Information about schools during the coronavirus outbreak. This web page will be updated on a daily basis as the situation develops.
Children returning to school

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.

Why is it good for children to start going back to school?
  • 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.
Is my child eligible to go back to school?
Schools re-opening graphic
When will eligible children go back to school?

The Government has said that it will make a decision about schools re-opening by Thursday 28 May, and they will only open if it is safe for this to happen.

Schools will be preparing their sites for more pupils to return over half term. Most primary schools will have a training day on Monday 1 June so that they can brief their staff about risk assessments and new processes in place to promote safety.

Pupils in the eligible year groups will be able to gradually return to school during the first two weeks of June. Schools will tell you when your child can return to school.

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.

Will children be in school full-time?

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.

Is it safe for my child to go back to school?

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.

School contact details

Will school staff be wearing PPE (personal protective equipment)?

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.

Will children going back to school be able to be tested for coronavirus?

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.

Does my child have to go back to school?

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.

What should I do if my child is worrying about going back to school?

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.

Schools contact details

Message from the Director of Children’s services

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

Children attending school
Information for schools, settings and providers

Schools are responsible for providing places to vulnerable children, and children of workers critical to the COVID-19 response while schools are closed due to the outbreak.

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.

Children who are identified as vulnerable and have a social worker should be attending school. Inclusion Support staff have contacted all schools and settings with children who have been identified by a social worker as being vulnerable and needing to attend. 

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 need to continue attending, and if this is not the case, to ensure that their needs can safely be met at home.

Schools will know who their most vulnerable children are and will have the flexibility to offer a place to those on the edges of receiving social care support. 

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 (randat@wolverhampton.gov.uk). Where necessary, education welfare officers and/or social workers will work with families to encourage attendance.

Frequently asked questions – schools, settings and providers
Is it safe for children to continue to attend school or an education setting, given the Government’s advice about social distancing?

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.

What about children with health conditions or living with people with health conditions?

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.

Do these children have to attend?

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.

What if vulnerable children are ill or are self-isolating?

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.

Contact details

Rob Hart, Head of Inclusion Support

Attendance recording for Educational settings
Information for schools, settings and providers

How to record attendance during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

The following guidance has been issued by DfE in relation to recording attendance.  
Until schools reopen for education to all pupils, educational settings will need to temporarily change their attendance recording practices. To minimise the burden on settings and ensure that only the most important information is submitted, settings must:  

  1. Stop taking their normal attendance registers
  2. Consider making use of the record of attendance spreadsheet to record attendance for all children at the educational setting.
  3. Use the information in the record of attendance spreadsheet, or from another source if the information is held elsewhere, to complete this online form notifying the Department for Education about your status regarding COVID-19.

The online form should be submitted by midday, each weekday.

Frequently asked questions – schools, settings and providers

For more information on submitting the online form please see the video below.  

 

Contact details

Donna Evison, Senior Analyst

Capacity in our schools
Information for schools, settings and providers

While schools are closed to pupils, with the exception of vulnerable pupils and children of key workers, the City of Wolverhampton Council will make every effort to support its schools through monitoring how many children are accessing schools and other settings such as private, voluntary and Independent nurseries to ensure that education provision is available to every child that requires it.

The Department for Education has asked educational settings to complete an Educational Setting Status online form to help understand how the measures implemented to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak are impacting attendance. The educational settings which have been asked to provide daily information, by 12:00, are:

  • academies (including free schools and studio schools)
  • local authority maintained schools
  • local authority nursery schools
  • independent schools
  • non-maintained special schools
  • pupil referral units
  • university technical colleges
  • FE colleges and sixth form colleges
  • Special post-16 institutions or specialist colleges

The data from the survey is shared with the council to enable monitoring to take place at a local level.

The council will also survey schools to request information on the open/closed status of schools and to ask more specific questions around the number of meals being provided and by what method. This is to ensure that families are being supported appropriately during the enforced closure period.

Frequently asked questions – schools, settings and providers
Where can I find information about the DfE survey?

Information is available here

Where can I find information on the requirements to provide school places for vulnerable children and children of key workers?

Information is available here

Contact details

Bill Hague, Head of School Organisation

  • bill.hague@wolverhampton.gov.uk
  • 07771836958
Assessments and exams
Current Government guidance

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.

Information for schools, settings and providers

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:

•    AQA GCSE and A level examinations 
•    Edexcel GCSE, A level, BTEC, LCCI and NVQ qualifications

For further details for schools and colleges please view Further details on exams and grades announced

For further updated guidance from DfE please view Coronavirus (COVID-19): cancellation of GCSEs, AS and A levels in 2020

Further Education

The Department for Education has published operational guidance for further education (FE) providers on maintaining education and skills training provision

The DfE and Ofqual have issued guidance for establishments who offer apprenticeships and technical qualifications. 

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:

  • GCSEs
  • AS and A levels
  • Extended Project Qualifications (EPQ)
  • Advanced Extension Awards (AEA) in maths
FAQs for parents
How will my child receive a grade for their cancelled exams?

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:

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:

  • GCSEs
  • AS and A levels
  • Extended Project Qualifications (EPQ)
  • Advanced Extension Awards (AEA) in maths
Contact details

Louise Mututa, School Improvement Advisor

Early years, nursery schools and PVIs
Current Government guidance

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


Coronavirus (COVID-19): Closure of educational settings: information for parents and carers

This guidance provides information for parents and carers of children at registered childcare providers (including nurseries and childminders), primary and secondary schools and further education colleges. This is for both state-funded and independent schools about the closure of schools and other educational settings following the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19).


Coronavirus (COVID-19): financial support for education, early years and children’s social care.

The government has put in place a number of funding and financial measures to support organisations – both public and private – during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. These are intended to be temporary, timely and targeted, to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption. This guidance sets out the financial support that is available for different types of education, early years and children’s social care providers in England. Published 17 April 2020 


Early years foundation stage statutory framework (EYFS)

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) statutory framework sets the standards that all early years providers must meet to ensure that children aged 0 to 5 learn and develop well and are kept healthy and safe. To support early years providers who remain open to vulnerable children and children of critical workers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the Government has temporarily disapplied and modified certain elements of the EYFS statutory framework. This will allow providers greater flexibility to respond to changes in workforce availability and potential fluctuations in demand, while still providing care that is high quality and safe.

Information for schools, settings and providers

The government have asked parents to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and for childcare providers (including nurseries, pre-schools, childminders and providers of childcare for school-age children), schools and colleges to remain closed, except for those children who absolutely need to attend.

All educational settings remain safe for children, but the fewer children making the journey to educational settings, and the fewer children in these settings, the lower the risk that the virus can spread and infect vulnerable individuals in wider society.

All childcare providers are therefore being asked to continue to provide care for a limited number of children - children who are vulnerable, and children whose parents are critical to the coronavirus (COVID-19) response and cannot be safely cared for at home.

While as many providers as possible should try to stay open for eligible children, this will not be possible for all settings and the local authority are acting to coordinate pooling of resources so children are able to access provision elsewhere. - gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures

City of Wolverhampton Council has provided further guidance to employers and businesses on how to access the support options available to them during the coronavirus outbreak. This includes small childcare businesses.

The detail of the Government’s additional economic measures has been confirmed and the council is acting swiftly to help administer them. Information on business rates, business grants, labour costs and welfare, business loans and deferring tax liabilities can be found in the employer and business section.

These are the latest government measures, with full details on each, available at COVID-19: support for businesses:  

  • a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • deferring VAT and Income Tax payments
  • a Statutory Sick Pay relief package for SMEs 
  • a 12 month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England
  • small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
  • grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank (eligibility details and how to apply) 
  • a new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
  • the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme

The council’s Business Rates Team is taking the following steps in relation to the recovery of business rates:

  • Suspending court action for recovery of business rates after 19 March 
  • Issuing reminder notices to encourage contact from businesses, so that we can understand their individual situation
  • Suspending the issue of new cases for enforcement agent action
  • Negotiating repayments where possible and/or agree to a hold in recovery action for a period where businesses are struggling

For any businesses/tenants that rent property from the council and wish to discuss their position, please contact the Estates Team, Corporate Landlord, by emailing property.enquiries@wolverhampton.gov.uk and options will be discussed.

The Black Country Growth Hub has information on local business support programmes and business advice

The Federation of Small Business has information for small independent traders

Access to Business helps new businesses or if you are in the process of setting up in business

The Black Country Chamber have online advice and a business helpline on 01902 912322

If you would like to speak to a member of the council’s Enterprise Team, please call Jay Patel on 07584 491216 or Jeff Marlow on 07392 137481

Early Years Funding Spring/ Summer 2020

Spring 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

Summer 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 daily.
This survey will be sent to you via your cloudW email address. If you have any questions or queries please contact Bill Hague bill.hague@wolverhampton.gov.uk 

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.

The National Literacy Trust have launched their new Family Zone, which offers a range of activities and advice.

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.

We would like to this opportunity to thank those of you who have already contributed to the school readiness concept by completing the online survey.  If you haven’t already and would like to the survey will remain open until 31st March.  
PVI
School
Community groups / organisations
Parent

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 - rachel.cook@wolverhampton.gov.uk 
Faye Boucher, 07773187061 - faye.boucher@wolverhampton.gov.uk 
Wendy Round, 07773187016 - wendy.round@wolverhampton.gov.uk 
Claire Whittaker, 07773 187006 - claire.whittaker@wolverhampton.gov.uk 
Stacey Henderson, 07976750933 - stacey.henderson@wolverhampton.gov.uk 
Claire Hardiman, 01902 554213 - claire.hardiman@wolverhampton.gov.uk 
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.

Frequently asked questions – schools, settings and providers

This document has been produced following updated DfE guidance. Please see links to guidance below.

Do settings (including childminders) have to close as they are businesses some want to stay open?

No, but places should be restricted to critical worker’s children and vulnerable children
‘Schools, and all childcare providers, are therefore being asked to continue to provide care for a limited number of children - children who are vulnerable, and children whose parents are critical to the Covid-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home’ Guidance for schools, childcare providers, colleges and local authorities in England on maintaining educational provision Published 19 March 2020
 

If they are opening for critical worker’s children and vulnerable can they open to others?

No
‘Schools, colleges, nurseries, childminders and other registered childcare settings to remain open for children of critical workers and vulnerable children’ Guidance for schools, childcare providers, colleges and local authorities in England on maintaining educational provision Published 19 March 2020
This is to support with social distancing, provision will only be for those identified families. 

Can settings close o all children and ignore the guidance?

‘The guidance for parents and carers states schools, colleges, nurseries, childminders and other registered childcare settings to remain open for children of critical workers and vulnerable children where they can.

We understand that some may be unable to do so especially if they are experiencing severe staff shortages. We will work with local areas to use neighbouring schools, colleges and childcare providers to continue to support vulnerable children and children of critical workers’ Guidance 

Closure of educational settings: information for parents and carers Published 19 March 2020

Please contact your Quality and Access Officer via email if you plan to close, so we can support you and your families.
 

How will funding happen? If a child goes to another setting how will this work with funding? I.e. does the funding follow the child or the original setting?

Funding will happen in the normal way, at the moment, there is no further guidance (Free childcare offers to continue during coronavirus closures March 2020).  Further clarification and guidance from the DFE is being requested. 

If the parent was previously using two settings for funded childcare and now wishes to use one for their full 30 hours funding, can they do so? How do parents access funding if they currently use grandparents?

The LA is currently requesting clarification from the DfE, further guidance to follow.

If there are new children beginning in the summer term can we claim for them?

More clarification is being sought regarding new beginners for summer term. As information becomes available this will be updated. Please refer to funding update.

Do parents still need to continue to reconfirm eligibility for the extended 15 hours?

At the moment 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.  However further clarification is being gathered and an updated will be provided. 

How will funding take place?

Please see the following information below. Funding will be as normal.

Spring 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

Summer 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)
 

How will they pay staff who will not be required? What about staff on term time contracts?

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis Guidance COVID-19: support for businesses

For further information please contact Jeff Marlow  Jeff.Marlow@wolverhampton.gov.uk and refer to the City of Wolverhampton Council page for more information

Further information to follow concerning childminders and self-employed.
 

If term time funded children access childcare over Easter who will cover the cost?

The LA is currently requesting clarification from the DfE, further guidance to follow.

Are early years practitioners staff going to be classed as Critical Workers?

Yes
‘Education and childcare - This includes childcare, support and teaching staff, social workers and those specialist education professionals who must remain active during the COVID-19 response to deliver this approach’ Guidance for schools, childcare providers, colleges and local authorities in England on maintaining educational provision Published 19 March 2020
 

If settings have to close but are not covered by our insurance how will the business survive?

There is support available including grants, business rates holiday and payment for employees through the government. Please see Guidance COVID-19: support for businesses for more details.

For further information please contact Jeff Marlow  Jeff.Marlow@wolverhampton.gov.uk and refer to the City of Wolverhampton Council page for more information

 

If only 1 or 2 children are in this cohort do they link with other settings as we are asking this of schools?

Please contact your Quality and Access Officer via email if you need support due to staffing and/or low numbers. There may be opportunities for schools, nurseries and other provisions to work together in small groups.

What would settings charge for fee paying parents if their children do not attend during the ‘stay at home’ period?

We are waiting further clarification.

We are a setting that would like to offer support and places but how do we do this?

The Early Years team are looking into how all provision types in each locality could support each other during this time. Please wait for your Quality and Access Officer to contact you with further information.  Please contact us if you require support sign posting parents.  

How do we ensure that those children transferring from TFT to universal are funded appropriately?

Please complete the portal in the usual way.

Are providers who are staying open for the critical workers and vulnerable children allowed to reduce the hours of opening due to sustainability?

The main priority it that the needs of critical workers and vulnerable families are being met. We understand that there may need to be some minimal changes to operating hours but we hope that these can be avoided if possible.

If we have too many staff, could they help out at schools?

This may be an option, depending on the length of closure and is subject to locally made agreements.
For further information please see Impact assessment: Coronavirus bill: summary of impacts Power to make directions in connection with the running of the education and registered childcare systems

We are looking into how all provision types in each locality could support each other during this time. Quality and Access Officers can support you with this.

If we risk assess can we take other children, other than those whose parents are key workers?

To assist with social distancing, only children from keyworker & vulnerable families should attend.
Schools, colleges, nurseries, childminders and other registered childcare settings to remain open for children of critical workers and vulnerable children Guidance for schools, childcare providers, colleges and local authorities in England on maintaining educational provision Published 19 March 2020
This is to support with social distancing, provision will only be for those identified families.
 

Will the local authority provide government grants for small businesses?

Small business grants are being provided by the government, please refer back to question 12. For further information please contact Jeff Marlow  Jeff.Marlow@wolverhampton.gov.uk and refer to the City of Wolverhampton Council page for more information
 
 

Do staff claim statutory sick pay if they are in the vulnerable group and decide to stay at home?

If you have an employee who falls into the vulnerable group and they are following government guidance to self-isolate for twelve weeks, please see the link below regarding statutory sick pay.
gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-guidance-for-employees

You also need to ensure you are meeting your employee’s contracts in terms of your own company’s policy in sick pay.
 

If we close who do we need to inform?

If you are forced to close due to staff sickness or you have no children that meet the criteria you should inform your Quality and Access Officer via email and please notify Ofsted.

If I have any further questions who do I contact?

In the first instance please contact your Quality and Access Officer via email or using their mobile phone number. These details are listed below. If you do not receive a reply on the same day then please try an alternative Quality and Access Officer. 

Will my QAO still be carrying out face to face support visits?

At this time the government are advising social distancing and therefore your Quality and Access Officer will continue to support you via email, phone, skype or teams.

I am a childminder, what guidance do I need to follow?

Please follow all government guidance as you fall under the registered childcare sector. All the questions above also relate to your business.

Resources for settings to Support Home Learning

 

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.

Collins - Homework help for children aged 3 – 11 years.


Physical Development

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.


Maths Development

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.


General

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.

Contact details

Stacey Henderson, Early Years Senior Advisor 

Free school meals
Current Government guidance

The most up to date Government guidance for schools and education providers can be found here:

Information for schools, settings and providers

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 laura.jude@wolverhampton.gov.uk.

If your query relates to FSM eligibility, please contact Jo Smith’s team (FSM checking) on freeschoolmeals@wolverhampton.gov.uk 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?

  • Firstly, providers should speak to their catering team (in house), or school catering provider to see if they can prepare meals or 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 contacting you daily so that we have up to date information about kitchen closures. Thank you for completing the daily questionnaire, this helps us to help you.
  • 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

FAQ for schools and education providers
If my school or setting needs to buy vouchers, how do I do this?

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.

How can I find out what additional costs will be reimbursed?

The Government has made further announcements regarding the reimbursement of additional costs. Details can be found here:

Do I need to provide meals for pupils not entitled to benefits related FSM, who are attending my school or setting?

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.

Our school is open over the Easter holidays and our food supplier is able to continue to provide food parcels to free school meals children not in school over the Easter holiday. Is that allowed?

The DfE guidance states that schools to continue to offer Free School meals to eligible pupils during the Easter holiday period. 

 

  • Free school meals should be offered to eligible pupils not attending school during term time weeks and the Easter holidays, and these costs will be met by DfE
  • Free school meal pupils in school during the Easter holidays should also continue to receive a free meal if eligible

Please note that the guidance continues to encourage schools to utilise their existing catering provider where possible.

The national voucher scheme has now been confirmed as being available during the Easter holidays in addition to term-time weeks.

FAQ for parents
Can I choose the type of FSM provision my child(ren) receive?

Your school or education provider will let you know what their FSM provision is during this time.

I have received an email about FSM asking for my bank details, what should I do?

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.

If I have a question, concern or problem relating to my child’s FSM, who should I contact?

Please contact your child’s school. 

The National FSM Voucher Scheme: An update for parents from Edenred

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 noreply@edenred.co.uk.  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 freeschoolmealsparentscarers@edenred.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 freeschoolmealsparentscarers@edenred.com who can look into this for you. Your eGift card will have been sent from noreply@edenred.co.uk.

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 freeschoolmealsparentscarers@edenred.com. Edenred are aiming to respond to all emails within 2 working days.  As always, we thank you for your patience.

Contact details

Laura Jude, Disadvantaged Pupils’ Advisory Teacher

  • Laura.Jude@wolverhampton.gov.uk
  • 01902 555 285

Jo Smith

  • jo.smith@wolverhampton.gov.uk
  • 01902 554 283
Safeguarding in schools
Information for schools, settings and providers

Schools in Wolverhampton will remain closed to most pupils until further notice except for children of key/critical workers and vulnerable children* as part of the country’s ongoing response to Coronavirus.

From the week commencing 1 June at the earliest, the Department for Education (DfE) has asked primary schools to welcome back children in nursery, Reception, year 1 and year 6, alongside priority groups. The DfE has asked secondary schools, sixth form and further education colleges to offer some face-to-face support for year 10 and year 12 students (and equivalents) who are due to take key exams next year, alongside the full-time provision they are offering to priority groups.

Alternative provision settings should mirror the approach being taken for mainstream schools and also offer some face-to-face support for years 10 and 11 students (as they have no year 12). Special schools, special post-16 institutions and hospital schools will work towards a phased return of more children and young people without a focus on specific year groups.

*During the coronavirus outbreak vulnerable children and young people are defined as those who:

  • are assessed as being in need under section 17 of the Children Act 1989, including children who have a child in need plan, a child protection plan or who are a looked-after child
  • have an education, health and care (EHC) plan and it is determined, following a risk assessment, that their needs can be met as safely or more safely in the educational environment; or
  • have been assessed as otherwise vulnerable by education providers or local authorities (including children’s social care services), and who are therefore in need of continued education provision - this might include children and young people on the edge of receiving support from children’s social care services, adopted children, those at risk of becoming NEET (‘not in employment, education or training’), those living in temporary accommodation, those who are young carers, and others at the provider and local authority discretion

There is an expectation that vulnerable children who have a social worker will attend school, if it is safe for them to do so. In circumstances where a parent does not want to bring their child to school, and their child is considered vulnerable, the social worker and school should explore the reasons for this, directly with the parent, and help to resolve any concerns or difficulties wherever possible. Where parents are concerned about the risk of the child contracting the virus, the school or social worker should talk through these anxieties with the parent following the advice set out by Public Health England.

All staff in schools will continue to act in the best interests of all children, if anyone in schools or colleges has a safeguarding concern about any child they will act immediately and contact the Designated Safeguarding Lead or the Deputy Designated Safeguarding Leads in person or by phone, e-mail or skype/facetime or similar. If required to do so, schools and colleges will also make a referral to the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub - MASH

Schools will continue to have regard to the Keeping Children Safe in Education September 2019 Guidance in particular, part 1, part 3 - safer recruitment, part 4- management of allegations and part 5 -dealing with peer on peer abuse, child on child sexual violence and sexual harassment, online safety and other forms of peer on peer abuse.

Designated Safeguarding Leads, deputies or senior leaders will continue to follow all local procedures, they will continue to refer all concerns through the well- established channels e.g. Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH), the Channel Panel etc.

Designated Safeguarding Leads and Deputy Designated Safeguarding Leads will continue to work closely with and inform the Virtual School Headteacher, if they have any concerns regarding children and young people in care and children and young people who were previously in care.

Schools’ senior leaders, especially DSLs (and deputies) know who their most vulnerable children are and have the flexibility to offer a place to those on the edges of receiving children’s social care support.

Role of the Designated, Deputy Designated Safeguarding Leads and Senior Leaders

Keeping children Safe in Education September 2019 states: During term time the Designated Safeguarding Lead (or a deputy) will always be available (during school or college hours) for staff in the school or college to discuss any safeguarding concerns. Whilst the Designated Safeguarding Lead (or deputy) is expected to be available in person, it is a matter for individual schools and colleges, working with the Designated Safeguarding Lead, to define what “available” means and whether in exceptional circumstances availability via phone and or Skype or other such media is acceptable. It is a matter for individual schools and colleges and the Designated Safeguarding lead to arrange adequate and appropriate cover arrangements for any out of hours/out of term activities.

The optimal scenario for schools and colleges providing care for children is to have a trained DSL or deputy available on site. This may not always be possible, and where this is the case there are 2 options that will be considered:

  • a trained DSL or deputy from the schools and colleges will be available to be contacted via phone or online video - for example working from home
  • sharing trained DSLs or deputies with other schools and colleges (who should be available to be contacted via phone or online video)

If the DSL or deputy is unable to be on site, in addition to one of the above options, schools and colleges will require a senior leader to take responsibility for coordinating safeguarding on site. This might include updating and managing access to child protection files, liaising with the offsite DSL (or deputy) and as required liaising with children’s social workers where they require access to children in need and/or to carry out statutory assessments at the school or college.

Staff from the City of Wolverhampton Inclusion Support Service will liaise with schools to ascertain if identified vulnerable children are attending school or not, they will inform the allocated social worker or early help worker.

Schools should have a process in place (phone calls, text messages, online video calling etc.) to check on the welfare and attendance of any vulnerable child. Records should be kept of all calls and contact with families and colleagues.

Schools should continue to follow the DfE advice regarding essential home visits together with their own home visit procedures

The Wolverhampton MASH is still fully operational and, at the current time, continues to accept all levels of referral. If schools experience any issues in getting in touch with Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) the school will contact Helen Patten - helen.patten@wolverhampton.gov.uk

The safeguarding service are also continuing to hold initial and review child protection conferences; however, these will be done virtually or by submission of a report, schools will continue to contribute to these meetings. If schools have any issues, they will contact Nicola Hale - nicola.hale@wolverhampton.gov.uk

Safeguarding Training

Face to face DSL training is unlikely to take place during this period. For the period COVID-19 measures are in place, Designated Safeguarding Leads (or deputy) who have been trained will continue to be classed as a trained DSL (or deputy) even if they miss their refresher training.

Please visit the Wolverhampton Safeguarding Together website for more information https://www.wolverhamptonsafeguarding.org.uk/

All existing school and college staff already have had safeguarding training and have read part 1 of KCSIE and the school’s safeguarding policy.

If new staff are recruited, or new volunteers enter the school or college, they will continue to be provided with a safeguarding induction. An up to date safeguarding/child protection policy will support this process as will part 1 of KCSIE.

Existing school or college staff may move between schools and colleges on a temporary basis in response to COVID-19. The receiving school or college should judge, on a case-by-case basis, the level of safeguarding induction required. In most cases, the existing staff will already have received appropriate safeguarding training and all they will require is a copy of the receiving setting’s child protection policy, confirmation of local processes and confirmation of DSL arrangements.

If a child must attend another setting:

If a child is attending another school because they are unable to attend their own school, the Designated Safeguarding Leads at the home school should liaise with the Designated Safeguarding Leads at the host school to share information about children attending the host school. The host should be aware of the reason the child is vulnerable and any arrangements in place to support them. As a minimum the host school should, as appropriate, have access to a vulnerable child’s EHC plan, child in need plan, child protection plan or, for looked-after children, their personal education plan and know who the child’s social worker is (and, for looked-after children, who the responsible Virtual School Headteacher is). This should ideally happen before a child arrives and, where that is not possible as soon as reasonably practicable. Any exchanges of information will ideally happen at DSL (or deputy) level, and likewise between special educational needs coordinators/named individual with oversight of SEN provision for children with EHC plans. However, it is acknowledged this may not always be possible. Where this is the case, senior leaders should take responsibility. Host schools should also obtain information regarding emergency contact information and an additional emergency contact number, any dietary needs, medical needs or allergies for each child and any other relevant information regarding those children. If the host school has any concerns about children attending their school from a home school, the Designated Safeguarding Lead will raise and share their concerns with the home school immediately and liaise with the social worker if required.

Whilst schools and colleges will continue to have appropriate regard to data protection and GDPR they will not prevent the sharing of information for the purposes of keeping children safe.

Safer recruitment/volunteers and movement of staff

Schools and colleges understand it is essential that people who are unsuitable are not allowed to enter the children’s workforce or gain access to children. If schools must recruit new staff, they will continue to follow the relevant safer recruitment processes for their setting, including, as appropriate, relevant sections in part 3 of KCSIE. In response to COVID-19, the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) has made changes to its guidance on standard and enhanced DBS ID checking to minimise the need for face-to-face contact.

During this current period if schools need to use volunteers, they will continue to follow the checking and risk assessment process as set out in paragraphs 167 to 172 of KCSIE. Under no circumstances would they allow a volunteer who has not been checked to be left unsupervised or allowed to work in regulated activity.

Schools will continue to follow the legal duty to refer to the DBS anyone who has harmed or poses a risk of harm to a child or vulnerable adult. Full details can be found at paragraph 163 of KCSIE.

Schools will continue to consider and make referrals to the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) as per paragraph 166 of KCSIE and the TRA’s ‘Teacher misconduct advice for making a referral. During the COVID-19 period all referrals will be made by emailing Misconduct.Teacher@education.gov.uk. All referrals received by the TRA will continue to be considered. Where referrals on serious safeguarding matters are received and it is deemed that there is a public interest in doing so consideration will be given as to whether an interim prohibition order (IPO) should be put in place. The TRA will continue to progress all cases but will not schedule any hearings at the current time.

Mental health

Negative experiences and distressing life events, such as 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.

Whilst schools are providing for identified returning year groups, children of critical workers and vulnerable children on site, they will ensure appropriate support is in place for them. 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 will be more important than ever that they 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 our school or college IT systems or recommended resources. School 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. We will also contact out IT provider for assistance if required.

Children and online safety away from school and college

Schools are doing what they reasonably can to keep all children safe. In most cases, many children are not physically attending a school or college. 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:

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:

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.

Contact details

Andrew Wolverson, Head of Service People

Denise Mooney, Schools Safeguarding Officer

School staff FAQs

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

Visit the Guidance for Employees page

Information specifically for School staff can be found below

When should an employee self- isolate?

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 7 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.

What is the position on testing?

‘Key workers’, pupils and members of their household, can now be tested for coronavirus (Covid-19) if they show symptoms of the virus.

To ensure eligible employees are tested and receive the results as quickly as possible, the City of Wolverhampton Council has worked with health colleagues to provide a local drive through testing site.

Members of staff based in schools or other educational settings showing symptoms of coronavirus, or those staff self-isolating due to someone in their household having symptoms can be booked for a test through their line manager contacting City of Wolverhampton Council HR on 01902 5552345 (option 1). Subject to being eligible and following a process of prioritisation, the member of staff (or the person in their household with symptoms) will be given the next available testing appointment, usually the next day. Testing is most effective within one to three days of symptoms developing and should be carried out before day five of symptoms.

Results will be provided to the employee by text or telephone. If the test is negative the member of staff can return to work once they have been free of fever for 48 hours and feel better, or they can return immediately if it was a member of their household who was tested.

If an employee tests positive for Coronavirus they should continue to self-isolate for 7 days. If after this period they do not have a temperature and feel well, they can return to work.

There is also an option for employees to book tests directly on the Government portal here.

You can find more information at Coronavirus (COVID-19): getting tested

What is the current advice regarding clinically extremely vulnerable (shielding) and clinically vulnerable (non-shielding) employees, with regards to being able to work?

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 not expected that people in this category will be attending school and they should continue to work at home as much as possible.

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 (but not clinically extremely 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. If they have to spend time within 2 metres of other people, settings must carefully assess and discuss with them whether this involves an acceptable level of risk. Please refer to the protective measures’ guidance for further advice.

Please note:

  • 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.
When does the 12 weeks ‘shielding period’ end?

Shielding employees are advised to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact with others until the end of June. The Government said on 11th May that they would be "likely" to advise people in this group to stay shielded beyond this date, but dates are not yet confirmed.

Shielding only applies to those identified as extremely vulnerable as detailed in the public health/HR algorithm.

We will keep you updated on timelines and decisions taken on this through an update to this FAQ.

What is the current guidance for pregnant employees?

Pregnant woman are part of the vulnerable group and the same considerations should apply as to other staff who fall into this group as set out above.

This is a precaution, as we know that some viral infections can be worse in pregnant women. At the moment there is no evidence that this is the case for coronavirus infection.

The employee can return to work but should be offered the safest available on-site roles with a specific risk assessment. If none is available, then they should continue to work from home.

If the member of staff member has been classed as clinically extremely vulnerable (shielded) due to having another pre-existing medical condition, they would not be expected to attend school and they should continue to work at home as much as possible.

Further information from the Royal College of Obstetricans and Gynaecologists can be found on the here.

A member of staff is unable to return to work as they do not have childcare. What options are available in these circumstances?

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.

Will schools be required to complete a risk assessment to ensure adequate protective measures are in place?

The LA Health and Safety team has 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 has also been created for schools to use.

The full Government advice available to schools in preparation for reopening can be accessed here.

What are the protected measures that Government has suggested that schools should put in place?

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).
What happens if someone shows symptoms in an educational or childcare setting?

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.

How will staff workload and wellbeing be monitored?

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.

What resources are available for employee wellbeing?

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.

What advice and support is available to employees facing financial hardship?

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.
Teaching and curriculum
Information for schools, settings and providers

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 susan.maule@wolverhampton.gov.uk  or Louise Mututa louise.mututa@wolverhampton.gov.uk 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 susan.maule@wolverhampton.gov.uk  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.smith2@wolverhampton.gov.uk  

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 jo.horlock@wolverhampton.gov.uk 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 - jo.horlock@wolverhampton.gov.uk
  
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:

https://irp-cdn.multiscreensite.com/9064fde8/files/uploaded/Triple%20A%20Alliance%20-%20Coronavirus%20%281%29.pdf

https://www.elsa-support.co.uk/coronavirus-story-for-children/

https://cloudw.sharepoint.com/ePost/Bulletin/Coronavirus%20Social%20Story%20.pdf

How to talk to children about the coronavirus:

https://www.tes.com/news/coronavirus-how-talk-about-it-children

https://childmind.org/article/talking-to-kids-about-the-coronavirus/

Coronavirus workbook for children:

http://www.supportservicesforeducation.co.uk/Pages/Download/208158c7-faa0-4635-b15d-851790eabca7

Advice for young people who may be worried about coronavirus:

https://youngminds.org.uk/blog/what-to-do-if-you-re-anxious-about-coronavirus/

This website is helpful for positive mental health resources:

https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/

Contact details

Susan Maule, Senior School Improvement Advisor

  • Susan.maule@wolverhampton.gov.uk 

Louise Mututa, School Improvement Advisor

  • louise.mututa@wolverhampton.gov.uk 

Mark Smith, Citizenship  Language & Learning Senior Advisor

  • Mark.Smith2@wolverhampton.gov.uk 
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