Message from the Director of Education re: COVID19, Omicron and other matters - 04.01.2022

FAO: All Schools / All Phases


Dear Headteacher/Principal,

Welcome back to a new term and a new year and I very much hope you had a good Xmas and new year break ( I do realise that some schools are not back to next Monday though!!). I am sure you have been keeping up with the news re COVID and thus there is quite a lot of things to communicate to you. And just to say we recognise that schools may well be facing some staffing shortages this term as well as other COVID related issues – if you need the support of the local authority from myself, Dudu or Sarah or other colleagues, please don’t hesitate to call as before. Quite a number of schools have found this useful for example when having to move to remote learning for a period of time.

i) Secondary School 12-15 year old vaccinations  - please find attached two letters for secondary colleagues. One letter is for headteachers explains the processes involved in delivering the 12-15 year old vaccinations this term whilst the second letter is for all parents/carers.  The letters are self-explanatory but please contact Belinda/Dudu if you have any questions.

ii) Primary aged pupil vaccinations  - the government have announced that vaccinations “should be offered to children aged 5 to 11 years old who are in a clinical risk group, or who are a household contact of someone (of any age) who is immunosuppressed. The NHS is working through updated guidance and will set out how this is going to be operationalised shortly.” There has been no announcement yet as to rolling out vaccinations to all primary aged pupils as has happened in some other countries but there is an expectation that this may happen later this term.

iii) Other DfE/COVID updates – I have attached the latest DfE COVID update (2nd January) which covers a wide range of issues such as the recommendation of the wearing of masks in secondary school classrooms to the provision of air cleaning units and also the rules around self-isolation.  Please note the extension of the definition of “vulnerable” pupils with the DfE view that these pupils should be in school throughout if at all possible. There are considerable pressures on special schools and specialist provisions with this updated guidance and towards the end of last term, some schools did have to move to remote learning for some classes. The government have also told all employers to try to plan for staff absences in January and probably February too although this is particularly difficult for schools with the lack of supply staff available.  If you need to discuss any issues arising in your particular school and actions that may be needed, please do not hesitate to call.

iv) Ofsted and deferrals – If you are due an inspection and receive “the call”, Ofsted will consider deferring an inspection due to COVID  and have already agreed this in many cases. Ofsted are continuing inspections though (although not in the first week of term for secondary schools noting that a few secondary schools start next week).

v) Ofsted congratulations  - Two inspection reports were published today so congratulations to St John & St James Primary School for moving from RI to good – a great result for Patsy and her team. Also congratulations to Enfield Heights Primary School that received a Section 8 inspection and remain outstanding – again well done to Jade and her team.

vi) School Funding 2022/23 – On 20th December we received further information on schools funding in Enfield for 2022/23. Per pupil funding is to increase by an overall 5.8% which includes DSG allocation and a further supplementary grant to help cover the NI increase and future pay rises. Pupil premium rates will rise by 3%. In addition, the High Needs Budget allocation will increase by 12.45% which will help with the current deficit and rising demand. The decline in school rolls will of course differentially affect individual school budgets.  There will be further information on this at next weeks headteachers briefing.

vii) Senior School Improvement Adviser – safeguarding & inclusion – I am very happy to let you know we have appointed Dani Lang to this post within the school improvement team – Dani is an experienced headteacher (as many of you will know) being Headteacher of Brimsdown Primary School for 5 years and previously head for about 2 years at Hazelbury Junior School – she has been a teacher for over 20 years. Although her focus will be safeguarding and inclusion she will also undertake school support and improvement roles. And a thank you to Russell Davey from Oaktree for supporting these interviews.

viii) DfE/Attendance Adviser  - the new Secretary of State for Education Nadhim Zahawi MP  has made school attendance a priority for the DfE. In light of this, Enfield are working with a DfE appointed attendance adviser/consultant whom senior LA staff met with before Xmas. I am alerting you to this because in late January/early February, the adviser has asked to meet with school representatives to review policy and practice both in the LA and schools and feed back to the DfE. This will be about identifying good practice and also advising on any improvements that could be made. This will be a part of a headteacher briefing in February/March.

ix) Enfield Learning Excellence Partnership Board meeting – 13th January  - the next meeting of the schools/LA partnership board will take place on 13th January. Please could you let your representatives know if you wish any matters to be discussed. The draft agenda will include issues relating to the reduction in pupil numbers in schools, the changes to the LA school improvement team and its impact and the Professional Learning offer. In addition we will look at the impact of COVID on pupils learning, the disruption caused and particularly impact on disadvantaged groups.

x) Next Headteachers Briefing – 13th January – 1:30pm to 3pm  - a reminder that the next headteacher’s briefing is taking place on 13th January. On the agenda currently apart from the usual public health update and review of the new guidance are schools funding 2022.23, Ofsted update and deferral, Holiday and Food fund, School census and admissions update.

I hope that the first week of term goes really well for you and that the LFT testing in secondary schools also goes well. Despite much being cancelled over Xmas, I managed visits to Cadogan Hall in Sloane Square (always magical) and to Sr Martin in the Fields as well as my choir singing in several events. And of course a cricket match believe it or not on New Years Day!!! I really hope you had a good time over the break whatever you were able or chose to do.

Best wishes for the new year.

Peter Nathan

Director of Education

People Department

Enfield Council

Direct line: 020 83795492

Mob: 07813995030