transition toolkit and more.

Password protected webpage for training webinars and videos on the EYFS. You will also find the ‘Revised EYFS subject leader guidance for schools’ section here for specific subject areas eg ‘What does maths look like in early years?’

Home Learning

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

Chat Play Share - Happy New Year

Updated guidance

What parents need to know about early years providers, schools and colleges during COVID-19