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A message from Christine McInnes:

16 December 2021 weekly update

16 December 2021

This week, Christine shares the dates for the next round of headteacher briefings in the new year, and a Christmas Card from our Cabinet Members.

Dear Colleagues,

I am sure we share a sense of relief that we have arrived at the end of term, hopefully with some energy to enjoy a well-deserved break. Officers will be monitoring national and local developments and joining the drop in meeting organised by KAH on the Thursday 30th December 21 10:00am. KCC and KAH will be running the next round of virtual Headteacher briefings on the afternoons of Tuesday 1 February, Wednesday 2 February, Monday 7 February and Tuesady 8 February, with more information available early in January 2022.

A couple of weeks ago I visited New Line Learning Academy in Maidstone to find out more about the MAT’s approach to supporting more vulnerable pupils. Many thanks to Isabelle Linney-Drouet and Lewis Smith for their time. My meeting schedule eased off over the last few weeks so I had planned visits to Valance, St Anthony’s, Whitfield Aspen and The Beacon schools, visits which unfortunately have been postponed, as have the many visits that were being agreed for the spring and summer terms. It’s very frustrating as apart from really enjoying being in school, it gives me a really good understanding of the issues you are dealing with on the ground. We will get these in the diary as soon as possible.

My congratulations to Robert, aged 11, for his winning Christmas Card design, which will be used as Shellina Prendergast (Cabinet Member for Education and Skills) and Sue Chandler’s (Cabinet Member for Integrated Children’s Services) Christmas Card this year. Shellina and Sue would both like to wish you all a well-deserved break over Christmas and every success in 2022!

Wishing you a well-deserved break over Christmas and every success in 2022. From Shellina Prendergast, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, and Sue Chandler, Cabinet Member for Integrated Children's Services

Chez McInnes I’m pleased to have actually got a Christmas tree up and decorated ahead of the usual last minute scramble. I’m also proud to have organised the residents Advent Window event, only stepping in because no one else volunteered. This, in case you are wondering, is where people decorate their windows with a seasonal theme and light them up during December from a particular date. I can’t tell you the hours spent fiddling with glue and tissue paper to create my rather basic window displays for 1 and 2 December, doing two as I didn’t muster quite enough volunteers. It was quite therapeutic to be honest and when a passer-by said seeing the windows made him smile, it certainly did feel worthwhile.

It feels like a particularly sad world at the moment with yet another tragic child murder, Star Hobson, in the headlines alongside growing child poverty, bereavement and the weariness of wondering when we can get back to anything approaching normality. Important then to take joy where we find it. The McInnes clan are celebrating my mother’s birthday on Sunday, mum is well on her way to 90 and still going strong despite daily medication including to manage her blood cancer. My nephew and grandson will be wearing reindeer onesies (with some degree of embarrassment), baby nephew is a lamb (loves the attention) and my usually rather stern brother has agreed to be Santa - a bit cheesy maybe, but I don’t care, we are all so grateful we can be together and it will be a hoot. Whatever your personal approach to recuperation is, sharing with others or a duvet day in front of day-time TV, enjoy every minute.  Thank you to you and your teams for outstanding efforts to keep schools open over this term.

With all best wishes from the KCC team

Christine McInnes
Director of Education