Children and Education Services response to COVID-19
- Meeting of Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee, Wednesday, 22nd July, 2020 10.00 am (Item 28.)
Report of the Strategic Director of Children and Education Services
This report provides an update on the impact, progress and response of schools, children and education services to the presenting challenges of COVID-19; with a specific focus on the support being provided in respect of planning for the start of the new academic year in September 2020.
The Committee received a report of the Strategic Director of Children and Education Services which provided an update on the impact, progress and response of schools, children and education services to the presenting challenges of COVID-19; with a specific focus on the support being provided in respect of planning for the start of thenew academic year in September 2020.
In relation to the aim of becoming a zero carbon city, the report stated that, as part of the preparation for the start of the academic year in September 2020, parents and carers were being encouraged to walk, use public transport and cycle to work; making use of and accessing schemes that supported such approaches.
Officers referred to the main points and themes within the report which included:
· Feedback and learning from schools as they had increased the number of pupils attending;
· Government guidance on school attendance from September 2020;
· Proposed approach for Manchester schools in September 2020;
· Challenges; and
· Children’s Services.
The Assistant Executive Member for Children and Schools provided an overview of the impact of the pandemic on schools, children and families and how the Council and schools had responded. He advised that it was important to ensure that diverse communities across the city were aware of the guidelines on sending children back to school in September and that it was also important for schools to keep developing remote learning in order to be prepared for a possible second wave of infections.
Some of the key points and themes that arose from the Committee’s discussions were:
· Whether there was any data on children and families not engaging with schools during lockdown;
· Whether the number of families choosing to home school might increase as a result of the lockdown period;
· Recognising the hard work of schools and the support the Council had provided to them during the pandemic;
· Concern about the additional financial costs for schools in responding to the pandemic; and
· How information about the full re-opening of schools from September could be best communicated to families.
The Director of Education informed the Committee that the Council did not have figures on families not engaging but that schools were doing welfare checks and taking additional measures where necessary, including carrying out doorstep visits. She reported that schools had been informed how to access information and advice where there were serious concerns about a family. She informed Members that, where children were not on a school roll, for example because they had just moved into the area, welfare checks had been carried out by Council staff and, where requested, an education offer had been made available through One Education. She reported that digital access, particularly access to wifi and data, was one of the biggest challenges, although schools had been working hard to enable their pupils to access education, including delivering work packs to pupils who could not access them online. She informed Members that schools were being required to produce a business continuity plan by the end of September 2020 on how they would provide education continuity in case a group of pupils or the entire school had to remain at home due to an outbreak of COVID-19.
The Director of Education agreed that the number of families choosing Elective Home Education (EHE) might increase as some families had found that this approach had worked for them but that it needed to be made clear to them that this would not include the access to remote learning being provided by their school during lockdown. She also reported that the Council was working on a summer campaign on school attendance in advance of schools re-opening to all pupils in September. She advised Members that the Frequently Asked Questions document for parents, which was appended to the report, had been translated into a number of community languages. She reported that she would circulate these translated documents to the Committee Members and asked that these be shared as widely as possible.
To consider this further at the Committee’s next meeting in September 2020.
- Children and Education Services response to COVID-19, item 28. PDF 505 KB
- Appendix - FAQs for Parents and Carers, item 28. PDF 205 KB