Update for schools: 14 April 2020

This update contains information about school admission appeals, a request for donations of PPE and details of a new service to support young people's emotional and mental health that launched yesterday,

Dear colleagues

Firstly, my heartfelt thanks to all the schools and settings who were open for children over the Easter weekend as well as all the others who ensured that critical key workers were signposted to where they could access provision. The commitment and flexibility that is being shown every day by staff from right across the education sector continues to be really appreciated by everyone at the council as well as the other organisations supporting Birmingham’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.


School admission appeals

We have received the below information from the DfE regarding appeals. This is relevant to schools who are their own admission authority but will be of interest to all schools.

A number of local authorities and organisations have contacted the department asking for advice regarding school admission appeals due to the current restrictions. While social distancing measures are in place, admission appeals cannot currently proceed given the current requirement for in person hearings and other practical difficulties arising from the coronavirus pandemic. 

It is for this reason we are drafting urgent temporary regulatory measures to disapply elements of the School Admission Appeals Code, allowing for appeal hearings to be heard by telephone or video conference, or alternatively for appeals to be decided on the basis of written submissions only. We will also look to amend the statutory timescales during this time and will be publishing accompanying guidance to provide further support. Information about this announcement can be found in full here.

We are however unable to share the guidance or regulations or provide further detail at this time as the regulations require parliamentary approval. We will circulate these documents as soon as we are able to, but thought it would be helpful for all for us to share our intentions ahead of Primary National Offer Day, allowing you to begin considering your local or individual circumstances, and the ability to inform parents who may contact you.

Officers from Birmingham’s School Admissions team are in regular contact with the DfE regarding appeals and will share further information as soon as it is available.


Information from Birmingham Children’s Trust

A reminder that key updates from the Trust were shared with schools towards the end of last week. The information is available with the other updates that have been issued on the Noticeboard site at this link.


Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

The council is asking for donations of personal protective equipment (PPE) for use by our front-line staff, care providers, social workers and volunteers who are delivering essential services across Birmingham. Items such as disposable aprons, latex or Nitrell gloves, face masks, hand sanitiser, eye protection and overshoes would be appreciated. If you have anything to donate, please let us know through our website at https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/info/50231/coronavirus_covid-19/2087/donations_of_protective_equipment 


Support for young people’s emotional and mental health

Kooth, a new free, safe and anonymous service to support young people’s emotional and mental health in Birmingham, launched yesterday. We know young people have been worried about exams being cancelled and the impact of Covid-19 on their loved ones. The new service launched is available for young people aged 11 to 25 for online self-referral at www.kooth.com. Kooth is linked into the wider mental health support from Forward Thinking Birmingham and offers:

  • Online mental health counselling and chat services from midday to 10pm during the week, and 6pm to 10pm at weekends
  • Peer to peer support through moderated discussion forums
  • Self-care tools and resources to build resilience
  • Early response to and identification of emotional wellbeing and mental health problems
  • And there are no waiting lists, referrals or thresholds to access the service

The Kooth service is funded by Birmingham City Council, and contracted by Birmingham and Solihull CCG. This is part of the Birmingham Children’s Partnership response to Covid-19 for our vulnerable families.


DfE guidance on school closures

Please ensure you are familiar with the DfE’s latest guidance on school closures. This was updated late last week and is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-school-closures


DfE free school meal voucher scheme

Finally we are aware that some schools have experienced issues in accessing vouchers through the government’s national scheme. Earlier today updated guidance was shared by the DfE and this has been attached here.


Kind regards

Tim

Dr Tim O’Neill
Director Education and Skills


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