Hello and welcome to this week’s Heads Up.
It has been a chastening week for all of the country as news stories highlight the growing rate of transmissions of the virus and the prospect of the reintroduction of restrictions looms in the background.
As disheartening as that is, that is beyond our control. All that we can do is continue to do what we have been doing so well in making our schools and colleges as safe as possible and what has kept the level of attendance in our schools at a considerably higher level than either the regional or national averages.
One area where we must make sure that we are beyond reproach is that our staff must also follow the guidance around hygiene, social distancing and, when outside the school settings, wearing a face covering. It is incredibly hard to act at all times in a different way to how we have behaved for so long before Covid – talking, socialising and working closely together. We have attached poster that you can download and print for the staff room as a gentle reminder to staff that we all always have to try to follow health guidance .
Where staff are testing positive there may also be more that we can do in order to prevent that from causing wider disruption and more pupils having to go home. A colleague reminded us that part of her team’s wellbeing plan was not only that we should have a resilient remote learning plan, but we should try to plan activities at least a week in advance. That way, if staff cover is compromised, colleagues or supply cover could pick up the plan. I know that there are many other practical strategies in place.
In staying on top of the local picture, and reacting swiftly and decisively when necessary, the importance of the local information system for reporting cases and supportive follow up has been clearly demonstrated. The County Council is working with colleagues in Public Health to identify further capacity for this crucial piece of work.
In recent calls, several head teachers have spoken about the need for supply teachers and the pressure that this is putting on budgets. We are waiting for guidance from the DfE as to whether there will be additional funding made available to support schools in this area.
Work is very much underway on the County’s Send and Inclusion Change Programme. We will be sharing information with you as and when projects come on stream. Our commitment to the education of children and young people with SEN is one shared by the keynote speaker at next Wednesday’s Head Teachers Conference, Dame Christine Lenehan. This is one last plug to join us at the conference and listen to this most inspirational figure.
That’s it from me for this week. Have a good weekend and I look forward to seeing many of you next week at the conference.
Assistant Director for Education Services