Early years settings

Many of South Gloucestershire’s Early Years settings remained open during the lockdown to provide places for children of key workers, vulnerable children and those with an EHCP.

From 1 June all nursery, pre-school and childminders have been asked by the government to re-open and a significant majority have done so whilst others are planning to re-open in the next weeks. All settings will be different. Staff have worked very hard to make sure careful plans, procedures and risk assessments are in place to offer a safe and fun time for the children whilst still closely observing social distancing and hygiene levels.

Your child’s setting will have been in contact with you to discuss whether your child can return yet. Not all children are able to do so due to the strict measures that must be in place to reduce numbers and create and maintain the bubbles. If your child is not yet able to return the setting can provide you with lots of fun home learning resources which have been developed by the South Glos Early Years’ Service.

Contact your child’s setting to check on their latest developments and plans.

Schools

1 June 2020: Wider reopening of primary schools and 15 June: Wider reopening of secondary schools

All schools in the local authority have provided on-going provision for key worker and vulnerable pupils since the start of lockdown.  We are now seeing the return of students in our primary and secondary schools with priority given to reception, Year 1, Year 6, Year 10 and Year 12.  The reopening of all our schools has taken very careful planning and robust risk assessments and we have supported this process with our school leaders as a local authority and will continue to do so.

We have some questions and answers for parents and carers on what to expect and how to prepare your child for increased contact with schools and settings during the reopening.

Central to our plans is the health and wellbeing of our children, young people and staff and ensuring that what is planned happens at the right time and at the right pace.  Our schools and academy trusts have slightly different approaches to reopening, this is because they will have taken into account the pupils, the staff and the school building capacity.  There are some schools that may be able to offer to all priority year groups (Reception, Year 1, Year 6, Year 10 and Year 12), others that may be able just to offer provision for key worker and vulnerable students.  As we move through the rest of the summer term, we are hoping to see even more vulnerable pupils return and where it is possible, some schools may operate some transition activities for some year groups.

If you do have any questions about the re-opening, you should contact your child’s school in the first instance.

Vulnerable children and key workers’ children

We have been working with all our education providers to offer an effective local response to meeting the government’s expectations on maintaining access to education for vulnerable children, children with education, health and care plans (EHCPs) and also key workers’ children. Every school within the local authority therefore has provision for those that need it most.

Free school meals

We are continuing to liaise with our schools in ensuring that those pupils entitled to free school meals are accessing this. Schools are operating in a range of ways at a local level and approaches taken to this include: access to the national voucher system, sandwiches and meals available for collection at a local hub alongside parents being provided with vouchers at a local level.  As schools return to a wider reopening, the type of offer might change.

Contact your school to find out how they are arranging school meals.

Transport to school

If you are receiving assistance with the cost of home to school transport provided by the council and have any issues or concerns about your current travel arrangements for your child, email our Integrated Transport team at clienttransport@southglos.gov.uk.

Changes to school admissions

Find out about changes to the admissions process during the coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency.

GCSE and A level exams

The government announced recently that both GCSE and A level examinations were to be cancelled in the Summer Term 2020. They have now confirmed that students who were due to sit A level, AS level or GCSE exams this summer will now receive a calculated grade. The calculated grade process will take account of a range of evidence including other assessments and mock results, with the approach standardised between schools and colleges.

For those pupils undertaking technical or vocational qualifications the priority is to ensure that student and adult learners can move on as planned to the next phase of their lives, the government are working with Ofqual and will update us shortly on these.

Supporting schools

In terms of our own role in supporting schools, our Education, Learning and Skills team are seeing their role in supportive communications as vital. Schools are receiving a regular Education Newsletter that provides the most up to date guidance, shares information about effective resources and provides a one stop shop for all education matters in relation to Covid-19. We also provide regular email updates and further guidance materials as appropriate. Our most recent support has been in developing detailed guidance to support the re-opening of schools alongside a detailed transition document to support children transferring from Primary to Secondary school. Feedback from school leaders has been really positive.

Education resources

Integra Schools and South Gloucestershire Council have launched a new home learning online resource to support parents, carers and teachers.

This resource brings together a range of free and easy to access online activities and learning for children of all ages, and is clearly grouped into subjects and topics, such as English and Maths.

The online resource all provides links to support the pupil health and wellbeing, which is really important at this time.

This will be an ongoing resource that will be continually updated.

Mental health and wellbeing

It’s natural to feel anxious during times of uncertainty. Thinking about your child’s mental health and helping them to develop their ability to cope is one of the most important things you can do.

Visit our Mind You website and our young people and mental health page for further information.

How to talk to children about the coronavirus

As the coronavirus situation develops it is understandable that children are likely to be asking lots of questions. Sometimes it can be difficult to know how to approach discussions in an honest and age appropriate way.

The links below include tips and further information, on how to talk to children about the coronavirus.

Young Minds
Anna Freud

Community Children’s Health Partnership (CCHP)

Visit the Community Children’s Health Partnership website to check the details of service changes for a range of CCHP services.

A dedicated telephone advice and information service is available for families currently receiving care from Community Children’s Health Partnership (CCHP) teams. For the latest information check the Community Children’s Health Partnership website and their Covid-19 page.

Support for families

If you have children under 18, you may well be finding that the restrictions around Covid-19 are making day-to-day life for your family more difficult at times. If you have any questions or concerns, there is a lot of helpful information on the Find information for adults, children and families website.

We are adapting the way we are working to ensure that the most vulnerable children are getting the help they need. Some families may feel they are really struggling and reaching their ‘tipping point’, this could include experiencing more arguments between family members who have less opportunity to find time or space to themselves. If the Covid-19 measures have affected family income, this is also likely to add to the pressure.

If you feel like this and you have not been able to find the support you need through the website or other routes, you can contact us, email  AccessandResponse@southglos.gov.uk or call 01454 866000.

We may find that you can be supported by one of our partner agencies, but we may also decide with you that you would benefit from a conversation with one of our team to help you work out some effective solutions for your family.

Safeguarding

If you have a safeguarding concern call us on 01454 866000. More information about safeguarding is available on the South Gloucestershire Children Partnership website. Our teams will be busy and we will need to prioritise help to the most vulnerable during this period.

Testing

Testing for coronavirus (COVID-19) is now available for all residents in England, including those aged under 5. If you have symptoms you can book a test through the NHS website.

Answers to your questions

Our contact centre is currently receiving a high number of enquiries, so we have pulled together the common questions we are being asked, this information is updated regularly. Visit our answers to your questions page.

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