Review your remote education provision

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The Department for Education has developed a framework to help schools and further education (FE) provDFE Logoiders in England identify strengths and areas for improvement in their remote education provision.

Find it here.

Free School Meals – updated guidance

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The DfE has confirmed that all schools will be able to claim back these costs (£3.50 for parcels, £15 for vouchers) as it will not be subject to any limitations based on school or Trust budgets and reserves.

The DfE’s new guidance provides some clarifications.  

  • There are 3 options:  
    • Food parcels  
    • Locally arranged vouchers  
    • National voucher scheme (Edenred)  
  • Support (food parcels or locally arranged vouchers) since January 4th can be claimed back.  
  • The national voucher scheme will commence from week beginning 18th January.  
  • Edenred will be supplying the national voucher scheme. They will email schools by 14th January advising you either to reset your password or activate your account.  
  • A single voucher from Edenred can cover multiple weeks or multiple children within the same household.  
  • To ensure that vouchers are processed in a timely manner, schools should submit one spreadsheet to order eCodes for all eligible families wherever possible (more details in the guidance).  
  • eCodes from Edenred can be emailed directly to parents and will arrive within 4 days. Parents will need a working email account.  

Funding, why is extra funding for food parcels and vouchers different?    

  • Food parcels are topped up by £3.50 per week (on top of the usual FSM funding of £11.50) so that each eligible receives £15. This seems to be because it is assumed that parcels will be sourced through the school’s normal/contracted supplier.  
  • Vouchers are funded at an extra £15 per week per eligible pupil (on top of the usual FSM funding). This is because it is presumed that the voucher will be in addition to any contractual arrangements which mean the school is required to keep funding their normal supplier.  
  • So, the bottom line is that whichever route is used, eligible pupils will receive FSM to the value of £15 per week.

The DfE has said it will support schools in discussions with contractors to ensure all eligible children receive high quality free school meals. They have also pointed us to the guidance from the Lead Association for Catering in Education which outlines what should be in a lunch parcel.

COVID-19 Testing In Schools

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COVID-19 home testing of staff in primary schools  

The DfE has confirmed that primary schools and maintained nursery schools should expect to receive a delivery of home testing kits between 18 and 22 January for testing of staff. Further support and guidance on how to use the tests will follow shortly.

If you have not received a delivery by close on 22 January, or have missing or damaged items, please complete this contact form. You will need the URN for your school or college to complete this form.

You do not need to start any testing before the week commencing 25 January.

Primary schools with attached early years settings will receive sufficient test kits to test both their primary and early years staff. Maintained nursery schools will also receive testing kits to offer to their staff. Private early years providers will continue to be prioritised for coronavirus (COVID-19) testing through the NHS testing programme.

We are urgently seeking more information about this and will share more details as soon as we can.  

Lateral flow testing kits to secondary schools – delivery update   

The DfE has published an updated delivery schedule which you can check if you think you missed a delivery.  According to the DfE the initial kit deliveries contained sufficient materials to test all pupils twice and staff for two weeks (the ‘initial testing’) and information will be coming out soon on how to order additional kits.   

Rapid testing incident reporting  

The DfE wants to remind schools to report any incident that interrupts, or has the potential to interrupt, testing. If issues on site are local, such as damaged packaging, missing components or you can’t open your test site, then they should be reported using the asymptomatic testing for coronavirus in schools and colleges incident reporting form.  

Incidents which require escalation, such as a device which is damaged or breaks during use, any concerns about the performance of a specific testing kit, if injury occurs, or any other serious incident takes place, these should be reported to the Department for Education coronavirus (COVID-19) helpline by calling 0800 046 8687. 

Monitoring inspections – amended guidance from Ofsted

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Ofsted has published more details on monitoring visits.  From 18th January, Ofsted intends to start making monitorinOfstedg inspections to primary, secondary and special schools and colleges graded inadequate or requires improvement.  These visits will not result in a grade.


On site visits or inspections will be risk assessed based on the nature of the premises and the urgency of the work. Ofsted will continue to risk assess monitoring visits and have said that some aspects of a visit can only be done on site, so they will continue to visit in person where possible.


They have confirmed that inspectors are given guidance on safety and supplied with PPE. They are arranging a testing programme, which will enable inspectors to take a test before face-to-face visits.


If for any reason a visit is not possible, leaders may ask for a deferral by making a request to the lead inspector during the notification call.