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A message from Christine McInnes:

21 May 2024 weekly update

21 May 2024

This week, Christine updates on the upcoming headteacher briefing agenda and localities workshops, and national SEND developments.

Dear Colleagues,

I hope all is going well as you start tests and examinations. Our very best wishes to all involved. In this edition of the bulletin I am really pleased to share materials from Caroline Nicholson, Regional Schools Coordinator for the NSPCC Schools Service in Kent and Medway:

Headteacher briefings

The forthcoming briefing agenda includes

  • Annual Ofsted update from Lee Selby Senior Ofsted HMI and Assistant Regional Director South East and his team. This is not a Big Listen event, but will be similar in content to last year’s Ofsted briefing to headteachers.
  • Thank you to the many of you that are contributing to stakeholder engagement to help shape our new education strategy, which is being designed to ensure Kent is working within current educational policy, and we will be consulting on during the autumn term. In preparation for the new KCC strategy, we have invited Ian Potter and Gurdeep Baldwin of the Association of Education Advisers to run a CPD session - building and supporting effective partnerships and collaborations.
  • You will be aware that the Education Safeguarding Service (ESS) is now manged by KCC. There has been work going on to look at the safeguarding support for schools as a whole and Leemya McKeown, Assistant Director for Safeguarding, Professional Standards and Quality Assurance, is leading a session to consult on potential changes to ESS and the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO).
  • Many thanks to those that have responded with suggestions for improving the HT Briefings. The agenda now includes an extended break to allow opportunities for networking.

To reserve your place at a briefing please use the booking form

  • East - Tuesday 11 June from 1pm to 4pm - Howfield Manor Hotel
  • West - Friday 14 June from 9:30am to 12:30pm - The Orchards Event Venue
  • South – Thursday 27 June from 1pm to 4pm - Ashford International Hotel
  • North - Friday 28 June from 9:30am to 12:30pm - The Inn on the Lake

Localities workshops

KCC’s response to the Localities consultation was made public on Wednesday 8 May. This document is eight pages long and outlines what KCC’s actions will be against the key themes which have emerged.

From the consultation, it has been decided that the focus of the Area Workshops on Tuesday 21 and Friday 24 May and Tuesday 4 and Friday 7 June should be the continuum of need and provision. The workshops will be led by Dr Alison Ekins and will draw together the evidence which has come from mainstream, SRP and special schools. The intention is, by the end of the session, everyone has greater clarity over the need and provision which is required to be delivered across all parts of the sector. Because of the popularity of the workshops, an extra session is being planned for Wednesday 12  June. Details will be published as soon as a venue is secured.

Workshops regarding funding, clusters and localities operational model will take place later in term six and into term one. Dates will be published asap.

Further updates will also be given at the HT briefings.

SEND – Keeping up with national developments

The government’s vision, set out in the SEND and Alternative Provision (AP) Improvement Plan (March 2023) is to create a more inclusive society through a new national SEND and AP system that is built around the right support at the right time and high aspirations for all children and young people.

To test out the best ways of achieving this vision, the government has created a Change Programme. There are nine Partnerships, one in each region, that will test and refine longer term, systemic reforms including developing and testing National Standards; strategic partnerships and inclusion plans; the proposed alternative provision service; and advisory tailored lists.

If you are interested in keeping up to date with national developments then please register to receive the national newsletter (and to see previous editions) through the council for disabled children website

A virtual conference led by Change Programme Partnerships who will share experiences, learning and early insights from the Change Programme is taking place on Friday 5 July from 9:30am to 1pm, please sign up using Eventbrite

Workshops on the day include:

  • Partnerships and Plans
  • Inclusive Mainstream Practice
  • Education, Health, and Care Plans (EHCPs)
  • An introduction to the reforms for parent and carers.

Key meetings attended

Schools Funding Forum took place on Friday 10 May with papers on the Consultation on Procurement and Gifts and Hospitality; Localities; and the Special School Review. Verbal updates were provided on the DSG outturn for 2023-24 and the High Needs Funding sub-group of the SFF. SFF agendas and papers are available in full 

Joint Consultative Committee took place on Monday 13 May and the SEND Transformation Board on Tuesday 14 May.

CYPE Cabinet Committee took place on Thursday 16 May and includes papers on Localities, the SRP review and the Special School Review

And finally…

One of the issues I have been reflecting on recently is reality versus perception, particularly as perception is one of the factors we are being judged on in relation to SEND. I was therefore fascinated to read this article on the public perception that crime is increasing (and certainly the current size of the prison population would confirm that view) whereas the evidence shows most crime has been falling for 30 years.

Some of the discussion at SFF about SEND were particularly interesting in this context – 70 plus per cent of requests to assess previously were for parents and carers but that had reduced to 49% in January 2023 and 45% in March 2024. As any of you who have worked in a struggling school will know, it takes time for the perception to catch up with the reality when you are improving a school. So any tips for us in improving our communication about what is going well would be most welcome.

I hope you find some time to relax and unwind over half term.

Best wishes

Christine McInnes
Director of Education and SEN