NGA – Reducing the impact of partial school closures on disadvantaged pupils

Updated 7 January 2021

Despite the best efforts of schools to provide continuity of education for all pupils, there is no doubt that disadvantaged pupils and their families will experience greater challenges than most of their peers.

NGA-COVID-Disadvantaged-Impact-update-07012021

This information sheet covers:

  • continuity of free school meals
  • catch-up premium: allocation, use of and scrutiny
  • assessing strategic priorities in light of COVID-19
  • considering the pupil premium strategy
  • questions to ask school leaders

NGA Providing Remote Education Guidance

Remote education: safeguarding, expectations, support and monitoring

Updated 15 January 2021 

This information sheet has been updated to reflect the latest DfE guidance. We’ve included additional advice and support for monitoring your school’s remote education provision and outlined the DfE’s minimum expectations. Use this information to build an understanding of what schools are expected to provide and to support your conversations with school leaders.

This information sheet covers:

  • Monitoring remote education
  • Tools to support monitoring conversations – NEW
  • Keeping pupils and teachers safe
  • The expectations for remote education
  • The characteristics of effective remote learning
  • Support available for school

NGA-COVID-Info-remote-education-updated-15012021

Extended Flexible Furlough Scheme

Sent on behalf of Buckinghamshire HR Department

The extended flexible furlough scheme, (Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)), is open until the end of April 2021. The scheme changes now make it possible for schools to claim a grant while allowing employees to continue to work part-time. Schools may only claim the grant for privately funded posts.

You can claim 80% of an employee’s usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. You can claim for employees who were employed on 30 October 2020. You are not able to claim employers NI or pension contributions.

The changes to the scheme mean that schools can claim for parent/privately funded posts (even if employees continue to work in a post funded by the DSG, (either at the same school, or at a different school). During the hours the employee is on furlough, they cannot do any work for you in the furloughed post.

It is essential that any grant from the CJRS does not duplicate other public funding Schools receive. In the spirit of this intention, Schools should take account of any additional financial support the Government has provided to them to support their continued efforts to address the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic; support that is intended to cover both increases in expenditure and budgetary pressures arising from falls in income. Where staff costs for those on furlough would ordinarily have been met through a mixture of public funding and other income, funding from the CJRS should only cover the costs not previously met through public funding.

To be eligible for the grant, schools must have confirmed to their employee in writing that they have been furloughed. The employee does not have to provide a written response.

From February, HMRC will publish information about employers who claim for periods starting on or after 1 December 2020 as part of their commitment to transparency and to deter fraudulent claims.

You must:

  • make sure that the agreement is consistent with employment, equality and discrimination laws
  • keep a written record of the agreement for five years
  • keep recordsof how many hours your employees work and the number of hours they are furloughed (i.e. not working)

In order to ensure full holiday pay entitlement is paid, Schools must continue to pay 100% of salary for the duration of the furlough.

Please complete the attached form. Claims can only be made retrospectively a month in arrears, if you have employees that meet the criteria above and you have fulfilled your employer obligations please email the form below to payroll@buckinghamshire.gov.uk no later than the 12th of each month in line with the normal payroll deadline.

School Furlough Form

 Please note that we can only process claims from January 2021 onwards, if you do have employees you wish to place on Furlough for January please send the information no later than the 31st January.

 It is the school’s responsibility to inform the payroll department asap of any changes that need to be made with regards to the hours being claimed and start and end dates of the furlough claims being made

 

Lunch parcels provided by Chartwells

SENT FROM GARETH DRAWMER, HEAD OF ACHIEVEMENT AND LEARNING

Dear Colleagues,

I am sure you will have seen in the adverse publicity regarding the free school lunch parcels provided by a company called Chartwells.

If you use Chartwells as a catering supplier and have been providing lunch parcels to your free school meal pupils not in school, please do let us know.  Please also let us know if you have delivered food parcels from another provider during this time.

By sharing this information we will be able to brief the Buckinghamshire Council Communications Team, who will be able to support you should this negative publicity affect your school.

Warm regards,

Gareth

Gareth Drawmer

Head of Achievement and Learning

DfE Educational Status Form

Sent to all HTs

 SENT ON BEHALF OF GARETH DRAWMER, HEAD OF ACHIEVEMENT AND LEARNING

Dear Colleagues,

As I am sure you are aware, the DfE has updated their educational status form and it is now live, it can be found here. At the local authority we receive the data from the form on a daily basis and this helps us to plan our support effectively. It is crucial for us that there is a full response from schools so that we can better understand the situation in schools across the county. We use this information to:

  • Plan support for all schools such as the start of our ‘lockdown huddles’ which begin this week
  • Identify schools that may need personalised support so that we can contact them
  • Note trends and issues that we can articulate back to the DfE in our regular meetings

We cannot do this without schools filling in the return, so we would support the DfE in requesting that you work to complete the form each day by 2pm. This removes the need to fill in the return that we have asked you to complete. You only need to fill in one return each day.

On a point of clarification, during the Director’s briefing on Thursday evening we were asked if the DfE devices scheme would be available to pupils in Key Stage 1. We have sought further information from the DfE on Friday and they have confirmed that the scheme starts at Year 3 and they have no current plans to extend this.  We have requested that this position be reconsidered.

I hope that you and your staff found an opportunity to rest this weekend, as always we will be bringing further information out as it develops.

Warm regards,

 

Gareth

Gareth Drawmer

Head of Service

Achievement & Learning

Monitoring priorities for governing boards during partial school closures

Monitoring priorities for governing boards during partial school closures

Updated 8 January 2021

NGA-COVID-Monitoring-priorities-08012021

Given the challenges schools are responding to, governing boards should continue to balance their responsibility to hold leaders to account with providing much needed support. This information sheet compiles the monitoring priorities that we recommend governing boards pay particular attention to at this time.

Monitoring priorities covered in this information sheet include:

  • Risk management and safeguarding
  • Wellbeing across the school community
  • Providing remote education
  • Maintaining the curriculum and continuity of learning for all pupils
  • Support to reduce the impact of lockdown on disadvantaged pupils
  • Resource allocation and management
  • Asymptomatic COVID-19 testing for all pupils and staff

The Department for Education (DfE) have updated their guidance Actions for schools during the coronavirus outbreak, detailing what all schools will need to do from the start of the autumn term.

Further reading

Summary of DfE Announcements and Guidance for Schools

SENT FROM GARETH DRAWMER, HEAD OF ACHIEVEMENT AND LEARNING

Dear Colleagues,

We are aware that there has been a mass of information, announcements and updated guidance coming out of the DfE this week.  To support your planning, we have summarised the key updates and guidance for you in the document attached above.

The document is structured in two elements:

We have tried to group the information into themes to make it easier to read.

Please do refer to the full documents for the full guidance, we have put links throughout the document to simplify this for you as much as we can.

Summary of DfE Announcements and Guidance for Schools wc 4th January

Warm regards,

 

Gareth Drawmer

Head of Achievement and Learning

Daily Attendance Return

SENT ON BEHALF OF GARETH DRAWMER, HEAD OF ACHIEVEMENT AND LEARNING

Dear Colleagues,

You may be aware that the DfE attendance portal is not currently operating as they revise it to meet the needs of the new lockdown. In the interim we have devised a daily return that will allow us to understand the situation in schools across Buckinghamshire. It is vital that we receive this information on a daily basis so that we can understand the pressure on schools and look to solutions which will help you. We cannot do this without you and although it is (hopefully a small) administrative burden, it will ultimately be of benefit to you.

The file will be in Anycomms for your staff to return. I would ask that it is completed by 3pm each day to enable us to carry out daily analysis on the situation.

I thank you in advance for your co-operation,

Gareth

Gareth Drawmer

Head of Service

Achievement & Learning

Section 44 letters – model response letter

Sent to all HTs

SENT ON BEHALF OF GARETH DRAWMER, HEAD OF ACHIEVEMENT AND LEARNING

Dear Colleagues,

Please find attached a model letter for you to use and personalise with staff if you receive a section 44 letter from them. The response has been written by the Buckinghamshire HR team and we hope that you find it useful.

response to S 44 letter (2)

Warm regards,

Gareth

Gareth Drawmer

Head of Service

Achievement & Learning

Further return to school update for governing boards

Dear NGA member,

As you will by now be aware, primary and secondary schools across England have closed their buildings to most pupils from today (5 January) following the announcement given by the Prime Minister on Monday night. As a result, only vulnerable children and children of critical workers will now be able to attend school or college until at least after the February half term. All other pupils and students will receive remote education.

We are sorry that we are not yet able to provide you with fuller information as it has not yet been clarified by the Department for Education (DfE) and we know many of you will already be busy supporting your executive leaders as they seek to respond to last night’s announcement. We wanted to take this opportunity to reassure all NGA members that we are engaging in discussions with the DfE and other key sector organisations, seeking the answers to the questions you and so many others are asking across the country.

NGA continues to represent the views and interests of our members in conversations with other education organisations and with ministers and civil servants. We have already gathered a significant amount of feedback from members and we are working with partner organisations and liaising directly with the DfE to establish responses to the concerns raised, in particular:

  • Clarification on the continuation of vocational exams including the safety, scientific rationale and logistical issues and capacity for going ahead with exams this month
  • What will be offered in place of the 2021 Summer A-level and GCSE exams
  • Rationale for continuing to keep nursery schools open and the impact across early years settings and the protective measures required including the need for published detailed guidance
  • Further clarification regarding the children of critical workers and vulnerable children and the extent of the list for eligible critical workers – you can read the guidance here
  • Free School Meals arrangements
  • The prioritisation of vaccines for school staff and leaders
  • Testing including whether secondary schools should continue to test staff and pupils remaining on site and the future approach to lateral flow testing and the role of clinical supervision
  • Clarification on the expectations placed on special schools and alternative provision including the need for support, existing care needs and the rationale behind the approach taken
  • Access to remote learning including the rollout of devices and access to online content and data.

We appreciate that this presents a list of issues to be addressed, rather than the answers that you will rightly be seeking. NGA will be updating our guidance as the government continues to update us and we will hopefully be in a position to provide answers to the above issues in this week’s newsletter. In the meantime, GOLD members can raise specific questions through the GOLDline and if any of you have feedback or requests for particular information then please do get in touch with covidfeedback@nga.org.uk.

NGA continues to seek to respond rapidly to the ongoing situation and we are here to assist you through the wide range of services and support that we offer. You can access NGA’s full range of COVID-19 resources in the Knowledge Centre.