Update for schools: 21 April 2020

This message includes information on the attendance return, guidance on free school meals and documents on risk assessments and visits from Birmingham Children's Trust.

Dear colleagues

Attendance returns

You will be aware that initial problems with the DfE’s attendance return have now been rectified.  As we are committed to minimising the number of forms schools need to complete, we are writing to let you know that schools without nursery provision are no longer required to complete the BCC google survey document.  Please continue to complete the DfE survey each day as this is essential to our monitoring of places for the children of key workers and vulnerable children across the city. However, if you are either a nursery school or a primary or infant school with a nursery class, we would be very grateful if you could continue to complete both the DfE attendance return and the Early Years survey.

Free school meals

  • Statutory aged children eligible for free school meals

The council funded two weeks of vouchers for families of the 61,000 Birmingham statutory aged children who are eligible for free school meals. This voucher scheme has now ended, as schools can now access the national voucher scheme, administered by Edenred. The council has received a few enquiries relating to difficulties accessing the national scheme.  The DfE has a useful page of Frequently Asked Questions relating to the scheme and which provides contact details for Edenred, for schools to use in case of problems.  Please use these contacts for the national scheme.

  • Children with no recourse to public funds

The council sent the information about its scheme to provide vouchers to these children yesterday.  Some schools enquired about the timeline for distributing voucher codes to schools.  The intention is to allocate and upload the voucher codes to schools early next week - please complete the form available here and return to educationdata@birmingham.gov.uk by Friday 24th April at the latest. 
These vouchers are only available to families with no recourse to public funds, please refer to the DfE guidance about eligibility.

  • Early Years children

Voucher codes were sent to early years settings and schools with nursery children eligible for free school meals last week.  The council ordered and distributed sufficient vouchers for each child recorded on the spring term early years census as eligible for free school meals.  If your school did not receive any voucher codes that is because there were no eligible children recorded on the spring term census at your school.  The council is aware that small numbers of children have moved setting or become eligible between the census in January and the end of term in early April.  If your school has not received sufficient voucher codes for children who meet the eligibility criteria, please email familyinformation@birmingham.gov.uk stating how many you request by Friday 24th April.  Please also return your confirmation form, which details any unallocated codes by Friday 24th April if you have not already done so.  The council will review and then reallocate unused vouchers or order additional ones as required, and distribute these early next week.

Children’s Trust risk assessment document and policy for visits

To allow greater insight into risk assessment and decision making processes of the Children's Trust during the Covid 19 period, we have attached the documents being used by the Trust.  The Risk Assessment document will enable schools to consider risk in a similar way and if required, we (BCC) can recreate a similar template for schools to use when considering children's vulnerabilities.  Whilst there is no expectation for schools to undertake home visits, the Policy for Visiting Children and their Families - Covid 19, outlines the steps that should be taken to assess the need for a home visit by the Trust. 

Best wishes

Tim

Dr Tim O’Neill
Director Education and Skills


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