Update for schools: 23 March 2021

This update contains information about PPE for mainstream schools, the Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education, the Easter holidays activities programme and more.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for mainstream schools

The final delivery of PPE will be made this month to assist mainstream schools in responding in emergency situations. The Department of Education (DFE) is very clear that the PPE being provided is for use when:

  • A child in the school setting presents symptomatic and PPE is required
  • A child requires aerosol generating procedures.

The amount of PPE to be supplied is based on a calculation provided by the DfE and also takes account of the local infection rate for school aged children. This PPE has been supplied to us by DfE for distribution to schools in line with the usage outlined above and is intended to provide sufficient PPE until 31st July 2021. 

The packs will be based on 2 school sizes and will include the following:

Schools with 1-1000 pupils

  • 600 x Type IIR face masks
  • 600 x aprons
  • 1200 x gloves
  • 10 x visors
  • hand sanitisers

Schools with 1001 – 2300 pupils

  • 850 x Type IIR masks
  • 800 x aprons
  • 1700 x gloves
  • 20 x visors
  • hand sanitisers

These packs will be delivered from 28th March 2021 onwards by the PPE Team. We will continue to monitor both PPE usage and the local infection rate during the intervening period. Schools with queries can contact edsi.enquiries@birmingham.gov.uk

Update on the review of the Birmingham Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education

The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted many aspects of our lives over the last year and the review of the Agreed Syllabus has also been affected.

The syllabus needs to be agreed by nominated volunteers through the body known as an Agreed Syllabus Conference. Allowing for the agreement of the syllabus, subsequent adoption by the City Council, the need for resources to be updated along with website development and training for teachers, we are now planning for the syllabus to be taught from September 2022.

In the intervening time we would ask :

  • local authority schools to continue with teaching the current Agreed Syllabus (2007). The resources remain available at www.faithmakesadifference.co.uk. This website will shortly be updated as the old IT structure can no longer wait for the introduction of the new syllabus. The new website structure will look different even though it will carry the 2007 resources initially. Importantly, it will be future proofed in readiness for a fast change to the 2021 syllabus as soon as it is adopted.
  • academies and free schools to continue to consider using the current Agreed Syllabus (2007) and the resources available as outlined above. These resources effectively document religious life in Birmingham through films and a range of teacher and pupil materials and may be of use to those following another syllabus.  

In the meantime, if you have any questions please contact simone.whitehouse@servicesforeducation.co.uk

Holiday Activities Fund: Letter for families eligible for free school meals

Birmingham City Council’s Easter activities programme will be delivered virtually to enable children and young people to take part in activities safely online or at home with their families.  The programme will include live streams of activity and play sessions, sports coaching sessions, downloadable resources and activity cards, arts and craft activities, food and nutrition advice, cook at home ideas and recipes, along with Key Stage appropriate educational programmes focusing on wellbeing, physical activity and nutrition.

The Birmingham Holiday Activities web portal will have a wide range of activities available from 5pm on Thursday 1st April 2021.  Parents will also have the option to sign up to the Birmingham Holiday Activities Programme distribution network where we will be able to share information with families about what is being planned for the summer. 

Attached with this update is a letter for schools to provide to the families of children eligible for free school meals setting out details of the virtual activities programme for the Easter holidays.  It is necessary to monitor the uptake of the Easter programme by free school meal pupils so the letter includes a code (please feel free to amend the letter as needed).  Information about how other families will be able to access the programme will be shared with schools later this week.

If you have any questions about the Easter programme or access to the portal, please contact holidayactivities@birmingham.gov.uk

New Team Around Every School

Birmingham Children’s Partnership has created a database of multi-agency professionals around every school.  You now have named contacts from localities, health, care and police to support you and the pupils you are most worried about. Below is a link to a database with the names and contact details of your team.  The first line of support is your voluntary sector locality lead for early help.  However, you might also want advice on a case from mental health professionals, or to check on a pupil’s needs with an Educational Psychologist or share a concern about domestic abuse with the Police or Family Support.

Please note that the same Right Help, Right Time thresholds remain, and safeguarding concerns should be referred to the Children’s Advice and Support Service (CASS).  The database is in addition to the early help offer included in the ‘From Birmingham with Love’ package which is still available to all families in Birmingham and can help with food poverty, mental health, domestic violence, financial problems and bereavement.  Please continue to promote this offer to your families.

Here is the link to the database which includes instructions on how to use it. https://www.localofferbirmingham.co.uk/team-around-the-school

If you have any feedback, please email.

Changes to the Test and Trace support payment for parents

Parents and carers of children who have been advised to self-isolate by their education setting or by NHS Test and Trace are now able to apply for a Test and Trace Support Payment or discretionary payment of £500, if they meet the eligibility criteria. The extension of the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme, which is administered by district and unitary local authorities in England, ensures that parents receive the financial support they need if they are unable to attend work due to childcare responsibilities.

Parents and carers should apply to their local authority to receive a payment. Applications for the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme are made via the local authority in which the parent or carer resides, not the local authority where the setting is situated, if these are different.

To be eligible applicants must meet all of the criteria that:

  • they are the parent or guardian of a child or young person in the same household and need to take time off work to care for them while they self-isolate. This is limited to one parent or guardian per household for the child or young person’s self-isolation period
  • they are employed or self-employed
  • they cannot work from home while undertaking caring responsibilities and will lose income as a result
  • they meet all the other means-tested eligibility criteria for a Test and Trace Support Payment or locally determined criteria for a discretionary payment

That their child or young person:

  • is aged 15 or under (or 25 or under with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC)) and normally attends an education or childcare setting
  • has been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or by their education or childcare setting because they have been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19)

Nurseries, schools, colleges and further education providers are required to provide a letter to all parents or carers of the children advised to self-isolate, to support their application to the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme. A template letter is available for early years and primary schools on the primary schools document sharing platform titled with the code RP81. A template letter is available for secondary schools and further education providers on the secondary schools and colleges document sharing platform titled with the code RP83. The letter must detail the child’s name and date of self-isolation. Parents or carers will then be able to provide this letter to their local authority as evidence that their child is required to self-isolate.

Once an application for a payment has been received, the local authority will be in touch with your setting to verify the details of the child provided on the application. This will include a check of the child’s name, age, address and days of self-isolation. This check is to minimise the event of fraudulent claims. It may be conducted before or after a payment is made, depending on the arrangements the individual local authority has chosen to put in place. The letter you give to parents and carers should explain to them that their local authority will conduct a check with their child’s setting if they apply for a payment.

Information from DfE: Further targeted ransomware attacks on the education sector

The Department for Education and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has been made aware of an increasing number of cyber-attacks involving ransomware infection affecting the education sector recently.

It is important that senior leaders in education settings understand the nature of the threat and the potential for ransomware to cause considerable damage to their institutions in terms of lost data and access to critical services. The information below will support your ongoing cyber security preparedness and mitigation work.

What should I do if I am affected?

  1. Enact your incident management plan
  2. Contact the NCSC
  3. Contact your local law enforcement and Action Fraud
  4. Inform the Department for Education by emailing: sector.securityenquiries@education.gov.uk

The Department for Education supports the National Crime Agency’s recommendations not to encourage, endorse, or condone the payment of ransom demands.

Payment of ransoms has no guarantee of restoring access or services and will likely result in repeat incidents to educational settings.

It is vital that you urgently review your existing defences and take the necessary steps to protect your networks from cyber-attacks.
Along with your defences, having the ability to restore the systems and recover data from backups is vital. You should ask your IT team or provider to confirm that:

  • they are backing up the right data
  • the backups are held offline
  • they have tested that they can restore services and recover data from the backups

Further information and supporting material includes:

  1. NCSC Alert on the current cases of ransomware
  2. Ransomware advice and guidance for your IT teams to implement
  3. Offline backups in an online world
  4. Backing up your data
  5. Practical resources to help improve your cyber security


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