Update for schools: 27 August 2020

This update contains information about wellbeing, the DfE daily return, detailed information about transport and more.

Staff wellbeing

We are aware that school leaders have been working in extremely challenging circumstances for many months now and that many of you will have remained busy throughout the holidays preparing for pupils to return in September. The council is offering advice on health and wellbeing to all employees, especially around mental and psychological wellbeing, social wellbeing, and physical wellbeing. More information about the services available, and a blog from Dr Justin Varney, can be found on the council website at https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/info/50234/covid-19_staff_guidance/2148/covid-19_health_and_wellbeing

DfE Educational settings status form to resume on 1 September

The DfE has confirmed that from Tuesday 1 September, schools and colleges will be asked to resume completing a revised daily educational setting status form. The DfE will asking you to provide information on:

  • number of pupils or students in attendance
  • number of pupils or students with a social worker or with an education, health and care plan
  • number of teacher absences

The information you provide through the form continues to support the Government’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The DfE has confirmed it will provide further instruction and a link to the educational setting status form shortly.

DfE guidance on home test kits for schools and FE providers

The DfE has published guidance confirming that from 26 August, all schools and FE providers will receive an initial supply of 10 home test kits. Home test kits should only be offered to individuals in the exceptional circumstance that you believe an individual may have barriers to accessing testing elsewhere.

Risk assessment

Some small updates have been made to the risk assessment template for full reopening. The updates made were to add links to the most recent government guidance on face coverings and out of school clubs/music classes.

Transport update

Travelling back to school this September will be different. We are working closely with Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) and transport operators including National Express West Midlands, to ensure that you are prepared for the journey back to school. TfWM have developed a Back to School Toolkit which was shared yesterday. A risk assessment around the journey to and from school has been provided. In addition to this, further guidance has been produced related to social distancing at the school gate.

Public Transport

Keeping everyone safe is our top priority. All buses and most trains and trams will be out on the West Midlands Network as usual, ensuring that students can get safely to and from school. Cleaning regimes have been increased and capacity on board will be limited in order to support social distancing measures. Top tips:

  • Plan ahead; with limited space on board there may be more demand for services.
  • Leave more time for your journey, as there may be a longer wait than usual. You may not be able to get on the first service and need to wait for the next one.

For further advice about how to stay safe when using public transport please visit this link.

Encouraging walking and cycling

Active travel will play a vital role in ensuring that pupils are able to attend classes safely, helping to make space for those who have no alternative but to use public transport or drive. Walking, cycling or scooting to school are the most accessible ways to reduce congestion and pollution, while also improving the mental and physical wellbeing of pupils.  For further information about cycling and walking in the West Midlands, please visit this link. The Government’s Emergency Active Travel Fund aims to enable more active travel through the installation of pop-up cycle lanes, pavement widening and much more. There is a map available which details existing routes but also any temporary, new or pop-up infrastructure so you can safely plan your route. Here are some more ideas to encourage your students and staff to walk and cycle:

Modeshift STARS #StaySafeGetActive Walking Bubbles

These easy to generate Walking Bubble maps will help to encourage families that have to travel by car to park at least 5-minutes away from school, creating a safer space for walking, cycling or scooting. By placing these restrictions, we also reduce the number of cars parked on pavements outside and close to the school gates. There are a number of resources available to support the Walking Bubbles including pavement stickers and bollard covers to mark edge of the zone - let us know if you are interested in any of these resources.

  • Living Streets have a few remaining places for any schools wishing to sign up to their free WOW all year round walk to school challenge. If pupils travel sustainably (walk, cycle or scoot) once a week for a month, they get rewarded with a badge.  To register please email our project coordinator Raji: raji.takhar@livingstreets.org.uk
  • Keep your eyes peeled for further details about Walk to School Week taking place from 5 to 9 October. This five-day walking challenge aimed at primary schools is a fun and engaging activity, raising awareness and celebrating walking for all.
  • Walking Buses- this is where is a group of children walks to school with one or more adults. It can be as informal as two families taking turns walking their children to school to as structured as a route with meeting points, a timetable and a regularly rotated schedule of trained volunteers.
  • Bikeability - The Active Wellbeing Society are taking advance bookings for Bikeability training sessions. Contact Donna Spence at: donna.spence@birmingham.gov.uk.
  • Don’t forget to look out for this year’s Bike to School Week taking place from 28 September to 2 October.
  • Cycle parking – funding is available for free cycle stands for schools. See https://www.tfwm.org.uk/development/cycling/cycle-parking-for-organisations/ for further information.

Car use

Parents and pupils are encouraged to walk or cycle whenever possible. Parents who have no other option are encouraged to park safely and considerately in the local area and walk the rest of the journey. This will significantly reduce congestion and improve safety around the school gates. For further information regarding Park and Stride please see https://www.livingstreets.org.uk/about-us/our-work-in-action/tackling-congestion-with-park-and-stride
To reduce car use and create extra space where needed outside schools, we can consider the introduction of emergency school streets measures such as temporary Car Free School Streets, and parking restrictions. If you feel that your school could benefit from any temporary/emergency measures please email: connected@birmingham.gov.uk.

(Please note, any schools wishing to be considered for temporary/emergency measures need to be signed up with and participating in the Modeshift STARS programme).

Modeshift STARS

Birmingham City Council promotes safe and active travel to school through Modeshift STARS, and we strongly encourage all schools in Birmingham to sign up to this scheme. This free online tool enables schools to produce a travel plan identifying activities and opportunities which can help to reduce congestion, increase space for pedestrians and cyclists, and improve air quality and road safety. Email us if you’d like further support: connected@birmingham.gov.uk. If your school is already registered, please ensure any data on Modeshift STARS is up to date (keep you eyes peeled for our Birmingham School Travel Survey coming up to coincide with Clean Air Day on 8 October!)

We need your help to ensure that your school staff, students and parents are as prepared for the school journey as possible in September. Please provide any information on your school’s plans to manage the return via the online form at: www.wmnetwork.co.uk/schooltravel 

For national governance guidance please refer this link. Please get in touch with us at connected@birmingham.gov.uk if you’ve got any questions.

From Birmingham with Love

The challenges of COVID-19 and the lockdown have led to some really tough times for families this year.  The From Birmingham with Love campaign is to show all families that there is a little bit of help for them, selected from the many early help services across Birmingham Children’s Partnership.

There is a website www.birmingham.gov.uk/love to share with families, and handouts that can be printed, put up as posters, or given to families (if safe to do so).  The website has translated versions of the handouts.  Take a look at the offer and please share with all families you support.

Cllr Kate Booth, Cabinet Member for Children’s Wellbeing at Birmingham City Council, said: “We know that a lot of people have faced some especially challenging times due to the pandemic.  But there is help is out there so we urge parents to pick up the phone, click on a link or send an email to access the things that will really make a difference to them and their families.

Here is the full list of the most used services and support available now, which might make life a bit easier for many:

  • Online parenting course. We’ve pre-paid for every parent in Birmingham to access a parenting course, worth up to £88.  Access code is COMMUNITY.
  • Mental health support. In these difficult times we have to look after our mental health:
    • For young people aged 11-25 — Kooth
    • Children and young people aged 0-25 contact Pause on Tel 0207 841 4470 or email
    • For urgent help call Forward Thinking Birmingham on Tel 0300 300 0099.
  • Financial help. If you’ve lost your job, or are struggling for food or rent:
  • Domestic abuse. For women and children affected by domestic abuse please see guidance or confidentially contact Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid. For Men, please contact Respect.
  • Problems with drugs or alcohol. A new, discrete app called Staying Free is available. To speak to someone call Change Grow Live.
  • Bereavement support. It’s a terrible time to lose a loved one — you can get help, call 0121 687 8010 or go online to the Cruse website.
  • Early help for families. If anyone needs more help, then please contact one of our ten voluntary sector local leads.

We really hope to reach families so that they can access the tremendous amount of support that is out there. These are the things that are most important to families and the increasing number of people using them to get the help that they need really does speak for itself.”


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