Skip to content

A message from Christine McInnes:

15 July 2022 weekly update

15 July 2022

This week, Christine shares updates on the heatwave, LA established MATs and the first key stage 2 attainment statistics since 2019.

Dear Colleagues,

I’m going to start with the heat. There will be updated email bulletin this afternoon from the DfE, which will be about a decision to move to Level 4 heatwave alert guidance. Their overall message remains, ‘stay open, take sensible decisions that reflect your circumstances.’

Though the academic year is ending, there doesn’t seem to be a slackening of the pace. At a national level, thank-you to Nadhim Zahawi for his 10 months as Secretary of State for Education and good luck in his new role as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Thankfully Baroness Barran remains in office as the rest of the education ministerial team changed and we said hello and goodbye to Michelle Donelan for 36 hours, then welcomed James Cleverly as Secretary of State for Education. In the meantime, the School Bill has continued its passage through the Lords with extensive amendments being made. The political turmoil may result in more significant changes as the Bill progresses through Parliament.

Since last writing, work on planning for the changes the new legislation will bring has continued. I had hoped to have a Teams update briefing for you prior to the end of term but I’m afraid that has not been possible.

KCC’s position continues to be that it is for school leaders to determine the best option for their school and we have the staff and processes in place to work with schools that want to explore this as an option. We are preparing an expression of interest in participating in the DfE’s ‘test and learn’ phase of LA established MATs on the premise that we will work with schools that approach us to explore what the model(s) of an LA established could look like. The very positive feedback I have had about LA officers and services and the commitment to continuing a close partnership with the LA has been very heartening.

Alongside that, I and other officers have been talking with maintained school leaders, Alternative Provision leaders, Single Academy Trusts and MATs about what would be supportive and helpful moving forward. Informed by this engagement, KCC is working with KAH on planning guidance and activities for the autumn term.

The first key stage 2 attainment statistics since 2019 were recently published, covering the attainment of year 6 pupils who had two years of working through the turmoil of covid lockdowns. Sadly, but not unexpectedly, the data shows the percentage of pupils meeting the benchmark of expected standard in all of reading, writing and maths, down in comparison with 2019. The data is heavily caveated as the two-year gap in administering the system nationally has resulted is a wide range of glitches which are being worked through.

Thank you to so many of you for actively participating in our SEND improvement programme. This morning Schools Funding Forum were updated with the most recent data and our planning for our Safety Valve plan which will be to the DfE in September.

We are preparing a set of SEND materials and updates which will be disseminated for the new academic year. Thank you to all those colleagues who expressed an interest in the CATIE dashboard which was demonstrated at the Headteacher briefings this term. As a result of the problems with the Primary Assessment Gateway and to ensure that the data is correct and ties in with other existing local and published datasets, the release of the dashboard has been delayed until the autumn once KCC has completed the attainment statutory returns and analysed 2022 data.

I have made just one visit since the last bulletin, to The View@East Street, part of Hillview school. Many thanks to Hilary Burkett and Teresa Copeland for an informative discussion and to the rest of staff and students.

At the end of this academic year we are saying au revoir to a number of headteachers who are retiring. I know you will join me in wishing these committed and hardworking colleagues a very happy next phase in their lives. So, a big thank you and good luck to:

  • Pauline Crowhurst at Stocks Green Primary, Lorraine Wickens at East Peckham Primary, Chris James at Thurnham CE Infant School and Elaine Watson at Roseacre Junior School from West area.
  • Heather Kemp at St Nicholas at Wade CE Primary School and Barbara Conroy at Queenborough Primary from East area.
  • Yvonne Quigley at Cecil Road Primary and Nursery School from North Area.
  • Bernadette Brown at St Teresa’s Catholic Primary School, Claire Egglestone at River Primary and Lydden Primary and David Metcalff at Capel-le-Ferne Primary from South Area.

We are also saying happy retirement to Mrs Jane Partridge at Northfleet Technology College, Gravesend.

Two headteachers are leaving for pastures new rather than retirement, our best wishes to Claire Frost of Wittersham CEP School and Lynn Goreham of St Peter’s CEP School, Tunbridge Wells.

I also want to say a big thank you to officers in Education Division and those we work with across the council, as well as our Cabinet Member for Education and Skills Shellina Prendergast for all her visits to education settings over her first year in post . It’s been a tough year and I’m very grateful for the dedication and determination to move forward on the priorities as well as delivering on the day job.

Outside of work, I was really pleased to recently visit the National Gallery twice within a week. Once with friends including an art historian to look at Italian devotional paintings which was fascinating and then a tour of the amazing Raphael exhibition with a senior member of the staff which was enthralling as we also found out about the curation of the exhibition. You may be aware that over recent years the National Gallery has done a great deal of work in improving their appeal and accessibility to the general public, including through their website. During lockdown I was delighted to watch their ‘Curated Looks’ short films. My particular favourite is Joost Joustra talking about angels

This is the last bulletin of the academic year. May I wish you a wonderful and very well deserved break over the summer.

With all best wishes

Christine McInnes
Director of Education