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A message from Christine McInnes:

21 June 2024 weekly update

21 June 2024

This week, Christine shares the Food Foundation report on Children's Health, feedback from the headteacher briefings, SEND updates and the Special Schools Review consultation.

Dear Colleagues,

I’m starting this week’s bulletin sharing the recent Food Foundation report on Children’s Health which makes for shocking reading. Key statistics show the height of five year olds has been falling since 2013, obesity among 10 to 11 year olds has increased by 30% since 2006, type two diabetes among under 25s has increased by 22% in the past five years and babies born today will enjoy a year less good health than babies born a decade ago.

The focus is on the physical effect of poor nutrition, which inevitably has more of an impact on the most deprived. What is not explored in the report is the contribution of a good quality diet in supporting emotional health and wellbeing. Inevitably schools and settings end up managing the consequences of these wider policy failures which impact on learning.

In KCC we are working ever more closely with the Public Health team to understand what we can do to better support the education sector on these important issues. If you have any suggestions, do please let me know.

Headteacher Briefings

Thanks to those of you that have attended the first two briefings, especially the very first one where it was impossible to see the presentations, despite the creative use of a gazebo in the wedding tent! You had to be there.

In response to feedback from headteachers, a professional development session was included in the briefing, led by a colleague from the Association of Education Advisers (AoEA). The session was designed to promote our collective thinking on the implications as we move towards more of a school-led improvement system in preparation for the consultation on our new KCC Education Strategy which will be launched in September. The draft strategy thus far has benefited from input from maintained school and MATs leaders and we hope you will take the time to contribute further as we develop this further.

I was asked if KCC now wants headteachers to be accredited by AoEA, is this our preferred provider? The answer is no, there are a number of accreditation models for those who are interested in becoming more active in system leadership. We were grateful that AoEA agreed to run these sessions for us gratis to stimulate debate across the sector on some key issues we need to collectively reflect on and resolve to build the foundations for an effective system as we transition from one model of school improvement to a new one.

The next two headteacher briefings are as follows

  • South Kent headteacher briefing - Thursday 27 June 2024, 1pm to 4pm - Ashford International Hotel
  • North Kent headteacher briefing - Friday 28 June 2024, 9:30am to 12:30pm - The Inn on the Lake

If you are interested in booking, please email with your name, email address and the briefing you wish to attend.

Key meetings attended

Since last writing I have really enjoyed spending some time with SEN managers and staff, firstly at a joint meeting with Adult Services sharing effective practice between Commissioning, Purchasing and Placement staff. The second occasion was a Community of Practice which brought together the SEN managers to reflect on what had gone well over the last year and to plan collaboratively for the next. It was great work with such committed staff.

I was delighted to attend part of the Inclusion Champion review and planning day, hearing about the great work that they are leading and the very robust debate on priorities and how to achieve them. Over the last week there have been two SEND Boards - the SIAB (Improvement and Assurance Board) which is the governance mechanism for the Accelerated Progress Plan and the Transformation Board which is the governance for the Safety Valve. We were very relived when the DfE asked us to scope out how we can streamline the current governance and we are considering this currently.


The Special Schools Review consultation is now live. We are fortunate to have great special schools in Kent and they play a very important role in the Kent education landscape, doing very valued work. However, special schools are an expensive resource and we want to ensure best use is made of these facilities for the children and young people of Kent and their families.

The changes being proposed which relate to the admissions criteria of seven schools will address this issue amongst others so that KCC can commission places in response to the demographic data and the children and young people with the most complex needs have places at our special schools.

Representatives from schools will be invited to attend dedicated engagement events. These sessions will provide an opportunity for schools to contribute their insights and discuss potential collaboration mechanisms. Alongside this, a Young People’s Voice Project is taking place in collaboration with some of the special schools across the County.

There are also a number of sessions for parents and carers taking place on

  • Wednesday 26 June - 11am to 12:30pm
  • Wednesday 10 July - 4pm to 5:30pm
  • Tuesday 16 July - 5pm to 6:30pm
  • Monday 22 July - 5:30pm to 7pm

Full details will be circulated to respondents registering through the Special Schools Review consultation webpage

If you have any questions or require any of the consultation material in hard copy, please email

Forthcoming public consultations include the Accessibility Strategy, School Services Review and the Education Strategy.

And finally…

Now that summer is here at last, I am enjoying spending as much time as possible in my garden, which is my therapy time. Simon Langdon Girls Grammar School is collecting a fascinating and robust evidence base about the benefits of walking in a leafy, outdoor environment, but I was interested to read about new research which suggests even just looking at greenery in an urban context boosts mental health . So many of you have invested in giving children and young people outdoor experiences, including our first secondary forest school, because you know about the benefits and it's great to have the evidence catching up!

Christine McInnes
Director of Education and SEN