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Monday 20 April 2020 3:53 PM
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Here's what we know about plans to provide free devices for some disadvantaged children and new support for schools with delivering remote learning. Plus, updates on safeguarding and furloughing staff, and clarification that there's no news yet on when schools may be reopening.

Following Gavin Williamson's speech yesterday, and a DfE press release, here's a round-up of the main announcements and updates to Departmental guidance that happened over the weekend (18-19 April):

You'll be able to order digital devices and 4G dongles for some of your disadvantaged pupils

The DfE will provide laptops and tablets for pupils who wouldn't otherwise have access to a device, who:

  • Are 'disadvantaged' year 10 pupils (there's no definition of who counts as 'disadvantaged', but it'll likely be linked to pupil premium eligibility)
  • Are care leavers
  • Receive support from social workers

Where children don't have an internet connection, the Department will also provide 4G dongles for disadvantaged year 10 pupils, care leavers and pupils with a social worker at secondary school.

As we understand it, you'll be given guidance on how to place orders for eligible pupils (rather than your schools doing this).

Please note: there's no more information available yet on eligibility for this scheme or how it will be managed. As ever, we'll let you know as soon as we hear more.

You'll be able to access support and training on online platforms

The DfE is working with technology suppliers to provide schools with:

  • Support to access online platforms where you can set pupils work and collect it in
  • Training on using remote education resources
  • Support from other schools who are already using these resources

When we know more about the details, including when and how your schools will be able to access this support, we'll let you know.

Take a look at new online learning resources for teachers and families

The following have launched today, providing video lessons and educational resources:

You may also want to share the DfE's new guidance for parents on supporting their children with home learning, covering early years and primary pupils as well as pupils with SEND.

Additional guidance on remote learning and safeguarding

The latest safeguarding guidance from the DfE suggests how to approach reporting concerns, communicating with parents and pupils, virtual lessons and live streaming, providing pastoral care, and personal data and the GDPR. (There are no new requirements.)

No date for schools to reopen and "no plans" to open schools over summer holidays

The DfE says it will work with the sector to decide when the time is right to reopen schools, and there's no set date for this yet.

As Schools Week reports, Gavin Williamson also confirmed that:

  • Schools will receive "proper notice" before they're reopened
  • There are "currently no plans" to keep schools open over the summer holidays

Clarification on furloughing staff and paying agency workers

The DfE also explained this weekend that:

  • You can furlough staff who are typically paid from private income which has ceased or been reduced (e.g. catering, lettings, boarding provision), so long as they meet other conditions
  • You're expected to continue paying agency workers on 'live assignments', but there's no expectation to continue paying agencies when you have no live assignments with them

If this affects schools in your trust, see the 'State-funded schools' section here for the full details.

Supporting pupils with EHC plans

The Department has also issued new guidance on carrying out risk assessments to determine whether these children should be in school or not. This is directed at local authorities but schools may need to support the process.