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A message from Matt Dunkley CBE:

13 March 2020 weekly update

13 March 2020

This week, Matt announces an important change to Monday’s Headteacher Briefings which will now be hosted as a webinar; and introduces the Interim Directors of Education and Special Educational Needs and Disability.

Dear Colleagues

I start with very sad news concerning the sudden death of Darren Webb, Executive Head of the Coppice Primary Partnership, from a heart attack late on Monday afternoon. Many colleagues will know Darren, who was an inspirational Headteacher with a huge passion for research based improvement strategies and strong moral purpose. During his time in West Kent, Darren worked tirelessly to support his colleagues, working alongside the local authority and colleagues to support improvements to a number of our schools.

He established high expectations for children and staff and was a huge advocate of embedding enrichment activities in daily school life. Later sharing this approach with Coxheath Primary in 2018 and most recently St Katherine's in Snodland. He wasn't only supportive of staff within his schools but also his wider peers across schools and within the community; he will be deeply missed by many across several communities. I send my condolences to his wife, children and family and to his extended school family at such a sad time.

Headteacher Briefings Cancelled - Monday 16 March - Webinar to replace Headteacher Briefings

Based on the World Health Organization’s declaration that the Coronavirus pandemic is a public health emergency of international concern, we have taken the difficult decision to cancel the Headteacher Briefings on Monday 16 March. This is a rapidly evolving situation which we are monitoring carefully but based on the available evidence, the current risk to the UK is moderate.

However, we are taking this opportunity to trial a condensed Headteacher Briefing webinar hosted by Matt Dunkley CBE, Corporate Director - Children, Young People and Education and Alan Brooks, Chair KAH. The agenda will include an Ofsted presentation from Phil Minns HMI about SEND in the new Inspection Framework, input from the Education Development Trust and discussion covering the leadership of inclusion and peer review. The webinar will take place on Monday 16 March from 12:30pm to 2:15pm and details of how to join the webinar will be shared with all Headteacher’s who have booked on to Monday’s Briefings.

There will be an opportunity for those that have not booked on to the Briefings to view the webinar at a later date.

Appointment of Interim Director of Education and Interim Director, Special Educational Needs and Disability

Following on from my message on 7 February, I am pleased to confirm that as a result of an internal competitive selection process, we have made the following interim appointments;

  • Interim Director Education - David Adams
  • Interim Director Special Educational Needs and Disability - Mark Walker

David is currently Area Education Officer, South Kent and brings a wealth of experience to fill the very large shoes of Keith Abbott and Mark is currently the Assistant Director Disabled Children’s Service. Both will now start to move their new Divisions forward making the necessary connections with schools and other key stakeholders. A reminder that the creation of these new Director posts is still the subject of ratification at County Council on 19 March 2020. Once this has happened, we will then begin the external recruitment process with a national advert for the permanent positions.

My congratulations to David and Mark and I look forward to working with them during the next couple of months and will write again shortly regarding the backfill arrangements for both of them.

Head of SEN Assessment and Placement

On a different note, and after working for Kent County Council since March 2006, Louise Burgess, Head of SEN Assessment and Placement, has decided that, as part of the restructure of the Division, to end her time working for KCC and I have agreed to this request. Louise is taking this opportunity to explore other options and we wish her all the best in her future and thank her for her many years of service to KCC.

We will let you know shortly about the interim arrangements for this post.

Matt Dunkley CBE
Corporate Director
Children, Young People and Education