Updates, News & Resources

DfE Mental Health & Wellbeing Support

DfE Mental Health & Wellbeing Support

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, the DfE outlined plans for £17.4 million funding on mental health initiatives in education settings. The funding will cover:

  • A Wellbeing for Education Recovery program providing free training and resources for staff to support pupils experiencing additional pressures from the last year.
  • Funding to the ‘Link’ programme run by the Anna Freud Centre which promotes joint working between schools and mental health services.
  • Grants for training of senior mental health leads in up to 7,800 schools and colleges from September. Information on applying for funding and a list of approved training providers is expected to be announced before September.

In addition, the DfE and Ofsted made 12 commitments to support staff wellbeing including to review the impact of the Oftsed framework on staff wellbeing. The Education Staff Wellbeing Charter is intended to be a shared commitment across the sector to support staff, with schools and colleges invited to sign the charter in the autumn.

Guidance can be downloaded by selecting the highlighted links above.

The Role of Members in Academy Trusts – NGA Guidance

The National Governance Association (NGA) have updated their guidance on the ‘Role of Members in Academy Trusts’.

The NGA note that Members are the “guardians of governance” within an academy trust, performing a limited and distinct role which is often misunderstood.

This third edition of the guidance includes new sections on keeping members informed and addressing trust board under performance. Existing content has also been updated to reflect the evolving rules and guidance around members and their role.

This guidance is available via the NGA website and is a free resource open to all NGA members and non-members via the following LINK

EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage) Reforms

The EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage) framework sets the standards for all Early Years providers to make sure that children aged from birth to 5 learn and develop well, are healthy and kept safe. The changes to the EYFS statutory framework are being made to:

  • Improve outcomes age 5,  particularly in early language and especially for disadvantaged children, emphasis on self regulation and executive function
  • Reduce workload- cutting the amount of time spent gathering unnecessary evidence; spending less time on tracking and data collection to enable more time with children
  • To promote good oral health as a statutory expectation

Some schools are already using a new early adopter framework as part of the EYFS reforms early adopter year from September 2020 to August 2021.The new early years foundation stage (EYFS) framework was published on the 31 March 2021 and should be used by all Ofsted registered early years providers in England from September 2021.

The DfE (Department for Education) have produced a vodcast, a useful viewing for headteachers, senior leadership and governors in schools, and gives essential messages from the DfE and Ofsted. The vodcast can be viewed via the following LINK

Laura Wright, Bolton Early Years and Childcare Adviser, will be delivering a presentation on the EYFS Reforms at the Bolton Governance Partnership Forum to be held on 24 May 2021, with bookings available via the following LINK

Ofsted Inspection Handbook – 2021 Revision

Ofsted have released updates to their inspection handbooks following their plans to resume full inspections in September. The updates include a section that sets out how inspections will take account of COVID-19 in schools. This includes:

  • longer preparation calls before inspections to understand the impact of COVID-19 on that school
  • considering externally published data, paying particular attention to the age of the data
  • teacher assessed grades from 2020-21 will not be used
  • inspections will mainly be carried out on site but some aspects such as discussions with governors may be conducted through video or telephone calls

Inspectors will also want to know how schools have prioritised the curriculum, implemented attendance strategies and provided improvised personal development opportunities for pupils through out this period.

Section 137 of the handbook states that “The role that governors and trustees play in the school’s performance is evaluated as part of the judgement on the effectiveness of leadership and management, and each report will contain a separate paragraph that addresses the governance of the school.

The inclusion of this paragraph had previously been removed following the introduction of the revised succinct reports, to which Governance Services had raised concerns through our work with the National Co-ordinators of Governance Services. We had felt it paramount that the involvement of the Board in effective leadership and management be recognised to both celebrate strong governance practice or highlight potential areas for improvement. This also helps to raise the profile of the Board with stakeholders.

The latest updates and a copy of the revised handbook can be gained directly from the website by following this LINK

DfE Governance Update – April 2021

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 April briefing includes the following updates:

  • Governing and Trust Board meeting and visits into school
  • National Tutoring Programme: subsidised tutoring available
  • Early Education Framework (ECF) statutory induction guidance change
  • Honours nominations for those who work or volunteer in school or trust governance
  • Governor and Trustee Recruitment – Inspiring Governance & Academy Ambassadors
  • How to complete and update your governance contact on GIAS (for academies only)

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

DfE Behaviour Hubs Programme

Behaviour hubs will enable schools and multi-academy trusts (MATs) with exemplary behaviour cultures and practices to work with partner schools that want and need to improve behaviour in their school. The behaviour hubs programme aims to improve pupil behaviour in schools by taking a whole school approach and embedding a clear, sustainable behaviour culture throughout the school. How students behave in school is strongly linked to attainment and other outcomes. Good behaviour generally leads to:

  • more time to focus on teaching and learning
  • students achieving more academically and socially
  • improved staff satisfaction, higher retention and less problematic recruitment

Eligible partner schools should be rated ‘requires improvement’ by Ofsted and eligible MATs should have at least one school within their trust rated ‘requires improvement’ by Ofsted.

Governors and Trustees should be asking questions of their leadership team about behaviour at their school or academy and how the relevant policies are shared, implemented and what impact they have in promoting consistently positive behaviour.

Further information can be gained directly from the website by following this LINK

Bolton Safeguarding Children Partnership Annual Report

The Bolton Safeguarding Children Partnership have published their first annual report for 2019-20 about the work and effectiveness of the local safeguarding children arrangements.

This information is useful for all governors, trustees and leaders in the Bolton family of schools and academies.

A copy of the report can be downloaded directly via the Bolton Safeguarding Children Partnership website by selecting this LINK

DfE Governance Update – March 2021

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 March briefing includes the following updates:

  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance pages for schools and colleges
  • Nominate your board or governance professional for an Outstanding Governance Award
  • Updated school land guidance and forms
  • For maintained schools: update on School Financial Value Standard (SFVS)
  • Wellbeing for Education Return – new webinar and supporting resources for all education staff
  • NGA survey for clerks and governance professionals on careers and development

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

The Full Re-opening of Schools

Following the commencement of the re-opening off schools to all pupils from 8 March, the Department for Education (DfE) have published updated operational guidance to help schools to prepare. Routine graded Ofsted inspections will remain suspended for the spring term however, inspection arrangements will be kept under review. New elements to the DfE’s existing guidance on control measures include:

  • Asymptomatic testing for all school staff, and for secondary school pupils
  • Extended use of face coverings in secondary schools
  • Wraparound care and extra-curricular activities to resume
  • Providing reassurance for parents, pupils and staff who may be anxious about school re-opening
  • Staggered start and finish times.

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

Letter from Director – School Places for Children of Critical Workers

The Director of Children’s Services wrote to all parents and carers via schools on 13 January 2021, highlighting the demand on places for children of critical workers in the Borough. The letter confirms the latest advice following the press release in the local media.

A copy of the letter may be viewed by selecting ‘download’.


Bolton SEND Handbook

The new Bolton Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Handbook was launched on 12 January 2021. This Handbook is a comprehensive guide to SEND, providing a range of information for all involved in working with children and young people to ensure that any additional needs are identified and met in a timely manner. The SEND Handbook contains a range of information including key legislation relating to SEND, the Early Help process and a document outlining what Quality First Teaching for those with additional needs should look like. The Handbook also contains information designed to support those working with children and young people to identify SEND as well as detailing what is expected at the school (SEN Support) level to meet a child’s needs through a graduated approach of assessment, planning, doing and reviewing. For those children and young people who require support above and beyond what a school is able to provide from their own resources, information relating to the process of requesting an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment and the associated paperwork is also contained within the Handbook as is the documentation for the Annual Review of an Education, Health and Care Plan. An outline of the services available to support children and young people with SEND completes the Handbook.

A copy of the SEND Handbook can be found on the Bolton Local Offer website in the downloads section by following this LINK

Governance Services Support – Spring Term 2021

Following the announcement of a national lockdown from 5 January 2021 and the Government instruction to ‘stay at home’, we are once again recommending Boards to continue their business virtually until further notice. As a service, we are grateful for the continued strategic support that governors and trustees provide to their schools and leadership teams in these difficult times, as well as ensuring the health, safety and well-being of all staff and children.

With over 300 board meetings clerked in the autumn term, we know governors and trustees are much more confident in working via virtual means. We have updated our Virtual Meetings Protocols,  available to download via the ‘Virtual Meeting’ page, which aim to provide further assistance with the smooth running of board meetings and re-affirm good practice. We have also added a new training video about the ‘Effective use of IT in Meetings’, which can be booked via the Training and Development Programme.  The Training and Development Programme will continue to operate via live or pre-recorded events as well as he NGA e-learning sessions available to access any time, day or night, through your SLA subscription.

Remember your Clerk is available for support in all governance related matters, including providing assistance with virtual platforms, as are myself and all members of the Governance Services Team.

I want to thank you on behalf of the Team and wider Children’s Services Directorate for your continued support, and we look forward to seeing you again in person, when safe to do so. Until then, take care and stay safe.

John Ashworth – Governance Services Manager

DfE Guidance – Restricting Attendance During The National Lockwood

The Department for Education have issues new guidance as of 7 January 2021, for schools to use during the national lockdown period. Where this guidance refers to “schools”, that does not include maintained nursery schools or pre-reception classes.

Schools will be familiar with much of this guidance, including the system of controls, which they have been implementing since the start of the autumn term. Guidance has been updated where necessary to reflect the change to only some children attending on-site. The guidance includes new information relating to:

  • Attendance – including confirmation of who should attend (including in alternative provision and special schools) and how attendance should be recorded
  • Testing – including confirmation that the testing programme can continue in secondary schools
  • Workforce – including advice for those who are extremely clinically vulnerable
  • Free School Meals
  • Educational visits – confirmation that no visits should take place during this period
  • Remote education – including further information on remote education expectations
  • Accountability expectations – including inspections, exams and assessments

A copy of the guidance can be downloaded directly from the website by following this LINK

DfE Governance Update – December 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 December briefing includes the following updates:

  • Governing and trust boards meetings and visits into schools
  • View my financial insights (VMFI) tool update (Academy trusts only)
  • Diverse Governance Webcast Series
  • Efficiency savings with Teaching Vacancies services
  • ‘Something’s Not Right’ Home Office campaign
  • Get funding and support to set up a digital education platform
  • Information about the transition from the European Union for schools and academy trusts

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

Bolton Communication and Language Pathway

The Bolton Communication and Language Pathway is a new multi-agency Pathway for Bolton supporting all children in their communication and language journey.  It is imperative that all organisations involved in early years are familiar with the Communication and Language Pathway to support all children in their developmental journey.

In Bolton, there is a comprehensive offer which we want to ensure that all professionals are fully accessing. The Authority have developed documentation to clearly show Bolton’s integrated Communication and Language pathway which equips professionals with key knowledge and understanding of how to support children and families with speech, language and communication needs. There is also a funded training programme to support colleagues in schools.

To find out more about the Communication and Language offer in Bolton please contact a member of the Start Well Early Years Communication and Language Service on 01204 33 8349 or

A briefing note for Primary School Leaders and Governors  may be downloaded here.

What Maintained Schools, Academies and Free Schools Must Publish Online

The Department for Education have updated their guidance in November 2020 about statutory information which must/should be published online for maintained Schools and academies and free schools.

The revised sections relate to a number of areas and may be accessed via the following links:

What maintained schools must publish online

What academies, free schools and colleges should publish online

The Clerking and Support Service will highlight the updates via the spring term board meetings, to ensure compliance.

Development for Chairs Programme 2021 ** Final Places Remaining **

Bolton Governance Services in partnership with the National Governance Association has once again been contracted to deliver the Development for Chairs Programme for Governors and Trustees. This is an excellent opportunity for existing, new or aspiring chairs of governors and a useful tool for succession planning.

The Development for Chairs programme continues to be funded by the Department for Education and provides delegates the opportunity to develop their leadership skills. The programme does require commitment but offers a blend of flexible learning, with three terms to complete.

Boards are also now able to secure funding for two places (The usual cost would be £500 per delegate). Further details and dates for the 2021 cohort may be downloaded below, with a closing date for submitted applications by 18 January 2021. Last few places remaining for the 2021 cohort.

Prior to booking, please contact Marie Foley on 01204 332116 or via email at to register your interest or for further details about the programme.

Governance Handbook – October 2020

The Department for Education’s Governance Handbook sets out the government’s vision and priorities for effective school and trust governance by:

  • outlining the core role and functions of the governing board;
  • summarising and providing a first point of reference on all the legal duties on boards, signposting to more detailed information, guidance and resources; and
  • providing information on the support available to boards to be effective.

The Governance Handbook should be read alongside the department’s ‘Competency Framework for Governance’ and the ‘Clerking Competency Framework’, which describe the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed for effective governance and professional clerking. This guidance is also aligned to the Academies Financial Handbook (AFH), which academy trusts must comply with as a condition of their funding agreement.

The Governance Handbook may be downloaded directly from the DfE website via the following LINK

Governance Structures and Roles

The Department for Education have published two guidance documents that provide an explanation of how governing boards of maintained schools and academy trusts are structured and descriptions of the roles and responsibilities of members.

They aim to provide an introduction to the governance system across the education sector and can be used in inductions for new volunteers.

The Governance Structures and Roles documents may be downloaded directly from the DfE website via the following LINK

NGA – Time Management Tips for Chairs

The National Governance Association (NGA) provides a range of information, guidance and development opportunities to support chairs of governing boards in what is a complex and challenging role.

The NGA used their research into how chairs spend their time to create a number of time management tips.  It is recognised that each chair brings unique skills, experience and circumstances to their role and the tips aim to provide some useful guidance.

The guidance may be viewed directly via the NGA website using the following LINK

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