Hello and welcome to our final edition of Heads Up for this academic year.
It has been a challenging and ever-changing year due to the national and local efforts to turn the tide against COVID-19 and protect our people and local communities. Firstly, I wanted to say thank you to everyone working in educational settings for your commitment, resilience and amazing efforts to make sure learners in Warwickshire can continue to receive a high-quality education. I hope you can get some time to rest and recharge during the summer break.
Today marks the final day of the SEND Local Area Inspection by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission of Warwickshire County Council and Warwickshire Clinical Commissioning Group. Thank you to everyone that has been involved in helping the inspectors across the week as they explore the evidence of local support for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities. We will await the results of the inspection and in the meantime, we remain absolutely committed to supporting children and young people with SEND needs in Warwickshire and we will continue the important work of our SEND and Inclusion Change Programme that is helping children and young people to lead a fulfilling life and be part of their community. If you haven’t already, I would encourage you to look at our redesigned SEND Local Offer that has been improved through consultations with families, young people and professionals.
Changes to COVID-19 regulations in England were confirmed on Monday 12 July by the Health Secretary and this means that rules for educations settings, along with other parts of society, will change again on Monday 19 July and we have included an article that draws an excerpt from a blog post by the Department for Education on what Step 4 of the COVID-19 regulations means for parents, pupils, teachers and students. Schools and education settings should be retaining their risk assessments and mitigation plans to the end of term and we are working hard to safeguard in-person education next week. PHE have confirmed that NHS Test and Trace will not be undertaking contact tracing in school settings as outlined in current national guidance. We are extremely aware as a local authority how hard schools and settings have worked to ensure infection prevention control measures have been implemented throughout the pandemic. Unfortunately, there is still the need for a further five-day period (up to and including Monday 26 July). We realise this is a big ask but are requesting that Headteachers or other nominated members of staff are available to monitor any cases up to this point. This will ensure that children and families at risk are notified and appropriately isolated and recommended to test. This request is in line with the position in local authorities across the West Midlands.
Yesterday, Health partners from Coventry and Warwickshire issued a joint open letter on the COVID-19 changes to everyone living in the two areas. The letter is encouraging us ‘all to play our part in protecting our loved ones, our neighbours, and our colleagues.’ It says ‘face coverings and social distancing may no longer be compulsory, but they will still protect us. We know that these measures are effective at helping to reduce transmission and we would ask you to continue with these in settings such as shops and on public transport’. I think this is an important message and will help dampen any new COVID-19 variants.
Please feel free to direct colleagues, friends and family towards the letter if you feel it will help them navigate the coming changes to regulations. Of course, getting vaccinated is also a great way to contribute to the collective safety of people in Warwickshire. Please note that if you are over-18 you can now book a vaccine appointment and you can do this through the national NHS booking system.
Have a good weekend (and summer). I hope you keep well and hope to see you back energised and on mission in the Autumn!