School Bus Coronavirus Weekly Newsletter - 16/06/20
With current circumstances and guidance changing so quickly, particularly in the world of Education, we understand it can feel overwhelming. To keep your mind at ease, we are doing all we can to keep you informed and have outlined everything you need to know below.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) – The Latest
The government plans to consult on the delaying of exam season 2021
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson told MPs yesterday that the government would be “consulting with Ofqual about how we can move those exams [in 2021] back” to maximise teaching time.
The news comes amid growing pressure on ministers to reveal their plans to make next year’s exams run smoothly, following the cancellation of this year’s series as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
An Ofqual spokesperson said: “We recognise students expecting to take exams next year, and their parents and teachers, are concerned about the disruption to teaching and learning caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are working closely with the DfE, exam boards and groups representing teachers, schools, colleges and students, to carefully consider a range of possible measures. We are planning to publish for consultation, before the end of term, our proposals for 2021.”
Education Secretary wants schools to have whole-class bubbles from September
Under current guidance, most schools should have bubbles of no more than 15 pupils. This is to limit the mixing of pupils at school to reduce the potential transmission of coronavirus.
Speaking at the daily press briefing last Friday, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said that the government will look into expanding bubbles to include whole classes so all pupils can return in September.
Mr Williamson said that further guidance for schools on wider reopening from September would be published within the next two weeks.
As ever, we will make sure you’re the first to know when any guidance is released.
Coronavirus disproportionately affecting mental health of BAME young people
Data from Kooth, an NHS-funded online mental health support centre, shows that children of black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) heritage are suffering disproportionate damage to their mental health as a result of coronavirus compared to their white peers.
For example, the number of BAME under-18s seeking help for anxiety or stress from the Kooth digital support service increased by 11.4 percent during March, April and May compared with the same period last year, while it rose by much less (3 percent) among white children of the same age.
Dr Lynne Green, a consultant clinical psychologist who is also the chief clinical officer at XenZone, the firm that provides Kooth, said: “These numbers tell us quite clearly that there has been a significant deterioration in children and young people’s mental health over recent months and as yet there is no indication that this is slowing down. This is a tremendous worry.
“Of particular concern is the disparity we are seeing between BAME young people and their non-BAME counterparts.”
Aisha Gordon-Hiles, a counsellor at XenZone, said the higher risk of people of BAME origin contracting and dying from coronavirus was a key factor.
“Without there being much information on why this is or what can be done to prevent this increased risk it is understandable that this may further contribute to individuals from these communities feeling increased levels of stress, anxiety and depression, even if they are not consciously aware of the impact.”
Very little progress in improving diversity in education leadership
Analysis conducted by Schools Week has found that of the 98 academy trusts with 15 or more schools, just two chief executives are from BAME backgrounds. When a similar investigation was conducted two years ago, two of the 72 trusts with 15 or more schools were headed by someone of BAME heritage.
This stalled progress comes despite a government pledge two years ago to “increase the proportion of public sector leaders from an ethnic minority background, so that the public sector workforce is fully representative of the communities it serves”.
Hamid Patel, the chief executive of Star Academies, said: “Our schools and young people deserve the best, most talented, leaders – regardless of their ethnicity and gender.”
“Wider representation and diversity at senior level isn’t just an issue for MATs, but across the school system as a whole, and it isn’t an issue confined solely to BAME.”
More women, Afro-Caribbean and white working-class men and women were needed in senior leadership roles, he said, “so that leaders reflect the school workforce”.
Government will provide tutors for disadvantaged primary and secondary pupils
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced plans for a £1 billion fund to help pupils catch up on education missed during the coronavirus pandemic.
£350 million of the programme will be spent on providing tutors for the most disadvantaged pupils over the next academic year.
According to The Tutors’ Association (TTA), which has been in discussion with the DfE about the programme, pupils eligible for the pupil premium are likely to be prioritised.
The remaining £650 million will be given to primary and secondary schools to spend on tuition, either in groups or one-to-one, for any pupils they believe need additional teaching to succeed.
John Nichols, the vice president of TTA, stated: “Our understanding is that the most likely way this is going to work is that tutors will work through a provider of some kind – a tuition provider of some kind – and that that tuition provider will be contracted directly by schools.”
He believes schools will then be reimbursed for the costs by the government.
TTA expects the government will “focus its money” on tuition in English, maths and science, but exact details on the scheme are yet to be released.
Shadow Education Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey said that the Prime Minister’s plans “lack detail and appear to be a tiny fraction of the support” pupils need, and called for a “detailed national education plan to get children’s education and health back on track”.
Mr Johnson stated: “We will bring forward plans on how this will happen as soon as possible.”
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson reiterated that the funding would protect “a generation of children from the effects of this pandemic”.
The decision not to include early years providers and colleges for 16- to 19-year-olds in the scheme has also been met with criticism; Bill Watkin, the chief executive of the Sixth Form Colleges Association, said the exclusion of sixth form students was “entirely unjustifiable”, and Neil Leitch, the chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, said it “beggars belief” to not include pre-school children.
There was no further clarification on the government’s proposed Summer school scheme – we will keep you updated on the programme as soon as more information is released.
Coronavirus rules lead to a fear in rise in exclusions
According to a report from the University of Oxford, pupils face an increased risk of being excluded from school following the coronavirus pandemic.
The report says that government changes to school exclusion policies and behavioural policies are of "particular concern" as there has been a shift in terminology from schools having to make "reasonable adjustments" to support children to "reasonable endeavours".
It states that these changes would particularly impact on pupils waiting for an EHC plan, adding: "With schools being encouraged to update their behaviour policies to include new rules to ensure the health and safety of staff and students and abide by public health advice, there are concerns that schools will become far less tolerant of students who refuse to follow instructions and comply with expectations, which may result in an increase of both formal and informal exclusions".
Pupils who were permanently excluded prior to lockdown and have not had access to interim provision, are noted as "doubly excluded" and are considered to be at higher risk.
"There is a risk that without an alternative provision or school place, these young people will completely disengage," the report says.
Professor Harry Daniels, a fellow professor of Education at Oxford, said: "All children will have experienced some adverse effects from the COVID-19 pandemic, but for some, these will be traumatic and long-lasting and this may impact negatively on whether and how they return to school, and the likelihood of formal, informal and self-exclusion.
"Those adversely affected by COVID-19 are extremely diverse. This suggests there is a need to think beyond conventional and recognised categories of vulnerability."
Ofsted to check how schools are spending £650m catch-up cash
On Friday 19 June, the government announced that schools will split £650 million in additional funding to aid pupils in catching up on education they have missed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The funding is part of a £1 billion package, which also includes £350 million for a national tutoring programme.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said yesterday that he would be asking Ofsted to look at “how [the funding] has been implemented, and how children have been supported in their catch-up plans”.
Speaking in the Commons, Williamson said: “It’s really important that we understand the vital role that Ofsted plays in making sure that we have strong accountability in schools.”
DfE drops Year 7 catch-up premium
In an email from the DfE, issued at 4:30pm on Friday 19 June, headteachers were told that the Year 7 catch-up premium will be “discontinued” from the next academic year.
The email says that the national funding formula, which will be implemented from next year, “provides for schools to attract low prior attainment funding for pupils in Year 7 to 11…who need support to catch up”.
Due to this, the Year 7 premium will “no longer be made available”.
RESOURCE PACK ANNOUNCEMENT!
You can now add resource packs to your Watch List!
At TheSchoolBus, the Education community is at the heart of everything we do, and during these uncertain times, we are staying true to our commitment to do whatever it takes to alleviate the burden that schools are currently facing.
As such, we have added to the functionality of our ‘Watch List’ feature, so that as well as being able to add whole categories, topics or just individual articles, each of our resource packs can now be added to your ‘Watch List’ too! This change enables you to receive an instant or weekly notification whenever a resource is updated or added to a pack that you are watching.
Our resource packs include FAQs, risk assessments, guidance articles and more.
Take a look at the section below to find out about this week’s must-have resources!
Here to help with our coronavirus resources
We are committed to supporting you throughout the coronavirus pandemic and beyond. In light of this, we have created a number of resources to support you at this time and as you prepare to take the next steps with the phased reopening of schools.
Whether you are signed up to TheSchoolBus or not, we want to provide the most informative resources to help you protect your school, its pupils and the community, which is why we’ve made many of our coronavirus resources available to everyone for free.
Our Coronavirus (COVID-19): Governing Board Annual Report template enables governors to be open and transparent, be accountable to the school community, and share key information about the work and priorities of the governing board during the coronavirus pandemic. The report covers key information about the governing board but also provides a framework for reporting on how governance has changed in response to the pandemic. The template allows governors to record information including governor vacancies, monitoring activities, training and much more.
Coronavirus (COVID-19): Letter to Parents of Children Not in Returning Year Groups
This letter, which was created as a result of a 'Need Further Help?' request, can be amended to outline the next steps of the school's phased reopening in line with the most up-to-date government guidance.
Send this letter to parents of pupils not eligible to return to the school site to explain the reasoning, and to reassure them that their children will continue to be supported whilst they remain at home. The letter reaffirms a school's commitment to ensuring the safety of pupils and staff members alike, and offers information on the potential next steps a school could take, e.g. reviewing current processes to determine whether tasks need to be set during the Summer holidays.
Schools should amend this letter to suit their own local arrangements.
Up-to-speed on: Changes to 'Keeping children safe in education' (KCSIE) from September 2020
The DfE has released the final version of ‘Keeping children safe in education’ (KCSIE) that will be effective from September 2020. While the majority of the changes proposed by the DfE in its consultation have not been made, there are some important changes you need to be aware of – our article breaks down the key changes.
If you can spare a minute or two, we would welcome your input to our good practice report. The question we are asking is: “What steps are you taking to manage the impact of coronavirus?”
Share your advice via the link below, and we will continue to update our article sharing your good practice recommendations with the Education community.
Click here to have your say and help your colleagues in Education.
We are currently running a school superheroes campaign to celebrate the extraordinary acts from our Education community, where school staff have gone above and beyond the call of duty, during this uncertain time.
As kindness increasingly prevails in these trying times, we want to celebrate the wonderful acts of school staff by sharing your stories with the wider community. Check out our ‘Wall of Fame’ celebrating the great work of some members of the Education community here.
If you would like to contribute and help spread some happiness and positivity during this difficult time, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to give our school superheroes the recognition they deserve.
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