Update for schools: 16 March 2021

This update includes a letter from Dr Justin Varney, information about RIDDOR reporting, a DfE webinar and a reminder to complete a survey regarding holiday activities.

Letter to families from Dr Justin Varney, Director of Public Health

Please find at this link a letter to share with families from Dr Justin Varney, Director of Public Health.

RIDDOR reporting of COVID-19

RIDDOR is legislation which puts duties on employers to report certain serious workplace accidents, occupational diseases and specified dangerous occurrences (near misses) to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). This legislation and duty has existed for several years, and many of you may be most familiar with and heard of RIDDOR in relation to accidents. When there is an accident in a council workplace (e.g. schools and all other council directorates & service areas) an accident form is completed and submitted. All these accident forms are received by BCC Safety Services who review them and where appropriate make a RIDDOR submission to the HSE. 

The purpose of the RIDDOR regulations is to allow the HSE to monitor accident trends, identify how risks arise and investigate serious accidents. Therefore, to comply with RIDDOR, an employer needs to report certain types of incidents and injuries to the HSE. All RIDDOR submissions for maintained schools (i.e. where BCC is the employer) and the directorates/services of Birmingham City Council are undertaken centrally by its Safety Services team. BCC Safety Services also undertakes this reporting for schools who are subscribed to the service from the council’s safety team.

The HSE has issued new guidance clarifying that employers will investigate Covid-19 cases to establish whether there is reasonable evidence of an occupational exposure. Where there is reasonable evidence, the employer is required to report such cases under the RIDDOR legislation. 

Schools where the council is not the employer or who do not subscribe to BCC’s Safety Services will need to check with their employer regards their arrangements for implementing the new HSE defined criteria for RIDDOR reporting of Covid-19.

If you have informed the council (by inputting Covid-19 cases / absence data into the HR system using the specific codes for Covid-19 absence) you may be sent a link to a form from BCC’s Safety Services dedicated CovidRIDDOR Mailbox to gather more specific information. This form only asks questions to help establish if a Covid-19 case meets the RIDDOR reporting criteria and, where so, enable BCC Safety Services to undertake the submission on behalf of the council.

The form, when completed by a school, is received directly by BCC Safety Services, not the HSE, who then review the submitted information to determine whether there is reasonable evidence of an occupational exposure.  Only cases where reasonable evidence has been determined, will BCC Safety Services on behalf of the employer notify the HSE. Upon receipt of the completed form from a school BCC Safety Services, in some instances, may make direct contact with the school seeking further clarification. 

Thank you to those schools who have already been contacted and submitted completed forms. The process has enabled information to be gathered and avoided numerous phone conversations; and in addition, it has proved useful in correcting absence/coding information provided to HR.

For further information please contact Safety Services (schoolsafety@birmingham.gov.uk)

DfE webinar for secondary schools and colleges: Wednesday 17th March 12pm

The DfE is hosting a webinar tomorrow at 12pm for secondary schools and colleges on the move to testing at home and testing over Easter.

Secondary schools and colleges can join the webinar using this link. A recording of this webinar will be available to watch shortly after.

Holiday Activity and Food Programme: Survey for schools

We know schools are currently focused on the safe return of all pupils from 8th March. Schools will also be aware of the Government’s recent update regarding the catch-up fund for disadvantaged pupils. We are also aware support for transition between year groups is being planned by some schools.

The DfE funded Holiday Activity & Food programme is a grant to local authorities aimed at young people ages 5-16 who are eligible for free school meals, of which we have around 70,000 in Birmingham. There is an allocation of up to 15% for other disadvantaged groups such as CiC/ LAC, SEND or other young people in need that may not be on census as FSM.

The scheme covers funding for four weeks in the summer holidays and one week at Christmas. Each week would need to consist of a minimum 4 hours, 4 days per week. (A separate communication will be issued shortly about the planned virtual activities for Easter).

The main key outcomes and priorities for the scheme are to help young people who attend:

  • to eat more healthily over the school holidays; 
  • to be more active during the school holidays; 
  • to take part in engaging and enriching activities which support the development of resilience, character and wellbeing along with their wider educational attainment; 
  • to be safe and not to be socially isolated; 
  • to have greater knowledge of health and nutrition; and 
  • to be more engaged with school and other local services.
  • access food each day, either breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Whilst this is a great opportunity for young people and families in Birmingham, we also understand the great work our schools are doing to keep schools COVID safe and the need to continue with this. The Council has started engagement with key Council services and external partners in order to support the large scope and scale needed to deliver the programme.

We would be grateful if schools could complete a short survey to let us know how they would like to engage with the Holiday and food programme and how we could support any activities already planned. Please see the link to the questionnaire for each school to complete on survey monkey https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/XL2TH6Q . Reponses would be appreciated by Friday 19th March.

Possibilities being considered include:

  • Supporting /enhancing schools’ plans for summer holiday activities
  • Providing ‘wrap-around’ activities and food to support in-school ‘catch-up’ learning
  • Providing support to Out of School settings on or near to school locations
  • Partnering with third party activity & food providers on school sites, or community-based locations

The council is looking to establish a grant-based model for schools and community organisations to be able to apply for funding to provide activities in line with the DfE requirements for the scheme. Due to the current Covid situation, we will continue to monitor Government advice and build in business continuity arrangements into our planning. There is no expectation for schools to be a hub for holiday activities, however schools can consider joint funding bids and working together if they wish to form local hubs or locality hubs, if practical this may mean still separate delivery at different sites but the same offer. If you are wishing to form a hub, please can you let us know on the questionnaire.

If you have any further questions or would like to be part of the core working group for the scheme, please let us know at holidayactivities@birmingham.gov.uk

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