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A message from Christine McInnes:

18 April 2024 weekly update

18 April 2024

This week, Christine updates on SEN and Early Years, and shares the details of the upcoming headteacher briefings.

Dear Colleagues,

I hope you had a relaxing Easter break and found the time to catch up with family and friends. I was really pleased to do just that and to get a few days away in Italy to see some much-needed sun. I also took my nephew and grandson to see Legion: Life in the Roman army at the British Museum, which is well worth a visit. For the 50% of soldiers who survived to retirement, the exhibition tells a powerful story about opportunities for social mobility which were successful 2,000 years ago.

SEN - school and parent views

We are gathering information from stakeholders in a variety of ways and we have just instigated two new, short questionnaires which will be used termly.

The parents and carers questionnaire, which is now closed, has had circa 400 responses so thanks to those of you who supported dissemination. The schools and education settings questionnaire is live until Tuesday 23 April, so please do complete the school questionnaire

Early Years

On the last day of term I was delighted to join the first Early Years conference in a number of years in Ashford. More than 200 delegates listened to speakers and participated in workshops focused on promoting SEN Inclusion in the Early Years. There was a fantastic energy in the room and great positive feedback about how much the sector valued having the opportunity to come together. A huge well done to all those involved in the organisation including Tel German, Alex Gamby and Zenia Ford.

In education and SEN, the Early Years consultation is now live and I encourage you to respond and get others to do the same.

Early Years staff in TEP have been busy gearing up for the roll out of the expanded childcare and wrap around care offer which is now coming on stream.

Schools news

As the commissioners of school places, members of the KCC education and SEN leadership team have been involved in recruiting providers for three new schools, new special schools for North Kent and Whitstable and a mainstream primary school which is planned for Thannington, Canterbury.

I was on the panel for the Thannington school, alongside Cllr Rory Love; DfE representatives; Rob Veale, Assistant Director Education East; Lorriane Medwin, Area Schools Organisational Officer East; and Michelle Stanley, Strategic lead for Education. We interviewed four Multi Academy Trusts and I have to say it was a truly inspirational and energising day and, for me, quite emotional. My job is usually focused on what’s going wrong or could go better and it can be easy to forget the amazing work going on day in day out with children, young people and families delivered by people with a passion to do the right thing and a love for their jobs. It was a strong field and a difficult choice but we eventually made our recommendation to DfE for the new provider and await the actual decision and few months hence.

A project which has been taking up a great deal of officer time and energy has been working with the DfE on the future of secondary education on the Isle of Sheppey. The Minister, Baroness Barran has now issued the letter for the closure of Oasis Isle of Sheppey which will take place on Saturday 31 August 2024. Plans for the opening of the two new secondary schools run by East Kent College Group Schools Trust and Leigh Academies Trust are formally proceeding to be operational for Sunday 1 September 2024. Alongside this, you will be aware that the Alternative Learning Trust has run a consultation on provision of AP for the Isle of Sheppey for a three year period to support the transition from Oasis to the establishment of the two new schools.

Many officers in KCC have contributed to this outcome but a particular shout out to Craig Chapman, Assistant Director Fair Access, and SEN and the Admissions Team; Rob Veale, Assistant Director Education East; Ian Watts, Assistant Director Education West; Simon Smith, Head of PIAS; and Alison Farmer, Principal Educational Psychologist.

Headteacher briefing meetings - Summer Term

The dates and times have been confirmed for the Headteacher briefings in June 2024.

  • 11 June 2024 from 1pm to 4pm - East Kent - Howfield Manor Hotel
  • 14 June 2024 from 9:30am to 12:30pm - West Kent - The Orchard Events Venue
  • 27 June 2024 from 1pm to 4pm - South Kent - Ashford International
  • 28 June 2024 from 9:30am to 12:30pm - North Kent - The Inn on the Lake

A link to book your place should have been circulated, however, for ease, please find the the booking form

We look forward to seeing as many of you there as possible.

And finally…

Most people who have children in their life in some way, professionally or personally will be aware of how difficult it can be to prise children and young people away from screens time.On Thursday 25 April 2024 from 6pm to 8pm Dr Sanjiv Nichani OBE, Consultant Paediatrician is leading a free CPD event entitled: ‘Tackling the Screendemic’ in children and young people. This is a free CPD event promoted by the charity ‘Young Minds’. I thought you might be interested. Please register if you’d like to attend and feedback to team members.

With best wishes

Christine McInnes
Director of Education and SEN