Agenda item - Chair's Communications

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Agenda item

Chair's Communications


3.1       The Chair gave the following communication:


            “There is much talk currently about the move to recovery and renewal work around the pandemic, which is vital work, however I just want to pause and give continued thanks to the many teams and services continuing to provide urgent support for children, young people and their families in response to COVID19. We need to balance the discussions working out what the new normal is with acknowledging many are still in the crisis phase.


One area of work that has been continuing all through this time has been the childcare offer in the city to the children of keyworkers and those deemed vulnerable including those with SEND. I have been proud of the city’s response on this. As we now move towards a wider opening / reopening of settings I know the education and childcare leaders in the city will continue to deliver a safety first approach alongside caring and educating our children to a very high degree.


Update on wider opening of schools and nurseries

When the government announced in May the ask for education and childcare settings to start planning for wider reopening for some specific year groups, we worked with schools, unions and local authority teams to look at how that might best be managed locally. We also developed a generic risk assessment for private and voluntary early years providers to support their decision making.  Part of this work has been to acknowledge that all schools and settings are different, in terms of size, staffing levels etc and therefore the response needed from each will be different. However I have been proud of the safety first approach all partners have taken to the wider opening of schools and early years settings, this has been a unifying element.


We liaised closely with our colleagues in public health to ascertain their view on whether there was sufficient reassurance locally to go ahead. Earlier in June we felt we needed further reassurance around the track and trace programme, as it was such early days. We were also mindful of the high footfall seen in the city during the good weather of late May and early June.


During that time much work was underway between schools, our health and safety team, the unions and others to continue to make the necessary plans for wider opening. That work didn’t stop.


Further to discussions held earlier last week, we reached a position where we felt there was sufficient reassurance that the necessary measures were now in place, especially around Track and Trace, to mitigate risks. Measures for managing for potential outbreaks had become much clearer since earlier in June. We therefore released a statement last Wednesday to confirm that schools and council nurseries should start wider opening from Monday 15th June.

Pupils in the priority age groups (nursery, reception, year 1 and year 6 for Infant and Primary and Years 10 and 12 for secondary) are expected to return in a gradual way from today with numbers varying from school to school. Many early years settings are already open with more planning to open this week.  These are in addition to the key worker and vulnerable pupils including those with SEND already attending.    Individual school and nursery risk assessments will inform how best to manage this based on Government guidance. Control measures are also in place in case of outbreaks, which will be managed working with the Public Health England Health Protection team for Sussex and Surrey.


I give my thanks to those early years setting who have also remained open during this time and recognise the important work they have done to support our youngest children in the city.


Update on the work that has taken place since lockdown / last CYPS committee and a thank you to staff


Since our last CYPS Committee meeting in early March and since full lockdown started later that month, I’ve been immensely proud and impressed with the effort that teams and individuals across the city have made to support children, young people and their families to navigate and mitigate the impact the pandemic has had on them. People have been going above and beyond in their efforts to support families. This work has included:


·        Supporting an increasing number of keyworker children and those who are vulnerable getting in to school during lockdown. We now regularly have over 1500 children in our schools daily and of course that number will now be rising further from today

·        95% of our schools have remained open during this time, including over bank holidays and what would have been school holidays

·        Around a third of early years providers including all council nurseries also remained open and we’ve seen on average 300 children a day attend those settings

·        Children with a social worker have continued to receive timely visits from their social workers or other professionals supporting them, some virtually and some face to face where necessary.  Social workers have also made sure that their assessments are being completed in a timely way and that Initial Child Protection Conferences are happening on time to safeguard children.  Foster carers and the fostering service have also made sure that children in our care are being offered stability in terms of their placements, supported by Brighton and Hove’s Virtual School.

·        In our children’s centre food bank, since 16th April we have delivered 1123 emergency food parcels. Last week food parcels were given to 161 households across the city. The number before Covid was usually around 30-40 per week.  31% of the families are from the most deprived IDACI decile and 66% are from the three most deprived deciles.

·        In May an average of 3800 meals were provided in our schools a week, to feed staff and pupils who have been attending the childcare offer.

·        We are seeing an upward trend in those eligible for free schools meals and the team have been proactively contacting families who may now be eligible.

·        The close liaison we’ve been able have with PaCC and Amaze has helped us best support SEND children and young people in the city and their families, including the invaluable insight of families experiences provided by their recent parent/carer survey

·        The impressive work undertaken by Adam Muirhead and colleagues to get a clear communication out early on about the range of online youth work available to young people

·        Our ethnic minority achievement service (EMAS) has continued to work well supporting BAME families in the city including support to access free school meals, translation of key COVID19 items, support to access home learning from school, delivery of the home school liaison offer and conducting a thorough survey with families to explore the impact of the virus on particular BAME families and their decisions about their children turning to school. 

·        Over 30,000 children have been accessing home learning support from their schools and from national offers such as BBC

·        PPE have been provided to teams and partners throughout this period when needed, and starter packs of PPE have been offered to all schools and childcare settings to help with their wider opening plans.

·        Members of the BHISS team have been supporting parents and carers through regular phone calls, emails and virtual learning platforms. The team has worked alongside parents to problem solve ways to help their child’s learning at home and has provided resources, activities, links to websites and ideas. They have also placed emphasis in their conversations with families on the importance of wellbeing and held a variety of parent and carer workshops and virtual coffee mornings focussed on Supporting mental health, Anxiety and Low mood with families having daily access to the Schools Wellbeing Service consultation line should they need additional support.

·        The SEN team has been continuing their work virtually so that parents and carers remain able to apply for an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Needs Assessment. With the co-production element of EHC Plans being undertaken virtually either through phone conversations or Skype.

·        The Specialist Community Disability Service continue to work with families to identify creative and flexible ways to use their Direct Payments differently such as buying equipment and software to enable easier access to IT.

·        Our PSHE team have gathered and produced resources that support schools to reintegrate children into schools putting their wellbeing at the heart of planning

·        Services to support schools have continued and adapted so for example there is now an enhanced wellbeing offer for heads. Governor services have run networks, training and meetings so that Governance can continue to be highly effective


Of course, there is still more to do and as we move in to our recovery and renewal phase of this work we mustn’t lose sight of those in our communities who have suffered more during the pandemic. We need particular focus to be made on those from BAME communities and those who are disadvantaged. This pandemic has shown us that it is of even more importance to look to address the gaps we see in our communities and to better support and work with those who were already at a significant disadvantage when this began.


And in all of this, much of the city’s business as usual has had to continue and I’ve been so impressed with our teams abilities to maintain that work whilst responding to Covid 19 effectively.”




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