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A message from Matt Dunkley CBE:

19 April 2018 weekly update

19 April 2018

This week, Matt shares information as a result of the discussions at the recent Headteacher briefings and introduces our updated Fair Access Protocol.

Dear colleagues

I hope you had managed to have some relaxing time during the Easter break. For the start of this term, I want to share some of the information I promised to share as a result of the discussions at my Headteacher briefings last term. I also want to outline and promote Kent’s In Year Fair Access Protocol 2018-21 and encourage you to respond by 1 May.

Firstly, some information I promised to update you on from my Headteacher Meetings:

The Front Door: This continues to make good progress developing the Request for Support form and we’re also working on updating of the Threshold Document to support our partner agencies use of the form.

The current threshold criteria can be found here

Further communication will be sent when the new Request for Support form and threshold document are available.

We are working closely with the KSCB to ensure that there is training available to support the launch of the Request for Support form and the Threshold Document.

View the details of the KSCB agreed CRU Consultation process (DOCX, 58.3 KB). This process changed in January 2017. There were some queries raised by Headteachers will regard to this process; in response to these queries we will be reviewing this process within the Front Door.

Educational Psychology Service: A reminder that Keith Abbott, wrote to schools about the capacity of the EP Service. View the letter here (DOC, 320.5 KB).

North East London Foundation Trust - Kent Children and Young People’s Mental Health Services: The details of the SPA and referral forms can be found here

High Needs Funding:

Following the useful feedback at the Headteacher meetings, we are producing an options paper in the Summer Term which will include input from recent discussions with the LIFT Strategic Board, KAH Area Boards and Executive, KSENT Executive, Local LIFTs and other key stakeholders. Our aim is to share this at my late June Headteacher meetings and to have an agreed model, signed off by the Schools Funding Forum in the Autumn Term, with any effective changes from 1 April 2019.

Fair Access Protocol

One of the most challenging aspects of our work together, is to enable those hard to place children, whose life chances are reduced the more education they miss, to access school and engage in education. I have been impressed at the way Kent schools have worked collaboratively to reduce exclusions and operate inclusive practices. Your record to date is one many local authorities will be envious of and I thank you sincerely for the efforts you have made in this area in recent years.

Most localities have developed forms of managed moves or managed transfers between schools so that children are not excluded from school which has resulted in some parts of the county having zero exclusions. Where this is not possible however, there must be a formal legal process which enables a child to access an education to which they are entitled.

The Fair Access Protocol (PDF, 338.3 KB) is the legal process by which the most challenging Hard to Place children access school and Kent County Council is legally obliged to have a protocol in place for the county.

Thankfully in the context of the Kent school age population, the Fair Access Protocol rarely has to be applied. The current protocol has been in place since 2014 and officers have been working with panels across the county to identify best practice both in Kent and beyond in the development of the 2018-2021 Protocol. This county wide protocol has been a necessary development due to more localised arrangements which have evolved over the years sometimes falling short of legal requirements. Kent County Council whilst respectfully working with schools, must, as the owner of the protocol, ensure they are written and applied legally.

In addition to the Kent Fair Access Protocol, both a framework and common principles have been set out. The process continues to put Headteachers in their localities, at the centre of decision making about the identification of appropriate education provision. At the same time, the protocol tightens up some of the elements that had resulted in decision drift, often leading to extended periods where children were out of education and as a consequence much harder to re-engage. This updated protocol offers a fair and transparent process that can be applied consistently across the county, upholds the rights of individual students and schools; whilst recognising and retaining the opportunity for individual localities to develop their own inclusive practices.

You will see there is an online form which can be completed and I would ask you please to complete this at your earliest opportunity in order that we can publish and apply the protocol countywide in line with our legal obligations. More information is included in the letter from Scott Bagshaw, Head of Fair Access (PDF, 99.9 KB) and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact Scott directly by emailing Scott.Bagshaw@kent.gov.uk.

If agreement to the protocol is not secured from the majority of schools in Kent, then it may be necessary to have a protocol imposed by the Department for Education which will not truly reflect all the learning and input from Kent schools. I hope therefore you will confirm your agreement and give your support. If you would please complete the electronic return form by the 1 May 2018, this would be greatly appreciated.

Matt Dunkley CBE
Corporate Director
Children, Young People and Education