Updates, News & Resources

Keeping Children Safe in Education 2020

Keeping Children Safe in Education 2020

The DfE (Department for Education) has updated its Keeping Children Safe in Education guidance. The statutory guidance, which comes into effect from 1 September 2020, applies to all schools and academies and 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.

The key changes to this edition include:

  • New requirements on mental health when it is also a safeguarding matter
  • A reformatted part two of the guidance, which those responsible for governance should read
  • A change to the definition of safeguarding

The Keeping Children Safe in Education statutory guidance may be downloaded directly from the website by following this LINK

Academies Financial Handbook 2020

The ESFA (Education and Skills Funding Agency) has published the latest edition of the Academies Financial Handbook which will come into effect from 1 September 2020. This is for use by all academies and free schools. Updates to the new handbook include:

  • Emphasising trustee responsibility to maintain the trust as  a going concern
  • Further details on the role of members and the need for members to remain informed on trust business
  • Reinforcing that trusts must appoint a clerk to the trustee board
  • An encouragement for larger trusts to consider accountancy qualifications for their Chief Financial Officer
  • Encouragement for boards to take an integrated approach to curriculum and financial planning
  • New details on board and committee responsibilities in terms of risk management
  • A new requirement for trusts to publish on their trust wide website the number of employees whose pay and benefits exceed £100k

The updated handbook can be downloaded directly from the website by following this LINK

Guidance on the Full Re-opening of Schools from September

The Department for Education (DfE) has issued guidance on the full opening of schools from September. It is the Government’s plan that all pupils, in all year groups, will return to school full-time from the beginning of the autumn term.

This guidance is intended to support schools, both mainstream and alternative provision, to prepare for this. It applies to primary, secondary (including sixth forms), infant, junior, middle, upper, school-based nurseries and boarding schools. The guidance also covers expectations for children with special educational needs and disability (SEND), including those with education, health and care plans, in mainstream schools.

The DfE guidance may be viewed directly from the website by following this LINK

The National Governance Association (NGA) has also updated its guidance for governing boards on business continuity with new content that looks forward to September when schools welcome back more pupils and governing boards also return to more normal business routines.

The NGA guidance may be downloaded directly from the NGA website by following this LINK

Two Year Old Childcare Funding

We know many two years olds in Bolton are missing out on their funded place. Please encourage families who think they meet the criteria to have a check so they can start to benefit as soon as possible. Follow @BoltonFIS on Facebook to receive regular information for families about funded childcare and much more.


NGA Guidance (The role of governing boards in reducing the impact of COVID-19 school closures on disadvantaged pupils)

The National Governance Association (NGA) have published guidance for governing and trust boards about a strategic approach in looking at reducing the impact on disadvantaged pupils during the national emergency as it has been recognised that despite the best efforts of schools to provide continuity of education for all pupils during lockdown, there is no doubt that disadvantaged pupils and their families will have experienced greater challenges than most of their peers.

This handy information briefing, which sits alongside other useful briefing notes, may be downloaded directly from the NGA website by following this LINK

DfE School Governance (Coronavirus COVID-19) Update – June 2020

The DfE (Department for Education), as part of their regular governance update, have provided additional guidance to assist governors, trustees and school leaders in their governance roles. You may have already received this update if you are subscribed to the DfE GIAS (Get Information About Your Schools) system.

The guidance specifically addresses the role of Governing and Trust Boards during the current pandemic emergency and how they can support their leadership teams.

The briefing includes a statement from Gavin Williams, Secretary of State, and provides further information about the phased re-opening of schools and educational settings, along with other key pieces of information for Boards to consider in terms of the continuation of their strategic roles.

The guidance can be gained directly from the website by following this LINK

Phased Wider Re-opening of Schools in Bolton

Following a number of queries from governors about the arrangements for the phased re-opening of schools in Bolton, we thought it might be useful to provide further guidance about the arrangements that have taken place jointly by School Leaders and the Local Authority (LA). Much of this will have already been shared by your Head Teachers and Principals.

Throughout the current crisis, Bolton Local Authority have continued to work with Head Teacher Representatives to develop a Bolton approach to a common framework of principles which allows each school to apply them to their own individual circumstances, based on the communities they serve. The LA expected primary and early years settings to begin to invite children back to school from the 1st June 2020 and secondary and further educational settings from 15 June 2020; however, there is no expectation that all children in the specified year groups to be in school from these dates, but the aim is for schools to work towards this as soon as is practical and safe to do so.

The health and safety of children and staff is the highest priority. Decisions to bring more children into school will be based on health and safety risk assessment. The LA have provided a template to assist school leaders with this process and held virtual public health briefings to provide further guidance.

Decisions on the phased opening of schools should be made by Schools Leaders in consultation with their Governing and Trust Boards. In consulting their boards, leaders may do this through the Chair and communication with other governors or via a formal board meeting. Further guidance for voluntary aided schools and academies should be sought from the relevant body (Diocese) or trust. We are aware that both Salford RC and Manchester CE Diocese have provided further information and guidance to leaders and their Governing Boards.

The DfE, NGA and NAHT are clear in their guidance that it is the operational leader’s role in deciding the logistics of the wider opening of the school to pupils from 1 June and the strategic leaders role to oversee the necessary risk assessments. The consultation of parents and carers is also an operational role and we know that many school leaders have already done this in order to gauge their views about whether or not they will be sending their children back from 1 June, or later for secondary pupils.

The NGA have provided a ‘frequently asked questions’ section on their website which governors and trustees may find useful. They are clear that the “re-opening of a school is an operational decision which is taken by school leaders. Clearly any decision made by school leaders will need to take into account the DfE guidance, applying it to the school’s individual context. We expect school leaders to consult with their governing boards who have a role as employers (or in place of employers) and a duty of care to pupils.”  This guidance can be found by following this LINK

Further operational guidance is available for School Leaders from the DfE by using the following Links:

DfE Planning advice for Primary Schools for Phased Return of Pupils (from 1 June)

DfE Planning advice for Secondary Schools for Phased Return of Pupils (from 15 June)

School Funding: Exceptional Costs Associated with Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Department for Education has issued guidance which sets out the financial support that will be put in place to ensure schools can focus on the vital role they are playing during the current national emergency. While the department does not know how long the current situation will continue, this guidance covers support for schools up to the end of the 2019 to 2020 summer term. The funding is available for all state-funded mainstream and special schools, and alternative provision.

The guidance can be gained directly from the website by following this LINK

DFE Guidance – Reducing Burdens on Educational and Care Settings

It is vital, at this time, that all educational and care settings, including local authorities, are able to focus on the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19), providing for the children and young people in their care and looking after the wellbeing of their staff.

To help reduce the burden on educational and care settings, the Department for Education (DfE) and its agencies have cancelled or paused all but the most essential data collections, services and requests from educational and care settings until the end of June 2020.

A list of data collection and services which will be cancelled, paused, deferred or continue can be gained directly from the website by following this LINK

Maintained Governor Representation on the Bolton Schools Forum – Election 2020 (extended nomination period)

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. Unfortunately no nominations were received within the last nomination period in spring 2020. We have therefore extended the closing date for nominations until Friday 17 July 2020. 

The term of office is 4 years to commence from 1 September 2020 (This start date may be delayed if a ballot is required).  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 seek email approval in place of the usual countersignature 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 17 July 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.

Bolton Governance Services – Support for the Summer Term

The Governance Services Team recognises that schools and academies are not operating in the usual way during the current national emergency. The Service continues to be available to provide support, advice and guidance during this difficult time.

As a service we will be assisting our boards and providing guidance on undertaking virtual meetings wherever possible. These will be fully supported by the clerking service with the expectations that all Governing and Trust Boards will meet. We will provide a model draft agenda which will cover the necessary items for boards to consider as part of the crisis response and to meet statutory duties.  Your Clerk to the Board will contact you soon to discuss this and establish dates, if they have not already done so. Guidance on virtual meetings can be found on this website by following this LINK

During social distancing, isolation and shielding, we felt it important to provide some normality in services and we will therefore offer a suite of virtual training and development for governors and trustees to access. This will replace some of our planned face-to-face sessions this term.

The NGA Learning Link, brokered through our Training and Development Service Level Agreement, remains available for access. Further information on e-learning can be found on this website by following this LINK

If you have any questions or concerns, please speak to your Clerk to the Board in the first instance or contact the service on 01204 338601 / 338603

Statement from Bolton Faith Leaders’ Forum

Bolton Faith Leaders’ Forum has issued a joint statement thanking everyone who is working so hard to get us through this testing time. “As faith communities of Bolton we are united in our commitment to working for the well-being of all affected by COVID-19,” they said.

“We thank and support those who are working so hard to enable us to get through this testing time: NHS and care workers; emergency response services; providers of food, medicine and other vital goods; those in all levels of government and officials, and Bolton Council in particular, and the many others who may not be classed as ‘essential workers’ but make all the difference to our daily lives.

“People of all faiths and none through the voluntary and community sector and neighbourhood groups are working together to respond to the many needs that have arisen.”

The full statement can be gained via the Bolton Council website by following this LINK

DfE Governance Update – March 2020

The DfE (Department for Education), as part of their regular governance update, have provided additional guidance to assist governors, trustees and school leaders in their governance roles. You may have already received this update if you are subscribed to the DfE GIAS (Get Information About Your Schools) system.

This update reiterates the key messages and guidance published by the department about the Government’s response with Coronavirus (COVD-19), especially around school closures, and seeks to provide some clarity on specific issues that will be at the forefront of governors’ minds. Department officials are monitoring the situation closely and will provide further information as necessary. The guidance is particularly useful to inform the Department’s expectations of School and Academy governance during the current national emergency.

The guidance can be gained directly from the website by following this LINK

Keeping Children Safe in Schools – Supporting Current Arrangements

The DfE (Department for Education) has issued revised safeguarding guidance for schools and colleges as they recognise that the way they are currently operating in response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) is fundamentally different to business as usual, however, a number of important safeguarding principles remain the same.

KCSIE (Keeping Children Safe in Education) is statutory safeguarding guidance that schools and colleges should continue to have regard to as per their legislative duty and/or funding agreement requirements.

Whilst acknowledging the pressure that schools and colleges are under, the Department for Education had advised that it remains essential that as far as possible they continue to be safe places for children. The revised guidance supports governing boards, proprietors, senior leadership teams and designated safeguarding leads (DSLs) so they can continue to have appropriate regard to KCSIE and keep their children safe. It suggests where schools and colleges might consider safeguarding policy and process differently when compared to business as usual.

The guidance can be gained directly from the website by following this LINK

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 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 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

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.

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