Dear Colleagues (16 December 2021)
Following our communication dated 30 November 2021 regarding ESS – Clarity for the future, we stated we would hope to be able to confirm further this week, so here is an update as promised.
Suffolk County Council are not opposed to change and support the development of services that benefit schools in Suffolk. We do however have a responsibility to technically assure services that schools purchase through Suffolk County Council. We also need to consider any implications where these systems integrate with statutory services and be a source of impartial advice. Consequently, we need to ensure that we have completed all due diligence around services, which will then enable us to sign-off on our technical assurance and be able to offer advice to schools.
The timescale being proposed by ESS does not enable us to achieve this and therefore we propose the following:
- Suffolk County Council will work with ESS to arrange, promote, and run a series of stakeholder engagement workshops with all schools impacted by the contractual change. These workshops will enable schools to question ESS directly and for ESS to demonstrate Next Gen services and SIMs connected.
- After these workshops we will survey all participants to obtain their views on the proposed changes. These responses will then enable us to confirm whether schools are happy to progress with the contractual change.
- Parallel to this we will commence a project to technically assure the SIMS connected service for schools in Suffolk. This will include but is not limited to the completion of a DPIA, cloud assurance, assessment of impact on other services. Although committed to doing this, it seems important to not conflate the contractual change with the SIMs connected offering, as this is an additional service that schools can choose to take.
Given the time required to complete the above, we do not believe that we will be able to agree to the new proposal from ESS at this time. However, we are prepared to review that decision prior to the 2023 renewals subject to the satisfactory completion of the above actions.
We will be in touch in the spring term with further information on the stakeholder engagement process.
Dear colleagues (29 November 2021)
We are aware that some of you may have seen on social media or via other MIS providers of the proposed changes from ESS asking schools to sign a 3-year contract directly with themselves, rather than via the LA for the SIMS.net and FMS licences.
We are currently in discussions with ESS to fully understand the new proposal and are working together to try and make an informed decision that ensures our Suffolk schools are still getting best value for money.
At the moment, Suffolk County Council currently have a contract in place with them until 31 March 2025, but as an LA maintained school we ask you continue to renew via us on a yearly basis.
We will be in contact as soon as we can with further details. Kindest Regards, Schools IT Team
New service - Suffolk schools bronze cyber security
12 November 2021
Suffolk County Council has launched the first of our new cyber security services for Suffolk Schools. This new service will be provided at no cost for the first 12 months for all schools who purchase a broadband service from Suffolk County Council.
The new service has four security and information management features, which we have grouped together to help protect schools and educate staff. The services included are:
- NCSC CiSP - Cyber advice and forum sign up referral
- NCSC - Early Warning System reports, Webcheck & Mailcheck
- Weekly Cyber News, including latest threats and vulnerabilities
- Information Management training.
You can find full details of this service on the Suffolk schools bronze cyber security page.
DfE laptop scheme update
5 January 2021
For school closures, or where more than 15 children are self-isolating, schools can order a pre-determined allocation of computers from the DfE. This is triggered through the daily DfE educational setting status form. You can log on here to see your school's allocation.
Suffolk County Council have distributed over 1000 computers via the DfE scheme for children with a social worker. If you are supporting a young person who has a social worker and you feel they do not have sufficient access to a computer, please contact the young person’s social worker or personal adviser directly so that they can request one from this scheme. There are only a limited number of computers remaining, but SCC are exploring how this can be sustained.
In addition to these schemes:
We aware that schools have been using the Pupil Premium Grant to secure additional devices to support remote learning.
Capita's webinar programme
2 June 2020
The Capita SIMS and Capita Reading Cloud Customer Success Team run regular webinar sessions. These cover a range of SIMS, Reading Cloud and education related topics.
Read the latest schedule and how to register or check out previous webinars at support.capitasoftware.com.
To access recordings of previous webinars instantly, you'll need to provide your name and some school details. These will not be shared or used for marketing purposes.
19 May 2020
DfE has announced schools will benefit from a ground-breaking partnership to gain access to education platforms. (PDF, 68KB)
DfE laptop scheme
5 May 2020
You will have heard that the DfE scheme is now live and that Directors of Children's Services and CEOs of Academies are being written to by the DfE with indicative allocations of laptops and devices. The communication from the DfE does not mention dongles (4G for use where no internet connection is available) but it is our understanding that these are also included in the offer.
Suffolk County Council has been given its indicative allocation for both children with social workers and for Year 10 pupils in LA maintained schools who are in need of this resource. Like many of you, we are not certain of timescales but have been given an indicative delivery time frame of late May/ Early June, which gives some time to work out the logistics involved in safely distributing these items to our children who need them most.
We will be forming a task group next week to ensure that the delivery is joined up and we will be inviting colleagues from across the sector to ensure that there is as much co-ordination around this as possible. We want to share learning around how safeguarding is ensured; how individual children are prioritised and share the agreements and contracts that are being used between school and family in relation to their use. If you or a member of your team would like to be a part of this task group, please contact Matthew Cooke (firstname.lastname@example.org) for further information.
DfE update in relation to COVID-19
21 April 2020
It is vital, at this time, that all education and care settings including local authorities are able to focus on the impact of COVID-19, providing for the young people in their care and looking after the wellbeing of their staff. To help reduce burdens, the Department have reviewed all data collection activity planned for the remainder of the current academic year to ensure that any requests for data and/or information remain essential, justified and feasible.
With regards to the 2020 summer school census, the Department have concluded that this data collection will be cancelled and will not take place this year. Please note that this decision has been taken for the upcoming 2020 summer census only and the Department remains committed to the summer census taking place in future years.
We will be in touch with further details on future iterations of the school census in due course.
Regards Data Collections Service Desk.