Sent on behalf of Joanna Cassey, Service Director of Education

Dear Colleagues

Thank you to those who have sent in their questions for us to consider and provide advice on as we collectively respond to the current situation. I am attaching two documents that have been worked on ny officers today:

• Responses to questions received either from schools direct or the Chairs of PEB, BASH and SSHT as part of our daily teleconference;
• Responses drafted by HR officers.

We will upload these onto our dedicated schools web page and also move to allocate these to specific sections to make them easier for you to be orientated/digest the information. The web page is being maintained regularly during the day as and when new guidance is shared with us be DfE so do please continue to check that and signpost your staff to do likewise..

With very best wishes

Joanna Cassey
Service Director of Education
Children’s Services
Buckinghamshire County Council


Schools Web COVID -19 : Link to FAQs

Dear Colleagues,

Please see below the link to the FAQs on schools web. The team are constantly reviewing and updating all FAQs therefore if you are unable to find the answer to your question please contact


Message from Bucks Education Partnership

To all governors,
We are all having to adapt working practice in line with guidance to deal with the COVID-19 crisis. Clearly there are inevitable challenges working in such a fluid situation but do be assured we are doing what we can to support you all and would like to extend our gratitude and support for all school communities during this difficult time.
We are receiving a number of calls from governors asking if meetings should go ahead and in an effort to support all our schools, we have added a section dealing with COVID-19 to our website – this is available to all BEP schools regardless of which package they buy. Here you will find links to the latest information alongside guidance on remote meetings and a model virtual meeting policy which you may wish to adjust and adopt in your school.
If you feel there is anything further you need that we can help you with do please get in touch. We do hope you are all staying safe, following social distancing guidelines and remaining as positive as you can.
Best wishes
The support team



Sent on behalf of Tolis Vouyioukas, Corporate Director, Children’s Services

Dear Colleague,

The chairs of the primary, secondary and special schools groups, and the head of Aspire, together with myself and my leadership team held a telephone conference yesterday afternoon in response to the government’s announcement for schools to close and to support key workers and vulnerable children. We will continue these daily for the time being.

Like everyone else in the country right now, our single most critical priority is to minimise the spread of Covid-19. We fully appreciate that this is a very difficult time for everyone and we will continue to review our local position regularly.

I have held a telephone conference with the DfE yesterday and jointly with our head teacher colleagues have decided that we need to be proactive and organise our offer to both key workers and vulnerable children as a matter of urgency given that these new arrangements are effective from next Monday. You will also have received separate communications from me about social care and SEND. I am aware some of you have already written to parents directly but please make sure this is consistent with the national guidance and the advice below.

The key messages in the latest guidance are:

1. If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.
2. If a child needs specialist support, is vulnerable or has a parent who is a critical worker, then educational provision will be available for them.
3. Parents should not rely for childcare upon those who are advised to be in the stringent social distancing category such as grandparents, friends, or family members with underlying conditions.
4. Parents should also do everything they can to ensure children are not mixing socially in a way which can continue to spread the virus. They should observe the same social distancing principles as adults.
5. Residential special schools, boarding schools and special settings continue to care for children wherever possible.

Guidance for professionals

Guidance for parents and carers

Key Workers

The announcement regarding key workers was made overnight. Together with the Chairs of the School Partnerships, we believe that the best way forward is for each school to write to their parents directly and immediately and invite them to come forward and identify themselves if they are a key worker and wish to take up the offer of childcare. Please refer to the guidance above but also be mindful that there will be other council staff not on this list who are carrying out critical and essential duties in response to Covid-19 and their children will need access to local childcare.

Guidance to professionals states that although this provision is available to any family within these groups as long as at least one person is a designated key worker, ‘many parents working in these sectors may be able to ensure that their child is kept at home. And every child who can be safely cared for at home should be’. This is further reinforced in the guidance to parents.

Vulnerable Children

Each school will know which of their pupils are children in need, subject to a child protection plan, in care and/or have an EHCP. These are the pupils that will need to benefit from these arrangements. For free school meal pupils, the priority is for the meal/voucher to get to the pupil instead of them being required to attend the school. However, this is subject to the head teacher’s discretion who will know which pupils on free school meals should attend a school setting. This also applies to our special schools and head teacher colleagues in those settings will need to use their discretion to decide which of their pupils are required to attend the school. This is confirmed in the guidance:

Special schools, colleges and local authorities are advised to make case by case basis assessments of the health and safeguarding considerations of pupils and students on an education, health and care (EHC) plan. For some, they will be safer in an education provision. For others, they will be safer at home. We trust leaders and parents to make these decisions and will support them as required.

Questions from Headteachers

Jo Cassey, Service Director for Education, has received a number of questions from you all; she will circulate responses to everyone tomorrow. In the meantime, any additional questions and/or points of clarification that you have, please direct them to the chair of your respective partnership group who will collate and send to Jo (Rebecca Campbell, Garret Fay, David Miller and Debra Rutley). Support staff working during the Easter break will be paid in line with the government’s advice for schools to remain open during this time.

Support for you

I am very clear that in these unprecedented times, your health and well-being are what will keep services going. I am aware some of you will have your own support arrangements in your school; however, please remember that our Principal Educational Psychologist Tim Jones and his team are here for you. This is a standing item in our discussions as a group and I want to make sure that we all work together and support each other as best we can.

Keeping our spirits up

I am already aware of several examples of schools doing all the right things to help and assist their pupils and their families. These are examples of care and kindness and exemplary leadership. Please let me, David, Rebecca, Debra, Garrett, Jo, Richard and Hero have any such examples and other good things that are already happening across our family of schools and children’s services. When this is over, we will have a story to tell to our children and young people and we must keep a record of it.

Thank you for all that you do so brilliantly well every single day and especially now.

Take good care.

Tolis Vouyioukas
Corporate Director
Children’s Services

Coronavirus (COVID-19): maintaining educational provision Guidance on Key Workers & Vulnerable Children Included

This link will take you to the Governments guidance for schools, colleges and local authorities on maintaining educational provision…



BASG – Update 20th March 2020

Dear Governors

BASG are working hard to ensure that we can support you in these difficult times of Coronavirus and the implications for schools by making the important information available to you as quickly as possible.
At the moment this broadly falls into support and Information through national and local information.

National Information and Guidance
The Key for school governors and Senior leaders is an up to date information service summarising the most important DFE and governor information and providing policy advice
This is an easily accessible service which in the current situation has its COVID 19 pages accessible to all Governors (without payment)
This is the link to relevant pages
Any additional information available on the Key site can be accessed by signing up for a 30 day free trial – (follow their links)
There is checklist document on the Key school Leaders section useful for planning and monitoring purposes
We have posted this for you to adapt and use.


National Governance Association (NGA)

From 12 March, NGA’s GOLDline is open for all those governing who have questions relating to the information sheet for governing boards on coronavirus. If you are not a NGA GOLD member and have a query relating to the coronavirus, please email or call 0121 237 3782. NGA GOLD members are asked to make a request through the usual route.

We shall also use this area of our website to post details of local information from the local authority as and when it becomes available.




Communication from Children’s Services Corporate Director

Communication from Buckinghamshire Children’s Services Corporate Director – Tolis Vouyioukas

Dear Colleague,

Please read attached document (* the content of this document is visible below with link to printable version) as a matter of urgency. In addition to what the document outlines the locality teams will be working closely with their colleagues in the SEND teams. This approach will be reviewed further as and when more guidance and advice becomes available from the DfE and Public Health. I am also speaking with the DfE this afternoon as well as headteacher colleagues once we have the cabinet office announcement on key workers and childcare arrangements and will communicate this to you all as soon as possible. The term used by Gavin Williamson, MP this morning was that schools would be ‘repurposed’ to support vulnerable children as well as support key workers with childcare so that they are able to carry out the very critical duties that are much needed at this time.

The heads of service in each social care locality team will be:

Paulette Thompson-Omenka Amersham

Amanda Andrews Wycombe

Errol Albert Aylesbury

And for SEND

Hayley Nowley Amersham

Ian Peters Wycombe

Christine Preston Aylesbury

Thank you for all that you do to keep services going for the most vulnerable and please make sure you read all future communications from the Chief Executive of the Council, Rachael Shimmin, myself, Richard Nash and Jo Cassey.

Best wishes.

Tolis Vouyioukas

Children’s Social Care/Service Delivery COVID – 19

19th March 2020


The current crisis in relation to C-19 is having, and will continue to have a significant impact on the ability of the service to meet its statutory obligations. The combined impact of:

· Families currently receiving a service stating they are self-isolating

· Partner agencies reducing their involvement with children and young people

· Staff within the service self-isolating and/or being in a high risk group and unavailable for work.

In the working days from 16 March 2020 to the end of the working day on 18 March 2020 the number of families self-isolating has risen from less than 10 to 136 at the time of writing. At the same time the number of staff who are unavailable to work has gone from 2% to 18%.

Critically, seeing children and young people in person and at home as set out in statutory guidance is less and less possible. Professionals meetings such as looked after reviews, case conferences and strategy meetings will take place via virtual means, all of which compromise statutory expectations. In addition, given our duty of care to our staff, others in the community and our children and young people we must adhere to public health advice and national government instruction.


The most important duties placed on the service to respond to new information in relation to a child’s circumstance, conduct s47 enquiries and take decisive action to keep children safe must continue. The service must also stay in contact with all of its looked after children, those that it supports under child in need plans and also those on child protection plans. However, it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to advance and action plans with children and their families, complete direct work with children or hold professionals meetings that agree new and further activity designed to improve the child or young person’s outcomes.

This, coupled with the latest information that all schools in England will close from Friday 20 March indicates that statutory children’s services must look at how it can ensure that the most vulnerable are protected. Visits to children on open cases, where there are no new high risks or existing high risks will be contacted and seen through virtual means. Face to face visits to families will only take place when the immediate safety of a child is thought to be compromised. In these incidents the risk to staff, the family and the child will be weighed up and considered. It is hoped protective equipment (gloves and masks) will be made available as will the latest public health advice in relation to social distancing and hygiene.

Service Delivery

From Monday 23 March 2020 the service will operate a ‘safe and well’ locality based service. The three main offices; Aylesbury, Wycombe and Amersham will each stay as service delivery points. The MASH will operate as usual. Each locality will focus upon the following:

1. New referrals and new information on open cases that indicate the likelihood of significant harm or actual significant harm will become the highest priority. Responses to these incidents will be the highest priority and may result in home visits being required. These will be risk assessed. It should be noted that vulnerable children should still attend school, which will provide opportunities to see them.

2. Open child protection cases will be managed in the first instance by virtual contact and conversations with young people and their parents and carers. Any indicators of increased risk will be discussed with team managers and decisions made about next steps. Potentially individual incidents will be considered in line with 1 above. Core groups and conferences will be conducted by virtual means. Information sharing and managing risks must continue to be appropriately shared.

3. Open child in need cases will be dealt with in the same way as set out in 2 above.

4. All looked after children will be seen via virtual methods in the first instance. Again, new risks or problems will need to be risked assessed in a similar way as described above. Reviews should continue, but virtually.

5. Care leavers will need frequent and regular contact. They are a high risk group given their isolation, limited funds and ability to stay healthy in the current circumstances. Unlike LAC children they will not have regular contact with a trusted adult. It should be possible to see care leavers in the right circumstances and do this safely and in line with public health advice.

Whilst continuity for families is important, it is probable and expected that the unavailability of allocated workers will mean that workers not known to children, young people and their families will be making contact with them in the ways described above. It will therefore be necessary to suspend for now the concept of teams in each locality (applies to Assessment, Help & Protection and LAC teams only) and staff will either come into work or be available by agreement from home. Available staff will work to the priorities of their particular locality and will receive tasks directly from the managers present. Each locality will have a named Head of Service and minimum of three on site managers to agree each day’s work and tasks based on the points 1 to 5 above.

C-19 Service Plan 19 03 20

Important Message from Service Director of Education

Sent on behalf of Joanna Cassey,  Service Director of Education


Dear Colleagues


I am writing to appraise you of the work we are doing in light of yesterday’s announcement from the government. You will be aware that the announcement focussed on a number of key areas:


·       Closure of schools, colleges and EY settings

·       Provision for vulnerable pupils including those with EHCPs, those known to Social Care and children of keyworkers


We are working to provide guidance and clarity for you at a time of uncertainty and are currently awaiting further information from the DfE. In order to maintain a partnership approach and provide the right level of support at this critical time we are meeting regularly with the Chairs of PEB, BASH and Special Heads to maintain dialogue, focus on priority areas and cascade information between ourselves.


We will continue to update our Schools web page with information as and when it is received. Clearly the details of yesterday’s announcement were unprecedented and we, like yourselves, are processing this to ensure that all pupils and staff are supported through this. This is the focus of all of our work and we will provide updates to schools as we progress with our plans.


Please ensure that your governing bodies have sight of all substantive communications from the Local Authority.

18 March – Coronavirus – Important message from Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson


Department for Education

Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education, has asked for this message to be passed to all those who work in the education sector
The government recognises the huge importance of the role you have played in maintaining the education, training and social care of our children and young people during this challenging time. I recognise that you will have the same anxieties as the rest of the country about your health and that of your families. On behalf of the Prime Minister and the entire government, I thank you all for all of your work so far, and your continued support. I am deeply grateful for the civic spirit and dedication of everyone working in education, and I will continue to provide my full support throughout this crisis.

Next steps
It is clear that education and children’s social care settings are increasingly finding it difficult to continue as normal, as illness and self-isolation impacts on staffing levels and pupil attendance. To provide parents, student and staff with the certainty they need we are announcing that schools, colleges and early years settings will be closed to everyone except children of key workers and vulnerable children from Monday, as part of the country’s ongoing response to coronavirus.
Examples of these workers include NHS staff, police and delivery drivers who need to be able to go to work. Vulnerable children include those who have a social worker and those with Education, Health and Care Plans.
A full list of key worker categories will be published by the Cabinet Office tomorrow.
Children who do not fall into these groups should remain at home with appropriate care.
Where schools are unable to provide this reduced provision, local authorities will work with the Department for Education’s regional teams to ensure an alternative option is available.
We are expecting early years providers and sixth form and further education colleges to do the same. We are working with Her Majesty’s Treasury on the financial support required. We are also asking that independent schools and boarding schools follow the same approach.
Where possible, we would encourage settings to stay open for this purpose throughout the Easter holidays.
Many universities and other higher education institutions are already taking necessary steps to keep their staff and students safe and where possible keep providing education. We are confident vice-chancellors are making the right decisions and the Department for Education continues to support them in doing so.

Temporary suspension of Ofsted inspections
Ofsted is to temporarily suspend routine inspections of schools, colleges, early years settings, children’s social care providers and local authorities to reduce the burden on staff who are providing vital services to the nation in response to coronavirus.

Update on assessments and examinations
We can confirm that we will not go ahead with assessments or exams, and that we will not be publishing performance tables for this academic year.
We will work with the sector and Ofqual to ensure children get the qualifications they need.
My Department is working closely with local authorities, representatives of early years, schools and head teachers, regional school commissioners and bodies such as Ofsted and Ofqual about how to deliver this change as effectively as possible.
And we will do whatever is necessary to support local authorities, settings, schools and teachers through the weeks and months ahead.

Free school meal provision
We will give schools the flexibility to provide meals or vouchers to children eligible for free school meals. Some schools are already doing this, and we will reimburse the costs. As soon as possible, we will put in place a national voucher system.

Thank you once again for everything you are doing at this difficult time.
The Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE MP
Secretary of State for Education


Postponed: BASG Spring Networking and Conference Spotlight on Disadvantaged

Based on the government’s declaration that the Coronavirus (COVID -19) is a public health emergency with increasing concerns, we at Buckinghamshire Association of School Governors have taken the decision to postpone our Spring Networking and Conference Spotlight on Disadvantaged. We feel that this decision is the most sensibly one based on the current unprecedented situation that continues to develop in this country and worldwide.

We will work hard over the next week or two to rearrange a suitable date that works for the National Governance Association and their speaker as well as the venue school, Booker Park Community School and send details out to you once this has been done.

In the meantime, there is no need for you to do anything regarding your booking on Eventbrite. You will be automatically booked onto the new date when announced and can make any changes to your booking preferences then.

Meanwhile keep safe in these uncertain times.