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Need-to-know: What the DfE announced over the weekend
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.
Some disadvantaged pupils will get digital devices and 4G dongles to support remote learning
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.
Schools won't be able to place orders directly. As we understand it, your local authority or trust will be given guidance on how to place orders for devices for eligible pupils.
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 you'll 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:
- Oak National Academy, a collaboration between 40 state-school teachers and other organisations
- BBC Bitesize daily lessons
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 your school, 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.
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