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A message from Christine McInnes:

11 January 2024 weekly update

11 January 2024

This week, Christine updates on the gender questioning children consultation, the localities consultation parent meetings, and the Spring term headteacher briefings.

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome back after what I very much hope was an opportunity for rest, relaxation and catch up with family and friends.

Chez McInnes, we were pleased to share a Polish Christmas Eve celebration with my new daughter-in-law’s family which involved downing vodka shots to accompany the delicious food. The final get together took place on Sunday with a visit from La Befana when we celebrated Epiphany.


I would like to bring the impending removal of the Cantium Business Solutions School Broadband Service to your attention.

Meetings and visits

This term has got off to a busy start with the termly Special Schools and LA meeting on Monday and on Tuesday a half day workshop led by former HMI Hilary McDonald on the new SEND inspection framework. We were delighted to also be joined at the workshop by colleagues from Surrey and from Nottinghamshire who talked candidly about their own experiences and provided invaluable ‘top tips’ for preparation and navigating the inspection process. This is the formal start of our preparation for inspection which will carry on in the background, but our priories this term are preparing for the next review of progress against the Accelerated Progress Plan which will take place in April and in Safety Valve related work.

I was also very pleased to have the opportunity to visit Mid Kent College last week to meet with Principal and Chief Executive Simon Cook who is the Post 16 and FE Sector Council Representative at ASCL, as well as a former Michelin star chef. You can read the full story on the Local Authority website

Draft national guidance on gender questioning children consultation

The government has published long-awaited draft guidance on this sensitive issue. The guidance sets out how schools should respond to gender-questioning pupils and is published alongside a consultation on the proposals. I know this is an area of concern for many headteachers and I strongly encourage you to respond to the consultation.

Find out more on Kelsi.

Localities consultation parent meetings

There has been a healthy response to the Locality Model for SEN consultation to date and the attention is being focused on engaging with parents and supporting them to complete the consultation. There are Family Network meetings happening next week which are being hosted by our Lived Experience Expert and we would like to extend the reach to the maximum number of parents.

You will find the links below to four online parental meetings which will take place next week and which have been organised through the Family Networks. It would be much appreciated if all schools could send the meeting links to the parents of children with SEN who attend your school, either who have an EHCP or who are on the SEN register. Parents only need to attend the session of their choice. The content is identical and it will be led by KCC officers to explain the Localities model, encourage parents to complete the consultation and gather questions.

Some schools have come forward and have offered to host a session for parents in their school. If any school is willing to host such a session, it would be much appreciated. However, there is no requirement to do so, especially as this is relatively short notice. However, if schools wish to do so, it is only necessary to invite parents into school, select the link below and facilitate the discussion. This will give parents a channel to ask questions in a familiar space.

Please use the links below to join:

And finally... spring term headteacher briefings

We are very much looking forward to seeing you at the next round of headteacher briefings. The draft agenda (PDF, 165.6 KB) is now available. Just a reminder of the dates and venues below-

  • West Area - 26 January 2024 from 9am to 12noon - Orida Hotel, Maidstone.
  • South Area - 29 January 2024 from 1pm to 4pm - Ashford International Hotel, Ashford.
  • North Area - 30  January 2024 from 1pm to 4pm - Mercure Hotel, Brands Hatch, Dartford.
  • East Area - 8 February 9am to 12noon - Darwin Conference Suite, University of Kent, Canterbury.

Best wishes

Christine McInnes
Director of Education and SEN