Sent on behalf of Debbie Munday: Admissions and Transport Manager
Admissions and Transport Manager
Education and Skills
Walton Street Offices, Walton St, Aylesbury, Bucks, HP20 1UZ
Sent on behalf of Debbie Munday: Admissions and Transport Manager
Admissions and Transport Manager
Education and Skills
Walton Street Offices, Walton St, Aylesbury, Bucks, HP20 1UZ
Following a few recent queries I have asked Dan about the current guidance with regards to meeting up, face-to-face. His advice is as follows:
With case numbers rising it would be sensible to keep meetings virtual unless there is a pressing reason why they have to be face-to-face.
Consultant in Public Health
Please see the current guidance below and also the email sent on the 7th June below:
DfE understands that governing and trust boards have a key role in supporting their school or trust’s senior leaders throughout this period and that decisions will need to be pragmatic, proportionate and sensitive to local circumstances. Boards remain accountable for their schools and should stay connected to senior leaders, and the key operational decisions they are taking, to retain a strategic overview of the school or trust.
Whilst social distancing rules remain, boards should adopt alternative arrangements for holding meetings, for example, by using video or teleconferencing applications. If boards or schools require support to access digital platforms, please see DfE’s guidance on help with technology and remote education. The National Governance Association has also produced guidance for business continuity and holding virtual meetings.
Governing and trust boards, in discussion with the clerk, should take a pragmatic approach to handling any urgent business and assess whether it is reasonable for virtual committee meetings to go ahead. Availability of governors or trustees will need to be considered to ensure that committee meetings are quorate. It may be more practical for the urgent business of any committee to be discussed at the governing or trust board meeting instead.
School Improvement Team
SENT FROM DAN FLECKNOE – CONSULTANT IN PUBLIC HEALTH 7th June 2021
As you may have seen in the news, over the last week evidence has emerged that the SARS-CoV-2 variant Delta (formerly “India”) has overtaken “Alpha” (formerly “Kent”) to become the dominant form of COVID-19 both nationally and locally. This finding supports research evidence that Delta is significantly more infectious than Alpha, but importantly COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to still provide effective protection against it. In Buckinghamshire there has been a significant increase in COVID outbreaks in educational settings over the past 2 weeks, mostly caused by the Delta variant. Although no serious illness has been reportedly associated with these outbreaks, there are two major concerns resulting from this trend:
1. Secondary transmission from outbreaks among young and healthy people may go on to affect those more likely to become severely unwell (i.e. older family members), and
2. School/EYS outbreaks driven by a more infectious variant will lead to significant missed school time for a large number of children and young people who are identified as contacts of confirmed cases.
In view of this, I would recommend that:
• any planned loosening of in-school precautions should be delayed,
• bubbles should be maintained and kept as small as is practical,
• the whole school community should be reminded of the importance of practicing the principles of ‘hands, face, space, fresh air’ whenever possible.
• anyone who is eligible for COVID-19 vaccination but has not yet taken up the offer, or who has not taken up their second dose when invited, should be encouraged to do so ASAP,
• and – perhaps most importantly with a more easily transmissible variant – immediate self-isolation by the entire household when any person in the house develops possible COVID-19 symptoms or gets a positive LFD result must be strongly emphasised. There is some evidence that the Delta variant has a shorter incubation period (that is, people may become infectious more quickly after being infected), so if household members wait for PCR confirmation before self-isolating then they could already have unknowingly passed the infection on to non-household contacts and thereby turned a cluster into an outbreak.
I know that these will be unwelcome tidings at a time when we have all been looking forward to further easing of restrictions on June 21st and possibly a more normal end to the school year. Obviously I can’t say for sure what the national decision will be about how this new evidence affects the planned progress of the Roadmap, but I suspect that Step 4 may be delayed until a larger proportion of the adult population have been vaccinated. In the meantime, it is important that we do what we can locally to restrict or slow down the spread of this variant in schools/EYS in order to safeguard both the education and wellbeing of pupils, and the health of vulnerable individuals in our communities.
Consultant in Public Health
Adults and Health Directorate
Last Updated by Julia Olech on March 06, 2021
The internet is a great resource to support home learning, but not all websites meet educational requirements or are child-friendly — some even have inappropriate ads! Teaching your children at home is stressful enough without having to frantically close pop-ups at the same time. Unfortunately, websites that are safe and entertaining often require you to pay expensive subscription fees. The good news is that there are useful free resources available to help your kids learn from home.
That’s why I rounded up a list of the 20 best free websites that provide engaging and fun learning experiences for you and your children. I made sure each website caters to a wide range of ages with games and interactive lessons that won’t bore even the most fidgety kids. The best part is that you can use them all at no cost!
This self-proclaimed “amusement park of math” offers hundreds of games that teach children basic math skills. Whether your kids love or hate math, they’re bound to enjoy discovering how to add, subtract, multiply, divide, and create fractions with help from aliens and animals. Apart from fun games, CoolMath4Kids offers “Brain Teasers” — puzzles you need to work out through a combination of math and problem-solving skills. I often found myself scratching my head at some of them, so you’ll have as much fun as your children trying to come up with a correct solution!
CoolMaths4Kids is geared mainly towards pupils aged 3-12. For more advanced kids aged 13+, you can access the platform’s sister website called CoolMath that covers different aspects of algebra. The older students will be able to practice their skills not only through games, but also more challenging quizzes and riddles.
Learning languages doesn’t have to involve big textbooks and hours of repeated activities. Instead, your kids can use a phone or a tablet and spend as little as 5 minutes a day polishing their language skills. Duolingo is a bright and easy-to-use app and website that encourages children to discover foreign languages through writing, speaking, and listening activities. With hundreds of languages to choose from (including French, Spanish, Mandarin, and more), the green Duolingo owl will reward your kids every time they complete a lesson. This creates a positive reinforcement that motivates young (and older!) users to come back for more every single day.
The platform also encourages a healthy competition between your kids, their friends, and even you! You can all race to see who can get the most points, the longest learning streak, the least number of mistakes, or reach a level milestone first. It’s a fun activity that engages the whole family and keeps your children excited about learning languages.
PBS Kids incorporates the characters from their educational TV shows and uses them in themed learning sections. Choose between Sesame Street Muppets, Curious George, Martha Speaks, and more to teach your children how to spell, count, or understand basic science. Every TV show character comes with a set of simple games, stories, videos, and even sing-along rhymes that encourage active participation and quick learning. As a bonus, PBS Kids also offers various tips for parents on how to incorporate online learning at home and motivate children to stay focused.
Home learning makes physical education a lot more challenging as it means children spend an average of 6 hours per day sitting in front of a computer or a phone. That’s why GoNoodle started their Good Energy Movement that encourages children all over the world to tunnel their energy into positive and mindful exercise. With over 14 million regular viewers, GoNoodle creates exercise videos that incorporate movement in dance routines, challenges, and even science lessons. On top of that, the platform regularly publishes themed blog posts with details on how to turn daily activities, like tidying up, cooking, and eating snacks into physical play.
National Geographic makes learning geography fun with an abundance of resources to keep your children engaged and interested in everything the world has to offer. From discovering unusual animal species and how to read a map to learning about world history — you’ll find everything you need to equip your child with appropriate knowledge. Every lesson is accompanied by beautiful photographs and fun videos that kept me fully invested in each topic. Additionally, your kids will be able to play various games to facilitate their learning. I particularly liked the personality quizzes I filled in to discover which shark or dinosaur matches me best and games that let me crack secret messages and solve world mysteries.
Developed by the TIME magazine, TIME for Kids explores politics, culture, the environment, health, and sports through articles written in very simple language. It works in the same way as other online newspapers and magazines, but TIME publishers make sure each topic has age-appropriate photos and videos. This incorporates visuals to help kids assimilate new information easily. Though not as interactive as other platforms on the list, your kids will still benefit from simple explanations of complex subjects like global warming and poverty.
Kids get a ton of stimulation on a daily basis which sometimes makes it difficult for them to slow down and just breathe. That’s why Cosmic Kids created a platform and a free YouTube channel that offers a variety of yoga and mindfulness classes. This turns sedentary screen time into active movement that encourages children to get up and wiggle. Every class on Cosmic Kids uses kids’ favorite stories (like Frozen, Harry Potter, and Cinderella) and features storytelling through yoga poses. It keeps children (and adults) highly entertained and engaged throughout the whole video while also getting a much-needed daily workout.
Aside from providing great workout breaks, Cosmic Kids facilitates the development of emotional intelligence. I found specific “zen den” classes that encouraged me to recognize my feelings or learn different breathing techniques to keep calm. The mindfulness lessons also cover topics like dealing with nightmares or living in the present moment to avoid stress and anxiety.
Funbrain is a great educational resource that masks learning through hundreds of games, books, videos, and comics. These are so interesting and engaging that children don’t even realize they’re actually developing new skills in literacy, math, or problem-solving! I could feed a human body and see what happens inside of it during meal times and learn how to prevent an electrical fire. Funbrain has so much more to offer so explore it yourself! Unlike many other similar websites, Funbrain offers all of its resources completely for free — including popular books such as A Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Daisy Nuzzlehead. The platform is designed for kids of all ages and even features special “Playground” classes for the younger viewers who aren’t as advanced as their older siblings.
Set up by the publishers of educational books, Scholastic Kids encourages children to read and learn with their favorite fictional characters. Your kids will explore the world of fiction through an interactive 3D game, Home Base. There, they’ll follow and interact with each character that will motivate them to read other stories in certain series or teach them about geography, astronomy, spelling, and more. I could even write my own stories and comics which is an amazing feature if your children are interested in expressing themselves through creative activities.
Though such freedom made me question its safety, Scholastic Kids ensures Home Base safeguards children through a strict word filter and constant human moderation. The platform also advocates for positive digital behavior and internet engagement to teach children the foundations of online safety.
Created by the National Center for Families Learning, Wonderopolis fuels natural curiosity and imagination by providing answers to questions frequently asked by children. Every answer is broken down into understandable explanations through videos, images, and text that highlights and defines more difficult terms. At the end of each lesson, you can also find additional resources to explore the topic in more depth. Once you finish “wondering” you can test your child by exploring all “Wonder Words” and taking the “Wonder World Challenge” to make sure your kids really took the information in.
If your children have any burning questions themselves, you can submit a query and wait for experts to answer it. The fresh approach makes learning through the platform more child-led as it allows kids to explore their areas of interest.
Science Bob became popular after becoming a regular feature on various US talk shows, like Jimmy Kimmel Live or Live Kelly and Ryan. However, the knowledgeable scientist also has his own YouTube channel and online website where he shares tutorials for at-home experiments. Every project comes with appropriate explanations written in a simple language that won’t overwhelm the young scientists. This hands-on approach is perfect for kids of all ages as it shows them how science works in practice. Science Bob also provides ideas and methods to carry out science fair projects which I found is an extremely unique feature that facilitates problem-solving and scientific thinking.
Aside from hours of lectures for adults, TED features a TED-Ed section that’s perfect for younger viewers. Suitable for children as young as 4, TED-Ed supports home learning through video-based lessons that explain even the most difficult topics like systemic racism and war. Each video features an engaging speaker or an interesting animation while providing in-depth explanations you and your children will surely enjoy. It’s also a fantastic way to introduce your children to a diverse range of perspectives and topics that they wouldn’t always come across at school. There are new lessons added to the library every single day so you’ll never run out of interesting topics either — and you’ll find yourself craving for more!
With hundreds of educational videos, Fuse School teaches children about math, biology, chemistry, and physics. Every video is between 3-5 minutes long and features simple animations that help you understand tricky scientific concepts like GMO foods, organ transplants, and more. Despite touching on seemingly difficult subjects that even many adults don’t always understand, I didn’t find any lesson overwhelming, boring, or tiring.
Fuse School even offers its own social network that’s safe for the young users where children can interact with each other and talk about what interests them the most.
Some children need resources that provide a bit more of a challenge through advanced topics and materials. Make Me Genius recognized that demand and created a space for those students who struggle to satisfy their hunger for education. Through animated videos, PowerPoint presentations, and more, the platform covers topics from Environmental Science and Nutrition to Great Personalities and even Parenting. Your children will also have a chance to test themselves through multiple quizzes you won’t find on any other website. It’s a true heaven for young geniuses all over the world!
NASA Kids makes it easy to learn about space without the need to look through the telescope. With the help of Nebula (a friendly animated astronaut), your children will explore the ins and outs of what it’s like to be an astronaut and work for the world’s largest space organization. The platform also shares various details and reports on their past missions and each one is accompanied by mind-blowing real-life space images and videos. Difficult topics and concepts are also explained through interactive games and puzzles that entertain while educating.
The Exploratorium is a popular public laboratory that now offers its learning resources through an online platform. Your kids will be able to explore the science behind computing, physical balance, tech gadgets, as well as discover what lies below sea level and how to launch a rocket into space. The website isn’t limited just to scientific topics — the Exploratorium holds lessons about the intricacies of arts and history too! Every lesson is filled with engaging videos and descriptions of actual experiments you can tinker with at home. You’ll even be able to carry out experiments without needing specific equipment as the “Science Snacks” section provides low-cost simple activities for everyone. Additionally, your children can enjoy a Storytime event when they’ll read a child-friendly story followed by simple science activity at the end.
Storynory helps children develop their reading skills by providing a wide range of original and classic stories in a form of audiobooks. Your kids will follow each story as it’s read out loud using not just the audio clues, but also a written text that’s underneath the audio clip. I was also impressed that the voiceover includes a short synopsis of characters from previous chapters so I understood the plot even though I didn’t follow the book from the beginning. Additionally, the narrator takes time to explain difficult “catch phrases” before each chapter to ensure everyone has a full understanding of all terms they might have never seen before. Storynory also lets you translate each text into multiple languages which is super helpful if English isn’t your children’s first language.
While Highlights isn’t usually thought of as an educational platform, I found that it still teaches children various skills linked with creativity like problem-solving or experimenting. Based on the popular kids’ magazine, Highlights Kids offers articles and lessons on the same topics as its printed version like coloring pages, jokes, baking, and DIY. However, I also used the e-magazine to learn about scientific topics and listen to podcasts which you won’t find in the regular newspaper.
While it may not seem like the most advanced site, Help My Kid Learn helps you target your child’s learning according to their age and abilities. The platform offers a high variety of lessons and suggested activities sorted into 5 categories: Talk, Play, Read, Write, and Count. This layout makes it a lot easier for you to determine if your child meets its stage goals and develops accordingly. Additionally, you’ll be able to access useful tips for each age and how to prepare your kids for what they’ll have to learn next.
ABCYa! Provides free resources for children from preschool all the way to 13 years old. The website was created by teachers with just one aim in mind — to create educational games that make learning a fun experience. Through gamifying school lessons, ABCYa! grew and expanded its content to teach kids Math, English, Arts, and more. Unlike other websites, ABCYa! also offers multiplayer games that will let your children play online with their friends which facilitates developing social skills while learning.
According to the FBI, there are over 625,000 sexual predators trying to befriend children online every day. At the same time, thousands of identity thieves target young kids on the internet to steal their personal information. That’s why you need to follow certain safety precautions before you let your child use the internet — whether that’s for online learning or just entertainment.
While it may feel like you’re placing harsh restrictions, these steps are crucial to ensure no harm can come your kids’ way as they participate in online learning. As long as you remember to include them in setting up the online controls and explain why they’re there in the first place, you’ll reinforce positive habits children won’t rebel against.
With so many parents being forced to embrace home learning, you need to use the best resources that will help your children reach their maximum potential. Home learning can be stressful but you and your kids can make the most of your learning moments with the right approach and help from online experts. Just remember to take appropriate steps to protect your children and teach them how to stay safe online — you never know who’s lurking in the dark online corners. Set appropriate parental controls and engage them in a conversation about ethical and secure internet behavior and you’ll all see the benefits of online learning in no time!
SENT FROM GARETH DRAWMER, HEAD OF ACHIEVEMENT AND LEARNING, AND DAN FLECKNOE, CONSULTANT IN PUBLIC HEALTH
Dear Headteachers and Chairs of Governors,
We have become aware of a small number of schools who have stated that they will be closed for all or part of this Friday, 5th of March, for deep cleaning and to support the preparation of the return to onsite teaching for all pupils from Monday 8th of March.
As a Local Authority, Buckinghamshire Council expects that all schools will be operating a full daily timetable for all pupils, via remote education for the majority of pupils and in-school provision for vulnerable pupils and children of Key Workers, for the whole of this week.
The Public Health team are not aware of any public health reasons that would require a day closure. We attach again for reference the link to the government guidance issued on 22nd February Schools coronavirus (COVID-19) operational guidance which outlines the system of controls that school should operate to prevent infection, and also states that schools should continue to operate as normally as possible.
We wish all pupils and staff well with the return to full onsite teaching from the 8th March. Please do get in contact to either the School Improvement Team (email@example.com) or Public Health team (firstname.lastname@example.org) if we can support you with any aspect of your school’s return.
Gareth Drawmer Dan Flecknoe
Head of Achievement and Learning Consultant in Public Health
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
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:
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
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:
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 email@example.com.
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
Vice Chair BASG
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com with any queries.
The School Improvement and Helping Hand Teams
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.
Kind regards and thank you for your support,
Head of Achievement and Learning
Please find below three guidance updates on testing in schools:
We are awaiting a national decision on full school re-opening, as well as on how this will change the above testing guidance.
Consultant in Public Health
Adults and Health Directorate
Buckinghamshire Association of School Governors
Your Local Voice for School Governing Bodies
Tel: 07818 453741