8 March Schools Reopening for all pupils

Dear Governor

Here are three bits of information which you might find useful to consider in the current situation and share with your senior leaders prior to  full school opening on 8th March

  1. Vaccination. 

The CIPD ( Chartered Institute of Personnel Development) has published a document for its Members and is advising organisations to have a vaccination policy/statement which sets out the following:

    1. Encourages all employees who can do so to get vaccinated once they are offered it.
    2. Explains that this encouragement forms part of the obligations that each employer has through its health and safety obligations and duty of care for the wellbeing of all individual staff and the community it serves.
    3. Explains there will be no compulsion to get vaccinated but all staff are strongly encouraged to do so unless there are specific medical reasons why this is not advised
    4. The school will release staff in order to attend their vaccination appointments  ( you  may want to add any school specific requirements here- eg go after school if there is a choice, who to notify etc)
    5. A risk assessment for individuals who are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable, Pregnant or Breastfeeding, or choose not to be vaccinated should be undertaken and homeworking and alternative working arrangements considered
    6. And last but not least the Guidance about  Social distancing, handwashing and wearing face coverings  remains in place even after staff have been vaccinated

You could consider a vaccination policy or adding this section to your Risk Assessment, wellbeing policy or Code of Conduct etc as best fits your school

For those who are also CIPD members the full Vaccination HR guidance can be accessed here https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/emp-law/health-safety/preparing-for-covid-19-vaccination

  1. Staff unwilling to return to work- legal position
    1. If staff are claiming that they do not feel safe returning to work then the legal situation this poses and the  options schools should consider is explained here

https://www.stoneking.co.uk/literature/webinar-recording/attendance-work-during-lockdown-getting-balance-right-education\

  1. Upcoming Free Webinar re March opening Stone King Webinar: Full reopening of schools on 8 March 2021 – Key Legal and Practical Points – 02.03.2021, 2pm

Following the release of the Department for Education guidance on the planned return to school of all pupils from 8 March, this one hour webinar will focus on the legal and practical implications for schools, their pupils and employees including:

  • Implementing Covid testing and enhanced control measures for pupils and staff
  • Staffing issues
  • Curriculum provision including the future of remote learning

The webinar will provide an overview of the guidance followed by a live question and answer session. Questions can be submitted in advance during booking or emailed to events@stoneking.co.uk. ​

The full guidance can be viewed here.

Please book your place on this webinar here

I hope the signposting of the information above is useful for you.  Please do email us with your feedback

Best wishes

Anne Sheddick

Vice Chair BASG

Anne.sheddick@gmail.com

Free Governor Training Spring 2021 – update

Dear Governors,

Further to the previous message below, we have an additional session available which you can now book on:

Statutory Relationships, RSE and Health Education in the PSHE Curriculum   30th March

We are pleased to advise you of new dates for training sessions in the Spring term. These sessions are free and are open to any members of your governing board.

The training will be online via MS Teams, starting at 6.30pm and will last for approximately one hour.  To register your place please follow the links below.

Safeguarding in Schools                         25th Feb

The Role of the Governing Board        3rd Mar

Financial Management for Schools     9th Mar

Developing Relationships with the Senior Leadership Team 17th Mar

The Secondary Governor’s Role in School Improvement        25th Mar

Any problems, please contact me.

Regards,

Hazel David

School Improvement Team

Children’s Services

 

Buckinghamshire Council

4th Floor, County Hall

Walton Street

Aylesbury,

HP20 1UZ

NGA – School reopen to all pupils: key changes to control measures

The Department for Education (DfE) have published updated operational guidance for schools in preparation
for full reopening on 8 March. This information sheet summarises key elements of the guidance and outlines
the role of governing boards in supporting reopening.
From 8 March:
◼ Attendance will be mandatory for all pupils (except those who are clinically extremely vulnerable or
need to self-isolate).
◼ Schools are required to provide remote education for pupils who are unable to attend school
because they are following government guidance.
◼ Essential control measures must be in place to minimise COVID-19 transmission.
◼ Secondary schools can phase the return of pupils during the first week to facilitate testing.
◼ Schools will need to review risk assessments (and update where necessary) in advance of 8 March.
Implementing operational plans is the responsibility of school leaders and this will be their focus in the lead
up to 8 March.
The role of the governing board
Governing boards should seek assurance from school leaders that risk assessments are being carried out in
preparation for reopening and that relevant policies are brought up to date as needed. As always,
safeguarding and the wellbeing of pupils and staff should be a priority.
Governing boards should engage with school leaders in the approach to 8 March (through usual monitoring
routines where possible), giving due regard to the published guidance. Most of the control measures set out
in the updated guidance replicate those implemented in September 2020. However, we’ve highlighted some
new and important elements below:
Asymptomatic testing for all school staff, and for secondary school pupils
◼ Secondary and primary school staff will be given kits for twice weekly testing at home.
◼ Returning secondary pupils will be tested three times at school (three to five days apart) and will be
provided kits for at-home testing thereafter.
◼ There will be no testing of primary pupils.
◼ All testing carried out in school will use lateral flow devices (LFD) which provide a result in 30
minutes.
◼ Staff and pupils with a positive LFD result will need to follow self-isolation guidance and obtain a
PCR test to confirm the result.
◼ Close contacts of anyone who tests positive must not attend school for ten days.
All testing is voluntary.
Extended use of face coverings in secondary schools
◼ Previously, the guidance asked secondary pupils and staff to wear face coverings in indoor
communal areas.
◼ The new guidance extends this recommendation to all indoor environments in secondary schools
(including classrooms) when social distancing cannot be maintained.
◼ Exemptions (such as pupils who rely on visual signals for communication) apply.
Wraparound care and extra-curricular activities to resume
◼ From 8 March, schools are encouraged to resume before and after school activities that help parents
to attend work and support pupils’ wider education.

Supporting parents, pupils and staff
◼ The DfE have recognised that some families and school staff may be feeling anxious about school
resuming.
◼ The guidance encourages schools to discuss any concerns and “provide reassurance on the
measures you are putting in place to reduce any risks”, reiterating that pupil attendance is
mandatory.
Adjusting start and finish times
◼ Whilst overall teaching time should not be reduced, schools can stagger start and finish times to
keeps groups apart as they arrive and leave.
◼ Schools should think about how best to communicate changes to parents and remind them not to
gather outside the school entrance.
Governing boards continue to offer valuable support to school leaders, as they have done throughout the
COVID-19 pandemic. Control measures will be in place until at least Easter, when the end of term will
provide an important rest period for school staff.
Further reading
Visit the NGA Knowledge Centre where our COVID-19 hub will be updated with essential guidance and
information for governing boards in the lead up to 8 March and beyond.

NGA support joint statement on wider opening of schools in England

Release date: 19/02/2021

Ahead of the Prime Minister’s expected announcement on Monday 22 February regarding the further opening of schools and colleges, the National Governance Association (NGA) has joined with eight other education associations and unions to make a joint statement. The other organisations involved are the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), GMB, National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), NASUWT, National Education Union (NEU), Sixth Form Colleges’ Association (SFCA), Unison, and Unite.

Statement:

We are committed to bringing all children and young people back into the classroom as soon as possible. However, it is counterproductive if there is a danger of causing another surge in the virus, and the potential for a further period of lockdown. Wider opening must be safe and sustainable.

We therefore urge the Prime Minister to commit to 8 March only if the scientific evidence is absolutely clear that this is safe, and at that point go no further than a phased return of children and young people with sufficient time to assess the impact before moving to the next phase.

We are increasingly concerned that the government is minded to order a full return of all pupils on Monday 8 March in England.

This would seem a reckless course of action. It could trigger another spike in Covid infections, prolong the disruption of education, and risk throwing away the hard-won progress made in suppressing the virus over the course of the latest lockdown.

The science around the role that schools play in the overall rate of transmission is uncertain. Scientists have expressed different views on this point. What we do know is that the full reopening of schools will bring nearly 10 million pupils and staff into circulation in England – close to one fifth of the population. This is not a small easing of lockdown restrictions. It is a massive step.

These factors necessitate a cautious approach with wider school and college opening phased over a period of time. This is the approach being taken in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It allows public health experts to assess the impact of the first phase before moving to the next.

None of this is intended to stand in the way of the full reopening of schools and colleges. On the contrary. It is intended as a prudent way forward to ensure that once they are fully open, they stay open.

Emma Knights, chief executive of the National Governance Association said: “The government is rightly giving us all this messaging on hands-face-space, but the Department for Education appears to be saying that it’s okay for all children to go back to schools at full capacity. We are not reassured, given what happened last year and the transmission rate of the variants, of the scientific basis for believing this number of people inside in secondary schools is reasonable. We need to do something differently from the autumn to avoid lockdown four. We’ve got to a point where everybody wants pupils back in school, but nobody wants to be back at the point when rates rise dramatically again.”

Free Governor Training Spring 2021

Dear Governors,
We are pleased to advise you of new dates for training sessions in the Spring term. These sessions are free and are open to any members of your governing board.
The training will be online via MS Teams, starting at 6.30pm and will last for approximately one hour.  To register your place please follow the links below.
Safeguarding in Schools                         25th Feb
The Role of the Governing Board        3rd Mar
Any problems, please contact me.
Regards,
Hazel David
School Improvement Team
Children’s Services
Buckinghamshire Council
4th Floor, County Hall
Walton Street
Aylesbury,
HP20 1UZ
07824 482570

Voucher Reminder – Helping Hands vouchers (half term) and FSM vouchers (term time)

Dear Colleagues,

  1. Half term Helping Hand voucher reminder

For all schools – Vouchers provided by Buckinghamshire Council Helping Hand Project, funded by the Winter Grant Scheme for every benefits-related free school meal pupil, to provide £15 support for vulnerable families with food during the half term holiday.

Please remember to download the letters from Any Comms Plus that contain the £15 voucher codes for pupils eligible for free school meals for the half term break.  We really do appreciate your help in getting these letters out to parents and remind you that these need sending before the end term.

If you have any enquiries about the half term voucher provision, please email helpinghands@buckinghamshire.gov.uk

  1. Term Time Free School Meal Vouchers reminder

For those schools who are ordering term-time FSM vouchers from Blackhawk Incentives through Buckinghamshire Council Traded Services.

Vouchers ordered for the week after half term will be delivered electronically  by Friday 12th February, for you to send out to parents when the school returns on Monday 22nd February.

Please contact tradedservices@buckinghamshire.gov.uk with any queries.

Kind regards,

The School Improvement and Helping Hand Teams

 

FW: Funding for Digital Devices – Deadline Extension

Dear Colleagues,

We note that we have not yet had a return from your school detailing the pupils in your school that still do not have sufficient access to a digital device in their home to enable them to participate in remote education.  I attach a copy of the original email which was sent on 9th February.

Please can you provide details on the spreadsheet attached above of which pupils you will be claiming for and confirmation that they meet the four criteria. Once complete, please save your file with the filename 825LLLL_825xxxx_Remote Learning Support.xlsx, where xxxx is your school number, then upload the file to AnyComms Plus selecting “Remote Learning” as the file type. We have extended the deadline until end of school day today, Thursday 11th February, to allow you extra time to submit this information.  We would be grateful if the school could submit a ‘nil’ return if there any no pupils in the school that meet the four eligibility criteria for our records.

 We will then confirm the number of eligible pupils and the maximum amount of funding available for your school and provide more details on how to process your claim tomorrow, Friday 12th  February.  To participate in this scheme, all claims must be made by Friday 26th February.

825LLLL_825xxxx_Remote Learning Support (002)

Kind regards and thank you for your support,

Gareth Drawmer

Head of Achievement and Learning

Update on testing from Public Health

Dear Colleagues,

Please find below three guidance updates on testing in schools:

  1. Confirmatory PCR tests.  Colleagues will be aware that the requirement for a confirmatory PCR test, in the event of a member of staff getting a positive lateral flow device (LFD) result, has been removed for all such tests not being conducted at home.  Primary school staff who get a positive LFD test are therefore still required to get a PCR in order to confirm the result, whereas Secondary school staff are not.  The DfE have just released a helpful FAQ clarifying how Primary schools should treat a positive LFD from a contact tracing point of view: [Primary schools should still] send home those people who have been in close contact with the person who has tested positive, as defined in the actions for schools during the coronavirus outbreak guidance. Those who have come into close contact with staff who have a positive LFD result should isolate straight away rather than waiting for the staff member’s confirmatory positive PCR test. The staff member’s household should also isolate immediately after the positive LFD result, as per the stay-at-home guidance.
  2. Asymptomatic LFD testing for staff who are post-COVID.  Staff who have had COVID-19 within the last 90 days can be assumed to have sufficient acquired immunity to make re-infection extremely unlikely, and are also more likely to get false positive PCR results, during that time period.  On this basis, anyone who is within 90-days of confirmed COVID-19 (with their onset of symptoms or initial positive test counting as day zero, whichever came first) do not need to be included in routine asymptomatic LFD testing.
  3. Twice weekly staff testing.  National guidance now recommends that staff are tested twice weekly.  Obviously, some schools – particularly Secondaries who have to conduct testing within the school day – will vary in their capacity to test this frequently, but if it is possible then twice-weekly is now the recommended option.

We are awaiting a national decision on full school re-opening, as well as on how this will change the above testing guidance.

Kind regards,

 Daniel Flecknoe

Consultant in Public Health

Adults and Health Directorate

Buckinghamshire Council

BASG February 2021 Newsletter No.2

AGM
We were delighted to welcome over 70 governors at our AGM on 14 January 2021. Our Chair, Paul Randall, led
the meeting on MS Teams to report on the annual accounts, elections to the Executive Committee and the
considerable volume of BASG activity during 2020. With great pride and respect we welcomed the keynote
speaker, Emma Knights OBE, Chief Executive of NGA, who spoke with passion and understanding about the role
of governors in today’s world. Emma answered a variety of questions from attendees, covering topics linked to:
• Recruitment
• Funding
• Diversity of Boards
• Localism
• Safeguarding
• Academy Conversions
• Remote Education
• Service Providers

The AGM extended a warm welcome also to two new members of the Executive Committee, Andrew Brown and
Martin Baxter. Andrew has served on Governing Boards in Buckinghamshire Schools for over 20 years. Currently he is Chair of Governors at Chiltern Hills Academy in Chesham. He is a member of the School Governance
Consultative Board at Buckinghamshire Council and in his spare time he enjoys singing in choirs and Scottish
Country Dancing. Martin is Chair at Turnfurlong Junior School and a Trustee of the Aylesbury Learning
Partnership, a co-operative trust of maintained schools. He taught in two schools before a career in several local
authorities, mostly concerned with teaching and school improvement. Martin has engaged in UK and
international projects on school leadership and curriculum development and has seen governance from many
angles. Both Andrew and Martin are passionate about governance and we look forward to the valued
contributions and expertise they will bring to BASG.

BASG Activity 2020
To capture just some of the work taking place to support Governors across the County:
• Regular scheduled meetings with members of the Buckinghamshire Council Education Team
• Ensuring that Local Authority communications linked to Leadership & Management in schools are sent
directly to Chairs of Governors to share with their Boards
• Working with the Local Authority to continue the fully funded membership of NGA for all maintained
schools, providing governors with immediate access to this professional organization for guidance,
training and governor support
• The launch of our new website http://www.bucksgovernors.org/, with a special thank you to Tomas
Pukalski, Director of Framework Digital in Aylesbury, who made this possible
• Keeping up our social media presence on Twitter @BucksGovernors and Facebook, for which we are
grateful to our dedicated Duke of Edinburgh’s Award student, who also happens to be the daughter of
the Chair. Please give us a follow and like, share and comment on our posts. Join the Facebook group and
sign up to our mailing list via the website to stay fully connected to the governor community
• Highlighting training needs for governors, resulting in on-line training sessions led by Local Authority
specialists. The sessions have been very well attended and will continue into 2021
• BASG representatives continue to attend the School Governance Consultative Board, which meets
quarterly and is attended by senior LA officers and elected Members. The SGCB is currently chaired by
Peter Lerner, Safeguarding and Equalities governor at Lane End Primary School
• Representatives from BASG also attend Side by Side meetings to support the Local Authority in the drive
for school improvement in Buckinghamshire
• Organising and chairing the Local Networking Groups, which although can no longer meet face to face,
continue to flourish via Zoom or MS Teams
• It is hoped that mentoring for new Chairs will launch this year to develop further robust, effective and
passionate governance throughout Buckinghamshire.

BASG Executive Committee hard at work at our most recent meeting on 1 February:

 

Visible Governance
“Good governance is not just an insurance policy that picks up the pieces when things have gone wrong; it is a
central component of a successful organization”. (NGA)

With over 300,000 governors in the UK, NGA is promoting a campaign to bring governance further into the
limelight. Please use the link below to find out how you can support this campaign to achieve a higher profile
and better understanding of governance, and further improve the lives of children and their communities.
https://www.nga.org.uk/Membership/NGA-Magazine/PDFs/2020/March-2020/Making-Governance-Visible.aspx

Networking Groups
As mentioned above, Local Networking Groups continue across the county. Governors come together to discuss
issues and to share thoughts and concerns on local and national agendas. We aim for a member of the BASG
Executive Committee to attend each meeting so that key points can be dovetailed into other meetings such as
the School Governance Consultative Board. The following dates remain for this term:

• 17 February 2021: the newly resurrected Chesham, Amersham, Wendover and Great Missenden group
for chairs and vice-chairs will meet from 19:00 to 21:00 via MS Teams. Please contact Andrew Brown
abrown1@chacademy.co.uk if you would like to attend
• 20 March 2021: South Bucks area group (known as Jordans) for chairs, vice-chairs and committee chairs
will meet at 10:00 via MS Teams. Please contact Anne Sheddick anne.sheddick@gmail.com to attend
• 23 March 2021: the Aylesbury group, open to all governors, will meet at 19:00. Please contact Martin
Baxter mbaxter@turnfurlongmiddle.bucks.sch.uk to attend

At the last Aylesbury networking group, discussion took place on how challenging it is to address the ‘Wellbeing
need in schools when we are remote, it being more difficult to pick-up the vibes. One school had established a
COVID committee and in another, governors had online discussions with middle leaders to gauge a sense of
wellbeing and how the school had adapted to new expectations. We ask governors to reflect on the culture of
Wellbeing that exists in their school or Trust. The NGA has provided an evaluation tool which invites participants
to reflect on the approach taken towards staff wellbeing at both board and operational level:
https://www.nga.org.uk/Knowledge-Centre/Best-use-of-Resources/Staffing/Teacher-workload-andwellbeing/Promoting-wellbeing-an-evaluation-tool-for-governi.aspx

Governor Training and Events
The training events provided by Buckinghamshire Council have been very well attended and further sessions are
in the planning as we speak – dates will be posted on our website as soon as they are available. Other upcoming
events are already available to browse on the website – please take a look http://www.bucksgovernors.org/

NGA
As mentioned above, we are delighted that Buckinghamshire Council has again funded membership of NGA for
all maintained schools, with a reduced price option for academies. Membership includes:

• copies of Governing Matters magazine sent to the home of three governors and a copy to the school
• a weekly e-newsletter featuring the latest education news and policy updates
• full access to members-only content in our online Knowledge Centre containing a wealth of governance
resources
• NGA guides available at a discounted rate
• a free place at NGA member conferences and events which draw high-profile speakers
Learning Link that provides comprehensive training for governors, trustees, chairs and clerks on the full
range of their responsibilities

This year there have also been on-going additions of webinars to further support governing boards:
https://www.nga.org.uk/News/Webinars.aspx

NASEN (National Association for Special Educational Needs)

Back in September last year, NASEN announced an exciting change to their membership offer in that it was to
become FREE for all individuals across the UK. We are delighted to confirm that this free membership is now
available! To access the new offer, you just need to activate your account
NASEN are committed to ensuring that expertise in SEND is available to each and every school and setting across
the UK. This is more important now than ever before as the impact of the pandemic creates continued social
upheaval for families and the education workforce. Benefits of membership include:
• Up-to-date knowledge and support rooted in research and evidence-informed best practice to empower
the workforce to become effective, inclusive practitioners
• Exclusive online access to NASEN Connect magazine six times a year, packed with advice and analysis
impacting on the SEND workforce
• Updates from the Whole School SEND Consortium, hosted by NASEN, including access to free resources
such as the Whole School SEND Review Guides, research, ‘What Works’ signposting and CPDL training
programme, including webinars
• Easy-to-access information through NASEN’s e-communications, developed by the specialist in-house
education team. This includes a monthly member newsletter, resource news blasts, sector newsflash,
topical resources, articles and discounts on training and CPDL
We would recommend a visit to the NASEN SEND Gateway www.sendgateway.org.uk, which has recently
received a makeover and continues to be the one-stop shop for all things SEND. To find out more, visit www.nasen.org.uk or e-mail membership@nasen.org.uk

Competition!
NASEN have published an excellent new handbook and practical guide to support Governing Boards, SEND
Governors and SENDCOs; essential reading for all SEND Governors.

“The Governance Handbook for SEND and Inclusion” By Adam Boddison, Routledge, 2021

Four free copies of the book are available on a first come first served basis, thanks to the generosity of Emma
Knights at the NGA. To win a copy, please send an email to Paul Randall pauljrandall@btinternet.com, giving
details of your role as a Governor, the school(s) where you serve and your home address. The first four people
to email will receive a free copy of the book via Amazon.

Acknowledging the work of schools
As a final item, we think it is important to dedicate a few words in recognition of the efforts of all those working
in schools this past year. Leaders have shown clarity and care in prioritising the well-being of the school
community, taking potentially life-saving decisions based on rapidly changing information and guidance. The
teaching and learning support staff have risen to the challenge of managing on-site provision for children in
attendance whilst working incredibly hard to provide learning materials for the children at home. It goes without
saying that schools have only been able to stay open at all thanks to the commitment of site teams and nonteaching staff in keeping the school environments safe, clean and running efficiently. There cannot have been a
more difficult time through which to update and reassure parents, children and colleagues – the circumstances
have been anxious for all concerned and emotional energy has been stretched thinly. As governors, we are
proud and inspired by the professionalism and dedication of the school community and we remain committed to
supporting them in the work they lead.

Schools Forum Elections February 2021

Sent on behalf of Christina Beevers, Senior Member Support and Development Officer

Dear Headteachers and Chairs of Governors,

The Schools Forum, an advisory body for matters relating to schools budgeting, is now looking for new members from the following schools:

  • Primary Academy
  • Primary (Junior) Maintained
  • Primary (Infant) Maintained
  • Secondary (Upper) Academy x2
  • PRUs x2

Instructions, checklist and timeline, along with the nomination form are attached. If you would be interested in joining us please complete the attached nomination and return to democracy@buckinghamshire.gov.uk form by Friday 26 February 2021

1. Checklist and timeline

2. article

3. Nomination Form

Kind Regards,

 Christina Beevers

Senior Member Support and Development Officer

 Democratic Services

Deputy Chief Executive Directorate

Buckinghamshire Council