Welcome once more to Heads Up.
Firstly, a huge thank you to all of you who attended Tuesday’s call with over 170 in the room. It was a terrific attendance - both in terms of numbers and the energy of delegates - and I hope it was a productive time for all.
The first thing to say this week is that we continue to await clarity around vaccinating the 12-15 year old cohort. This remains on the national agenda and we are preparing plans with health partners to deliver this in line with Government guidance. Our expectation is that we will now look at rolling the programme out in the week commencing 20 September at a small number of selected schools and then go more broadly the following week but that remains to be confirmed.
In the interim, testing remains key to managing the safe return of children and young people to schools and settings and it is imperative that we continue to push the importance of that. As young people have been meeting up and events have been taking place with greater numbers, it has seen a rise in the numbers of positive cases in that age group. The testing prior to this week’s return identified over 15 positive cases in two schools alone and undoubtedly helped to prevent broader disruption in the school and transmission of the virus into the broader community.
We have added some social media material to this week’s edition which you can share on your social media accounts to support the messages of keeping children off who are unwell and getting pupils and students tested regularly. This is getting regular traction on the County Council’s corporate social media accounts and is a timely push given the national decline in numbers of people regularly testing.
You will also see that we have added a header to this week’s Heads Up where we bring all covid-related information in one place. The aim is that we reduce your email traffic and, rather than send you weekly briefings, you receive all relevant information through Heads Up.
This week, we have announced that parents and carers can now make online applications for secondary school places online with a deadline of 31 October in order to receive offers on National Offer Day next 1 March. This may also be a useful link to get out to support parents and carers in getting their applications in on time.
As the holidays drew to a close, I reflected with some gratitude on all of the many holiday schemes that ran across the county as part of the Holiday Activities and Food schemes. This was an outstanding success as detailed here. We are waiting on the final figures as well as clarity from the government on the future plans for the scheme and will keep you informed.
In the meantime, the Warwickshire Challenge is being refined in order to make as much difference as possible to some of our more vulnerable learners who will perhaps gain the most benefit from the scheme. The project team is working at refining the offer so that it targets schools in higher receipt of the Pupil Premium as well as looking at focussing the offer on Years 5 and 6, if that might be where it can offer the support at the most appropriate age.
On Monday, there will be a survey in inboxes as we seek focus on ways to support our education system to deliver or access a range of outdoor opportunities. We also have some focus groups shortly on the outdoor education strategy and delivery plan. We recognise that education settings already effectively plan for and engage in activities that enable high quality outdoor education and learning to happen, and that there are a variety of providers offering valuable outdoor learning venues, activities and experiences for children and young people.
Enjoy your weekend. It’s been good to get that first week under our belts. There’s a lot that’s going to happen in the next few weeks so I am going to pick up my mantra once again and use the weekend to recharge. Take care.