School Business Continuity Plans

By now, all schools should have updated their Business Continuity Plan in order to take COVID 19 into account.

Issues that you should have taken into consideration should schools be ordered to close in the future include:

  • any arrangements that you may have made for your more vulnerable children who are not necessarily known to Children’s Social Care or Early Help
  • any children where there are potential safeguarding issues
  • any ongoing tuition plan that you have. David Street and Dave Cookson can provide additional guidance on this
  • any plans that you may have for feeding children entitles to a free school meal, given that there has yet to be any central guidance on this. As soon as we receive any guidance on this, it will be circulated to schools.
  • a review of all risk assessments for those pupils with special educational needs or health needs
  • your plan for staff deployment (both teaching and non-teaching) should the school close
  • a review of your school closure procedures should you need to close unexpectedly
  • the communications that you will put out on your website, newsletter or other communication channels
  • ensure that all your staff emergency contact details are up-to-date

I have included, below, the link to the Emergency Planning for Schools page on the NCC website to help you update your Business Continuity Plan if you need to.

‘Emergency Planning for Schools’  https://www.northumberland.gov.uk/Education/Schools/Emergency.aspx

Meetings and Conferences

All non-essential or large meetings, training events and conferences for the foreseeable future will be postponed. Any updates to this will be posted to schools by email, on the e-courier and the Northumberland Education website. Similarly, NCC staff will not be attending non-essential or large meetings, training events or conferences organised by others. This includes SIP visits. All SIPs have been informed that their visits have been cancelled for the foreseeable future. You should note that NCC officers will continue to be available for advice and support and should be contacted by email.

Specialist staff from SEND Support Services will continue to be available to schools whilst staffing allows, schools remain open and the guidance remains the same. They will precede each visit with a phone call. School visits will focus on support for individual learners; no training will be delivered.

School Budgets 2020-21

· As of Thursday 19th March, all school budget visits will now be conducted via a telephone meeting. Your school accountant will contact you at your scheduled date and time.

· For 2020-21 it will be not necessary to gain full agreement of the Governing body or the Resources Committee, we will accept approved school budgets that are electronically approved by the Headteacher and the Chair of the Governing Body or Chair of the Resources Committee.

· Final Accounts deadlines remain unchanged, please ensure your staff are able to complete the following tasks by the deadline:

· Local Account and Collectors returns are due for submission – 27th March

· Any outstanding journal transfers due for submission – 3rd April

Safeguarding

There is no change to safeguarding procedures and arrangements for children. If you have a concern about a child, you should still contact OneCall in the usual way on 01670-536400. Carol Leckie’s team will be available for advice about aspects of safeguarding standards. DSL briefings and face to face meetings have been postponed for the foreseeable future but schools will still receive March and April issues of Safe to Learn.

School Trips – Message from Nigel Chopping NCC Health & Safety Advisor

We are writing in view of the recent updates from central government regarding COVID-19. The purpose is to set out the position in respect of health and safety advice and Approvals provided via the Evolve system for off-site visits. This advice applies to all visits that have already been approved, are pending approval or are in the process of being planned.

The following is based upon guidance provided by DfE, FCO Travel Advice and OEAP that is current at the time of issue of this communication (see below).

The DfE guidance advises against any overseas travel for children under 18 organised by educational settings. This advice is further supported by FCO Travel Advice relating to specific countries where necessary.

The DfE guidance also states that DfE is not advising against domestic trips (residential and non-residential) for children under 18 organised by educational settings. However, it has advised that educational establishments should refresh their risk assessments taking into account the latest health guidance (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/) and ensure measures are in place and agreed with parents in case children or adult supervisors believe they have been exposed to COVID-19 and exhibit symptoms that require self-isolation.

In response to the above, the following is to be considered by all establishments conducting off-site visits:

For overseas visits: Based upon the current information and until this changes, NCC will not provide Approval for visits that involve overseas travel that are due to depart in the next 30 days. Where approval has been previously provided it must be considered to be rescinded until further notice. Visits departing beyond 30 days will be kept under review as the current situation and guidance may change.

For domestic visits: Based upon the current information and, until further notice, NCC will continue to review each Evolve submission on a case by case basis. This review will look for assurance that current guidance has been considered and where appropriate suitable arrangements are put in place and that these are demonstrated in visit planning documentation. Prior to planning or conducting any visit all establishments must ensure they apply a demonstrable justification process for the visit. This must take into account the current guidance, the establishment circumstances and usual visit management considerations. We will continue to support establishments in determining whether visits are appropriate in the context of current advice. With regard to previously approved visits, establishments must ensure they are reviewed, planning documentation is updated and where visits are cancelled the relevant Evolve form is marked accordingly. We will not retrospectively review previously approved visits, but those with specific queries must contact us for further support as required.

In view of the dynamically evolving nature of the COVID-19 Pandemic the current guidance will be continually reviewed and where this leads to a change in the above, each establishment will be contacted.

If there are any queries relating to the above or in relation to specific visits please do not hesitate to contact Nigel Chopping in order to support you in determining the appropriate course of action.