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COVID-19 Updates

Don't forget to check the news section for important NON-COVID information.

Help For Families

If you are on a low income, and there is a risk that you will go without food or heating this week (whilst awaiting further FSM guidance) you can apply for help at the Council’s Crisis Support Scheme by emailing housingandwelfaresupport@walsall.gov.uk or calling 01922 652250. 

Information on the South African variant

The Department for Health and Social Care is offering testing to everyone aged 16 and over, even if they have been vaccinated. If you live in one of the affected areas, but have not been contacted and are unsure whether you should have a test, please visit your local authority website to find out more.

At present, schools and colleges remain open to vulnerable children and children of critical workers, and nurseries remain open. There are no instructions for education or childcare settings to close in areas where new variants have been identified.

This situation is being closely monitored in case more restrictions are needed. Please check with your local authority for the latest advice. Further information can be found in the stay at home guidance for the national lockdown.

Children’s Mental Health Week (01/02/21 - 07/02/21)

Children’s Mental Health Week, an annual week-long campaign run by children’s mental health charity Place2Be, will run until Sunday 7 February.

This year’s theme is “Express Yourself” with the focus on children finding ways to share feelings, thoughts, or ideas through creativity. Mentally Healthy Schools have created a toolkit of resources for children, staff and parents to use during Children’s Mental Health Week.

Throughout the week, the Government will be using their social media platforms to share a variety of mental health resources including ‘wellbeing for education return’ and the children and young people’s psychological first aid training which is run by Public Health England.

Asymptomatic testing – frequently asked questions

On Friday 29 January the government updated their frequently asked questions on asymptomatic testing.

For primary schools, school-based nurseries and maintained nursery schools, these can be found on the primary school document sharing platform.

Misinformation about COVID-19

We are aware that there are a number of dangerous Covid-19 conspiracy theories circulating, which can deter people from getting vaccinated or taking other precautionary measures such as wearing masks and staying at home. Some useful resources to help cut through misinformation are linked below:

  • Platforms such as Infotagion provide a fact-checking service using sources from the WHO and Government to respond to a range of disinformation themes shared online related to COVID.
  • The Government’s SHARE checklist provides a useful guide for how to spot false and misleading content.
  • Ofcom host a number of resources to assist on their ‘Cutting through the Covid-19 confusion’ page, which includes fact-checking content, official guidance and support for parents and children.
  • There are also resources available on Educate Against Hate aimed at promoting digital literacy, which can help children and young people to develop the skills to be think critically about information they’re presented with.
  • Celebrities have joined together to dispel some common myths regarding the COVID vaccines for BAME communities such as whether they contain pork by-products. The video can be accessed via the link.

As always, do please continue to feed back any community sentiment related to these themes to school so they can inform the Council's relevant departments

Bonfire Night Message
We know Bonfire Night will be different this year without the huge displays filling the night’s sky.
 
Current government restrictions mean the usual planned events are not taking place and local councils aren’t holding public events for bonfire night and firework displays.
 
If you’re thinking of having a firework display at home, remember government guidelines in your local area around household mixing.
 
If you are planning to use fireworks then please remember the below:
 
Firework guidance
  • Only buy fireworks from a legitimate retailer
  • It is illegal to supply fireworks to persons under the age of 18
  • It is an offence for under 18’s to have fireworks in a public place.
  • You should never throw or set off a firework in the street, onto a road or in a public place.
  • On Bonfire Night it is illegal to set off fireworks after midnight
  • Anyone caught causing a nuisance with fireworks will receive an instant fine and any fireworks found on a person under 18 will be confiscated
  • Never use any kind of accelerant i.e. petrol to start a bonfire.
  • Be considerate and always inform your neighbours if you are using fireworks
  • Ensure your fireworks comply with British Standard 7114 or the European equivalents
 
West Midlands Fire Service also have some great tips around firework safety.
 
Remember to follow government guidelines in your local area to help keep you and the people you care about safe.
 
Dealing with anti-social behaviour
We sometimes see a rise in anti-social behaviour in the days between Halloween and Bonfire Night. If you are worried about anti-social behaviour please follow the advice below. 
  • You can report anti-social behaviour on our website via live chat between 8am-midnight
  • Keep a diary of incidents of anti-social behaviour.  This gives us a history of events and can be used as part of the evidence gathering process 
Information we receive from the community helps us identify common issues, hotspot locations, repeat offenders and patterns of behaviour
 
We also work closely with partner agencies, such as local councils, housing providers and schools, to tackle issues jointly, giving us greater powers to improve people’s lives.
 
Visit our website for crime prevention advice and safety tips.
 
To report a crime or incident, please contact us via Live Chat on our website www.west-midlands.police.uk between 8am – midnight or call 101. Always dial 999 in an emergency.

Walsall Police.

 

Message sent by
Andrew Ryan (Police, Engagement & Consultation Officer, Walsall NPU)

What parents and carers need to know about early years providers, schools and colleges during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

 

The Government has updated its guidance for parents and this can be accessed by clicking the link above.

Street Teams Online Safety Workshop

We are proud to say that we are working with Street Teams to help our children and families stay safe online

The link below will take you to the workshop:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/street-teams-community-futures-30602711874

Letter to parents and carers (25/09/2020)

COVID-19 Symptoms Letter

Risk Assessment for September Return

[Click Here] to read the newest version of our risk assessment.

 

Returning to primary school: What parents need to know

Most important:

  • From the autumn term, all children in England will return to school full-time.
  • We’re doing everything we can to ensure your children are safe and happy at school.

 

Please [Visit the link to find out more and access the resources.]

 

Rainbow Book V2

Please click here the link for the 2nd edition of the Rainbow Book which has been released today for children and families to use over the Summer Holidays. The book contains different physical, emotional and creative activities.

There will be one final edition for the summer holiday period which will be released the week commencing 17th August. As
always further details including previous editions can all be found and downloaded on the official webpage below:
www.blackcountryrainbowhour.co.uk #blackcountryrainbowhour

 

E-Bug resources

There are some fantastic resources to help children understand the virus on this website

We recommend the 'My back to school bubble' e-story book from the site in anticipation of the September return.

 

Financial Support for Uniforms

The charity Grocery Aid has launched a £150 clothing grant to help parents/ carers with the cost of purchasing school uniforms. Called the School Essentials Grant it allows qualifying families to apply for £150 to help bridge the financial gap.
To be eligible at least one parent must work in the grocery sector and have been doing so for at least 12 months. This includes people working in supermarkets, independent food stores or in food production. As well as covering the cost of uniforms, the grant can also be used to buy other school essentials such as books and stationery. An application can be made for up to 3 children per household from the age 4-18.


To qualify, you must meet each of the following criteria:
 You are currently employed in grocery and have been for at least 12 months or more
 You can evidence receipt of Child Benefit which is paid into your bank account (one grant per child)
 Household net income meets Grocery Aid’s criteria for financial hardship. The charity uses the Joseph Rowntree Minimum Income Standards guidelines which takes into account how many people are in your family and housing costs
 Household savings are below £1,000

 

To get the grant, you must meet each point above - those who only match one or two of the criteria won't be accepted. Further information and the application form can be found via the link.

 

Primary, secondary and SEND guidance updated

Much of the schools guidance has been updated with a blanket statement today along the lines of “from the beginning of the autumn term, the DfE will expect all pupils, in all year groups, to return to school full-time. Information on what parents and carers need to know about the opening of schools is available. It is vital for all children to return to school for their educational progress, for their well-being and for their wider development”.

 

10 top tips to encourage children to read

The Department for Education have today (16 July 2020) published guidance on how to encourage children to read. Amongst the ideas includes reading aloud regularly, reading together and making use of your local library. The full guidance can be accessed via the link.

 

Summer Reading Challenge 2020 in Walsall Libraries

As you can imagine, we’ve not had new books or stock replenishment in our libraries for some months. In fact the library suppliers still have their staff furloughed as a result of the lockdown and libraries being closed. However, I’m pleased to report that we’ve managed to arrange with our Children’s book supplier today for bumper new supplies of books to help us deliver Summer Reading Challenge from our libraries this year, to be selected and delivered to our libraries the week after next.

 

The Summer Reading Challenge takes place over the summer holidays throughout the UK. Run by national charity The Reading Agency, and delivered with the support of the UK public library network, it is the UK’s biggest free reading promotion for primary-aged children.

 

The programme reaches over 700,000 children each year, motivating them to keep reading during the summer holidays and helping to maintain reading skills and confidence. With the current situation, the 2020 challenge will run June to September, offering children and families the chance to take part online and receive rewards for their reading. While libraries remain closed, they will continue to support the Challenge through virtual services and e-lending platforms. To access the schools pack click here

 

Walsall Library Service

Although Walsall libraries are not fully open or operational yet, they are starting to offer a ring and collect service that can be used by Walsall children as well as adults during the summer holidays. Head teachers are asked to promote the service so
that children can access books during the summer holidays.
The details can be found here:

https://go.walsall.gov.uk/walsalllibraries/Resources/Online-resources/Re-opening-Libraries-Safely

Ring & Read - We select, you collect

 

 

Summer Reading Challenge 2020

Welcoming all children back in September

Summer Events 2020- Walsall Council

Covid Summer Food Fund

The Covid Summer Food Fund will enable children who are eligible for benefits-related free school meals (FSM) to be supported over the summer holiday period. All vouchers for the summer holidays must be ordered at least one week before your school’s summer term ends. The costs will be met centrally by the Department for Education.

Please read the guidance in full before ordering to ensure your orders are processed correctly.

Plans for all children and young people to return to full-time education at the start of the autumn term

The Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, announced our plans for all children and young people to return to full-time education at the start of the autumn term in Parliament today.

We have published the supporting guidance that provides schools, colleges and nurseries with the details to plan for a full return. The guidance has been developed in close consultation with sector stakeholders and medical experts from Public Health England.

Nurseries and other early years providers, including childminders, have already been welcoming back children of all ages since 1 June, with a range of protective measures in place. From 20 July, restrictions on group sizes for nurseries, childminders and other early years providers will be lifted, increasing capacity for more children to return, as set out in the updated guidance.

The schools guidance sets out a range of measures to protect children and staff. This guidance applies to all mainstream schools, alternative provision, independent schools and boarding schools and sets out advice on how you can minimise contact and mixing. Separate guidance has also been published for special schools.

We have also published guidance for parents and carers on the plans for the autumn term to help reassure them about what to expect for their children.

The guidance for the full opening of schools from the start of the autumn term can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak

The guidance for what parents and carers need to know about early years providers, schools and colleges in the autumn term can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/what-parents-and-carers-need-to-know-about-early-years-providers-schools-and-colleges-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak

Protective measures for holiday or after-school clubs and other out-of-school settings for children during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

We have published guidance for providers that run community activities, holiday clubs, after-school clubs, tuition and other out-of-school provision for children. We are aware many providers are already considering what protective measures to put in place to allow them to reopen more widely and as safely as possible during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

This new guidance will support their planning and advises on practical steps they can take to minimise the risk to children, staff and parents who attend. Providers who open should implement this new guidance from the end of summer term, when state schools in their local area have closed. Until then, while schools are open in a provider’s local area, they should follow the same protective measures as schools to limit different groups of children mixing.

We have also published guidance for parents and carers setting out what they need to know about changes to after-school clubs, holiday clubs, tuition, community activities and other out-of-school settings for children and young people during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. We have included information on what clubs and activities children and young people can attend, and what new safety measures parents and carers can expect them to have in place.

The guidance for providers can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/protective-measures-for-holiday-or-after-school-clubs-and-other-out-of-school-settings-for-children-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak

The guidance for parents and carers can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-for-parents-and-carers-of-children-attending-out-of-school-settings-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak

Updated guidance on what parents and carers need to know about early years providers, schools and colleges during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

We have updated the guidance on what parents and carers need to know about early years providers, schools and colleges during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. We have added content on summer provision, school uniform and a package of support worth £1 billion to support pupils to catch up. We have updated content on school meals and the Covid Summer Food Fund.

The guidance can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/what-parents-and-carers-need-to-know-about-early-years-providers-schools-and-colleges-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak

Support following Reading Terror Attack

Following the terror attack that took place on Saturday 20th June in Reading, the below guidance and advice may be of assistance should any schools in be seeking support in the aftermath of the incident.
Support
The Home Office’s Victims of Terrorism Unit website, includes access to support services, including mental health and other medical services.

Resources
Whether or not any schools in your local area were directly affected, students may have concerns over news coverage and online footage. The following online resources may be of specific assistance to educators (safeguarding leads and teachers) with discussions about terrorist attacks:

The following online resources may be of specific assistance to parents and children with discussions about terrorist attacks:

Additional Support
If schools have specific concerns relating to extremism in an education setting or
require further support not covered by the services listed above, they can email
counter.extremism@education.gov.uk.

Black Lives Matter

Peaceful protests, mass marches, and portrayals of violence. Petitions, political speeches, and demonstrations. The last two weeks have seen movements advocating for an end to racial inequality on a mass scale. Yet, current affairs aren’t always tangible or immediately clear, especially from a child’s perspective. Many children may have questions about the images, stories, and conversations they hear on the news and around them.

 

We can’t solely rely on schools to ensure children fully understand the Black Lives Matter movement and the issues that fuel the movement. As parents, if we haven’t already, it is also our responsibility to engage in positive and open discussions about race and racism with our children at home. This document can help:

 

Black Lives Matter - Talking with children

 

Support for parents and carers to keep childrensafe online - updated 25 June 2020

The national guidance has been updated today with additional content on apps to help children remain safe online. The revised guidance highlights the BBC app called Own It. The website has a lot of content for children to help them navigate their online lives, and the free smartphone app comes with a special keyboard which can intervene with help and support in the
moments that children need it the most. It can be downloaded for free in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.


SafeToNet is an app for parents to help them safeguard their children from online risks like cyberbullying and sexting, whilst respecting their child’s rights to privacy. The SafeToNet Foundation is providing UK families with free access to 1 million licences during coronavirus.

 

Local Authority Update 24/06/20

Following the terror attack that took place on Saturday 20th June in Reading, the below guidance and advice may be of assistance should any schools in be seeking support in the aftermath of the incident.

 

Support

The Home Office’s Victims of Terrorism Unit website, includes access to support services, including mental health and other medical services.

 

Resources

Whether or not any schools in your local area were directly affected, students may have concerns over news coverage and online footage. The following online resources may be of specific assistance to educators (safeguarding leads and teachers) with discussions about terrorist attacks:
-The PSHE Association Frameworks: Primary and Secondary resources
- Educate Against Hate
- NSPCC

The following online resources may be of specific assistance to parents and children with discussions about terrorist attacks:
- LGfL: Talking to Children about terrorism (for parents)
-NSPCC: How should you talk to children about terrorism? (for parents)
-Childline: Worries about the world page (for children)

 

Additional Support 

If schools have specific concerns relating to extremism in an education setting or require further support not covered by the services listed above, they can email counter.extremism@education.gov.uk.

 

DfE Update 19/06/20

Updated guidance for parents and carers on educational settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

We have updated our guidance for parents and carers on what they need to know about early years providers, schools, and colleges during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak to align with policy announcements already made, for example, the flexibility for primary schools to welcome back additional pupils where they have the capacity to do so. We have also changed the layout of the page in response to user feedback to help parents and carers navigate to the information they need.

The guidance can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/what-parents-and-carers-need-to-know-about-early-years-providers-schools-and-colleges-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak

 

Local Authority Update 19/06/20

Free Resources

The Arts Council England have developed a downloadable ‘Get Creative’ pack. Designed for primary and secondary age pupils the pack can be accessed via the link.

What parents and carers need to know about early years providers, schools and colleges during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

A new section on primary school flexibility to welcome back additional pupils from all years groups where there is capacity. In some schools, there will be capacity to welcome more children back, in group sizes of no more than 15, before the summer holidays. This may be because take-up amongst eligible children is lower than expected, or because there is additional space still available within the school and available staff to teach and supervise. There is no expectation on primary schools to welcome back additional children where they do not have the capacity to do so. Your school will contact you if it is able to welcome back additional children. It will be up to individual schools to decide which children to invite back.

 

An amended definition of vulnerable children and young people which includes pupils assessed as being in need under section 17 of the Children Act 1989, including children and young people who have a child in need plan, a child protection plan or who are a looked-after child; have an EHC plan and it is determined, following a risk assessment, that their needs can be as safely or more safely met in the educational environment; have been identified as otherwise vulnerable by educational providers, local authorities (including children’s social care services) or other multi-agency partners (such as health care professionals, youth services and the police), and for whom attending early years, school or college would be protective and/or helpful at this time.

 

Added further information on safety in schools and the national NHS Test and Trace programme

 

Updated content on 30 hours free childcare and/or tax-free childcare. The guidance states that if you are temporarily not meeting the minimum income requirement for 30 hours free childcare and/or tax-free childcare as a direct consequence of COVID-19 and would normally meet the threshold for these schemes, you will be treated as eligible. You should continue to apply or reconfirm if you have a childcare account already. Subject to parliamentary approval of a temporary amendment to the 30 hours free childcare and tax-free childcare regulations, we intend to allow critical workers who exceed the maximum income threshold (£100,000 per year), due to increased income as a result of COVID-19, to remain eligible for 30 hours for the current 2020 to 2021 tax year (up to a limit of £150,000).

 

Revised section on school meals, adding more information on the reopening of school kitchens as well as meals in colleges. As school kitchens reopen, we expect schools to make food parcels available for collection or delivery for any children that are eligible for free school meals who are staying at home. Where schools are not able to provide meals or food parcels for children who are at home, they can continue to offer vouchers to families of eligible pupils. We know due to COVID-19 there is increased pressure on household budgets, and we recognise families will face particular challenges over the coming months. That is why we are providing additional funding for a summer food scheme. The scheme will enable children who are eligible for free school meals to claim vouchers for the 6 week summer holiday period.

 

Local Authority Update 18/06/20

New 24/7 mental health helpline for Black Country residents

At a time of much uncertainty, it is only natural to experience some stress and anxiety.


If you do find that your mental health is being affected by the implications of coronavirus, then please don’t suffer in silence. Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust have launched a new, 24/7 helpline which is open to residents of all ages across the Black Country and will give access to urgent mental health, learning disability and/or autism support.


The helpline is manned by specialist mental health staff who will provide advice and support and can also signpost to other mental health services if these are required.


It is important that families and staff do not think they are alone – it is ok to not be ok, and if you aren’t, then please do pick up the phone and speak to someone.


Phone line details:
Monday – Sunday, 24 hours a day – call 0345 6460827 – press 1 in you live in Sandwell or Wolverhampton and press 2 if you live in Dudley or Walsall.


Existing service users are encouraged to maintain their existing contact with the services.

Free Resources:

Walsall Music Education Hub are offering a number of opportunities during lockdown, and will be regularly updating their news page. See http://www.walmused.co.uk/

 

Black Country Dance have launched a new digital dance project for primary ages - schools and families.

See https://www.blackcountrydance.com/article/new-horizons

 

For those working with early years, Moonbeams are presenting a free online seminar on 14 July entitled Physicality and Musicality in the Early Years. We have 24 Walsall schools involved in our linking programme. The Link network have put some great free to access home learning resources including for secondary schools on their website: https://thelinkingnetwork.org.uk/home-learning-resources/

 

DfE Update 12/06/20

Information for schools.

 

Local Authority Update 11/06/20

Call for review of curriculum following Black Lives Matter

A group of cross party MP’s have written to Gavin Williamson calling for a review of the national curriculum led by black and ethnic minority leaders and historians to better reflect black history. Layla Moran, the Liberal Democrat education
spokesperson and a former teacher, said: “We all have a duty to make sure the next generation, at least, has a better understanding of the historical injustices contributing to institutional racism that persists in the UK and elsewhere today”.

 

Signatories to the letter include Tory MP Sir Peter Bottomley, Labour’s former shadow equalities minister Dawn Butler and former frontbencher Clive Lewis, members of the SNP, the Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru and the Green party’s Caroline Lucas. They are calling for events such as the treatment of the Windrush generation to be included as well as the positive contribution black people and people of all ethnicities have made to Britain.

 

Cybergames to raise online safety awareness

The National Crime Agency have developed a range of free online games and activities to promote online awareness and safety. The games are free and can be accessed via http://www.cybergamesuk.com/

 

Local Authority Update 10/06/20

Return To School Data

Yesterday the government published the latest set of national attendance data for schools and Early Year’s settings covering the 1 June wider opening of nursery and primary settings.

 

The data highlights that 52% of settings open to children in nursery, reception, year 1 or year 6 were open on the 4 June.

 

The number of children attending an education setting who have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) was 42,000, up from 23,000 on 21 May. The number of children attending who have a social worker was 47,000, up from 37,000 on 21 May. It was estimated that 166,000 children were attending early year’s settings on 4 June – about 10% of the number of children who usually attend in term time.

 

Local Authority Update 09/06/20

Government School Return in September

At lunchtime today Gavin Williamson issued a statement to the House of Commons where he thanked education, childcare and children’s social care staff for their ongoing efforts to support children and young people at home and in school.

 

During the speech he stated that whilst he wanted to continue to see the number of pupils returning to school grow over the coming weeks it would not be feasible for all primary pupils to return to school before the summer holidays. The government’s ambition was to explore ways through which all pupils could be return in September.

 

He confirmed that the government was working with Ofqual to enable GCSE, A level and vocational qualifications to take place as normal in 2021. He also said that further guidance would be issued for the remaining weeks of the summer term setting out minimum curriculum levels expected in terms of in school and home delivery. In terms of free school meals over the summer he said he was working with the sector in regard to the support that could be provided over the summer but that it had never been the case previously that such provision be put in place.

 

DfE Update 09/06/20

Update for schools.

DfE Update 08/06/20

Mental Health Resources

Yesterday the government announced that new online resources designed by health and education experts will be provided to schools and colleges to boost mental health support for staff and pupils, encouraging them to talk more confidently about the anxieties and concerns they feel as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The full press release can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/extra-mental-health-support-for-pupils-and-teachers

Local Authority Update 05/06/20

Domestic Violence Support

Black Country Women’s Aid are now accepting new referrals for children and young people across the Black Country who are affected by domestic violence at home, or at risk of sexual violence or sexual exploitation from gangs.

Black Country Women’s Aid CYP Advocates can provide:

  • Advice and guidance for you as a teacher/ DSL on how to deal with the situation.
  • Remote support for the young person via phone or Microsoft Teams.
  • Online Targeted Interventions.

Once Lock down is lifted we will also offer:

  • Direct One to One support for CYP
  • Targeted group interventions for CYP in school
  • Training for you and your colleagues on the impact of domestic abuse on the CYP you teach.

This FREE service is available now in your area for all children aged 5-18.

Please click here to download a referral form

If you have a secure email to send from: supportforchildren@sandwellwa.cjsm.net

If you don’t have a secure email to send from, send password protected to: youngpeople@blackcountrywomensaid.co.uk with password sent in a separate email.  Call 0121 553 0090 for more information or advice and guidance

 

COVID-19: guidance for young people on shielding and protecting people most likely to become unwell if they catch coronavirus – updated 5 June 2020

The advice to young people on shielding or protecting relatives has been updated to state that people who are shielding can now choose to leave their home if they wish to spend time outdoors. This needs to be done carefully and strict social distancing must be maintained. This means keeping 2 metres apart (3 steps) from anyone outside their household.

If you’re shielding, time outdoors can be alone or with members of your own household. You may choose to spend time outdoors with one person from another household, keeping 2 metres apart at all times. Ideally, this should be the same person each time.

The guidance on shielding is advice. It is not a compulsory part of the law and so you will not be fined if you do not follow it. However, everyone must follow the guidance on staying alert and safe (social distancing). This includes the possibility that you (or your parents) may be fined.

The full guidance can be accessed via the link.

Giving parents and carers a voice

FACE and Walsall Information Advice and Support Service offer daily access, Monday-Friday for parents/ carers with children with SEND who want advice and support about their child.  Attached to the e-mail are posters advertising the service.

DfE Update 05/06/20

Update for Schools - not parents

DfE Update 04/06/20

Updated advice for tier 2, 4 and 5 visa sponsors of students or employees

The Home Office and UK Visas and Immigration has updated their guidance for tier 2, 4 and 5 visa sponsors in the UK who are supporting those affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Scanned documents can now be submitted as evidence due to the exceptional circumstances of coronavirus (COVID-19). These arrangements will apply until 30 June, when they will be reviewed.

The guidance can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-tier-2-4-and-5-sponsors

Local Authority Update 03/06/20

For many of you, we're aware that your contact with children and young people is likely to change over the next few weeks as lockdown continues to ease.   However, if you're continuing to support families with learning at home, we'll still be delivering our activity packs over the next couple of months. This week, all of our packs explore sharing images:

 

 

Sharing images: our new video guides for parents and carers

Our new video guides explore the positives and the risks of sharing images online and offer practical advice for parents and carers on:

  • What they can do to reduce risks and;
  • How they can seek help if they're concerned about an image that's been shared.

Share our primary or secondary guide alongside this week's new activity pack!

 

 

Screen time and boosting digital resilience

Our surveys have shown that screen time has been a key concern for many parents and carers over the lockdown period.  However, high-quality screen time can offer opportunities for learning, staying connected and boosting digital resilience.  

National tutoring service

The government are pressing ahead with plans for a national online tutoring pilot where disadvantaged pupils will have access to free tuition from university undergraduates.  The Education Endowment Fund, Sutton Trust, Impetus and Nesta are working to launch pilots of 4 tutoring schemes for up to 1,600 pupils.

Gavin Williamson has said the pilot was “an important part of plans to put support in place to ensure young people don’t fall behind as a result of coronavirus, particularly those facing other disadvantages”.  MyTutor will use undergraduate tutors to provide live one-to-one sessions for up to 1,000 year 10 and 11 pupils, while the Tutor Trust, which also uses undergraduates, will offer online sessions for 100 year 5 and 10 pupils in Merseyside, Greater Manchester and Leeds.

What parents and carers need to know about schools and other education settings during the coronavirus outbreak – updated 1 June 2020

The government guidance to parents and carers has been updated in line with the wider opening of schools.  Parents are informed that in terms of the curriculum the government would expect school leaders to:

  • consider their pupils’ mental health and wellbeing and identify any pupil who may need additional support so they are ready to learn
  • assess where pupils are in their learning and agree what adjustments may be needed to the school curriculum over the coming weeks
  • identify and plan how best to support the education of high needs groups, including disadvantaged pupils, and SEND and vulnerable pupils
  • support pupils in year 6, who will need both their primary and secondary schools to work together to support their upcoming transition to year 7
  • consider how to best use additional contact time to support those in years 10 and 12 and the first year of a 16 to 19 course, who are starting their final year of study for GCSEs, A levels and other qualifications next academic year

Schools should use best endeavours to support pupils attending school as well as those remaining at home, making use of the available remote learning support.  The guidance is clear that no school will be penalised if they are unable to offer a broad and balanced curriculum to their pupils during this period.

In regard to before and after school clubs the guidance states that schools can offer breakfast and after school clubs so long as it is on school premises and the offer is only to children registered at the school and that provision is only for small consistent groups that they are in during the day.  Where this is not possible then such provision should remain closed.

The guidance states that the government has no expectation that children and young people will need to repeat a year of education.  It goes on to say that it is for the head teacher to decide how best they should be educated.  This technically could include the decision that a child should be educated in a year group other than the one indicated by their age. Such decisions should be based on sound educational reasons and in consultation with parents.

In regard to transport the guidance states that local authorities continue to be under a statutory duty to provide free home to school transport for eligible children that are able to attend school.

As per the existing guidance vulnerable children of all year groups continue to be expected and encouraged to attend educational provision, unless they are self-isolating or there are other reasons for absence (such as a risk assessment of a child with an EHC plan).  In circumstances where a parent does not want to bring their child to an education setting, and their child is considered vulnerable, the social worker and education provider should explore the reasons for this directly with the parent.

For children who have an education health and care (EHC) plan, attendance is expected where it is determined, following a risk assessment, that their needs can be as safely or more safely met in the educational environment.  The government asks local authorities to work with educational providers, families and the child or young person to carry out these risk assessments.

The full guidance can be accessed via the link.

Local Authority Update 02/06/20

National picture shows variability in pupils return to schools

The Association of School and College Leaders said attendance of eligible pupils across England on Monday was “highly variable”, ranging “anywhere between around 40 per cent and 70 per cent”.  Geoff Barton, the General Secretary of ASCL stated that “caution is quite rightly the watchword, and everybody is approaching this task with the safety of pupils and staff as their absolute priority.”

Paul Whiteman, the general secretary of the NAHT leaders’ union stated yesterday that “confidence for a return to schools remains low.  The next few days will reveal whether the government has passed the confidence test. We will discover how many families feel confident to come to school”.

As of Monday a government spokesperson stated that the ambition for all primary pupils to return to school before the summer holidays remained “under review”.

Separately the Department for Education has indicated that there is internal backing for the proposal by Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, for children to receive catch-up tuition during the summer holidays. “We are looking at what additional measures may be required to ensure every child has the support they need, including over the summer,” the DfE stated.

Public Health England analysis highlights greater risks for BAME communities

Public Health England today published a report on the risks to BAME communities of COVID-19 infection and the differences of infection rates between men and women.

The analysis showed that people of Bangladeshi origin had twice the risk of death having contracted COVID-19 compared to people of White British ethnicity (accounting for sex, age, deprivation and region).  People of Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, other Asian, Caribbean and other Black ethnicity had between 10-50% higher risk of death compared to White British people.

The rate of diagnosis of having contracted COVID-19 (per 100,000 population) was highest for Black ethnic groups.  The diagnosis rate being twice as high for women compared to White British women and nearly 3 times for men.

Comparing all causes of death to previous years’ death rates among Black males was almost 4 times higher than in previous years, and 3 times higher for Asian males.  For women the death rate was almost 3 times higher for Black women compared to White British women.  This analysis doesn’t however account for a person’s occupation where BAME groups have higher representation in higher risk occupations, such as medicine and healthcare.

In terms of age, the numbers of females under 60 being diagnosed is highest whereas it is men over 60 that are the highest category.  Despite men making up 46% of all diagnosed cases they make up 60% of deaths from COVID-19 and 70% of intensive care unit admissions.  The age group between 50-70 make up the highest rates of intensive care admissions (male and female).  The majority of excess deaths occur in those aged over 75.

In terms of occupations over 10,000 cases were identified in nurses, midwives and health professionals.  Other at risk occupations include security guards, taxi drivers, bus and coach drivers, chefs, sales and retail assistants, construction and processing plant workers and those working in social care.  For many occupations the death rates are too small to draw meaningful comparisons

The report places caveats on the data given changes to testing policy, case definitions and variation in testing across regions.  The full report can be accessed via the link.

Last week we published a risk assessment for individuals and a checklist for consideration where there are high numbers of BAME staff and pupils.  These are attached again to this e-mail.  Additionally the BAMEed Network have produced advice and a risk assessment which can be accessed via the link.

Child Safety Week (1-7 June)

Child Safety Week is an annual community education campaign run by the Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT). In response to COVID-19, CAPT are changing what they do this year, to meet the changing needs of families and the frontline staff who support them: they have produced an adapted Child Safety Week Parents’ Pack.  It helps parents take on child safety and win, even when they’re feeling under pressure; there is also new content that practitioners can use right now in their digital communications, including top tips for child safety during lockdown and beyond, plus advice on preventing burns and poisoning.

Resources can be found here on the CAPT website.

Independent SAGE Group

Chaired by the former government chief scientific officer, Sir David King, the Independent SAGE group published its final report yesterday in regard to COVID-19.  Their findings were that: 

  • The re-opening of schools from the 1 June risked increasing the R rate leading to a new surge of cases.
  • Phased re-opening should be led by local evidence of infection through effective track and trace. 
  • Delaying school reopening by two weeks, to June 15, approximately halves the risk that a child will be infected.
  • Decisions to reopen schools must be made on a case by case basis and in partnership with local communities.
  • Class sizes in England are “substantially higher” than other European countries. The average class size in English primary schools is 27.9, compared to 20.1 across all European primaries.

Councils and civil society groups should “be mobilised” to use sports stadiums to run summer school catch-up camps, the scientists have suggested.

 

DfE Update 02/06/20

Updated guidance for parents and carers on the wider opening of educational settings

We have updated our information for parents and carers about the wider opening of education settings to include details about opening secondary schools to years 10 and year 12 pupils from 15 June and to provide links to guidance on safer travel.

The guidance can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers

 

Letter from The Headteacher [Miss Francis] on the return to school 01/06/2020

[Click Here to read the letter]

Wider opening of educational settings

Today, children in early years, Reception, year 1 and year 6 began returning to primary schools and early years settings. We would like to thank teachers, senior leaders, support staff and all those working in education who have continued to support children throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and have worked hard to prepare for the wider opening of education and childcare settings.

Letter from the Director of Public Health

Stephen Gunther, Walsall’s Director of Public Health has written to parents and carers in Walsall to re-assure them as schools open more widely to pupils.  The letter sets out what they can do to support their child’s return to schools.  The letter is attached to the e-mail and can also be accessed via https://link.walsall.gov.uk/Portals/18/2020%20May%2029_Letter%20from%20Director%20of%20Public%20Health.docx

Handwashing and respiratory hygiene posters

The e-Bug project is led by Public Health England and has a dedicated webpage for learning resources on hand washing and respiratory hygiene. E-Bug has published posters on hand hygiene, and covering coughs and sneezes, to display in bathrooms, classrooms and shared spaces.

The hand and respiratory hygiene posters and other educational resources can be found here:

https://e-bug.eu/eng_home.aspx?cc=eng&ss=1&t=Information%20about%20the%20Coronavirus

These are truly unprecedented times and the situation is ever-changing.

We will strive to keep you up-to-date as new information is made available.

The link below is the current information for parents from the Government and should be followed.

 

 

DfE Update 27/05/20

 

DfE Update 26/05/20

Update for schools, not parents.

 

Local Authority Update 26/05/20

Staying alert and safe – social distancing guidance for young people

Updated 24 May 2020

The staying alert and safe guidance for young people has been updated over the weekend.  It re-iterates that there are only certain reasons why you should be leaving your house. If you leave your house for these reasons, you must stay 2 metres away from other people who you don’t live with. 2 metres is three steps, or three big steps if you are a smaller person.

Reasons why you can leave your home include:

  • Shopping for food and medicine. You should try to limit the number of times you go shopping in a week.
  • Exercising. For example, a run, walk or cycle alone or with members of your household or with one other person from another household
  • Playing counts as exercise. If you are playing with equipment, you may want to clean this with soap or disinfectant when you return home. Playgrounds are still closed but some outdoor sports spaces are open such as tennis and basketball courts.
  • Exercising pets including dogs and horses
  • Any medical need, including to donate blood
  • To avoid or escape being hurt (for example leaving a violent or dangerous home). If you are not feeling safe at home it is always okay to leave the house. If you or a member of your household is in danger, or you are feeling scared, you can ring 999, or contact Childline.
  • To provide care or to help a vulnerable person
  • If your parent or guardian is a critical worker or if you have a social worker or an education health care (EHC) plan, you are still allowed to go to school or childcare. A list of critical workers is available.
  • If you are under 18 and usually live across 2 families, because your parents or guardians live separately, you are allowed to move between both homes as you would normally do. If you do have symptoms of coronavirus, speak to your parents or guardians about staying in one home until you recover but both families should follow the isolation guidance for 14 days.
  • Travelling to work which cannot reasonably be done at home. If you can, you should avoid public transport (e.g. walk or cycle to work). If you do not feel safe returning to work, you should have this conversation with your employer.
  • You can attend the funeral of a family member or a member of your household. You can also attend a friend’s funeral if none of their family will be there. Many families are choosing to have funeral services over video links, you may be able to see if this is appropriate for your friend or family member.
  • If you are receiving support from the government, such as social services, as a victim of crime, or receiving benefits, you can attend appointments for these issues.

The full guidance can be accessed via the link.

 

Free Resources

JK Rowling has published her first children’s book not associated with Harry Potter for free in daily instalments.  The Ickabog tells the tale of King Fred the Fearless, ruler of Cornucopia, and five-year-old Bert Beamish.  Extracts will be published until the 10 July 2020 and can be accessed via the link.

Walsall Libraries have been developing ‘Reading Well’ collections which consist of Mood-Boosting Books in conjunction with the Reading Agency’s Books on Prescription initiative.

While Libraries are in lockdown, there is now a special “Bookshelf” of Mood-Boosting “Reading Well” eBooks and eAudiobooks now available to download free of charge from Walsall Libraries’ BorrowBox service. There is also a general range of lifestyle/well-being and meditation eAudiobooks and eBooks available.

How do I gain access to the books?


All you need is your library card number and PIN. Then download the BorrowBox app and sign in.  You can also access the service at: BorrowBox

What if I don’t have a library card?


If you don’t have a library card, it’s never been easier to sign up.
Just go to:  
https://capitadiscovery.co.uk/walsall. You can sign up there and start borrowing and downloading straight away.

If you have a library card, but don’t know your PIN, this is also the place to sign in and get a new PIN.

 

DfE Update 25/05/20

Schools and nurseries on track to open to more children from 1 June

The Prime Minister has confirmed that schools and nurseries across England remain on track to open to more children from 1 June, subject to the Government’s five tests being met. Primary schools will welcome back children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6, while nurseries and other early years providers will begin welcoming back children of all ages.

Full details of this announcement can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/pm-confirms-schools-colleges-and-nurseries-on-track-to-begin-phased-reopening

Online educational resources to support children to continue learning at home

We have updated our list of online resources that schools and parents can consider to support children’s continued learning at home. Schools have already been drawing on existing resources and tools they are familiar with to support children to continue learning at home and should continue to do so.

More information can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-online-education-resources

Schools can also now download the Oak National Academy schools pack, which provides guidance and videos to share and download. Packs are available for primary, secondary and specialist schools, and include the full Oak curriculum (until the end of summer term) to help schools plan.

Further information on the Oak schools pack and other remote education resources can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/remote-education-during-coronavirus-covid-19

 

Local Authority Update 22/05/20

The scientific case for schools re-opening?

The most recent advice published by SAGE (Scientific Group for Emergencies) doesn’t really go all out in justifying the rationale behind the 1 June expansion of schools opening to a greater number of pupils.

The documents refer to 9 models from continuing to keep schools closed to all but vulnerable and keyworker pupils through to full re-opening.  The report highlights that a rota system for pupils was an option that may have had benefits in keeping the ‘r’ number low.  This was apparently not progressed on the basis of the impact it would have on parents and vulnerable children.  The paper can be accessed via the link.  It isn’t clear that the model which the government are running with from the 1 June had been modelled in the exact way as published.

At the government daily briefing led by Priti Patel this evening (22 May 2020) it was highlighted that overall a phased return of schools was relatively low risk in terms of increasing infection rates if appropriate precautions were in place.

In response to a question on whether schools will return for all pupils in September any decision would be based on a number of factors including a continued decrease in the ‘r’ rate , the effectiveness of track and trace systems, the continued re-modelling of environments to minimise infection  and the continued focus on basic hygiene.

 

Wearing face coverings

Current national guidance is that we should wear a face covering in enclosed public spaces where social distancing isn’t possible.  This is especially important in crowded areas such as shops and on public transport.  The guidance has today been updated to say people “should be prepared to remove your face covering if asked to do so by police officers and staff for the purposes of identification”.

 

DfE Update 22/05/20

Updated poster providing guidance on hygiene in educational settings

Public Health England has published an updated poster that provides guidance on hygiene in educational settings.

The poster can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-educational-settings-about-covid-19

DfE Update 21/05/20

Guidance for parents and carers on supporting their children’s education during the coronavirus outbreak

We have published information, guidance and support for parents and carers of children who are learning at home during the coronavirus outbreak.

Guidance on helping secondary school children continue their education during the coronavirus outbreak can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/help-secondary-school-children-continue-their-education-during-coronavirus-covid-19

We have updated our guidance on helping primary school aged children learn at home to include information on the wider opening of educational settings.

The guidance can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/help-primary-school-children-continue-their-education-during-coronavirus-covid-19

Parental Concerns FAQ and Information

A HMI Inspector working with Walsall Local Authority has put together the following to help:

Parental Concerns FAQs

 

Letters to parents - Working From Home & Returning to school

Letter To Parents and Carers

Working From Home Information for Parents.

 

DfE Update 20/05/20

Hi All,

Today's update was for schools with this extra for all:

Today is Thank a teacher day and, if you would like to send your teacher a card, you can do this for free at https://thankateacher.co.uk/ (you can find your teacher's e-mail in Google classroom). 

 

DfE Update 19/05/20

Testing now available to anyone with symptoms of coronavirus

The government has announced that anyone with symptoms of coronavirus is now eligible to book a test, ahead of the rollout of the test and trace service. Anyone experiencing a new, continuous cough; high temperature; or a loss of, or change, in their normal sense of smell or taste (anosmia) can book a test.

A coronavirus test can be booked here:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Essential workers in England, Scotland or Northern Ireland, can apply for priority testing through GOV.UK. A coronavirus test can be booked here:

https://www.gov.uk/apply-coronavirus-test-essential-workers

Department for Education coronavirus helpline – Monday 25 May Bank Holiday opening hours

The Department for Education coronavirus helpline is available to answer questions about COVID-19 relating to education and children’s social care.

Phone: 0800 046 8687

The helpline will remain open over the May Bank Holiday weekend for staff, parents and young people as follows:

10am to 4pm – Saturday, Sunday and Monday

Our standard opening hours will resume on Tuesday 26 May:

8am to 6pm – Monday to Friday
10am to 4pm – Saturday and Sunday

If you work in a school, please have your unique reference number (URN or UK PRN) available when calling the helpline

 

DfE & Local Authority Updates 18/05/20

These updates were mainly for schools but the following flyer may be useful to families:

 

West Midlands Police Update
This week we entered a new phase of the restrictions put in place to tackle coronavirus. People are allowed to move around more freely than they have been, but still with some significant limits.
Our approach to the lockdown will not change – we will continue to use common sense and discretion. We’ll be engaging with people and explaining the rules, and encouraging them to follow them.
Enforcement will continue to be a last resort.
We’re incredibly grateful for the support the people of the West Midlands have given us over the recent weeks. We’ll continue to work together to keep the region safe and healthy through this difficult time.
Find out more on our website.

 

Staying safe online

We’ve seen a steady rise in coronavirus related online fraud. Keep yourself safe online by following the guidance below:

  • Secure accounts - use strong passwords and never share your password
  • Account privacy settings - restrict who can see your profile, posts and photos
  • Turn off GPS/location settings on your mobile
  • Think about what you post publicly
  • Ensure your computer and other devices have updated antivirus software
  • Change your password on your home Wi-Fi router
  • Look at putting a pin or password on your phone to prevent others from using it


To get the latest information about how to protect yourself from these scams, visit the Action Fraud website. 

 

DfE Update 15/05/20

Handwashing Update

It is essential that everyone washes their hands more often, using soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Hand washing with soap employs mechanical action that loosens bacteria and viruses from the skin, rinsing them into the drain. Drying hands afterwards makes the skin less hospitable to the virus. Hand sanitiser can be effective if soap is not available or the situation makes using soap less feasible (i.e. when outside) but using hand sanitiser provides none of the virus-destroying friction that rubbing your hands together and rinsing with water provides.

The latest guidance and video on hand washing can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public

The e-Bug project is led by Public Health England and has a dedicated webpage for learning resources on hand washing and respiratory hygiene.

Resources are currently available for KS1, KS2 and KS3 and can be used in various settings including schools and at home:

https://e-bug.eu/

 

DfE Update 14/05/20

Preparations for national thank a teacher day – Wednesday 20 May

On Wednesday 20 May, we are celebrating teachers, senior leaders, support staff and all those working in education settings who are making a difference to their schools and communities during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Department for Education is working in partnership with the Teaching Awards Trust which has produced a set of resources including a Thank a Teacher toolkit containing graphics, images and frames for social media that you’re free to use.

The Thank a Teacher Toolkit is available here:

https://thankateacher.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Thank-a-Teacher-Day-2020-Tool-Kit.pdf

Coronavirus testing eligibility and how test and testing kits work

Anyone in England showing symptoms of coronavirus who has to leave the home to go to work, or is aged 65 and over, is eligible for testing along with members of their households with symptoms. This is in addition to all essential workers with symptoms.

Guidance on coronavirus testing, including who is eligible for a test, how to get tested and the different types of test available can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-getting-tested

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency has published guidance for members of the public and patients about coronavirus tests and testing kits, including information on the different types of tests available and how they work.

The guidance can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-tests-and-testing-kits-for-coronavirus-covid-19-work

Local Authority Update 13/05/20

Gavin Williamson’s announcement in parliament

Gavin Williamson this afternoon responded to questions from MP’s in the Houses of Parliament regarding the potential for schools to open further on the 1 June 2020.  He defended the proposals as a “sensible and responsible” approach to getting more children back to school.  During the question and answer session Mr Williamson stated that:

  • Additional scientific briefings were being prepared by SAGE which would bring together the scientific justification for the proposals set out by the Prime Minister on Sunday evening.  These would be shared with parliament and the public.  He went on to say that “when you have medical and scientific advice that is saying that it is the right time to start bringing schools back in a phased and controlled manner, it seems only the right thing to do so, and the only responsible thing to do”.  No date was given as to when the advice would be published.
  • In regard to the 1 June being the definitive date for schools to open further he stated that “we have said that if we are allowed, which it seems likely that we will be able to, we would like to see schools opening from June 1, giving schools as much forward notice as possible in order for them to get ready”.  The decision would be taken in “the best interest of the welfare of children and those who work in schools….. the reason that we’re bringing schools back is that we know that children benefit from being educated by their brilliant teachers in front of them,” he said. “We recognise that children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds are the ones that are going to suffer the most if we do not bring schools back when we are able to do so.”
  • He said there would be no compromise to health and safety and that the unions were “scaremongering”.  “Sometimes scaremongering and making people fear is really unfair, and not a welcome pressure that is to be placed on families, children and teachers alike.”
  • The UK proposals had been based on the Denmark model which began a phased return of primary pupils in mid-April.  “Schools have started to return in Denmark and you have not seen negative impact as a result of that.”
  • Year 10s and 12s will go into school to have learning needs ‘assessed’.  He wanted “all children in those year groups to have the opportunity to go into school and speak with their teachers”.  Teachers would then make “an assessment of what learning and support that they need to have over the following weeks as they approach the summer holidays, but also making sure they set the work at the right level so through the summer holidays children can benefit from learning through those six weeks……it is important to get these transition years back into schools, even if it is for not a full timetable, but this is a first step in the right direction,”
  • Schools will get ‘flexibility’ on reopening.  “Within the clear guidelines, headteachers will also be afforded maximum flexibility to make this work for each school’s unique circumstances”.
  • In regard to the unions not being informed he said that “at every stage, every single week I’ve been meeting with union leaders” and “other sector leaders”, and said he would “continue to do so”.  “We’ve shared our thinking very widely as to what we were hoping to do,”
  • Williamson said he was aware of the “additional challenges” faced by grammar schools, “especially with the consideration of the 11-plus in September”.

 

Free School Meals

Walsall is seeking clarification from the Department for Education in terms of the status of free school meal costs during the May half term.  An article in tes today states that DfE won't fund school meal vouchers over half-term. 

DfE Update 13/05/20

-Update for Schools not parents.

 

Local Authority Update 12/05/20

Last night (11 May 2020) the Department for Education published guidance to go alongside its roadmap to re-opening the country.  The extended opening of schools is as follows:

Nurseries and Early Years

Begin welcoming back children in nursery and reception.

In childcare settings, providers will be asked to welcome back all children below statutory school age from the week commencing 1 June.

From 1 June, childminders can look after children of all ages, in line with usual limits on the number of children they can care for.

Primary

Nursery, reception, year 1 and year 6 pupils in addition to vulnerable and critical worker children in other year groups.

Our ambition is to bring all primary year groups back to school before the summer holidays, for a month if feasible, though this will be kept under review. We will only welcome back additional year groups if the most up-to-date assessment of the risk posed by the virus indicates it is appropriate to have larger numbers of children within schools. The safety of children and staff is our utmost priority.

 

Some of the key proposals include:

  • the majority of staff in education settings will not require PPE beyond what they would normally need for their work (beyond personal care and those with direct and close contact with a pupil exhibiting symptoms in school), even if they are not always able to maintain a distance of 2 metres from others.
  • It is appreciated that primary pupils cannot be expected to maintain social distancing rules so settings should: avoid contact with anyone with symptoms, undertake frequent hand cleaning and good respiratory hygiene practices, ensure regular cleaning of settings and minimise contact and mixing
  • Classes should be split with a maximum of 15 pupils at primary to one teacher.  Where possible pupils should work out of the same class for the whole day with the same teacher.  Teaching assistants can be allocated to lead a group, working under the direction of a teacher.
  • If a child exhibits symptoms in class and later tests positive then the whole class will need to stay at home and self-isolate.
  • Staff required to shield should stay home, those in vulnerable categories can come into school but undertake duties distanced from pupils and fellow staff.
  • Schools should consider a rota system for drop off and pick up and consider staggering breaks and lunchtimes.
  • Clean classrooms daily and store soft toys and unnecessary resources
  • Introduce one way corridors and controlled toilet access.  Lunch facilities should run at half capacity. 
  • Families will not be fined if they don’t send their children to school but will need to discuss the absence with the school and notify them where they are in one of the designated groups set to return why they will not be returning.

Appendix 1 includes a fuller summary of key messages.  The guidance itself can be accessed via the link and the link.

 

Coronavirus outbreak FAQs: what you can and can't do

The government has published updated guidance on staying safe outside the home following announcements on Sunday and Monday.  These take effect from Wednesday.  Frequently asked questions have been devised to help the public understand the changes.  These can be accessed via the link.

DfE Update 12/05/20

Guidance on the wider opening of education and childcare settings

Yesterday we published guidance on our plans to open education and childcare settings to more children from 1 June.

Guidance on the actions for education and childcare settings to prepare for wider opening from 1 June can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-educational-and-childcare-settings-to-prepare-for-wider-opening-from-1-june-2020

Guidance on implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-implementing-protective-measures-in-education-and-childcare-settings

Guidance for parents and carers as schools and other education settings in England open to more children and young people can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers

Safer travel guidance for passengers during the coronavirus outbreak

The Department for Transport has published guidance on travelling safely during the coronavirus outbreak, providing information on walking, cycling, using private vehicles, travelling in taxis and on public transport. Information on children travelling on public transport is also provided in this guidance.

The guidance can be found here:

 

Local Authority Update 11/05/20

The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy

This afternoon (11 05 20) the government have published, Our Plan to Rebuild, the government’s recovery strategy.  In terms of schools the guidance outlines that:

  • SAGE modelling suggests that either fully opening schools or relaxing all social distancing measures now, will lead to a resurgence of the virus and a second wave that could be larger than the first.
  • The rate of infection remains too high to allow the reopening of schools for all pupils yet. However, it is important that vulnerable children (including children in need, those with an Education, Health and Care plan and those assessed as otherwise vulnerable by educational providers or local authorities) and the children of critical workers are able to attend school, as is currently permitted. Approximately 2% of children are attending school in person, although all schools are working hard to deliver lessons remotely.
  • There is a large societal benefit from vulnerable children, or the children of critical workers, attending school: local authorities and schools should therefore urge more children who would benefit from attending in person to do so.
  • The Government is also amending its guidance to clarify that paid childcare, for example nannies and childminders, can take place subject to being able to meet public health principles, because these are roles where working from home is not possible. This should enable more working parents to return to work.
  • A phased return for Early Years settings and schools. Schools should prepare to begin to open for more children from 1 June. The Government expects children to be able to return to Early Years settings, and for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 to be back in school in smaller sizes, from this point. This aims to ensure that the youngest children, and those preparing for the transition to secondary school, have maximum time with their teachers.
  • Secondary schools and further education colleges should also prepare to begin some face to face contact with Year 10 and 12 pupils who have key exams next year, in support of their continued remote, home learning. The Government’s ambition is for all primary school children to return to school before the summer for a month if feasible, though this will be kept under review. The Department of Education will engage closely with schools and Early Years providers to develop further detail and guidance on how schools should facilitate this.
  • Local authorities, local partners working with schools will have the authority to close schools or workplaces where infection rates have spiked, to reduce risk of further infection locally.

 

Stay Safe Online

The Minister of State for Security James Brokenshire has written, along with international government partners, to re-inforce the actions being taken to counter online child sexual exploitation and abuse during the coronavirus pandemic.  The end violence campaign encourages parents and carers to talk with children about online risks, stay involved in their digital world, know who they're connecting with online, use privacy and security settings, and block and report people who make them feel uncomfortable.  The campaign can be accessed via the link.  Additional resources and support can be accessed via the link.

 

DfE Update 11/05/20

Phased opening of early years settings and schools to more pupils from 1 June

Yesterday, the Prime Minister addressed the nation on coronavirus. The Prime Minister announced that from 1 June at the earliest, primary pupils may be able to begin going back into school in stages, beginning with Reception, year 1 and year 6. Our ambition is that secondary pupils facing exams next year will get some time with their teachers before the summer holidays. We will also ask childcare settings to prepare to open for more children from 1 June.

We will publish further guidance setting out more information for early years, schools and colleges later today. We will send a second email update once they are available on GOV.UK.

The transcript and recording of the Prime Minister’s address to the nation can be found here:

 

DfE Update 07/05/20

Department for Education coronavirus helpline – Friday 8 May Bank Holiday opening hours

The Department for Education coronavirus helpline is available to answer questions about COVID-19 relating to education and children’s social care.

Phone: 0800 046 8687

The helpline will remain open over the early May Bank Holiday weekend for staff, parents and young people as follows:

10am to 4pm – Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Our standard opening hours will resume on Monday 11 May:

8am to 6pm – Monday to Friday
10am to 4pm – Saturday and Sunday

If you work in a school, please have your unique reference number (URN or UK PRN) available when calling the helpline.

 

DfE Update 04/05/20

Updated guidance for parents and carers on the closure of educational settings

The guidance for parents and carers on the closure of educational settings has been updated with additional information on the Friday 8 May Bank Holiday, a link to the updated admissions appeals guidance and updates to the support and educational resources available to parents to help them educate their children at home.

The guidance can be found here:

 

Local Authority Update 01/04/20

Ofsted Inspections

Yesterday, Ofsted updated its guidance regarding the publication of Ofsted inspection reports.  Ofsted’s original line was that reports would not be published until school’s re-opened.  Following comments from schools Ofsted now intends to write to providers asking whether or not they wish to have their reports published as soon as possible.

The DfE have also issued a disapplication notice confirming that Ofsted will not be required to carry out inspections of state funded schools within prescribed intervals and LA’s or MAT’s will not be required to prepare written statements of action within a prescribed timescale.  This disapplication runs from the 1 May- 31 May 2020.

 

Further Free resources

ChatterPack is a voluntary organisation that provides advice and support to families and schools in respect of special educational needs and disabilities.  They have brought together a range of online resources to support professionals and parents/ carers.  The resources can be accessed via the link.

Carol Vorderman’s themathsfactor website is currently free to access during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The site offers games and activities aligned to the National Curriculum for 4-12 year olds.  The site can be accessed via the link.

Next Friday is the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of VE Day, marking the end of nearly six years of conflict in Europe.  Whilst closed to the public the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire has developed a range of online resources including Key Stage 2-4 activity packs and adult virtual tours to mark the occasion.  The resources can be accessed via the link.

Book of Hopes is a completely free collection of short stories, poems and pictures.  The collection is dedicated to the doctors, nurses, carers, porters, cleaners and everyone currently working in hospitals and includes contributions from Lauren Child, Anthony Horowitz, Greg James and Chris Smith, Michael Morpurgo and  Jacqueline Wilson.

DfE Update 01/04/20

Information for schools - not parents.

 

Local Authority Update 30/04/20

Online Safety

The Lets Talk About website have produced a range of advice and support to parents, guardians, carers, children and young people about staying safe online.  The site can be accessed via the link.

 

Re-opening schools report (Germany)

The Guardian today have reported on a study led by German virologist Christian Drosten, who has led the advice to the German government in regard to its lockdown strategy.  The study found that even though children tended to have far milder symptoms, those infected appear to have the same levels of circulating virus in their body as adults. This places a question mark over the pace at which the current restrictions could be lifted in terms of schools re-opening.  In introducing the report he stated that “we have to caution against an unlimited reopening of schools in the present situation, with a widely susceptible population and the necessity to keep transmission rates low.”

Separately UNICEF have warned that the low number of vulnerable and disadvantaged pupils attending UK schools was “deeply concerning”, raising the risk of their education and safety being badly affected by the coronavirus crisis.  Sacha Deshmukh, the executive director of UNICEF UK, said that “Low school attendance of vulnerable children is deeply concerning. School provides more than an education – for many it is their only safe space.  We know that in the UK, continued closures are likely to widen inequality gaps, with the poorest and most vulnerable children expected to suffer ‘learning loss’ and have lower education attainment. This will have far-reaching implications on their futures.”

 

National FSM Voucher Scheme

McColl’s is to join the list of supermarkets that will accept the national free school meal voucher scheme.  Discussions are ongoing with the Co-op but since stores are run by different regional groups rather than a single company the process is more complicated.

 

NSPCC Resources

The NSPCC have produced guidance and advice for parents and carers of children and young people with special educational needs.  The resources can be accessed via the link.

AC Education have developed a resource pack for parents and carers regarding understanding anxiety and helping children and young people cope with anxiety.  The resource pack can be accessed via the link.

North West Borough Council NHS Foundation Trust have developed a wellbeing pack to support during times of isolation.  The pack can be accessed via the link.

DfE Update 30/04/20

Restricted Food Intake Parcels

Parent and Carer Support Group (Walsall, Wolverhampton and Surrounding areas) have been awarded funding from "Heart of England - coronavirus resilience fund" to assist families with small food parcels (restricted value).  This is for families, where they care for an individual with additional needs, who is dependent with Restricted Food Intake or Sensory Safe Foods.

 

The scheme has a limit on the funding awarded and is subject to monitoring requirements hence the need to apply for assistance through a form.  The service is accessible to those living Walsall, Wolverhampton and surrounding areas of the Black Country.

The scheme cannot guarantee to support all requests, however its aim is to connect communities and support those in the greatest need and subject to funding availability.  Requests received will be reviewed daily with the aim of contacting families within 48 hours of the request to ascertain if support is possible. 

 

Support can be applied for via the link below:

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/8DMGW7K

 

Free Resources

The Robin Hood Multi Academy Trust has launched a set of free resources for parents wanting to deliver education activities at home.  The resources can be accessed via the link. 

 

DfE Update 29/04/2020

Guidance on the use of free early education entitlements funding during coronavirus (COVID-19)

This new guidance sets out how, in exceptional circumstances, local authorities may use their dedicated schools grant (DSG) funding differently during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. This is so the children of critical workers and vulnerable children who are eligible for the free early education entitlements are able to receive their places.

The guidance can be found here:

Updated guidance on the actions for schools during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

We have updated our guidance on the actions for schools during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. This update includes information on the testing of education and childcare workers, provision of education on the 08 May Bank Holiday, and the continuation of recruitment.

The guidance can be found here:

Public Health England has updated their guidance for households with possible coronavirus (COVID-19) infection

Public Health England has published guidance for households with grandparents, parents and children living together where someone is at risk or has symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.

The guidance can be found here:

Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing eligibility extended to help protect the most vulnerable

The government has announced that anyone in England showing symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) who has to leave the home to go to work, or is aged 65 and over, is eligible for testing along with members of their households with symptoms. This is in addition to all essential workers with symptoms. Testing can be booked through a new online system.

Guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19) testing, including who is eligible for a test, how to get tested and the different types of test available can be found here:

Local Authority Update 27/04/2020

Morrisons and Tesco Online Scam

The Police have issued an alert regarding online COVID-19 scams for Morrison’s and Tesco’s.  The Morrison’s scam is flagged ‘Morrison’s Super Market’ and states "Morrison’s is giving away free groceries worth £250 to support the nation during Corona pandemic. Hurry up! Collect your FREE voucher."  The website provided was: http://morrisons.uk-groceries.store/#.  Genuine websites would be https (s=secure) rather than http as in the scam e-mail.  Also look out for numbers used instead of letters and added symbols like the ‘#’ as this is a method used on fake sites.

The link is said to work as expected and looks like it is genuine. You are then asked to answer three initial questions and are then led to another web page asking to circulate this offer among friends using WhatsApp.  You’re then asked to pay £1 for handling charges and request your bank/credit card details to process the payment.  This then gives the scammers your bank account details enabling the fraud to be committed.  The Tesco’s scam is similar.

 

Child Related Illnesses:

The Health Service Journal has reported today on an urgent alert that has been issued to doctors related to young people contracting a “multisystem inflammatory condition” affecting a small number of children. The alert states that “there is a growing concern that a COVID-19 related inflammatory illness is emerging in children in the UK, or that there may be another, as yet unidentified, infectious
pathogen associated with these cases
”.

NHS England have made clear that the number of cases, although increasing are very small. GP’s have been asked to look out for “abdominal pain and gastrointestinal symptoms and cardiac inflammation”.
The advice to the public is that if you are worried about a child for whatever reason, contact NHS 111 or your family doctor for urgent advice, or 999 in an emergency, and if a professional tells you to go to hospital, please go to hospital.

 

Ofsted Inspections

Amanda Spielman, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector at Ofsted and Matthew Coffey, Chief Operating Officer at Ofsted, gave evidence at an accountability session of the Parliamentary Education Committee today (27 April 2020).

Spielman stated that she was “not expecting to be asked to resume full routine inspections before the end of the summer term”.  In her view the importance of inspections was likely to increase as and when things returned to some degree of normality stating that “We’re going to have a year where there are going to be no tests and exam results, so there is going to be more weight, not less weight, put on the outcomes of Ofsted visits…..  I think it’s very important that parents aren’t left completely in the dark.

She didn’t comment on when inspections would fully resume given the uncertainties or whether inspections would commence even if schools were in a phased return in terms of the number of pupils accessing physical teaching and learning.  Re-assurances were provided that “we’re not going to be judging schools on their response to COVID-19.  There is no standard of home or online learning by which we would be able to judge schools. ….  We wouldn’t be asking for evidence of what you set children. There would be no ‘prove that you set children meaningful work’.”

In terms of vulnerable pupils Speilman stated that she was “seriously concerned” about the impact school closures would have on vulnerable pupils, especially those in alternative provision.  “The longer the closure or almost closure, the greater the problems for those children………….. It is clearly going to present the biggest problem for the poorest, the lowest-achieving academically and the least motivated children”.

 

DfE Update 27/04/20

Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing extended to all essential workers who have symptoms

The Government has announced that all essential workers in England and Scotland, and members of their households who are showing symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) can now be tested. This list of essential workers includes education and childcare staff: support and teaching staff, social workers and specialist education professionals in addition to social care staff.

Booking is done through a new online system. Employers can register and refer self-isolating staff, and employees are able to book a test directly for themselves or members of their household who are exhibiting symptoms.

Employees can choose to visit one of the drive-through testing sites across the country, or to receive a home testing kit.

To obtain a login to the employer referral portal, employers of essential workers should contact: portalservicedesk@dhsc.gov.uk

Full details can be found here:

Updates to the school admission appeals process

It is important parents continue to have the right to appeal any school admission decisions. To enable this, we have made regulatory changes that came into force on 24 April 2020 and will remain in place until 31 January 2021. The new regulations give admission authorities the flexibility to manage appeals whilst ensuring families are supported and not disadvantaged by current measures to protect public health.

The guidance can be found here:

DfE Update 24/04/20

Information for schools - no new information for parents / carers

 

Local Authprity Update 23/04/20

Online Safety Resources

The Think You Know website (run by the National Crime Agency) has developed resources for parents and children to help them stay safe online.  It includes a parents and carers factsheet and a home activity pack for both primary and secondary age pupils.  The resources can be accessed via the link.

 

DfE Update 23/04/20

Update on national voucher scheme for schools providing free school meals

Schools and families have now converted over £20 million worth of vouchers into supermarket gift cards. If you have ordered eCodes and are waiting for them to be delivered, this can take up to 4 days. All orders placed up to 19 April have been delivered.

Please note that if you have ordered eCodes to go direct to the school rather than direct to the family, then the school will either need to convert the eCode into a gift card for a supermarket and then give it to the family, or provide the family with instructions so they can convert the code into a voucher themselves.

If you have not received eCodes you have ordered, please check your ‘junk’ folders before contacting Edenred at freeschoolmeals@edenred.com.

Full details of this scheme can be found here:

 

Local Authority Update 22/04/20

Education Endowment Foundation

The Education Endowment Fund has produced a set of resources designed to be used by schools and families to support home learning.  These are all based on the evidence-based recommendations of their guidance reports and includes blogs, infographics, animations and tools schools can share with parents and carers. For schools, there are helpful planning prompts and other practical tools that can aid existing plans and efforts. These have been designed to supplement and support the excellent existing work of schools, not replace or challenge it.

 

There are also useful resources for schools to share with families to support their children’s learning, from establishing home learning routines to shared reading help, to handy tips for supporting maths in the home for younger children.

These include strategies for supporting ‘brilliant book talk’ between parents and their children and practical device for developing home learning routines.

 

The aim is for these resources to be used with all families, but also to provide key support to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged families and children at this time. We hope that the ‘Communicating Effectively with Families’ guide for schools and Remote Learning Rapid Evidence Assessment can help navigate this vital challenge.

These are all freely available here. Schools can also sign up to Research School Network newsletter to keep up to date on help available across our Research School network https://researchschool.org.uk/news/newsletter/

 

DfE Update 22/04/20

Aldi joins free school meals national voucher scheme

Aldi has joined the list of supermarkets that will redeem vouchers secured through the free school meals national voucher scheme. Supermarkets available also include Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose, M&S, Asda and Morrisons. Schools will be able to order vouchers for Aldi through Edenred from the week commencing 27 April.

This announcement can be found here:

 

Local Authority Update 21/04/20

Exploitation Risk

We are aware there could be an increase of online grooming whilst children have been indoors and unable to leave the house. Usually disclosure of online grooming happens when children are in school as that’s their safe space. Parents and guardians don’t often refer on as they feel they can safeguard in the home by removing devices etc.

If you are worried about exploitation or missing concerns about a child please refer to MASH or the child’s social worker. You should also copy missingexploitedchildren@walsall.gov.uk in to the email.

 

West Midlands Police Update

West Midlands Police have issued an update stating that throughout these changing times, one thing which will never change is our commitment to keeping you safe.  We want to reassure you that we’re still here to prevent crime, protect the public and help those in need.
However to minimise the spread of the virus means that we have fewer team members in our contact centres as some people need to self-isolate. Our staff are helping out as much as they can from home, however it may take a little longer to get in touch, especially if you try to call us.

 

How you can help

It’s really important we keep our phone lines free so we can prioritise 999 emergencies and help those most in need.  We’ve found that many of the calls we’re receiving could be resolved online. This stops us from helping someone who really needs us right now.

Help us so we can help you. For all non-emergencies we ask you to visit our website first. Here you can:

  • Search for advice on a range of issues
  • Report crime such at theft, criminal damage or burglary
  • Speak to us on Live Chat between 8am to midnight

 

You'll find that everything you can do over 101 you can do on the website and Live Chat.

No one ever said that these restrictions were going to be easy to follow. We understand it’s difficult but we all have a part to play in protecting each other by following the advice.  We are enforcing the social distancing measures, which the majority of you are following. It’s a minority who are putting others at risk.

Where we’ve had reports online of people not following the rules, we’ve used this information to target our patrols.  As you’d expect our priority will always be to continue to respond to crime and prioritise the most serious of crimes. You can trust that we will use our powers to stop significant breaches when we can.


Visit our coronavirus specific page to see how we’re supporting you through this health emergency and how to report anyone not following the guidelines.

Keep following the government advice by staying at home and only going outside for essential food, health and work.

 

Emotional Health and Well-Being

Periods of uncertainty can provoke anxiety, fear of the unknown and stress.  The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and its subsequent social distancing and isolation for some, is affecting many people’s emotional health and wellbeing.  It brings uncertainty about the future.  Much research is being carried out across the UK and beyond, with many organisations providing advice on how to deal with issues relating to the current situation, three of which are identified below.

 

Please share the links with colleagues, and consider including conversations about this  in your staff  ‘meetings’; such conversations enable individuals to voice their concerns, can encourage colleagues to share good practice and ideas for keeping healthy, and promote resilience within a connected community.

 

 

Local Community Response to Covid 19

                                                

 

Free Online Learning / courses

Chester Zoo

Offers a range of free online resources organised by Key Stage and subject providing educational material for children and young people during lockdown.  The resources can be accessed via the link.

Elevenses with David Walliams

David Walliams is releasing free versions of his audio books currently at 11 o’clock each morning. 

They can be accessed via the link.

The importance of social distancing

Cartoonist Toby Morris and microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles have created a series of accessible and powerful illustrations that explain the importance of social distancing in tackling the spread of COVID-19.  Based in New Zealand some of the language used is different but they are powerful and engaging messages readily accessible to people of all ages.  The illustrations can be accessed via the link. (tap on the first illustration and it will enable you to flick through all the images using the arrows at the side of the screen).

Mental Health Organisation

The Mental Health Foundation have developed a range of resources in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes advice to parents and how to discuss worries children may have. The guidance can be accessed via the link.

 

DfE Update 21/04/20

New guidance on the temporary extension of free school meals eligibility

We are temporarily extending free school meal eligibility to include children from some groups who have no recourse to public funds (NRPF). This guidance explains who is eligible and how schools can confirm eligibility and award free school meals.

The guidance can be found here:

Free school meal guidance

Updated guidance on free school meal eligibility was issued at the end of last week (17 April 2020). The revised guidance extends eligibility for free school meals to additional groups including:

  • children of Zambrano carers (a person not eligible to live in the EU but who is caring for somebody with British citizenship)
  • children of families with no recourse to public funds with a right to remain in the UK on grounds of private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights
  • children of families receiving support under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 who are also subject to a no recourse to public funds restriction.

These groups are also subject to a maximum household earnings threshold of £7,400 per annum. The government is also temporarily extending eligibility to children of a subset of failed asylum seekers supported under Section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. This group is not subject to a maximum household earnings threshold.


The government have made clear that the extension is temporary through to the end of the national lockdown period. The guidance can be accessed via https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance/guidance-for-the-temporary-extension-of-free-school-meals-eligibility-to-nrpf-groups

 

Local Authority Update 20/04/20

 

 

DfE Update 20/04/20

Launch of the Oak National Academy online classroom and resource hub

The sector-led Oak National Academy has today launched its online classroom and resource hub. The Academy offers 180 video lessons each week for schools to use, across a broad range of subjects. The lessons cover children in Reception through to Year 10 and are free to use by both teachers and young people.

The Oak National Academy can be accessed here:

Launch of BBC Bitesize

The BBC has today launched an education package across TV and online, featuring celebrities and teachers, helping to keep children learning at home and supporting parents.

BBC Bitesize can be accessed here:

Get help with technology and remote education during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Following the announcement by the Secretary of State for Education on Sunday 19 April, laptops and tablets will be made available to help the most disadvantaged young people access online learning and social care services. Young people and families eligible for devices must not already have access to one, and must be in one of the following groups:

  • Children with a social worker
  • Care leavers
  • Disadvantaged children in Year 10, ahead of sitting their GCSEs next year

Responsible bodies will need to work with schools to identify eligible young people, and then place an order through our website when it launches later this week. Where care leavers, children with a social worker at secondary school and disadvantaged children do not have an internet connection, they will also receive a 4G router.

Schools will be able to keep these devices once they’ve reopened, allowing children and young people to continue to learn and receive support at home in the future.

Any 16 to 19-year olds in education without a suitable device and/or connectivity to study remotely and whose family can’t afford these costs will also be eligible for support via the 16-19 Bursary Fund. Decisions on support will be made by education providers.

Guidance for parents and carers on supporting their children’s education during coronavirus (COVID-19)

We have published information, guidance and support for parents and carers of children who are learning at home during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Guidance on helping children aged 2 to 4 learn at home can be found here:

Guidance on helping primary school aged children learn at home can be found here:

Guidance on helping children with special educational needs and disabilities learn at home can be found here:

Updated guidance for parents and carers on the closure of educational settings

The guidance for parents and carers on the closure of educational settings has been updated with additional information on the support available for parents, online educational resources and support for vulnerable children.

The guidance can be found here:

 

Local Authority Update 16/04/20

The New Art Gallery provides online creative projects for lockdown and beyond!

Over the past few weeks, The New Art Gallery has been working behind the scenes to provide the Walsall community with exciting and creative projects to do during lockdown and beyond!
 
The team have set up pre-recorded online activities developed with their freelance artists and edited by local videographer, Mark Hinton. All activities will be uploaded onto their YouTube channel, their website, Facebook and Instagram pages.
 
Whilst providing a useful resource for families and schools in particular, they can also continue to support Walsall’s freelance artist educators and local videographer Mark Hinton.
 
Deborah Robinson, Head of Exhibitions said:  “Hopefully, this can provide some positivity in these challenging times as well as providing valuable resources to encourage creativity, provide uplifting experiences and to support home educating.”
 
You can access the following activities by visiting the following channels below:
 
·      YouTube -
https://www.youtube.com/user/newartgallerywalsall
·      Webpage - https://thenewartgallerywalsall.org.uk/whats-on/
·      Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/newartgallerywalsall/?ref=bookmarks
·      Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/thenewartgallerywalsall/

 

DfE Update 15/04/20

Changes to the school admission appeals process

It is important parents continue to have the right to appeal any school admission decisions. To enable this, we will be making regulatory changes that, subject to legislation, will come into force on 24 April 2020. The new regulations will relax some of the current requirements set out in the School Admission Appeals Code 2012, giving admission authorities flexibility to manage appeals whilst ensuring families are supported and not disadvantaged by current measures to protect public health.

The guidance can be found here:

We will publish further guidance to support admission authorities and local authorities in carrying out admission appeals.

 

Local Authority Messages 15/04/2020

Advice for parents with unwell children

Whilst coronavirus is infectious to children it is rarely serious. If your child is unwell it is likely to be a non-coronavirus illness, rather than coronavirus itself. 
Whilst it is extremely important to follow Government advice to stay at home during this period, it can be confusing to know what to do when your child is unwell or injured. Remember that NHS 111, GPs and hospitals are still providing the same safe care that they have always done. Straightforward advice for parents is provided below:

 

Domestic Violence advice

On the 11 April the Home Secretary highlighted increased support measures to tackle specific crimes that were seeing a rise during lockdown including online fraud, online child grooming and child sexual abuse and significantly domestic abuse. Last week alone the National Domestic Abuse Helpline reported a 120% rise in the number of calls it received in one 24-hour period.

 

For the victims of domestic abuse, home isn’t a safe place to wait out the lockdown.

 

Anyone in immediate danger should call 999 - and press 55 on a mobile if you are unable to talk.


A new national communications campaign is being launched to reach out to those who are at risk from abuse, highlighting that they can still leave home – to get the support that they need. It will signpost how they can access help but also reassure them that they can access support services and the police. It includes the symbol of a handprint with a heart on, so that people can easily show that communities will not tolerate abuse as a society, and that communities stand in solidarity with victims of domestic abuse. Alongside this an additional £2 million will be spent supporting charities that deliver frontline support and guidance to those suffering from domestic abuse.

 

Adoptive families

Adoptive families are to be offered emergency support including online counselling and couples therapy as part of the expansion of the Adoption Support Fund. An additional £8 million will be available to pay for different types of therapeutic support for families whose adopted children may have already suffered trauma and be made more anxious owing to the uncertainty of the effects of the virus. The £8 million fund can be used to pay for activities such as virtual peer to peer support, access to helplines, couples therapy and online counselling given the strains social distancing measures may have on children and young people that have already been subject to trauma in their lives.

 

Adoption can still take place utilising video conferencing technology to continue with the process. Adoptive families have however been experiencing greater stress due to children with attachment and trauma needs being isolated at home and having their routine disrupted, which could lead to an increase in adoption breakdown and child to parent violence.

 

Translated NHS advice

Doctors of the World in collaboration with the Red Cross have translated NHS guidance regarding COVID-19 into 44 languages including Arabic, Bengali, Farsi, Gujarati, Hausa, Hindi and Polish. The resources can be accessed via https://www.doctorsoftheworld.org.uk/coronavirus-information/

 

DfE Update 13/04/2020

Update on national voucher scheme for schools providing free school meals

The free school meal voucher system has been upgraded over the bank holiday weekend. We are working closely with our supplier Edenred to resolve any outstanding issues quickly. We thank schools for their patience while the system is expanded to meet the high demand.

All schools have been issued with their free school meal activation email by Edenred. You should check your junk email folders in the first instance and ensure that the contact details the Department for Education are up to date. If your contact details need updating, you should email Edenred at freeschoolmeals@edenred.com to have the code resent.

Guidance on the free school meals scheme can be found here:

Coronavirus (COVID-19) adoption support fund scheme to help vulnerable families

The Secretary of State for Education has announced that up to £8 million will be available for therapeutic support for families whose adopted children may have already suffered trauma and may be made more anxious owing to the uncertainty of the effects of the virus. Adoptive families will be offered emergency support including online counselling and couples therapy as the government expands the scope of the Adoption Support Fund to meet needs arising from the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Further details of this scheme can be found here:

Handling school complaints during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

The guidance for local authority maintained schools about setting up and reviewing complaints procedures has been updated to include best practice guidance about handling complaints during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

The Department for Education does not expect schools to handle new or existing complaints while they are closed. Schools should, however, still engage with parents and pupils where they can. Complaints should be considered once schools have reopened.

The guidance can be found here:

 

Local Authority Messages 09/04/2020

 

Coronavirus Book for Pupils

A book aimed at primary age pupils has been published written by Elizabeth Jenner, Kate Wilson & Nia Roberts. The illustrations are by Axel Scheffler, best known for illustrating children’s books such as The Gruffallo. The book is free to download and is accessible via https://nosycrowcoronavirus.s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/Coronavirus-ABookForChildren.pdf

 

National Daily Press Conference - Points of interest:

At yesterday’s daily press conference Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, stated “I pay tribute to those who are helping keep our schools open for the children of key workers. That is valuable, and the work that they’re doing is, I believe, well supported by the Department for Education. They also are owed our thanks for doing that because that is vital at this time.”

 

Professor Angela McLean, the government’s deputy chief scientific advisor went on to say that it was completely premature for a decision to be made as to whether schools would re-open prior to the summer holidays. She said “it would be
completely premature for me to give a yes or no answer to that question, because so much depends on this question of how well have the (lockdown) measures put in on the 23 March 2020 work”.

 

Free Online Learning Resources

University College London’s Institute of Education have brought together a range of free online resources to support teachers and parents/ carers in educating children and young people whilst they are at home. The site includes resources tailored to both primary and secondary aged pupils and can be accessed via https://www.ucl.ac.uk/ioe/departments-and-centres/centres/london-centre-leadership-learning/free-online-learning-resources

 

DfE Update 09/04/2020

 

Schools to remain closed until further notice

All early years settings, schools and further education providers will remain closed until further notice, except for children of critical workers and children who are vulnerable. We will only re-open settings when the scientific advice indicates it is safe to do so.

 

Guidance on school and college accountability

Last week, we confirmed that we will not publish any school or college level educational performance data based on tests, assessments or exams for 2020. We have now published guidance that explains how school and college accountability will operate for the academic year 2019 to 2020.

The guidance can be found here:

Update on national voucher scheme for schools providing free school meals

A number of schools have been in touch regarding non-receipt of an eCode. Edenred have instigated a re-send of 100% of all eCodes with a ‘Fulfilled’ status. This exercise will be completed by the end of today.

Full details of this scheme can be found here:

Department for Education coronavirus helpline – Easter weekend opening hours

The Department for Education coronavirus helpline is available to answer questions about COVID-19 relating to education and children’s social care.

Phone: 0800 046 8687

 

The helpline will remain open over the Easter weekend for staff, parents and young people as follows:

10am to 4pm – Good Friday, Saturday and Easter Monday
Closed – Easter Sunday

 

Our standard opening hours will resume on Tuesday 14 April:

8am to 6pm – Monday to Friday
10am to 4pm – Saturday to Sunday

 

If you work in a school, please have your unique reference number (URN or UK PRN) available when calling the helpline.

 

DfE Update 08/04/2020

 

Updated guidance for parents and carers on the closure of education settings

We have updated our guidance for parents and carers on the closure of educational settings to include information about the Easter holidays, examinations, and educational resources and support.

The guidance can be found here:

 

Update on national voucher scheme for schools providing free school meals

Since launching the national free school meals voucher scheme, a large number of schools have activated their account with Edenred to support eligible pupils and their families. Every school was sent an activation email for the scheme between 31 March and 02 April. If you have not received an activation email for the scheme, please check your ‘junk’ folder before emailing freeschoolmeals@edenred.com. You will be directed to an online form and your details will be verified within 5 days, and a new activation email will be sent.

If you have ordered eCodes and are waiting for them to be delivered, this can take up to 72 hours. Please check the status of your order for further information:

  • If your order shows as ‘Paid’, your order is being processed with the eCodes being generated before they’re passed to ‘fulfilled’. This stage can take up to 48 hours.
  • If your order shows as ‘Fulfilled’, the eCodes are in the process of be-ing emailed out and should be received within 24 hours.

Full details of this scheme can be found here:

 

Local Authority Update 07/04/2020

 

Dominic Raab statement on Easter Break:

Dominic Raab, the Secretary of State for Foreign affairs stated yesterday that whilst England’s lockdown measures were due for review on Easter Monday he stated that “in terms of the review, we are not at that stage yet. We will take any decision when the time is right, based on the facts and the scientific and medical advice. There is a long Easter bank holiday weekend coming up, warm weather and we understand people are making big sacrifices to follow this guidance. It is helping, it is contributing to our ability to tackle the coronavirus. The worst thing now would be to take our foot off the pedal, to ease up on that and risk losing the gains that have been made”.

 

Public Health England updated advice:

Public Health England have updated their online resource tools for primary and secondary settings. For primary age pupils the site includes resources on hand hygiene and how to prevent getting sick. For secondary age pupils’ advice includes managing social media, remaining positive and sleeping well. The resources can be accessed via https://campaignresources.phe.gov.uk/schools

 

Increase in Working Ta:x Credits and Child Benefits:

The government announced yesterday that in support of families there would be an increase in some Working Tax Credits and Child Benefit that will affect families of children at your schools. The increases announced date from the 6 April 2020 and were as follows:
 

Working Tax Credit rates
The maximum annual Working Tax Credit rates are shown below.

 

 

DfE Update 05/04/2020 

 

Guidance for parents and carers: keeping children safe online

We have updated our information for parents and carers to include a section on keeping children safe online. It provides links to online resources that will help support parents and carers in keeping their children safe online.

Full details can be found in section 6.3 of the guidance for parents and carers on the closure of educational settings:

Handwashing advice

The most important thing individuals can do to protect themselves is to wash their hands more often, for at least 20 seconds, with soap and water. Public Health England recommends that in addition to handwashing before eating, and after coughing and sneezing, everyone should also wash hands after using toilets and whenever you return home.

The latest guidance and video on hand washing can be found here:

A video on hand washing can be found at:

The e-Bug project is led by Public Health England and has a dedicated webpage for learning resources on hand washing and respiratory hygiene.

Resources are currently available for KS1, KS2 and KS3 and can be used in various settings including schools and at home:

Department for Education coronavirus helpline

The Department for Education coronavirus helpline is available to answer questions about COVID-19 relating to education and children’s social care. Staff, parents and young people can contact this helpline as follows:

Phone: 0800 046 8687
Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday), 10am to 4pm (Saturday to Sunday)

 

Updated guidance for schools about temporarily closing

We have updated our guidance on the temporary closure of schools to include information on the workforce, critical workers and safeguarding.

You can read the guidance at:

 

New guidance for children’s social care services

We have published new guidance for local authorities and their partners to support and protect vulnerable children during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

You can read the guidance at:

Updated guidance for schools about temporarily closing

We have updated our guidance on the temporary closure of schools to include information on the workforce, critical workers and safeguarding.

You can read the guidance at:

Updated guidance on maintaining further education provision

We have updated our guidance for further education providers on maintaining education and skills training provision. This guidance now includes more information on funding, ongoing and online learning, and supporting vulnerable young people.

 

The guidance can be found here:

Local Authority Update 03/04/20

Children’s Guide to Coronavirus – Children’s Commissioner

The Children’s Commissioner has developed a children’s guide  to Coronavirus which supports children and young people in understanding what it is, how they can protect themselves and their families, how to deal with worries and hints and resources to pass the time whilst in lockdown.  The Children’s Commissioner says “All these changes might make you feel scared or worried. That’s OK. It’s totally normal to feel like this”.  The Children’s Guide can be accessed via the link.

 

Public Health England have also produced an easy read guide to looking after yourself during the pandemic.  This can be accessed via the link.

 

Keeping Children Safe in Education

On 2nd April 2020 the DfE released an updated version of Keeping Children Safe in Education

The change made was the addition of the link to the guidance. ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19): safeguarding in schools, colleges and other providers’

 

Looked after Children

The Department for Education’s expectation in terms of Looked after Children at this time is that responsibility for the provision of education rests with the local authority (LA) in which they are resident not the funding LA.  So a LAC of Birmingham, placed in a Walsall school is the responsibility of Walsall.  Walsall therefore takes full responsibility for children attending its schools, irrespective of their status and residency.  The Government has made it clear that schools know these children best and are able to consider their safeguarding vulnerabilities.  The Virtual Head will of course work with schools to provide guidance and support and to help solve issues as they arise. 

 

Our view is clear, children are safest at home unless they are not safe at home.  The majority of LAC are safest at ‘home’ unless for example, being at home would put the foster placement under unacceptable pressure and risk of breakdown.  In these instances we are working closely with social care, who have identified anyone they are concerned about.  We are applying the same principles to vulnerable groups because it is clear that large cohorts of children risk the spread of infection and many children identified with additional needs are unable to observe, cognitively or as a consequence of their SEMH social distancing. 

 

We are therefore distinguishing within our ‘vulnerable’ group those requiring care (acknowledging that the national curriculum is temporarily disapplied) in order to be safe.  This automatically includes all children who are Child Protection (including pre-proceedings given the lag in court time etc.); at risk of Child Exploitation, domestic violence, abuse or gang affiliation etc.

 

Information for parent and carers

 

The Department for Education has updated its information for parents and carers to include additional resources to support them in keeping their children safe online.  The links include:

 

  • Thinkyouknow (advice from the National Crime Agency to stay safe online)
  • Internet matters (support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online)
  • Parent info (support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online)
  • LGfL (support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online)
  • Net-aware (support for parents and carers from the NSPCC)

National voucher scheme launched for schools providing free school meals

Children eligible for free school meals can benefit from a national voucher scheme whilst they stay at home. This delivers on the Government’s commitment to provide ongoing support for the 1.3 million children that would receive benefits-related free school meals at their school.

Schools can now provide every eligible child with a weekly shopping voucher worth £15 to spend at supermarkets while schools are closed due to coronavirus.

Schools can continue to provide meals for collection or delivery themselves, but where this is not possible, the scheme will allow schools to provide vouchers to families electronically, or as a gift card for those without internet access.

Parents will receive the voucher through their child’s school, which can then be redeemed online via a code, or sent to their house as a gift card and used at supermarkets across the country.

Today, schools will receive an email from the Department for Education’s chosen supplier, Edenred, explaining how to access and administer the voucher scheme locally.

Full details of this scheme can be found here:

Precautions being taken to ensure safety

Proper Hand Washing Technique

If you pretend the black ink is soap, this video shows how to completely clean hands without missing any spots.

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