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Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Guidance for schools, colleges and local authorities on maintaining educational provision

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Guidance for schools, colleges and local authorities on maintaining educational provision

As part of the country’s response to Coronavirus (COVID-19), the government has asked parents to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and asked schools to remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend.

It is important to underline that schools, colleges and other educational establishments remain safe places for children. But the fewer children making the journey to school, and the fewer children in educational settings, the lower the risk that the virus can spread and infect vulnerable individuals in wider society.

Schools are therefore being asked to continue to provide care for a limited number of children – children who are vulnerable and children whose parents are critical to the COVID-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home.

The new guidance may be downloaded via the www.gov.uk website via the following LINK

General advice, information and guidance on Coronavirus (COVID-19) may be gained by visiting the Bolton Council website using the following LINK

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – NGA Guidance for Governing, Trust Boards and School Leaders

Coronavirus (COVID-19) was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation on the 11 March 2020 and is now a major concern for school leaders monitoring and dealing with the risks and implications in an evolving situation.

The NGA (National Governance Association) has published an information sheet for governing boards that re-enforces the official advice given to education settings about how they should respond to the threat of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The information sheet explains that the school’s response is an operational matter for school leaders to manage. The most appropriate way for governing boards to support their school leaders is to allow them to manage the response without the involvement of the board unless it is requested. School leaders themselves are guided by public health advice. They should maintain levels of communication with stakeholders, most notably parents but also the governing board.

The NGA guidance may be downloaded by visiting the NGA website directly using the following LINK

The most up to date guidance on Coronavirus (COVID-19) can be gained by visiting the Public Health England / Department for Education Website using the following LINK

General advice is available via the Bolton Council website using the following LINK

Integrated Curriculum and Financial Planning (ICFP)

Integrated curriculum and financial planning (ICFP) is a management process that helps schools and academies plan the best curriculum for their pupils with the funding they have available. It can be used at any phase or type of school.

ICFP involves measuring your current curriculum, staffing structure and finances, and using the data to create a 3 to 5 year plan. Linking curriculum and financial planning can help schools:

  • Achieve educational success and financial sustainability
  • Deliver the best curriculum your school can afford that meets the needs of your pupils
  • Maximise the financial efficiency of your school
  • Maximise the curriculum efficiency of your school
  • Manage unexpected costs, challenges or opportunities
  • Assess risks
  • Decide what money you need to keep in reserve

Further information about Integrated curriculum and financial planning can be gained via the www.gov.uk website using the following LINK

NGA Visible Governance in Schools Campaign

The National Governance Association (NGA) is planning a year of celebrating the power of governance, the people that volunteer for the role and the value that good governance brings to the school system. With this collective action and in support of the quarter of a million governors and trustees, they aim to achieve a higher profile and better understanding of governance, and further improve the lives of children and their communities.

School governance needs to be recognised and celebrated for its positive role in ensuring things go right for pupils, staff and schools, ensuring the best possible education experience. Good governance is not an insurance policy which picks up the pieces when things have gone awry; it is a central component of a successful organisation. Through this collective action, we want school governance to take its rightful place as a visible, valued and understood component of the education system.

Further information on the campaign can be found via the NGA website using the following LINK

Maintained Governor Representation on the Bolton Schools Forum – Election 2020

The Schools Forum is a key consultation group, especially in all aspects of resourcing schools in relation to school budgets.  There are 31 members of the Schools Forum, 23 members are head teachers and governors of maintained schools and academies.

Of the representatives there are currently 2 maintained primary positions available for election. The term of office is 4 years to commence from 1 September 2020. Maintained Primary School Governors are invited to be nominated to fill the vacant positions. Those governors, interested in standing for the positions, should complete the attached form and have this countersigned by the Chair of the Governing Body they are wishing to be nominated by.

The form should be submitted the LA Schools Finance Team by no later than Friday 27 March 2020 at 4.00 pm.

Following receipt of all nominations by the stated closing date and time, if the same number of nominations are received for the positions available, those governors will be duly elected.  If, however there are more nominations than the positions available, an election will be held. Further guidance is enclosed with the nomination form which may be downloaded here.

Parent Governor Representatives (PGRs) on the Education Scrutiny Committee

Further to the election process held in the autumn term for two maintained parent governors to serve on the Council’s Education Scrutiny Committee, we are pleased to confirm the successful candidates with majority votes as:

  • Mrs Vicky Dean – Oxford Grove Primary
  • Mrs Justine Bond – Thornleigh Salesian College

Thanks are noted to all candidates for their nominations, to those parents governors that took part in the ballot and also to the previous serving representatives Anne Martin (The Orchards Federation) and John Clare (St Joseph’s RC High).

Governance Services will work with the two new Parent Governor Representatives and the Council’s Democratic Services team to provide a feedback mechanism for matters discussed by the Committee.

Get Information About Schools (GIAS) Database

The Academies Financial Handbook sets out a new requirement for all academy trusts to provide a direct email address for all their members and trustees in the governance section of the GIAS (Get Information About Schools) database. This is in addition to providing email addresses for the chair of trustees, accounting officer and chief financial officer. To update contact details on GIAS, get in touch with your academy trust’s GIAS approver, who will be able to make the changes using their DfE sign-in account.

Whilst this is not a requirement for all maintained school governors (although it is for the Chair of Governors), if governors would like to receive a direct email alert from the Department when updates are published, please ask your school’s ‘DfE sign-in approver’ to add your contact details onto ‘Get Information About Schools’ website.

Consultation on the removal of the outstanding exemption

The Department for Education (DfE) are proposing to lift the exemption from routine inspection for outstanding schools with the aim of giving parents a clearer picture of the standard of schools in their area and supporting these schools to continue improving. The consultation on lifting the exemption on outstanding school inspections is now live until 24 February 2020 and the DfE are keen to hear from those on governing and trust boards. You can take part in the consultation by visiting the following LINK

 

Bolton Safeguarding Children Partnership

From 30 September 2019 strategic arrangements for safeguarding children in England changed and Bolton Safeguarding Children Board (BSCB) were replaced by Bolton Safeguarding Children Partnership. The ‘Children and Social Work Act 2017’ and ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children 2019’ places the responsibility for ensuring strong multi-agency safeguarding arrangements on the three statutory partners – Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group, Bolton Council and Greater Manchester Police.

Bolton Safeguarding Children Partnership is privileged to be building their new arrangements on the strengths of the safeguarding children board and the successes it has achieved in safeguarding local children.  This is an exciting opportunity for us and all our partners to further improve children’s safeguarding outcomes; creating an environment where multi-agency practice is strong and builds on the strengths of families.  The partnership want the arrangements to be inclusive and driven by the experiences and views of children, families, communities and practitioners in Bolton.

Over the past few months the partnership have been finalising the transition between the board and the new partnership, as well as progressing key priority areas, namely Domestic Abuse and Violence, Child Exploitation, Neglect and Safeguarding Processes.

To find out more about these areas and about the work of the partnership please follow this LINK

In Spring 2020 the partnership will be holding a series of awareness sessions about how the new arrangements are working in practice. Shona Green, Bolton LA Safeguarding Officer, will be providing further information for governors via the Governance Services Partnership Forum to be held at 6.30 pm on 10 February 2020 at the Bolton Science and Technology Centre.

What governing boards and school leaders should expect from each other

The popular ‘What governing boards and school leaders should expect from each other’ guidance has recently been updated.

The guidance, produced by a collaboration of leading education sector organisations including the NGA, aims to improve the effectiveness of governance by developing mutually supportive and respectful working practices between those leading and those governing schools.

A copy of the guidance may be downloaded here.

 

Pupil premium: effective use and accountability

The Department for Education has revised its guidance about how school leaders can manage their pupil premium funding, including reporting procedures and online statements. The guidance is also useful for governing boards who want to know the most effective ways schools can use their pupil premium.

A copy of the guidance may be gained via the www.gov.uk website using the following LINK

DfE Governance Update

On Tuesday 17 September 2019, the department launched three new web pages via the www.gov.uk website, in response to feedback from governors, trustees and clerks. The pages are designed to help those working in school governance to more easily navigate the departments governance content online. The department have created:

These two collections are designed to make it easier to find governance information online.

The department have also updated the existing Statutory policies for schools resource to create a new, more accessible, web page. This page contains a list of statutory policies for schools, which sets out legal or otherwise mandatory guidance for schools.

School Financial Value Standard (SFVS) 2019

Local authority maintained schools must submit the School Financial Value Standard (SFVS) annually to their local authority who will use this information to inform their programme of financial assessment and audit. Academies are not required to complete this and instead should use the school resource management self-assessment tool.

The standard has changed and now consists of a checklist and dashboard. The revised standard for 2019-20 aims to help schools and local authorities meet basic standards for good financial health and resource management.

The checklist asks questions of governing boards in 6 areas of resource management. It provides clarification for each question, examples of good practice, and details of further support available to assist schools in addressing specific issues.

The dashboard shows how a school’s data compares to thresholds on a range of statistics identified by the Department for Education (DfE) as indicators of good resource management and outcomes. It provides explanations of each of the indicators and helps schools to fill in their data and understand the results.

The revised standard can be found by visiting the www.gov.uk website by using the following LINK

School Teachers Pay and Conditions Document 2019

Following the publication of the School Teachers Pay and Conditions Document 2019 (‘STPCD’), the LA Model Pay Policy has been revised and is available to download via the Schools Extranet Service.

The STPCD no longer publishes full pay ranges, rather it sets the minimum and maximum value for each scale of teacher e.g. main scale, upper pay scale and the various leadership groups. It is then for each Local Authority, school and Trade Union to consult and agree how they will manage the local pay framework within these broad parameters. Therefore, the headline changes to the LA Pay Policy are;

  • 2.75% to all points on the unqualified pay range and main pay range.
  • 2.75% to all points on the upper pay range, leading practitioner pay range and all allowances.
  • 2.75% to all points of the leadership pay ranges.

Additionally, the agreed model Appraisal, Performance Management Policy and Managing Teachers’ Capability Policy have been updated to ensure that they reflect the most up to date documents and model policies.

Governing Boards should be considering the pay award and model policies at the relevant autumn term meetings.

Admission to Primary and Secondary Schools 2021/22

The Local Authority Pupil and Student Services Team wrote to all Voluntary Aided Schools, Free Schools and Academies at the start of term to remind them of their duty to review their admissions policy and, as admission authorities, to consult each other before determining admission policies and arrangements for the 2021-2022 school year.

Under the School Admissions Code when changes are proposed to admission arrangements, the admission authority must consult by 31st January on their admission arrangements (including any supplementary information forms) that will apply for admission applications in the following academic year. As such schools and academies need to ensure that they, at the very least, determine their admissions policies for entry into Reception and Year 7 by 28th February 2020 and notify the LA by 15th March 2020.

If schools and academies wish to amend their admissions policy, they must follow the timetable for consultation. Community and Voluntary Controlled schools aren’t included in this guidance and Governing Boards should instead continue to note that LA’s admissions policy.

For further guidance, please contact Val Fogg, Pupil and Student Services Manager via email at val.fogg@bolton.gov.uk

ESFA Understanding Your Data Guidance (revised guidance)

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) had previously published a guide for governing and trust boards on understanding data which has recently been reviewed. The guide sets out the information boards may consider whilst undertaking their core functions of setting the right strategic direction for the school or trust, holding school leaders to account for educational performance and ensuring financial probity.

The department  have:

  • republished the resource in a more accessible version
  • improved all sections, adding further clarity on messaging, and highlighting the importance of data relating to pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) included links to additional sources of information, including guidance on setting executive salaries and academy trust good practice guides on internal scrutiny and management letters

The guidance will help the board to understand the issues and challenge leaders to understand and contribute towards school improvement.

A copy of the guidance can be downloaded directly from the Education and Skills Funding Agency via www.gov.uk by using the following LINK

Keeping Children Safe in Education 2019

The Keeping Children Safe in Education statutory guidance sets out the legal duties that must be followed to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people under the age of 18 in schools and colleges.

This updated guidance is for head teachers, teachers, staff, governors, proprietors and management committee members and supersedes the 2018 version. A summary of the amendments and additions are contained within Annex H of the guidance.

The guidance and related materials can be downloaded directly from the www.gov.uk website using the following LINK

In light of the revised guidance, the Local Authority Model Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy has been updated. This is now available via the Bolton Schools Extranet Service.

Governance Services Update

Upon the early retirement of Annette Harris at the end of the summer term and following a rigorous recruitment process, I’m pleased to report that we have appointed Marie Ahmad to the important role of Governance Development Officer. Marie will bring a vast array of experience both from her current role within the Governance Services Team and also from her previous professional roles and role as a Chair of Governors. Marie will be developing the post further, whilst maintaining the current service offer of bespoke development, external reviews of governance and the usual briefings and events.

We have recruited to Marie’s substantive Governance Support Officer role and I am pleased to welcome Pratap Vara to the Team. Pratap, who has a background in law, will be bringing numerous skills and experience to the service, especially in terms of providing advice and support in the complex area of governance law and procedure and we know he will prove to be an asset to the team.

Towards the end of the summer term we also unfortunately said goodbye to Denise Hark as Governance Support Officer. Denise, like Annette, had worked for the Governance Services Team in Bolton for a number of years and whilst we are sad to see her go; I’m pleased to advise that Denise accepted a promotion as Head of Governance for Salford City College. Denise had always wanted to work in Further Education, and we wish her well for the future.

We have recruited to Denise’s post and it gives me pleasure to welcome Theo Williams to the team in a full-time capacity. Many will already have met Theo in his role as Casual Minute Clerk and with his existing knowledge of our systems and practices, his previous professional experience and experiences as a Chair of Governors, again we know he will too prove to be an asset to the service.

The Governance Services Team in Bolton is recognised as a quality service with high standards and we trust that our recent appointments will continue to secure the very best service for our schools and academy trusts. If you would like to discuss any staffing arrangement further or are unsure of who your designated officer is for your board, please don’t hesitate to contact Judith Pollard, Senior Governance Support Officer on 01204 338601 or via email at judith.pollard@bolton.gov.uk

John Ashworth   Governance Services Manager

Ofsted Inspections of Maintained Schools and Academies

The Education Inspection Framework came into effect from 2 September 2019. Copies of the School Inspection Handbooks for Section 5 and Section 8 Inspections can be downloaded from the directly from the www.gov.uk website using the following LINK

Further guidance for Inspecting the Curriculum and the methodology to support the framework can also be downloaded.

Academies Financial Handbook – 2019

The Academies Financial Handbook 2019 details the financial management requirements that apply to all academy trusts.

Academy trusts must comply with this handbook as a condition of their funding agreement. It provides an overarching framework for implementation of effective financial management and control. Other resources are available to help boards get the right systems in place.

The guidance can be downloaded directly from the www.gov.uk website using the following LINK

 

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