Notice: 2 February 2021

A round-up of news, guidance and key updates for education settings.

Included in this update

Director Update

Dear Colleagues,

It’s Children’s Mental Health Week, with a theme of ‘Express Yourself’. In the noticeboard today there are many resources that can be used, both in school and shared with parent/carers to encourage and support the mental health of children and young people.

The educational psychology team have shared a thought provoking article encouraging children to express their curiosity and discover new and exciting interests.  BookTrust have provided a useful article on managing your children’s anxiety.  SCARF have free resources that can be used at home or in school. Finally Kooth are running a campaign called ‘Don’t Do It Alone’, with associated resources and videos to share with young people.

We would love to hear about how you have been joining in with Children’s Mental Health Week.  Please remember to tag @TelfordWrekin in your social media posts, or you can email us at so that we can share your stories.

Best wishes to all,


Simon Wellman
Director: Education and Skills

Children’s Mental Health Week

Information from the DfE

Children’s Mental Health Week, an annual week-long campaign run by children’s mental health charity Place2Be, begins today and will run until Sunday 7 February 2021.

This year’s theme is “Express Yourself” with the focus on children finding ways to share feelings, thoughts, or ideas through creativity. Mentally Healthy Schools have created a toolkit of resources for children, staff and parents to use during Children’s Mental Health Week.

Throughout the week, we will be using our social media platforms to share a variety of mental health resources including ‘wellbeing for education return’ and the children and young people’s psychological first aid training which is run by Public Health England.

Children’s Mental Health Week - Resources

Children's Mental Health Week is taking place on 1-7 February 2021.
This year's theme is Express Yourself.

The Children’s Mental Health Week website, contains useful resources for schools as well as parents and carers. These include a ‘Virtual Assembly’, an online conference and useful resources, all free of charge. 

Children's Mental Health Week 2021

Mental Health Support Team

The Mental Health Support Team work across 21 schools in south and central Telford, they have produced Mental Health Week Activity Packs for both Primary and Secondary settings. These might be a useful resource across all schools, however, the reference to the Mental Health Support Team in these is only relevant if you are one of the schools in this programme. They are available to download as PowerPoint files, to enable you to edit these for the context of your setting.

Download: Education Board - Primary Mental Health
Download: Education Board - Secondary Mental Health

Educational Psychology Team

The Educational Psychology Team have shared some ideas around how to help rekindle the natural curiosity in young people. There is both a school and a parent version available.

Schools: Expressing Curiosity

Parent/Carers: SEND Parent/Carer News February 2021

It’s OK not to be OK

An article from Dr Tina Rae, ‘It’s OK Not To Be OK: Top Tips for managing your child’s anxiety’ might also be useful and worth sharing with parents:

It's OK Not To Be OK: Top tips for managing your child's anxiety | BookTrust


Free home or school resources for children using the SCARF: Safety, Caring, Achievement, Resilience, Friendship framework from:

Coram Life Education


Kooth are running a campaign called ‘Don’t Do It Alone’, this includes an introductory video for young people, digital lesson plans, Kooth Resource Hub and advice for talking to young people about mental health. This can all be found at the following link:

Kooth | #DontDoItAlone | Kooth plc

There are also Live Forums on Kooth for Young People to access via the Kooth website during February. The topics for these live forms can be found in the download.

Download: Kooth Live Forum Topics

Healthy Telford

Healthy Telford is run by Telford & Wrekin Council’s Public Health Team. The site is to help people to look after their physical and mental health with information, tips and stories all local to Telford & Wrekin. We work together and tell stories with people across the private, public and voluntary sector, on how we all work together to help people to live longer, healthier and more fulfilling lives. Please follow the following link:

Healthy Telford

CAMHS Highland

There are also a set of great resources from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAHMS) Highland, these include ‘8 Ways to help Children Struggling During Lockdown’, ’10 Things to Say Instead of Stop Crying’, ‘The Emotional Cup’, ‘Anxiety Presents Itself in Many Different Ways’ and ‘The Stress Relief Giraffe’. 

These resources are available to download.
Download: Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS)

Public Health England

The Public Health England website holds lesson plans and resources that cover a range of topics including ‘What to do about worry’, ‘Social media’ and ‘Sleep’. These can be found here:

Mental wellbeing | Overview | PHE School Zone

Wellbeing for Education Return

As a follow up to the MindEd and Anna Freud Centre programme, ‘Wellbeing for Education Return’ that many of you were part of, there’s a new hub of resources hosted by MindEd:

MindEd Education Hub

Expressing Curiosity

I followed an online discussion between parents last week titled ‘Are we exaggerating the impact on our children’s mental health?’ The mother who started the discussion suggested that historically children have endured worse situations than the current one of lockdown, where they are safe and with their families. In the past they have experienced war and separation from their families and were resilient enough to cope with this.

The responses from other parents were interesting, as what they described did not necessarily fit into what we think of when we talk about children’s ‘mental health’, but did capture the effect that is occurring on children’s well-being. One parent described her child as a ‘shadow’ of her former self and others described children and young people who had just lost their ‘spark’ and vitality. Only a few described children and young people presenting with ‘mental health’ needs that would require referral to services, but still, many parents sensed their children were not expressing the energy and vitality for life that maybe before seemed so natural.

So maybe this year in Children’s Mental Health week, more than any other year before, we need to remember we want our children to thrive and not just ‘not have mental health problems’.

We know through our links and discussions with PODS (our Telford Parent Carer Forum) that many families are reporting difficulties managing the behaviours of their children when the routine of a school day is not there, and we know this is particularly difficult for those families who have children with additional needs.

Children will express their level of well-being to us not just in what they say, but in how they behave and what their parents and teachers can see and report: a lack of energy, a disinterest in activities offered, bad moods, generalised anger, withdrawn, not looking forward, things being hopeless or pointless, resistance to help from their parents. These are all ways our children may be expressing themselves.

It can feel hard after months of lockdown to keep thinking of ways to support our children and ensure they have what they need, but maybe this week is a good week to just revisit one thing we know, and psychology tells us, about what children and young people need to thrive and how we can help them find it even in the current situation.

The best way to think about what children need is to think about what they are like naturally:

They are curious.

It is both the why, and how, they naturally learn. After months of lockdown and the natural stimulation of curiosity from being out in the world not being available, this natural curiosity may seem to have gone missing in a child.

Help them to find it:

  • Remind them of things they had previously been interested in, ask questions about topics you know will spark their interest.
  • Give them time to research this and make a project of their interest.
  • Research yourself an area of interest to them (and amaze them with your sudden knowledge!).
  • Spend time listening to them when they excitedly want to tell you about what they are discovering.
  • Spend time each day in conversation about what they learned in self-discovery (you will learn something!).
  • Give them time to talk to other children who share their interest.
  • Plan with them what they can do next to further their knowledge and find out more.

The curiosity can be sparked by anything, and the variety of interests we would find would I predict be extensive; from black holes to the Mariana trench, from how to create horror film make up to anime drawing, from how they created the vaccine to all the Disney films… you know your children, you’ll know ‘their thing’, help them find or re-find it, and watch as the natural and innate curiosity restores some of that vitality and energy.

If your children discover an interest and follow their curiosity during the lock down ask them to send their name, the name of their school, and their topic of interest to  and we will compile and share the curious, wonderful variety and vitality our Telford children during Children’s Mental Health Week.

(Claire is the Principal Educational Psychologist in Telford and Wrekin. Her interests are around supporting families, promoting social inclusion for children with SEND, and using positive psychology for the well-being of all children)

The Kind Nest Mission

The Kind Nest Mission is a resource that has been created by Harriet, a play and mindfulness specialist and a recently published children’s author. The Mindful Walk has been written and created for children and families, it highlights the importance of Children’s Health & Well-being (both physical and mental). This is a priority in schools and homes across the country, and research advocates Mindfulness as an effective means of building upon this. The book is a beneficial tool in teaching Mindfulness skills to the primary school age group in a playful, age-appropriate way.

The Mindful Walk is a playful and interactive story which familiarizes children with the mindfulness technique ‘sensory awareness’, following Wilbur-James & Mary, two dogs who walk through a forest and mindfully connect to the present moment through their senses. It encourages children and their parents to get outside and enjoy the present moment by connecting with nature, something many families will benefit from, particularly during the Coronavirus restrictions.

Companion activity pads are available which facilitate ‘paper to real life practice’, so families have guideposts when they are practicing themselves. These books are particularly suited for the current restrictions, where daily exercise walks are the only ‘change of scenery’ experienced all day for many, and so far there has been fantastic feedback from both children and parents.

To find out more please take a look at The Kind Nest Website.

Live Q&A on remote education provision – Wednesday 3 February 2021

Information from the DfE

Together with a panel of experts and sector leaders, we will be hosting a live Q&A session on Wednesday 3 February at 4pm to answer your questions about remote education. Find out more about the event and book your place.

If you were unable to make the previous session on remote education provision held on Wednesday 27 January, a recording of the session is now available to watch online.

Asymptomatic testing – frequently asked questions

Information from the DfE

On Friday 29 January we updated our frequently asked questions on asymptomatic testing.

For primary schools, school-based nurseries and maintained nursery schools, these can be found on the primary school document sharing platform.

For secondary schools and colleges, these can be found on the secondary school and college document sharing platform.

Council calls on government to review testing provision for early years providers

Telford & Wrekin Council’s cabinet member for Children, Young People, Education and Lifelong Learning has written to the Education Secretary to raise concerns over the government’s lack of home testing provision for early years providers.

Government has required that early years providers should remain open to all children during the current lockdown.

However, no provision has been made available for early years staff access to asymptomatic home testing kits. 

All schools have been offered access to two rapid tests every week to each member of staff while early years staff have not had the same offer.

Cllr Shirley Reynolds and council leader, Cllr Shaun Davies, have written to Gavin Williamson to ask him to reconsider the government’s position and look again to establish home testing arrangements for early years providers.

Telford & Wrekin Council opened its rapid testing centre at The Place in Oakengates at the end of 2020. This centre is open to anyone in the borough who has to leave home for work purposes.

Cllr Shirley Reynolds, cabinet member for Children, Young People, Education and Lifelong Learning, said:

“We are really concerned that the government have not provided home testing for early years staff.

“Early years settings have been told to stay open for all children during the current lockdown with absolutely no protection for staff. This is frankly unreasonable.

“Nurseries and pre-schools in the borough are understandably frustrated by the lack of testing.

“They have stepped up during both this and previous lockdowns to support the development and learning of our very youngest children and to enable their parents to continue to work.

“We’re calling on the Education Secretary to reconsider this position.

“We have our own rapid test centre in Oakengates but we think the government should be providing the same test kits to early years providers, as they are already providing in schools.”

Emma Hill and Jayne Doodson from Teagues Bridge Pre-school said: 

“As a small committee run setting we are already struggling with the impact of the pandemic. We speak for many settings in our local Authority. Staff wellbeing is already struggling and they are exhausted with the additional procedures in place to protect children in their care. 

"Staff are expected to carry on as normal, in an environment where it is not possible to social distance and little or no PPE is expected.

“At present our staff are being tested weekly at the Oakengates testing centre, this is to make sure they are safeguarding themselves, children, families and their community. However, in an environment where we teach children equality, staff cannot understand why we receive unfair treatment compared to other educational providers. 

“We are only asking for the same, to have home kits twice a week, so staff who are already exhausted are able to do this more conveniently in their own homes like schools and maintained nurseries.”

February half-term food vouchers are being sent this week by the Council

This week (starting 2 February 2021), Telford & Wrekin Council will be sending the February half-term vouchers to all borough families registered for benefit related free school meals and for pre-school children in receipt of funding such as early years pupil premium or funded childcare places for 2 year old.

Please note the following:

  • The vouchers will be sent directly by the Council to the email addresses school/early year providers have provided to the Council for parents/carers registered on these benefits
  • The vouchers are allocated per household, so parents/carers will receive per email only one voucher to claim.
    • Its total value is determined by the number of children in the household, on free school meals or pre-school benefits (£15 per child) plus an additional one-off £35 support;
    • For instance, a family with two children on free school meals will receive from the Council one voucher of £65.          
  • The voucher is valid for 12 months and can be used at a range of local supermarkets.

Available to download is the letter that will be sent to parent/carers of children and young people who receive benefit related free school meals

Download: Letter from Telford & Wrekin Council Free School Meals

Snow line - Important Information

In anticipation of school closure relating to weather conditions, please follow the guidance below to log this our online system on the Torch Website. Schools should be able to log in with their usual ICT credentials.

If you are unable to log in, please contact ICT to ensure you have the required access.

In the event of any winter weather to come, this is a reminder for you all that we have an online system in place for announcing that your school is closed. This system is remotely updated by schools.

You can access it as follows:

  • Navigate to the Torch website
  • Click Sign In and enter your usual logon username & password
  • Click the name of your school
  • Click Edit Item
  • Complete the form, adding any Additional Notes and specifying the date your school is shut in the Closed field
  • Click Save
  • Navigate to the Telford & Wrekin Council website – School Closures to verify your status has been changed.
  • The onus is on individual schools to go back on to the site and change their status back to OPEN when that is appropriate.                   

You should double check that you can change your school’s status before needing to do it for real.

If you cannot change your school’s status, this means that your name is not part of the group that has permissions.

To resolve this, please log a call with ICT with the subject “School Snowline Log In change”. They will then give you permission to change your school’s status. It is particularly likely that you will not have permission to change your school’s status if you began your current post in the past year.

This site is linked to the School Closures page on the Council’s website and also generates an automatic email to relevant media when a school’s status is changed. You should not need to do anything further.

If you are unable to log in, please contact ICT to ensure you have the required access.

National Apprenticeship Week

Sadly we are unable to do our popular Apprenticeship Employment and Skills show this year, however we have working with our partners to put on a week of events and activities to show how great taking an apprenticeship can be.  Our page will be live on Monday 8 February 2021 and will have a full calendar of items for you and your young people to view and take part in.

Please join us to celebrate National Apprenticeship Week.

For more information please email:

Telford Job Box

Life Ready Work Ready Newsletter – February 2021

Available to download and share is the Life Ready Work Ready Newsletter for February 2021. This newsletter has been created to provide information to schools on preparing young people for the world of work.

Download: Life Ready Work Ready Newsletter – February 2021

Headspace for Headteachers – Coaching sessions from a fully qualified psychologist

Headteachers are facing unprecedented pressure to support their school communities during Covid-19.  The Educational Psychology Service is offering confidential coaching sessions to support our headteachers. 

Headteacher Partnerships Proposal

Creating confidential ‘headspace’ for headteachers to reflect upon Covid, its impact upon them, their team and school performance within their local communities.


Covid19 has brought about tremendous challenges to school leaders as changes emerge to direct and redirect policies and practices to not only maintain safety of communities but to try to meet academic requirements.  In light of such demands, the Educational Psychology Service (EPS) is able to offer bespoke and confidential support using evidence-based psychological problem-solving frameworks incorporated into a coaching relationship.

Recent research stated -

‘The pressure on these headteachers was intensified by their responsibility as the ultimate ‘leader’ of the school, and by the multiplicity of roles they were expected to take. Whatever was happening, they still had to manage their own personal lives and feelings.’ (pg. 5)


It is difficult to imagine the pressures placed on HTs as they are frequently required to work at speed to meet changing demands, as the following quote describes –

In searching for data and analysis from government, the headteachers experienced information overload and lack of clarity. Last-minute and constantly changing communications compounded the challenges they faced. They reported examples of key Department for Education documents being emailed to them late at night; long and detailed guidance notes being amended, with the (headteacher) reader being left to trawl through to find the changes. For them, there was a misalignment between the challenges they faced in the crisis (particularly the immediacy of community-related matters) and the policy strategies adopted by government. (pg9)

In addition, research states that,

Across the three localities, these headteachers recognised the importance of school as a place of compassion: a space in which members of the community could support each other. They recognised that to be compassionate to students, parents, and teachers, they had first to be compassionate to themselves. This implied acknowledging their own limitations and accepting that things could not necessarily be done as in the past. (pg7)


The Educational Psychology Service proposes to support Headteachers and their fellow school leaders by using a combination of psychological models that are evidence-based to assist people to engage in ‘problem-solving’ conversations.  This will be encapsulated in a solution-focussed model of coaching developed by Michael Lane (senior Educational Psychologist) and fellow Educational Psychology colleagues within the Wolverhampton  Educational Psychology Service.  The model is EVOL-VE (Exploration, Vision, Options, Looking Forward – Value, Evaluate) and supports participants to ‘explore’ their situation and wider context before creating their ‘vision’ as a leader linked to addressing ‘Covid-demands’.  This progresses onto exploring ‘options’ to help them to achieve their vision and then assisting the participant to prioritise actions akin to SMART.  The process then allows the participant to reconvene at a later date to explore the ‘value’ of their plan and actions before returning to the whole and wider discussion to ‘evaluate’ further points or actions.

(Please note that coaching is not counselling or supervision)

Riley, K., & Mendoza, M.  (2020) Leading In A New Era:  Compassionate Leadership for Place and Belonging

For more information please contact:

Michael Lane
Senior Educational Psychologist

Family Support Offer

Telford Educational Psychology Service (EPS) are offering some online support sessions within the Multicultural Development Team (MDT) Covid BAME project, for families whose children are not attending school due to the Covid restrictions, and who report finding this a very challenging and anxiety provoking time.

This support is aimed at families from Black, Asian and minority backgrounds, asylum seekers, refugee children, or from other vulnerable groups.

We hope to be able to offer up to 2 sessions with a psychologist where we can explore their concerns and offer supportive conversations to help them support their families.

If you are aware of a family within your school who would fit within the aims of this offer, and you feel may appreciate this type of support, please raise this with your visiting EP (without disclosing the families personal details) to discuss whether this work can be picked up (we have a limited number of slots available.)

If in consultation with your EP it is felt the family are appropriate for this support, then you will need to gain the families consent and agree the best way for contact to be made.

Please discuss with your EP for more information or contact

SEND Parent Carer News - February 2021

Please share the link below to the SEND Parent/Carer News – February 2021.

Updates and information for Parent/Carers on:

  • Emotional Health and Wellbeing Panel
  • Minister Ford – Letter 14 January 2021
  • Has your child or young person’s school spoken to you about a ‘Plan on a Page’?
  • Communication meetings with Parent Carer Forum (PODs) and Telford Information Advice and Support Service (IASS)
  • Community Children and Young People’s Health Services during the Covid-19 Pandemic – January 2021
  • My Options Lockdown Statement
  • Frontline social care workers eligible for vaccination
  • Carer’s winter wellbeing guide 2020/2021
  • Links to Government Guidance – What Parents/Carers need to know   

For more information please contact:

SEND Parent/Carer News - February 2021

Community Children and Young People’s Health Services during the Covid-19 Pandemic – January 2021

Available to download is the NHS Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust January Newsletter, find out how services are being delivered during the Covid 19.


  • How are we going to keep everyone safe?
  • Immunisation and vaccination service
  • Community Children’s Nursing Team and Paediatric Diabetes Nursing Team
  • Children’s Community Audiology
  • Children’s Therapies (Occupations Therapy, Physiotherapy and Speech and Language Therapy)
  • Child Development Centres
  • Community Dental Teams
  • Community Paediatric Service
  • 0-19 Service – Leading on the Healthy Child Programme
  • The Wheelchair and Posture Service
  • The Paediatric Psychology Service

Download: Community Children and Young People’s Health Service during the Covid-19 Pandemic - January 2021



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