COVID19 - GUIDANCE FOR GOVERNORS
A new way of working for schools
- There is an expectation that ‘vulnerable children’ will attend provision (unless underlying health conditions put them at severe risk)
- vulnerable children are those who have a social worker, and those with education, health and care (EHC) plans. Eligibility for FSM is not a determining factor
- where a parent does not want to bring a vulnerable child to an education setting, the school and social worker should explore the reasons for this directly
- schools should monitor the welfare of vulnerable children who don’t attend, and other pupils they might wish to keep in touch with, for safeguarding purposes.
- schools are being asked to make welfare calls to vulnerable children
- Headteachers / DSLs should ensure they understand whether there are reasons particular teachers may not want to do this and adjust process accordingly
- Children with at least one parent/carer who is critical to the COVID-19 response can go to school if required
- schools can take a judgement on these pupils
- During this period, schools do not need to take an attendance register but the DfE is asking schools to submit a short daily return,
- schools should follow up non attendance of pre-arranged care and notify social workers if a vulnerable child doesn’t take up or discontinues a place at school
- Where possible, schools should continue to look after critical workers’ children and vulnerable children throughout the Easter holidays
- Schools must think carefully about staffing
- Staff, with serious underlying conditions (a ‘shielded’ category) should not attend work
- staff with conditions that put them at increased risk with COVID-19 should work from home where possible
- staff members that live with someone in the above categories – including those who are pregnant, can attend school as long as stringent social distancing measures and hygiene are in place and they can’t work from home
- pupils in one of the above categories, can attend school as long as stringent social distancing measures and hygiene are in place (and pupils are able to understand and follow instructions).
- Social distancing and good hand hygiene should be practiced at school
- Staff must implement the measures as far as they are able, whilst ensuring children are kept safe and well cared for within their settings (schools should work with the LA and parents to decide how best to proceed for pupils with EHC plans).
- Boards will want to ensure that:
- parents and communities are informed about the measures being taken,
- guidance on cleaning is being adhered to
- budgets reflect any changes
- staff feel comfortable with the restrictions imposed
- In order to protect staff wellbeing, and minimise additional hours in, schools should be considering:
- adopting rota systems and offering time off in lieu
- approaching the LA/Trust for support from other institutions
- making appropriate use of their supply budget
- if schools still have unavoidable additional staffing costs they should discuss these with their Regional School Commissioner.
- Schools advised to include a probationary period in the contract if they don’t already
- Schools should be clear in any offer letter than the offer is dependent on receipt of references
- DBS checks need to be carried out as normal
- Instead of seeing the physical documents, however, they can be scanned and sent or seen by video link
- Routine inspections of schools are all suspended.
- Urgent inspections can still go ahead prioritising safety of children where necessary (e.g. when complaints or whistle-blowing information suggests children may be at risk of harm)
- Inspection reports from recent inspections will not be published until schools reopen
- If Ofsted have asked schools to post documents to them, they should be sent with the school URN to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Department of education have confirmed that :
- Exams won’t be taking place this year
- School performance tables won’t be published this year
- Data from this year won’t be shared with schools via ASP
- Any organisation looking for performance data from a school should use the data from last year
Free School Meals
- children of Zambrano carers (the primary carer/parent of a British citizen child or dependent adult, where requiring the primary carer to leave the UK would force that British citizen to leave the European Economic Area (EEA) too).
- children of families with no recourse to public funds with a right to remain in the UK on grounds of private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights
- children of families receiving support under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 who are also subject to a no recourse to public funds restriction
- the extension will take place immediately and end when schools have reopened to all children.
- schools should ask families to sign a self-declaration form and provide evidence
- documents can be reviewed electronically if the family are comfortable and able to provide them in this way.
- schools can be flexible and use discretion when asking for supplementary evidence.
- schools are not required to retain copies of evidence provided and should advise applicants of their data protection regulations and processes and ensure that these are abided to.
A new way of working for governors too
- support their leaders,
- understand their school’s unique response to the situation,
- monitor impact on outcomes, well-being and budget,
- focus on ongoing strategic direction.
- be pragmatic about agenda items – focussing on the most urgent
- understand that governors have different capabilities and don’t forget your clerk (videos are easier to clerk than phone calls)
- establish a new set of ground rules that ensure ALL can participate.
- GovernorHub have provided some practical advice on different meeting platforms to help you decide which route to take
- The following BEP model policy has been produced to help governing boards complete their duties whilst embracing the messages of social distancing (Virtual Attendance at Meetings Model Policy March 2020 (1))
- if the chair is communicating with the head, make sure summaries are cascaded to the full board and your clerk is kept informed of plans
- parent governors can cascade school communications to triangulate what is being reported at meetings
- whilst visits can’t be made, there still may be items to research, understand or ask questions about for each of the specific role holders (e.g. does your PP governor understand what is happening to support FSM pupils?)
- ensure contingency plans are in place in case the chair and/or vice chair become unavailable – think about who will be the conduit of information for the board
- ensure GIAS contact details up to date
New 2020 Model: Covid-19 Headteacher Report
The purpose of this Model COVID -19 HT Report 2019 is to ensure that the governing board has the information it needs to monitor and challenge the impact of the current COVID-19 situation alongside overarching aims and strategy. The intention is for boards to use this instead of the HT report (not as well as) alongside the School Development Plan and SEF to allow for focussed and pragmatic discussion during this difficult time.
- Governors should be ensuring that schools have back-up arrangements in place to ensure Designated Safeguarding Leads (DSLs) remain available/their work continues
- arrangements can be made with a DSL team at another school to stand in should your DSP become ill
- safeguarding guidance allows for safeguarding to be delivered by DSLs onsite, online / by telephone or sharing with another setting
- DSLs won’t be considered as untrained if they can’t get to their refresher training this term.
- new staff induction material on safeguarding should remain the same and should be delivered remotely by the DS
- Changes have been made to KCSIE to help schools meet their duties as Designated Safeguarding Leads (DSLs) may now not be on site and to include arrangements for monitoring vulnerable children during partial closure.
- all schools must either redraft their Child Protection policies to cover this or, as we recommend – approve an addendum to the existing policy.
- the addendum/new policy should be published on the school website asap.
- although the CP / Safeguarding policy annex should be approved by the governing board, if there is any delay on this, the policy should be added to the school website asap by the HT / DSL and governors to sign it off as soon as possible.
Pupil Premium Governors
- Schools are expected to continue to provide meals for benefits-related FSM children who are not at school during term time
- if providing through current mechanisms, schools must ensure meals are distributed within social distancing guidelines
- if unable to provide through current mechanisms, schools can use a DfE voucher scheme
- funding for this is additional to existing FSM budgets
- schools order vouchers and payments met centrally by DfE
- ‘eCodes’ or physical gift cards for a range of supermarkets available
- Schools can accept new FSM children during the crises
- do ensure parents know to apply to ensure they get appropriate support (especially important in the light of recent job losses)
- are there details on this on your website?
- The government will continue to provide usual funding
- FSM and universal infant FSM will continue as before the crisis
- where schools pay top-up or other funding for pupils attending alternative provision (AP), or pay for other SEND or AP services, these payments should continue
- schools should fund placements and services for the summer term on the basis of previous patterns
- There is DfE funding for exceptional costs incurred (to end of 2019-2020 summer term).
- for costs that can’t be covered with existing resources or can only be met by undermining long-term financial sustainability.
- for specific items that are necessary to provide appropriate support due to COVID-10 only
- increased premises costs associated with keeping schools open during holidays, for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers
- support for free school meals (FSM) not covered by the FSM national voucher scheme
- additional cleaning
- for other costs, schools should make a case to DfE.CoronavirusHelpline@education.gov.uk.
- funding won’t cover costs relating to changes in SEND provision by LAs for pupils with EHC plans.
- mainstream schools (250 pupils or fewer: £25,000, 251 to 500 pupils: £30,000, 501 to 1000 pupils: £50,000, Over 1000 pupils: £75,000)
- special schools and alternative provision (All schools: £50,000)
- Headteachers / School Business Managers are asked to keep records of all expenditure related to coronavirus. Further guidance, with details of how to claim funding will be published in June.
- Schools that have short term cash flow issues as a result of the current situation are asked to contact the Local Authority or ESFA.
- Performance measures (last updated April 8th 2020)
- Implementing social distancing at school (last updated April 7th 2020)
- DfE funding for additional costs (last updated April 7th 2020)
- Free school meals guidance (last updated April 7th 2020)
- Changes to Keeping Children Safe in Education (last updated March 27th 2020)
- The Children’s Commissioner for England has issued a children’s guide to coronavirus (published March 27th 2020)
- DfE General Guidance for Schools (last updated March 26th 2020)
- Maintaining educational provision (published March 19th 2020)
- Public Health England (published March 4th 2020)
- Department of Health and Social Care Action Plan (published March 3rd 2020)