On Sunday 10 May the Prime Minister announced that schools may be re-opening for certain children from the start of June. Since this announcement, the Council has been working with the city’s schools to agree measures so that more children can begin to go back to their schools to continue their learning in a safe and gradual way.
The most important principle for us is that the health, safety and welfare of children, staff and our communities is paramount.
For more information please view the Government’s guidance for parents and carers about re-opening of schools.
- It is good for children’s mental well-being
- School is the best environment for children to learn in
- It is important for children to learn to socialise with others, especially for younger children
- Some children will be moving on to secondary school next year, and others are moving into important exam years. It is important that schools can help children and young people to prepare for these events.
Where schools have capacity they can decide which additional year groups are able to return.
Pupils in the eligible year groups will be able to gradually return to school. Schools will tell you when your child can return.
For children and young people at special schools, your child’s school will talk with you and use a risk assessment to decide which pupils should return and when they should go back to school.
So that as many children as possible can go back to school in a safe way, many schools will need to limit the number of children attending each day. This means that schools may have children in on some days of the week and provide support for your child to learn at home on others. Your child’s school will tell you which days your child can go to school.
Children who have a parent or carer who is key worker should still be able to go to school every day if this is necessary.
We have made our plans for children going back to school taking advice from experts in public health and health and safety, as well as school leaders, teaching unions and the Government.
Throughout the lockdown period, our schools have safely remained open for children of key workers and other children.
Before more children return, each school will complete a risk assessment that shows what steps it is taking to promote the safety of pupils and staff, and to limit the risk of transmission of coronavirus.
Everyone in schools will follow strict hygiene guidelines. Children and adults will wash hands regularly throughout the day. Classrooms and equipment will be cleaned before they are used by a new group of children.
Children will be taught in much smaller groups (usually less than 10 pupils). They will remain in a ‘bubble group’, staying with that group throughout the day to minimise contact with other children or adults.
Drop-off and pick-up arrangements, playtimes and lunchtimes may be altered to minimise contact between different groups of children and to support social distancing.
If a child or someone they live with becomes sick they will not be able to attend school. If a staff member is unwell, they will not be in school. If anyone shows symptoms of coronavirus they will need to self-isolate in line with government guidelines.
Your child’s school will be able to tell you in more detail about the changes they are making so that it is safe for your child to return.
Health advice is that people working in schools do not need to use PPE, unless they would usually do so, for example if it was necessary to meet a child’s personal care needs. If a child developed coronavirus symptoms in school, they would be isolated from other children in the school and supervised by an adult who would have the necessary PPE, until the child can be collected.
Children who do not have coronavirus symptoms do not need to be tested. If your child has symptoms and is over the age of 5, they can be tested at one of the national testing sites. To access testing, parents will be able to use the 111 online coronavirus service if their child is 5 or over. Parents will be able to call 111 if their child is aged under 5 for advice. If your child has coronavirus symptoms they must not go to school.
For more information please visit NHS Coronavirus (COVID-19)
If your child is eligible, they should go back to school. However, if you decide not to send your child to school the Government have made it clear that you will not receive a fine.
If your child has a health condition that means that they have received a letter advising to shield, they are not expected to go to school. For other clinically vulnerable children, you should follow medical advice about whether they should attend school.
For more information on shielding, please visit Should I keep my child at home if they have an underlying health condition or live with someone in a clinically vulnerable group?
Talk to your child in a positive way about school, seeing friends and teachers again. Help them to understand how social distancing works and make sure that they can wash their hands properly by themselves. Let them know that school may seem a bit different, but their teachers are doing everything to make sure that it is safe.
If you have any questions about what will be happening for your child, please contact your child’s school directly about these.
Following the government announcement about the partial closure of schools and settings, the council has an ambition that we have good, safe and stable education provision for all children and young people who need it.
We hope that schools will work together to share the burden in a fair way and generous way.
I am delighted in the way that schools and settings across the city have responded to the rapid changes over the last couple of weeks
Schools should continue to provide places to vulnerable children, and children of workers critical to the COVID-19 response, in addition to pupils in Reception, year 1 & Year 6. Schools have also been given the authority to open to other year groups when they are safely able to do so.
Children with a parent or carer who is listed on the government’s critical worker list should be considered for a school place, so long as their job cannot be done from home. Many parents working in these sectors will be able to ensure their child is safely cared for at home, and should do so if this is the case.
For children and young people with an education, health and care plan, schools should undertake a risk assessment in consultation with parents and the local authority to determine whether they should attend school, and if they don’t attend, to ensure that their needs can safely be met at home.
To ensure that we can monitor and support the attendance of all vulnerable children we need schools to complete the DfE attendance template and return this daily to the Research and Assessment Team - firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where necessary, Education Welfare Officers and/or Social Workers will work with families to encourage attendance.
The government’s advice is that where children need to attend school, either because they are vulnerable or because their parents are critical workers, they should continue to do so. Schools are not unsafe places. The number of social interactions in the school or childcare environment will be reduced as there are fewer children attending, and classroom social distancing is being practised.
The Government’s guidance on implementing social distancing in education and childcare settings provides advice about what to do if a child or someone they live with has a health condition that may place them at risk of severe illness from coronavirus.
Children of critical workers should be able to attend school if it is needs. There is not an expectation that they will.
Where children are identified as vulnerable, and attendance at school is considered necessary to support their welfare and ensure identified needs are met, we would expect them to attend. If these children do not attend, in the first instance schools should contact families to find out why. The local authority will monitor attendance of vulnerable children, and where necessary Children’s Services staff will work with families to encourage attendance.
Schools are currently closed, and the local authority has suspended legal interventions in relation to school attendance.
If children are ill or self-isolating because they, or someone in their household, has had coronavirus symptoms, they should not come into school. Parents/ carers should contact school to inform them of the their absence and the reasons for it. These children will be expected to return when they are well again or when they have finished the recommended period of self-isolation.
Recording attendance during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
What educational settings will need to do when recording attendance after the wider reopening of schools from 1 June 2020.
What educational settings will need to do:
- Schools should resume taking an attendance register.
- Schools should use the codes suggested on this page to record attendance and absence in the attendance register.
- All settings should submit daily attendance figures using the educational setting status form.
The online form should be submitted by midday, every day.
Donna Evison, Senior Analyst
This year’s summer exam series, including A levels, GCSEs and other qualifications, and all primary assessments, have been cancelled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Local Authority will update advice for schools and colleges as it becomes available from either the DFE, Ofqual and other sources such as examination boards.
In Primary Schools
This means the following assessments planned between April and July 2020 are cancelled:
- end of key stage 1 and key stage 2 assessments (including tests and teacher assessment)
- phonics screening check
- multiplication tables check
- science sampling tests
- all statutory trialling
Schools do not need to complete any further activities to prepare for these assessments.
Primary school performance measures will not be published for the 2019/20 academic year.
Secondary schools (including 6th forms)
The Government’s priority is now to ensure affected students can move on as planned to the next stage of their lives, including going into employment, starting university, college or sixth form courses, or an apprenticeship in the autumn.
This means ensuring GCSE, A and AS level students are awarded a grade which fairly reflects the work that they have put in. There will also be an option to sit an exam early in the next academic year for students who wish to. Ofqual will develop and set out a process that will provide a calculated grade to each student which reflects their performance as fairly as possible, and will work with the exam boards to ensure this is consistently applied for all students. The exam boards will be asking teachers, who know their students well, to submit their judgement about the grade that they believe the student would have received if exams had gone ahead.
More information about how each of the exam boards are responding to the task of issuing fair and appropriate grades to students are given on their dedicated webpages, which can be accessed via the following links:
For further updated guidance from DfE please view Coronavirus (COVID-19): cancellation of GCSEs, AS and A levels in 2020
Information for Heads of Centre, Heads of Department and teachers on the submission of Centre assessment grades: Summer 2020 grades for GCSE, AS and A level, Extended Project Qualification and Advanced Extension Award in maths
The Department for Education has published operational guidance for further education (FE) providers on maintaining education and skills training provision
The Apprenticeship programme
The Education and skills agency and the Department of Education have published guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers and assessment organisations in response to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19). The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is taking steps to ensure that, wherever possible, apprentices can continue and complete their apprenticeship, despite any break they need to take as a result of COVID-19, and to support providers during this challenging time.
Universities told not to alter applicants’ offers
Universities Minister Michelle Donelan has asked higher education providers to refrain from changing their offers made to undergraduate students for the next two weeks, such as converting conditional offers to unconditional offers or changing entry requirements - For more information please visit gov.uk/government/news/universities-told-not-to-alter-applicants-offers
Update on GCSE, AS and A level exams
Ofqual have published guidance for teachers, students, parents and carers which aims to provide answers to some common questions about grades to be awarded in summer 2020.
This information is relevant to all students and exam centres in England using the following qualifications regulated by Ofqual and offered by AQA, OCR, Pearson, WJEC Eduqas, ASDAN and City & Guilds:
- AS and A levels
- Extended Project Qualifications (EPQ)
- Advanced Extension Awards (AEA) in maths
GCSE, A and AS level students will awarded a grade which fairly reflects the work that they have put in. There will also be an option to sit an exam early in the next academic year for students who wish to. The exam boards will be asking teachers, who know their students well, to submit their judgement about the grade that they believe the student would have received if exams had gone ahead. The current guidance indicated that students will be awarded public examination grades through Teacher Assessment and Pre-Public Exam Grades. We are awaiting further updates from Ofqual as to how these will be weighted and what specific methods of Teacher assessment will be taken into account when awarding the final grades.
Further information regarding the awarding of examination grades and frequently asked questions (FAQ) is provided on the websites of each examination board. These websites can be accessed via the links below:
Ofqual have published guidance for teachers, students, parents and carers which aims to provide answers to some common questions about grades to be awarded in summer 2020.
This information is relevant to all students and exam centres in England using the following qualifications regulated by Ofqual and offered by AQA, OCR, Pearson, WJEC Eduqas, ASDAN and City & Guilds:
- AS and A levels
- Extended Project Qualifications (EPQ)
- Advanced Extension Awards (AEA) in maths
Louise Mututa, School Improvement Advisor
This guidance is for Ofsted-registered childcare providers for children of all ages, including: childminders, nurseries and wraparound childcare, before and after school clubs, holiday clubs
- Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
- COVID-19: guidance for employees
- Business Rates - Nursery Discount 2020/21: Coronavirus Response – Local
- What parents and carers need to know about early years providers, schools and colleges in the autumn term
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): financial support for education, early years and children’s social care.
- Early years foundation stage statutory framework (EYFS)
- What to do if a child is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19)
Early Years Funding Spring/ Summer 2020
TFT and Deprivation payments for Spring 2020 will be paid on Tuesday 24th March 2020. Spring 2020 NEF will be paid by Friday 3rd April 2020
Please submit your estimated hours in the usual way by Thursday 7th May 2020 for expected 2, 3 & 4 year old funded children (existing & new starters) for Summer 2020
Summer 2020 actuals will still need to be submitted in the usual way by Thursday 25th June 2020 for all 2, 3 & 4 year old funded children (existing & new starters)
Providers will still need to validate ALL 30 Hour codes in the usual way and continue to communicate with parents to ensure codes do not enter grace periods.
Monitoring of children in provision
We are currently monitoring the uptake of provision across the city in schools. It is also the intention of the School Improvement and Early Years Team to gather the uptake from settings weekly. This survey will be sent to you via your cloudW email address. If you have any questions or queries please contact Stacey Henderson - email@example.com
Early Years Project Update
Early Outcomes Project
To meet government guidance, it has been decided that instead of family events, the National Literacy Trust and members of the project team will create downloadable themed activity packs to go alongside identified books (see below). It is hoped that a storyteller will be able to record the stories which could be shared with children and families. Our most vulnerable families with receive a free copy of the book, which will support home learning. Settings and schools will be able to share these packs with families through their website and social media sites.
Creating a 5-week programme of activities for settings, schools and families.
Identified books titles are:
- We’re going on a bear hunt
- Hungry Little Caterpillar
- My Friend Bear
- Tiger who came to tea
- Shark in the Park
These packs will be distributed to schools and settings across the Black Country that are supporting keyworker and vulnerable families. Packs will also go to food banks and identified community groups across the Black Country who are supporting families at this time. Health Visitors on the project team will share the packs with colleagues who will be able to distribute them on new arrival and vulnerable family visits.
Members of the project team from the Health Visiting and Speech and Language services are creating factsheets for settings. These will be on supporting speech, language and communication within the setting and at home. They will include information on, creating and using visual timetables, visual learning aids, as well as examples of good practice.
The National Literacy Trust will be offering an online Helping Early Language and Literacy Outcomes (HELLO) training session, which can support practitioner’s CPD during this period. Further information will be issued once arrangements have been finalised.
There is currently no clear national definition of what being ready for school means. The term ‘School- Ready’ is often used to mean many different things. With funding from the Department for Education’s Early Outcomes Fund and supported by the National Literacy Trust, the four local authority early years teams from the Black Country have come together to create a definition of what it means to be ready for school. Having a common definition of being ready for school will help local parents and professionals to feel confident about how to give their children the skills they need for a happy and successful start to school life.
Early Years Professional Development Programme
Strand 2 of training for our identified champions is almost complete with the Education Development Trust and Elklan exploring options for online training for the remaining sessions.
Dates for strand 3 have been arranged for later in the summer term.
Identifying and confirming communication partnership will commence after the Easter break. Any settings and schools that would like to achieve Communication Friendly Status can register their interest by emailing Claire.Hardiman@wolverhampton.gov.uk
Early Years team contact details
Rachel Cook, 07773187055 - firstname.lastname@example.org
Faye Boucher, 07773187061 - email@example.com
Wendy Round, 07773187016 - firstname.lastname@example.org
Claire Whittaker, 07773 187006 - email@example.com
Stacey Henderson, 07976750933 - firstname.lastname@example.org
Claire Hardiman, 01902 554213 - email@example.com
Gurpreet Ghateaura, 01902 550865 - Gurpreet.Ghateaura@wolverhampton.gov.uk
Please continue to contact and keep in touch with your Quality and Access Officer to raise questions, seek clarification and to keep them updated with any changes.
This document has been produced following updated DfE guidance. Please see links to guidance below.
The majority of staff in education, childcare and children’s social care settings will not require PPE beyond what they would normally need for their work, even if they are not always able to maintain a distance of 2 metres from others.
PPE is only needed in a very small number of cases:
- where an individual child, young person or other learner becomes ill with coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms and only then if a distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained
- where a child, young person or learner already has routine intimate care needs that involves the use of PPE, in which case the same PPE should continue to be used
Settings do not need to take children’s temperatures every morning or throughout the day. Public Health England’s guidance is that routine testing of an individual’s temperature is not a reliable method for identifying coronavirus. There is no need for anything other than normal personal hygiene and washing of clothes following a day in a childcare setting.
To minimise contact between groups of children and staff, children should attend just one setting wherever possible and parents and carers should be encouraged to minimise as far as possible the number of education and childcare settings their child attends.
Childminding settings should consider how they can work with parents and carers to agree how best to manage any necessary journeys, for example pick-ups and drop-offs at schools, to reduce the need for a provider to travel with groups of children.
The progress check at age 2 will not need to be undertaken during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
What this means in practice
Providers would normally need to undertake a progress check when a child is aged between 2 and 3. This provides parents/carers with a short, written summary of their child’s development in the prime areas.
During the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak we do not expect providers to undertake this check, but providers should still remain alert to any emerging concerns about any child in their care and endeavour to provide or seek additional support if needed. It is expected that the checks will take place as soon as is practical once the child returns to, or joins, the early years setting, including where a child has turned 3 if it is considered appropriate and useful in the provider’s professional judgement and in discussion with the child’s parents/carers.
If PFA certificate requalification training is prevented for reasons associated directly with coronavirus (COVID-19), or by complying with related government advice, the validity of current certificates can be extended by up to 3 months. This applies to certificates expiring on or after 16 March 2020. If, exceptionally requalification training is still unavailable, a further extension is possible to no later than 30 September 2020. If asked to do so, providers should be able to explain why the first aider hasn’t been able to requalify and demonstrate what steps have taken to access the training. Employers or certificate holders must do their best to arrange requalification training at the earliest opportunity.
The Secretary of State for Education announced the suspension of routine Ofsted inspections on 17 March 2020.
The safeguarding responsibilities of settings have not changed, and Ofsted’s inspection and regulatory work triggered by safeguarding concerns will continue.
See Ofsted’s response to coronavirus (COVID-19) for more information.
This list has been produced by the Early Years Team to be used alongside the Government’s publication of online education resources for home education.
If your child normally attends a school, a nursery or another childcare setting, please visit their website as most settings have provided parents with home learning resources.
Before using these resources, you should refer to the guidance Coronavirus (COVID-19): safeguarding in schools, colleges and other providers, which has further information on how to keep children safe online.
Communication, Language, Reading and Writing Development
Hungry Little Minds provides simple, fun activities for children, from new-born to five. Using short videos and simple, fun activities that parent and child can do together.
National Literacy’s Trusts Family Zone site This is a comprehensive web portal for parents, to support their children’s learning. Providing ideas and guidance for simple activities that will engage children at home, while also benefiting their reading, writing and language development. Allowing free access to reading and writing resources, audiobooks, videos, competitions and reading challenges. Every resource is available for free, although to access some a free account might need to be created.
NSPCC – Look, Say, Sing, Play Right from birth, every time you talk, sing or play with your baby, you're not just bonding, you're building their brain. This site gives you some fun and easy tips to help you bring even more Look, Say, Sing and Play into your daily routine with your baby.
Oxford Owl for Home provides free resources to support learning at home, advice and support for parents along with Educational activities and games. As well as access to a free eBook library for 3- to 11-year-olds.
Ruth Miskin Phonics is streaming three Speed Sounds lessons for children to watch at home every weekday on their YouTube channel. Each lesson is ten minutes long and available for 24 hours.
Teach your monster to read - Phonics phase two + interactive online games. Suitable 3 years plus.
Phonicsplay - Free membership – interactive resources for parents to use with their children.
David Walliams - Elevenses with The World of David Walliams audio books. Everyday children can listen to David Walliams read his stories at 11 o clock.
Dough Disco with Shonette Bason - Daily live streaming. Suitable for 18 months upwards.
PE with Joe Wicks, daily live streaming.
Diverse dance mix - Daily dance suitable for all ages.
Cosmic Yoga - Yoga videos designed for children aged 3 upwards.
Teach handwriting - Fun handwriting activities to improve fine motor skills.
Personal, Social and Emotional
GoNoodle: Good Energy at Home is a free online resource that provides tons of ways for kids and families to be active, stay mindful, and keep on learning!
Smiling Mind Short audio sessions to help with mindfulness.
Cosmic Yoga – YouTube -Yoga, mindfulness and relaxation for children.
The Maths Factor created by Carol Vorderman is currently offering free membership and activities for children 4 – 11 years. A mixture of daily sessions and online games.
White Rose Maths - Early Years (nursery upwards) maths activities linked to stories. Opportunities for problem solving. This website suggests lots of practical hands on activities linked to a weekly text, I.e. building a trap for the pea.
Nrich maths - Early years activities linked to numbers, shape, space and measure.
Family maths toolkit - Ideas for families to explore maths around the house for under 5’s.
Expressive Arts and Design
Community Playthings - A painting and printing activity by using objects around the house and outside in the garden.
Teach Early Years - Lots of creative activities to do at home with your children.
Understanding of the World
Action for Children - The website includes how to make playdough and a few fun and simple science activities to do with children at home.
STEM - STEM activities to do at home with children.
App Store - Children can play games with the Beebot.
Explorify - Science based activities.
Alistair Bryce-Clegg -This collection of activities/ideas is simply here to help parents and carers find fun things to do if they find themselves unexpectedly at home with younger children from Alistair Bryce-Clegg website.
Scholastic - Free resources for early years home learning.
BBC Cbeebies - This website includes games, stories, songs and activities do it at home.
Early years home learning pack by TTS – TTS have created an Early Years pack full of activities.
Topmarks - provides a wide range of free educational resources and games that can be searched by age and subject.
Paignton Zoo - Paignton Zoo have provided lots of ideas and activities. The website covers ages up to 11, the first section can be done with any age children.
The imagination tree - A variety of activities for younger children especially linked to playdough.
Stacey Henderson, Early Years Senior Advisor
The most up to date Government guidance for schools and education providers can be found here:
We appreciate the hard work being done by schools and settings in ensuring that children currently eligible for benefits related free school meals continue to receive FSM during this time.
All providers can be assured that the council is supporting them with this and are continuing to strengthen our local offer of support based on your communications with us. If you need to get in touch, you can do so by contacting Laura Jude at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If your query relates to FSM eligibility, please contact Jo Smith’s team (FSM checking) on email@example.com with any questions, or call 07766 473190 to discuss individual requirements.
What do schools and providers need to do?
The following guidance explains what providers should do to ensure that pupils eligible for benefits related FSM have continued access to meals where:
- the pupil has to stay at home because they and/or wider family members are displaying coronavirus (COVID-19) related symptoms
- the school is only open for certain groups or is closed temporarily
Government guidance requires meals, food or vouchers to be provided for children with benefits related FSM claims (not Universal Infant FSM), whether or not these children are attending their school or provider.
For more information please view Guidance for schools and settings on how to implement social distancing
How can providers provide these meals?
Pupils not attending school: Government guidance sets out the expectation that providers will supply food hampers to pupils not attending school, where this is possible. Where it is not possible schools can use other local arrangements or supply supermarket vouchers, for example, through the National Voucher Scheme.
Pupils attending school: Pupils attending school should be provided with a meal or, with a food hamper or supermarket voucher which enables parents/carers to send the pupil to school with a packed lunch.
- Firstly, providers should speak to their catering team (in house), or school catering provider to see if they can prepare food parcels that could be delivered to, or collected by families
- If the provider uses a local authority catering service, they should check if the local authority service have a scheme for providing meals or food parcels to vulnerable groups affected by coronavirus (COVID-19)
- If the provider uses a private catering provider, they should contact them to see what alternative arrangements are available
- If this is not possible providers should consider using other local initiatives – this could be a local school acting as a community hub, or a local charity or,
- Provide families with supermarket vouchers. On March 30, 2020, the Government released details of a national voucher scheme.
Further considerations for providers
Providers should make whatever provision is appropriate for their setting – this may include providing meals to all children and staff on site. If provided, meals must be free of charge to all children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 who are on site as they are included in either the vulnerable pupil group or the children of critical workers group. The charge for meals may be waived or reduced for other children (and staff) as permitted under the Education Act 2011. The provider may not charge more than the cost of providing the meal.
The Government have announced that providers will be reimbursed for additional costs incurred in providing meals or vouchers to children entitled to FSM. Further details will be shared as soon as they are available.
What are we doing to support you?
- All providers who are part of the FSM checking service have been sent up to date FSM eligibility lists
- The FSM checking team are available to support you with any queries (details above)
- We are collecting responses about FSM via the weekly survey. Thank you for completing this, it helps us to target our support.
- We will continue to support you as we work to find local solutions and will update you with regard to these – get in touch if we may be able to help
- We are sending out regular updates to school including links to Government guidance
- We will continue to check new claims for FSM during the school closure for those providers who use our FSM checking service. Providers should continue to submit spreadsheets / details from parents for checking – support is available if needed. Parent should only be directed to apply online via free school meals if they don’t have a current FSM claim and they refuse to supply their data to the provider.
- We will continue to send emails to the main provider address with any new FSM claims. Full eligibility lists will be sent ahead of what would have been the summer term (w/c 20 April 2020)
Where can providers read the latest guidance from Government?
Ensure that you keep up to date with Government guidance
Government guidance currently states that:
If your school is closed and your school catering team cannot provide meals or food parcels, you should offer families of pupils eligible for free school meals an alternative.
Updated Government guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance-for-schools
If your catering provider cannot provide meals or food parcels you can
- Use local initiatives
- Provide families with supermarket vouchers
On March 30, 2020 the Government announced details of a national voucher scheme.
Please note: Where schools previously opted for the interim local voucher scheme (Sodexo), it is now advised that they transition to the national voucher scheme through Edenred.
The Government has made further announcements regarding the reimbursement of additional costs. Details can be found here:
Providers should make whatever provision is appropriate for their setting – this may include providing meals to all children and staff on site. If provided, meals must be free of charge to all children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 who are on site as they are included in either the vulnerable pupil group or the children of critical workers group. The charge for meals may be waived or reduced for others (pupils who are not eligible for FSM, and staff) as permitted under the Education Act 2011. The provider may not charge more than the cost of providing the meal.
Your school or education provider will let you know what their FSM provision is during this time. City of Wolverhampton Council does not provide uniform grants. Please speak to your child’s school for information about the support that may be available to you.
We have been informed that some parents have received an email stating the following: ‘As schools will be closing, if you’re entitled to free school meals, please send your bank details and we’ll make sure you’re supported’.
The DfE confirms that this is a scam email and is not official. We urge parents that if you receive any emails like this, please do not respond, and delete it immediately.
Please contact your child’s school.
For parents waiting for their eCodes:
We are sorry to hear about the difficulties you have been experiencing and we can assure you that we are doing all we can to improve the service for users.
Since launching the national FSM voucher scheme at the end of Mach, a very large number of schools have activated their account with Edenred and are ordering vouchers for eligible families. Edenred is processing these vouchers as quickly as possible but there can be a gap of up to 4 days between a school placing their order and the eCodes reaching parents and carers. In some cases, schools have chosen for Edenred to send the vouchers to the school, who will then distribute the vouchers to parents, meaning the code could take longer to reach you.
If you are expecting an eCode, please in the first instance check your junk and/or trash folder - your eCodes will be sent from firstname.lastname@example.org. If you still haven’t received your eCode then contact the school in the first instance who can view the status of the orders, check the correct email address has been entered and re-send the eCode to you. If you still haven’t received an eCode 4 days after your school has ordered it, please contact Edenred at email@example.com. Edenred are aiming to respond to all emails within 2 working days. As always, we thank you for your patience.
If you have received an eCode and are unsure how to use it, or have any other queries regarding the voucher scheme, please refer to the parent and carer FAQ document you received with your eCode. The FAQs are also available online
For parents who cannot access the website to redeem their codes:
We are sorry to hear about the difficulties you have been experiencing and we can assure you that we are doing all we can to improve the service for users.
Since launching the national FSM voucher scheme at the end of March, a very large number of schools have activated their account with Edenred and are ordering vouchers for eligible families.
We are aware that there is high demand from families and schools accessing the website to redeem their vouchers. Edenred have reported that the average wait time can be up to 40 minutes in peak times (Monday-Friday 10am-5pm), and we are very grateful to families and schools for their understanding and patience while we seek to improve this service.
If you receive an error message when trying to redeem your code on the free school meals website, you may have entered the incorrect code. Please try to enter your code again. If your code is still not accepted, please delete the browsing history on your device – as your device may be storing the incorrect code in its memory.
For parents waiting for their eGift cards
We are sorry to hear about the difficulties you have been experiencing and we can assure you that we are doing all we can to improve the service for users. Edenred is processing the eGift cards as quickly as possible but there can be a gap of up to 24 hours between redeeming your eCode and receiving your eGift card.
If you haven’t received your eGift card within 24 hours, please check your junk mail and/or trash before contacting Edenred at firstname.lastname@example.org who can look into this for you. Your eGift card will have been sent from email@example.com.
Edenred are aiming to respond to all emails within 2 working days. As always, we thank you for your patience.
For parents with eGift cards not working
We are sorry to hear about the difficulties you have been experiencing – we appreciate how distressing this must be and we can assure you that we are doing all we can to improve the service for users.
Please be aware that your eGift card will not be topped up with new funds once the original amount has been spent. Your school will instead provide you with a new eCode which can be redeemed to create a new eGift card.
If you are experiencing problems when trying to redeem your eGift card, please contact Edenred at firstname.lastname@example.org. Edenred are aiming to respond to all emails within 2 working days. As always, we thank you for your patience.
Laura Jude, Disadvantaged Pupils’ Advisory Teacher
- 01902 555 285
- 01902 554 283
Negative experiences and distressing life events, such as in the current circumstances, can affect the mental health of pupils and their parents. Schools are aware of this in setting expectations of pupils’ work where they are at home.
Schools will have regard to the DfE guidance on mental health and behaviour in schools which sets out how mental health issues can bring about changes in a young person’s behaviour or emotional state which can be displayed in a range of different ways, and that can be an indication of an underlying problem. Schools support for pupils and students in the current circumstances may include existing provision in the school (although this may be delivered in different ways, for example over the phone) or from specialist staff or support services.
Online safety in schools and colleges
Schools understand that it is important to provide a safe environment, including online. Schools will continue to ensure that appropriate filters and monitoring are in place to protect children when they are online on school or college IT systems or recommended resources. Schools will consider who in their institution has the technical knowledge to maintain safe IT arrangements.
The UK Council for Internet Safety provides information to help governing boards and proprietors assure themselves that any new arrangements continue to effectively safeguard children online.
The UK Safer Internet Centre’s professional online safety helpline also provides support for the children’s workforce with any online safety issues they face. Schools will also contact their IT provider for assistance if required.
Children and online safety away from school and college
Schools are doing what they can to keep all children safe. Schools understand that it is important that all staff who interact with children, including online, continue to look out for signs a child may be at risk. Any such concerns will be dealt with as per the schools’ safeguarding/child protection policy and where appropriate referrals will be made to children’s social care and as required the police.
The DfE provides separate guidance on providing education remotely. Leaders should consider as part of any remote learning strategy, the use of technology. Recently published guidance from the UK Safer Internet Centre on safe remote learning and from the London Grid for Learning on the use of videos and livestreaming could help plan online lessons and/or activities and plan them safely.
Schools and colleges will consider the safety of all children when they are asked to work online. The starting point for online teaching should be that the same principles as set out in the school’ or college’s staff behaviour policy (sometimes known as a code of conduct). This policy should amongst other things include acceptable use of technologies, staff pupil/student relationships and communication including the use of social media. The policy will apply equally to any existing or new online and distance learning arrangements which are introduced. Schools may seek support from the local authority or their independent consultant when planning online lessons/activities and considering online safety.
Schools and colleges should ensure any use of online learning tools and systems is in line with privacy and data protection/GDPR requirements.
An essential part of the online planning process will be ensuring children who are being asked to work online have very clear reporting routes in place, so they can raise any concerns whilst online. As well as reporting routes back to schools or colleges, this should also signpost children to age appropriate practical support from the likes of:
- Childline - for support
- UK Safer Internet Centre - to report and remove harmful online content
- CEOP - for advice on making a report about online abuse
When schools or colleges have contact with parents/carers (E.g. via phone calls, e-mails, text messaging, website etc.) they can reinforce the importance of children being safe online. It is especially important for parents/carers to be aware of what their children are being asked to do online, including the sites they will be asked to access and be clear who from their school or college (if anyone) their child is going to be interacting with online.
Parents/carers may choose to supplement the school/college online offer with support from online companies and in some cases individual tutors, in doing so, parents/cares should understand the importance of securing online support from a reputable organisation/individual who can provide evidence that they are safe and can be trusted to have access to children. Support for parents/carers to keep their children safe online includes:
- Internet matters - for support for parents/carers to keep their children safe online
- London Grid for Learning - for support for parents/carers to keep their children safe online
- Net-aware - for support for parents/carers from the NSPCC
- Parent info - for support for parents/ carers to keep their children safe online
- Thinkuknow - for advice from the National Crime Agency to stay safe online
- UK Safer Internet Centre - advice for parents/carers
Schools will continue to provide contact information and supportive information on their websites for parents/carers by signposting to statutory agencies -Wolverhampton Safeguarding Together Website, MASH contact numbers and third sector agencies and other partners.
Information specifically for School staff can be found below
Please see the Self Isolation guide in the Downloads section
Any person presenting with a high temperature (above 37.8) and/or a new persistent cough and/or a loss or change to their sense of smell or taste should self-isolate for 10 days. Self-isolation is particularly important during the recovery phase and those presenting even mild symptoms should obey this instruction (see next question on testing).
In addition, employees residing with any person showing symptoms should isolate for 14 days.
If you have coronavirus symptoms, you need to get a test done as soon as possible. You need to get the test done in the first 8 days of having symptoms.
Please refer to the public health/HR algorithm summarising the process to go through with extremely vulnerable/vulnerable employees, and those living with relatives in those categories.
Staff who have been classed as clinically extremely vulnerable due to pre-existing medical conditions have been advised to shield. These staff have been identified as having a serious underlying health condition which puts them at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus and have been advised by their clinician or through a letter from the NHS to rigorously follow shielding measures in order to keep themselves safe. It is proposed that shielding remains advisory until 31 July 2020; until then it is not expected that people in this category will be attending school and they should continue to work at home as much as possible. Until further national guidance is available it is advised not to enforce any changes to working practices for this group of staff; however those who are in agreement with a return to work with full risk assessments in place may do so from 1 August 2020 onwards.
Clinically vulnerable (but not clinically extremely vulnerable) who are at higher risk of severe illness (for example, people with some pre-existing conditions as set out in the Staying at home and away from others (social distancing) guidance) have been advised to take extra care in observing social distancing might have also received a letter but this is not to be confused with a shielding letter.
Where possible, these employees should work from home, and Education and childcare settings should endeavour to support this, for example by asking staff to support remote education, carry out lesson planning or other roles which can be done from home.
If clinically vulnerable individuals cannot work from home, they should be offered the safest available on-site roles, staying 2 metres away from others wherever possible, although the individual may choose to take on a role that does not allow for this distance if they prefer to do so. Please refer to the protective measures’ guidance for further advice.
If clinically extremely vulnerable individuals cannot work from home, once the advice to shield is lifted post 1 August 2020, they should be offered the safest available on-site roles that enable them to maintain social distancing from others.
Individual risk assessments will be needed for these groups of staff and the school must be confident that the workplace is Covid-19 secure. If clinically vulnerable or clinically extremely vulnerable employees are required to spend time within close contact of others, employers should carefully assess whether it involves an acceptable level of risk, whether the activity is essential for the work required, and what actions they can take to mitigate risks.
- a member of staff who lives with someone who is clinically vulnerable (but not clinically extremely vulnerable), including those who are pregnant, can attend school.
- if a staff member lives in a household with someone who is extremely clinically vulnerable, as set out in the guidance on shielding, it is advised they only attend school if stringent social distancing can be adhered to. If stringent social distancing cannot be adhered to, it is advised for those staff to not attend. They should be supported to work at home.
- staff should not attend if they have symptoms or are self-isolating due to symptoms in their household.
- protective measures will be put in place for staff and pupils, as far as is possible, to ensure that the risk of transmission is reduced.
Shielding only applies to those identified as extremely vulnerable as detailed in the public health/HR algorithm.
Under previous government guidance, “Clinically Extremely Vulnerable” individuals in the shielding group have not been allowed to work outside their homes. However, from 1 August 2020, guidance specifies that they may be allowed to come to work if certain criteria are met.
City of Wolverhampton Council has until now also recommended that employees who are 28 weeks or more into their pregnancy are also only allowed to work from home, based on advice from specialist bodies.
The Council’s Public Health team has updated the Staff Individual COVID-19 Risk Assessment Guidance Tool to incorporate guidance for both those who are shielding and those who are 28 weeks or more pregnant. Where possible, these individuals should continue to work from home. However, in some work settings, some individuals in this group may be able to return to work following completion of an appropriate risk assessment. Amongst other considerations, individuals in these groups must be able to stringently social distance at 2 metres during work, must have any other appropriate workplace adaptations in place, and their risk assessment must be regularly re-reviewed.
These individuals must be risked assessed with the new Risk Assessment form designed specifically for this group. A copy of this risk assessment can be found in the downloads section. They cannot be assessed using the standard Staff Risk Assessment form, which continues to be in use for individuals who are not shielding and who are not 28 weeks or more pregnant.
If individuals will continue to work from home, they do not need a risk assessment.
Further information from the Royal College of Obstetricans and Gynaecologists can be found on the here.
Further guidance can be accessed here.
Since 23 March 2020 childcare provision has been made available to children who have a parent who is a critical ‘key’ worker, particularly if they have no other options available for childcare. The Government is encouraging all eligible children to attend settings (where there are no shielding concerns for their child or their household), even if parents are able to keep their children at home.
In the event that the child’s normal school or early years setting is closed, parents are advised to contact their LA for details of an alternative school or setting they can attend.
Discussions should take place with the member of staff to understand their childcare requirements and to explore their individual circumstances, for example the working arrangements of their partner, or the availability of other people within the household who may be able to help; however it is recognised that individual’s circumstances are different and usual childcare arrangements, such as grandparents, may not be available.
Where possible, working hours and rotas may be reviewed to allow employees to work at times where there are others who are able to care for their children.
If an unavoidable childcare issue is identified resulting in the employee being unable to physically attend work, consideration should be given to extended flexible working arrangements and whether or not the member of staff can work from home, for example by supporting remote education, carry out lesson planning or other roles which can be done from home.
Where it is not possible for an employee to work from home schools may need to consider other types of leave.
The LA Public Health and Health and Safety teams have provided schools with advice and guidance to assist schools to carry out a coronavirus risk assessment for their setting.
In addition to this, as part of the process of managing the health and safety of employees, it is important that risk assessment processes are in place for individuals who are potentially at a higher risk and therefore an individual risk assessment template and accompanying guidance document has
also been created for schools to use, which can be accessed in the Downloads section.
The risk assessment has been designed to fully reflect the latest public health guidance and takes into account workplace risk factors and individual risk factors such as clinical vulnerabilities, as well as emerging evidence around other vulnerable groups, i.e. such as those based on age, ethnicity and BMI.
The LA wishes to see all maintained schools use this format and to retain in school for their own records.
This tool has also been provided to assist our partners, such as Academies and other educational settings, however any other organisation should be seeking its own health and safety advice. No liability can attach to the Council in relation to the provision of this tool.
Ultimately any decisions on how the tool is used, the assessments reached and the appropriate steps taken are the responsibility of the relevant organisation and not the responsibility of the Council
Schools may wish to utilise their chosen Occupational Health provider for further advice on individual risk assessments when related to clinical vulnerabilities, for example to help understand a specific medical condition if required.
The full Government advice available to schools in preparation for reopening can be accessed here.
The following measures have been suggested:
- minimising contact with individuals who are unwell by ensuring that those who have coronavirus symptoms, or who have someone in their household who does, do not attend childcare settings, schools, or colleges.
- cleaning hands more often than usual - wash hands thoroughly for 20 seconds with running water and soap and dry them thoroughly or use alcohol hand rub or sanitiser ensuring that all parts of the hands are covered.
- ensuring good respiratory hygiene - promote the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach.
- cleaning frequently touched surfaces often using standard products, such as detergents and bleach.
- minimising contact and mixing by altering, as much as possible, the environment (such as classroom layout) and timetables (such as staggered break times).
If anyone in an education or childcare setting, shows symptoms of COVID 19 they must be sent home and advised to follow the COVID-19: guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection guidance.
PPE should be worn by staff caring for the child while they await collection if a distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained (such as for a very young child or a child with complex needs). In an emergency, call 999 if they are seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk.
If a member of staff has helped someone who was unwell with a new, continuous cough and/or a high temperature and/or a loss or change to their sense of smell or taste, they do not need to go home unless they develop symptoms themselves (and in which case, a test is available) or the child subsequently tests positive. They should wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds after any contact with someone who is unwell. Cleaning the affected area with normal household disinfectant after someone with symptoms has left will reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people. See the COVID-19: cleaning of non-healthcare settings guidance.
Governing boards and senior leaders should be conscious of the wellbeing of all staff, including senior leaders themselves, and the need to implement flexible working practices in a way that promotes good work-life balance and supports teachers and leaders.
Workload should be carefully managed, and schools and colleges should assess whether staff who are having to stay at home due to health conditions are able to support remote education, while others focus on face-to-face provision. Senior leaders and boards will want to factor this into their resource and curriculum planning and consider where additional resource could be safely brought in if necessary.
In their preparations for extending the opening of schools to more children many headteachers are considering how to provide teachers with time to prepare for learning in schools and at home.
Some schools have access to an Employee Assistance Programme which employees can access – ask your school for further information.
Employees can also access a new national resource: Our Frontline
‘Our Frontline’ is a partnership between Shout, Samaritans, Mind, Hospice UK and The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
‘Our Frontline’ offers round-the-clock one-to-one support, by call or text, from trained volunteers, plus resources, tips and ideas to look after your mental health. There is tailored material for staff working in social care, essential roles, the emergency services and health workers.
In addition, the LGA workforce wellbeing pages have been updated and contain useful advice and guidance for supporting and managing the wellbeing of frontline staff.
More information can be found at Financial support and guidance
The current coronavirus pandemic is having a significant impact upon many people, including our workforce, and some households may still experience financial difficulty during this period for a number of reasons.
We’ve published things you might want to consider:
- Government Guidance: the latest is available here.
- Benefits Bulletin: the council has produced a guide outlining recent changes to benefits which may be helpful.
- Money Advice Service: provides free and impartial advice available here.
- Step Change Debt Charity: the UK’s most comprehensive debt advice service.
- Unison Hardship Fund: for Unison members. Click here for more detail.
Information around coronavirus can be found in the Guidance for Employees page.
Whilst this information might generally be useful there are certain aspects to some specific questions which may not be entirely applicable to staff in schools
From 6 April 2020 you can claim a flat rate of £6 per week to cover your additional costs if you have to work from home due to coronavirus measures if your usual workplace is closed, for example due to increased costs such as heating and electricity. This means that your gross pay remains the same each week but £6 of it will not be subject to tax deductions, resulting in an increase in your net pay. For a basic rate taxpayer (20%), this equates to approximately £1.20 per week.
If you believe you have incurred costs in excess of £6 per week, you can claim more, however you will need to evidence the increased costs.
To qualify, you must have paid tax on the earnings from your job in the year that you are claiming for and you must have been required to work from home and not have chosen to work from home voluntarily.
More information is available here.
Message from the School Improvement Team
Thank you to all Headteachers and staff who have planned for and are now ensuring that our critical workers, vulnerable children and those children with an EHCP, where possible, can attend school daily. We are aware that these are very challenging times and we are extremely grateful that you have managed to keep schools open. In these ever changing, challenging times we are all having to respond to daily developments. In order, to support you in schools to address the changes we are endeavouring to address your questions/queries and provide guidance that will support you, should the present situation escalate.
We have been in contact with schools to suggest possible school groupings, thank you for your agreement to work with these groupings.
We have also sent out a Home and Host School Protocol, via the bulletin (25th March), should there be the need to locate provision for the identified groups to fewer school sites. Please contact Susan Maule email@example.com or Louise Mututa firstname.lastname@example.org regarding any queries regarding the school groupings
In the coming days, your School Improvement Advisor will be informing you of your nominated School Improvement team link person. Although they have been identified for your school, please do not hesitate to contact others who may have the specific expertise, as we are all here to support you and your children. If you have any questions/queries that we can support you with or ask the DfE, Ofsted etc for clarification, please let us know and we will endeavour to get back to you with an answer as soon as possible.
The School Improvement team have identified a number of priorities for the coming months that it is hoped will support schools who are likely to be in the inspection window when things return to normality.
In addition, the School Improvement team will be looking to develop helpful guidance/support for schools for the 2020 end of year key stage transitions. There is a recognition that the use of assessment information and self-evaluation outcomes to inform School Improvement Plans for the new academic year will be different, as there will also be significant challenges for schools with most children returning to school who have been at home for a long period of time. To support schools the team will be looking to identify potential actions that may need to be taken to address issues, then provide a model priority focus/area for schools to adapt for their 2020-21 School Improvement Plan. If you feel there are other areas with which the School Improvement Team could support you and your school, please contact Susan Maule email@example.com or any member of the School Improvement Team.
Virtual Training and Virtual Learning Opportunities
The School Improvement Team are investigating ways in which Virtual Training can be rolled out to subject leaders, teachers and teaching assistants. This approach will allow the School Improvement Team to continue to offer quality training to and collaborate with staff from a distance. If the current arrangements for schools continue then we will look to introduce these after the Easter break.
If schools are interested, we will also work to provide quality writing and reading activities for children both in school and at home. We will keep you updated of developments over the coming weeks. If you are interested in getting involved or have suggestions or requests, please contact Mark Smith Mark.firstname.lastname@example.org
SEND Snapshot Special Edition - from Specialist Learning Support
This regular feature is usually only available to service subscribers, but we have decided to circulate the latest edition to all schools for sharing with parents. It has activities for children of all ages, abilities and interests. Click here or here (EY) for resources and ideas.
All schools for whom City of Wolverhampton Council is the Appropriate Body for their Newly Qualified Teachers (NQT).
Please note that NQT Spring Term assessments are due by Monday 30 March 2020.
All completed term 2 assessments should be emailed to email@example.com by Monday 30 March 2020.
It is important that we receive the term 2 assessment forms for your NQT as he/she will have completed a significant part of term 2, before the disruption of this week, relating to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus).
If you are having difficulty in meeting the deadline, in these unprecedented times, then please email Jo Horlock, indicating whether your NQT was making satisfactory progress.
Arrangements for term 3, for many the completion of induction, will be communicated during the summer term. This will be after the DfE has provided further advice, in line with their announcement earlier this week-
In response to concerns regarding the potential disruption of Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) statutory induction in the event of an outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) causing extended NQT absence or school closures, please see the following advice from the Department for Education.
The length of the induction period should ordinarily be three full terms of the institution in which induction is begun, based on a school year of three terms (i.e. the full-time equivalent of one school year). Absences up to and including 29 days are permitted. If absences exceed a total period of 30 days or more, induction is extended by the aggregate total of days absent, allowing NQTs to finish their induction programmes as well as sufficient time to demonstrate satisfactorily meeting the Teachers’ Standards. Please see the statutory induction guidance for further information.
Note that the appropriate body has the option, with the consent of the teacher concerned, to reduce the induction period which the teacher is required to serve to a minimum of one school term if they are satisfied that the teacher has satisfactorily met the Teachers’ Standards. The appropriate body should make this decision in agreement with the NQT.
DfE continues to monitor the situation and will provide further advice in due course. All teachers currently studying or working overseas should continue to monitor the advice issued by the FCO and comply with any COVID-19 control measures put in place by their host nation
Lead person to contact in the LA:
Jo Horlock - firstname.lastname@example.org
Update on planned training 17th March – 25th April 2020
In line with national advice regarding social distancing during this period of the COVID- 19 pandemic, we are going to look at delivering training/updates in a different way. All non- essential training, moderation and subject leader meetings run by the School Improvement and Early Years teams are being postponed until at least the 23rd April 2020. The facilitator of the courses will be available for questions and answers (as indicated on the relevant WVES page). Further updates will be available in due course. The information we were hoping to make available at the training will be available to download from WVES. Please continue to check the WVES regularly.
Explaining Coronavirus to children
We have been contacted by some schools to ask about social distancing measures for children and young people who may be considered part of a vulnerable group as a result of an underlying health condition. We have sought guidance from the DfE and Public Health, and been told that the current advice is that vulnerable groups should implement stringent social distancing.
We know that children and young people in general appear less likely to be adversely affected by coronavirus. Nevertheless, children may become anxious and find it difficult to understand what is happening. Below are links to resources, guidance and social stories/ stories on coronavirus that can be personalised for individual children and adapted to reflect any possible changes and updates that we receive as we learn more about the virus:
How to talk to children about the coronavirus:
Coronavirus workbook for children:
Advice for young people who may be worried about coronavirus:
This website is helpful for positive mental health resources:
Susan Maule, Senior School Improvement Advisor
Louise Mututa, School Improvement Advisor
Mark Smith, Citizenship Language & Learning Senior Advisor