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

The most important principle for us is that the health, safety and welfare of children, staff and our communities is paramount.

From the beginning of the autumn term 2020, there has been an expectation that all pupils, in all year groups, remain in school full-time throughout the autumn to enable learning to resume, where this is safe to do so.

Returning to school is vital for children’s education and for their wellbeing. Time out of school is detrimental for children’s cognitive and academic development, particularly for disadvantaged children. This impact can affect both current levels of education, and children’s future ability to learn, therefore we need to ensure all pupils are back in school as soon as possible

For more information please view the Government’s Guidance for full opening

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 safe in school?

Throughout the lockdown period, schools safely remained open for children of key workers and other children.

Robust plans were put in place to enable children to return safely to school in September 2020 taking advice from experts in public health and health and safety, as well as school leaders, teaching unions and the Government.

Prior to full opening in September, each school completed a risk assessment that identified what steps it was taking to promote the safety of pupils and staff, and to limit the risk of transmission of coronavirus. Schools have continued to adapt and amend arrangements over the autumn term, taking into account updates and advice provided at both a local and national level.

Everyone in schools follows strict hygiene guidelines. Children and adults continue to wash hands regularly throughout the day. Classrooms and equipment is cleaned before they are used by a new group of children to minimise risk.

Dependent upon individual school risk assessments and arrangements, children may continue to be taught in much smaller groups (e.g less than 10 pupils), and 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 remain 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 and access tests available at the time.

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.

 

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.

For more information please visit NHS Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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 should continue to provide places to vulnerable children, and children of workers critical to the COVID-19 response, in addition to pupils in Reception, year 1 & Year 6. Schools have also been given the authority to open to other year groups when they are safely able to do so.

Children with a parent or carer who is listed on the government’s critical worker list should be considered for a school place, so long as their job cannot be done from home. Many parents working in these sectors will be able to ensure their child is safely cared for at home, and should do so if this is the case.

For children and young people with an education, health and care plan, schools should undertake a risk assessment in consultation with parents and the local authority to determine whether they should attend school, and if they don’t attend, to ensure that their needs can safely be met at home.

To ensure that we can monitor and support the attendance of all vulnerable children we need schools to complete the DfE attendance template and return this daily to the Research and Assessment Team - 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

Recording attendance during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

What educational settings will need to do when recording attendance after the wider reopening of schools from 1 June 2020.

What educational settings will need to do:

  1. Schools should resume taking an attendance register.
  2. Schools should use the codes suggested on this page to record attendance and absence in the attendance register.
  3. All settings should submit daily attendance figures using the educational setting status form.

The online form should be submitted by midday, every day.

Contact details

Donna Evison, Senior Analyst

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

Guidance for teachers, students, parents and carers: Summer 2020 grades for GCSE, AS and A level, Extended Project Qualification and Advanced Extension Award in maths

Information for Heads of Centre, Heads of Department and teachers on the submission of Centre assessment grades: Summer 2020 grades for GCSE, AS and A level, Extended Project Qualification and Advanced Extension Award in maths

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. 

UCAS Corona Virus Updates for Students, advisors and providers

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
Information for schools, settings and providers

Early Education Funding

Spring 2021

Please submit your estimated hours in the usual way by Thursday 14th January 2021 for expected 2, 3 & 4 year old funded children (existing & new starters) for Spring 2021.

Spring 2021 actuals will still need to be submitted in the usual way by Friday 29th January 2021 for all 2, 3 & 4 year old funded children (existing & new starters).

Early Years Census to be submitted by Friday 29th January 2021; This will result in the submission date for Actuals to be required earlier than usual. Providers will need

to ensure that any additional funded children who start after the above date are added to their Actuals by Thursday 11th March 2021.

Payments for Spring 2021 actuals will be processed within 3 weeks of Thursday 11th March 2021.

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.

Please remove from the provider portal those children for whose funding entitlements have ended.

Letter from Vicky Ford MP Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families

Changes to the DfE weekly Early years collection

The DfE have been collecting local authority data on Early Years childcare provision since April and we have greatly valued your participation in our weekly survey. The DfE have reviewed the need for this collection and, acting on feedback from the sector, they have decided we can now move to a fortnightly collection from 7 January 2021 to reduce some of the time and resource pressures on local authorities and providers. However, it remains crucial that the Department continues to have accurate data to ensure there are enough childcare places. Vicky Ford MP states that her teams use this data as the basis of conversations with local authorities about the childcare market in their area. These conversations about local delivery issues help to shape the future of the childcare market.

If you have any questions or queries please contact Stacey Henderson - stacey.henderson@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.

Early Years Professional Development Programme (EYPDP)

Wolverhampton has been actively involved with the Early Years Professional Development Programme, with our eight EYPDP Champion due to complete their training this term.

The Aim of the Programme which has an ELKLAN focus is to:

  • To improve the practice of those working with very young children between the ages of 2 and 4, to improve outcomes in Language, Literacy and Mathematics for the most disadvantaged children, with a focus on school readiness

Phase 2 of the programme will start next term (Spring 21), with settings/schools being able to join the one of the two partnerships that will be established across the city. Each setting/school can nominate two practitioners who will receive this training across the year. On completion, these practitioners will achieve:

  • Level 3 qualification in Language, Literacy and Mathematics for 2–4s
  • Level 4 qualification in Creating Communication Friendly Settings (1 practitioner per setting/school)
  • Settings/school will also gain a nationally recognised Communication Friendly Setting Status (Open College Network, London).

To enable practitioners to attend, training is FREE and funding is available to cover backfill staffing costs.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, training will be online until a time we are able to carry out face to face sessions

Claire Hardiman 
Early Years & Childcare Development Officer 
E-mail: 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.

Black Country Early Outcomes Website

Please see below the information regarding the Early outcomes fund project, along with the website link.

Speech, language and communication (SLC) is one of the key foundation stones to a child’s development and future learning. It is highly recognised and researched that speech, language and communication barriers for children at an early age can create major difficulties as they move through the education system and into adulthood. England is facing a huge language and literacy challenge which starts in early years. The language and vocabulary gap between wealthier and poorer children, is already apparent at 18 months of age. By the age of 5 children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds are starting school in year one, 19 months behind their peers and struggle to catch up from then on.

Speech, Language and Communication together with Physical development and Personal, Social and Emotional development, form the three prime areas of learning with the Early Years Foundation Stage. The ways in which a child engages with other people and their environment – playing and exploring, active learning, and creating and thinking critically – underpin learning and development across all areas of learning and support the child to remain an effective and motivated learner. The prime areas of learning begin to develop quickly in response to relationships and experiences and underpin all others of learning.

The Black Country Early Outcomes website is designed to:

  • support parents, practitioners and professionals across the Black Country
  • support in the early identification of speech, language and communication needs
  • enable parents, practitioners and professional to understand the expected levels of speech, language and communication (SLC) development,
  • provide support on the development of SLC within the home and settings,
  • provide information on where, when and how to find more specialist support.
  • provide practitioners with access to training opportunities,
  • support settings and parents enabling them to create a language rich environment for all children.

All information has been brought together through a cross border, multi-agency team with colleagues from Education, Early Help, Health Visiting and Speech and Language Therapy services.

Frequently asked questions – schools, settings and providers

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

Will practitioners need to wear PPE in the setting?

The majority of staff in education, childcare and children’s social care settings will not require PPE beyond what they would normally need for their work, even if they are not always able to maintain a distance of 2 metres from others.

PPE is only needed in a very small number of cases:

  • where an individual child, young person or other learner becomes ill with coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms and only then if a distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained
  • where a child, young person or learner already has routine intimate care needs that involves the use of PPE, in which case the same PPE should continue to be used

Guidance

Will settings need to take children’s temperature on arrival to the setting?

Settings do not need to take children’s temperatures every morning or throughout the day. Public Health England’s guidance is that routine testing of an individual’s temperature is not a reliable method for identifying coronavirus. There is no need for anything other than normal personal hygiene and washing of clothes following a day in a childcare setting.

Guidance

Can children attend more than one setting?

To minimise contact between groups of children and staff, children should attend just one setting wherever possible and parents and carers should be encouraged to minimise as far as possible the number of education and childcare settings their child attends.

Guidance

Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

Are childminder’s able to pick up and drop off children to school or other settings?

Childminding settings should consider how they can work with parents and carers to agree how best to manage any necessary journeys, for example pick-ups and drop-offs at schools, to reduce the need for a provider to travel with groups of children.

Guidance

Do setting need to complete a 2-year progress check?

The progress check at age 2 will not need to be undertaken during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

What this means in practice

Providers would normally need to undertake a progress check when a child is aged between 2 and 3. This provides parents/carers with a short, written summary of their child’s development in the prime areas.

During the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak we do not expect providers to undertake this check, but providers should still remain alert to any emerging concerns about any child in their care and endeavour to provide or seek additional support if needed. It is expected that the checks will take place as soon as is practical once the child returns to, or joins, the early years setting, including where a child has turned 3 if it is considered appropriate and useful in the provider’s professional judgement and in discussion with the child’s parents/carers.

Guidance

What happens if practitioners need to renew their paediatric first aid (PFA) certificates?

If PFA certificate requalification training is prevented for reasons associated directly with coronavirus (COVID-19), or by complying with related government advice, the validity of current certificates can be extended by up to 3 months. This applies to certificates expiring on or after 16 March 2020. If, exceptionally requalification training is still unavailable, a further extension is possible to no later than 30 September 2020. If asked to do so, providers should be able to explain why the first aider hasn’t been able to requalify and demonstrate what steps have taken to access the training. Employers or certificate holders must do their best to arrange requalification training at the earliest opportunity.

Guidance

Will Ofsted still carry out inspections?

The Secretary of State for Education announced the suspension of routine Ofsted inspections on 17 March 2020.

The safeguarding responsibilities of settings have not changed, and Ofsted’s inspection and regulatory work triggered by safeguarding concerns will continue.

See Ofsted’s response to coronavirus (COVID-19) for more information.

Guidance

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.

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.

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 

Safeguarding in schools
Information for schools, settings and providers

Mental Health

Negative experiences and distressing life events, such as in the current circumstances, can affect the mental health of pupils and their parents. Schools are aware of this in setting expectations of pupils’ work where they are at home.

Schools will have regard to the DfE guidance on mental health and behaviour in schools which sets out how mental health issues can bring about changes in a young person’s behaviour or emotional state which can be displayed in a range of different ways, and that can be an indication of an underlying problem. Schools support for pupils and students in the current circumstances may include existing provision in the school (although this may be delivered in different ways, for example over the phone) or from specialist staff or support services.

Online safety in schools and colleges

Schools understand that it is important to provide a safe environment, including online. Schools will continue to ensure that appropriate filters and monitoring are in place to protect children when they are online on school or college IT systems or recommended resources. Schools will consider who in their institution has the technical knowledge to maintain safe IT arrangements.

The UK Council for Internet Safety provides information to help governing boards and proprietors assure themselves that any new arrangements continue to effectively safeguard children online.

The UK Safer Internet Centre’s professional online safety helpline also provides support for the children’s workforce with any online safety issues they face. Schools will also contact their IT provider for assistance if required.

Children and online safety away from school and college

Schools are doing what they can to keep all children safe. Schools understand that it is important that all staff who interact with children, including online, continue to look out for signs a child may be at risk. Any such concerns will be dealt with as per the schools’ safeguarding/child protection policy and where appropriate referrals will be made to children’s social care and as required the police.

The DfE provides separate guidance on providing education remotely. Leaders should consider as part of any remote learning strategy, the use of technology. Recently published guidance from the UK Safer Internet Centre on safe remote learning and from the London Grid for Learning on the use of videos and livestreaming could help plan online lessons and/or activities and plan them safely.

Schools and colleges will consider the safety of all children when they are asked to work online. The starting point for online teaching should be that the same principles as set out in the school’ or college’s staff behaviour policy (sometimes known as a code of conduct). This policy should amongst other things include acceptable use of technologies, staff pupil/student relationships and communication including the use of social media. The policy will apply equally to any existing or new online and distance learning arrangements which are introduced. Schools may seek support from the local authority or their independent consultant when planning online lessons/activities and considering online safety.

Schools and colleges should ensure any use of online learning tools and systems is in line with privacy and data protection/GDPR requirements.

An essential part of the online planning process will be ensuring children who are being asked to work online have very clear reporting routes in place, so they can raise any concerns whilst online. As well as reporting routes back to schools or colleges, this should also signpost children to age appropriate practical support from the likes of:

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

Teaching and curriculum
Information for schools, settings and providers

Message from the School Improvement Team

Thank you to all Headteachers and staff who have enabled the full curriculum to be offered to all pupils as soon as they are able. Recovery Plans have been used to full effect by school leaders, enabling a cautious transition between welcoming pupils back in September and delivering the curriculum in full. During the early autumn term, many schools focused upon the basics to provide a firm foundation for learning and then phased in wider subjects over time, and schools have all responded in their own unique way based upon individual circumstances, and the ever-changing context in which schools work.

Autumn visits enabled the School Improvement Advisory team to understand the complexities of resuming learning after pupils have had a length of time away from classroom delivery, and baseline activities (led by Mark Smith and his team) also helped leaders understand gaps in learning, so providing a rationale for activity. Thanks to all those schools who took part in this important piece of work (as it provided a baseline for the city) capturing the level of lost learning and providing a scaffold for teaching and learning in the autumn term to enable pupils to get back on track. Many schools also undertook their own assessments, again providing a baseline for prioritising learning, fully understanding what pupils needed.

Midline assessments will continue in the spring term to explore progress to date and inform next steps.

Virtual and remote learning continue to be imperative in ensuring learning doesn’t stall, and we have seen schools develop and enhance their digital offer over time (subject to the challenges of the ‘digital divide’). Laura Jude and Mark Smith’s team have worked with many schools over the autumn term to explore best practice and help schools understand the complexities of remote learning. This is also coupled with Laura Jude’s work on understanding the digital divide and supporting schools in accessing resources to prevent further disadvantage. School leaders are reminded that there is a requirement to publish remote plans on their school website by January 25th 2021. More guidance and information please view Providing remote education information to parents: template

Our NQT offer and support continues, much of which is delivered remotely. The School Improvement team understand the difficulties that Covid has bought to NQT induction and support, so should you need further guidance or advice, please contact jo.horlock@wolverhampton.gov.uk

Equally, assessment arrangements have been affected by the global pandemic. 2020 saw assessment protocols redefined, and 2021 assessment may also be subject to significant change. Current information can be found here:

The team are able to work with schools and leaders (subject to safety advice at the time of the request and intended delivery date) as normal and with new members of the team, we aim to provide additional capacity and support in the areas of Maths and SEND especially.

Our School Improvement Strategy has been adapted to meet the needs of schools in the current climate and the focus is very much on support, and this will continue through meetings scheduled for the first half of the spring term 2021. Activity thereafter will take place based upon the current context and information gathered from schools as part of the team’s day to day work.

If you feel there are other areas with which the School Improvement Team could assist you and your school, please contact Linda Brown, Senior School Improvement Adviser via: linda.brown@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  

Children and Young People with Educational Health Care Plans (EHCP)

Best endeavours remains in place.  Schools and local authorities have an absolute duty to secure the special educational provision specified within a EHCP.  Between May to July 2020, the Coronavirus Act 2020 temporarily amended the absolute duty to a ‘reasonable endeavours’ duty. The duties under s.42 and s.43 Children and Families Act 2014 are now in full force at this time and best endeavours remains in place.

The government continues to update its main guidance on the full re-opening of schools and for parents and carers.  Separate guidance for special settings can be found here

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:

How to talk to children about the coronavirus:

Coronavirus workbook for children:

Advice for young people who may be worried about coronavirus:

This website is helpful for positive mental health resources:

Contact details

Linda Brown, Senior School Improvement Advisor

Louise Mututa, School Improvement Advisor

Mark Smith, Citizenship  Language & Learning Senior Advisor

School staff FAQs

For School staff FAQs, please see Schools Guidance COVID-19 FAQs.

This can be found in the Downloads section.

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