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A message from Christine McInnes:

25 March 2022 weekly update

25 March 2022

This week, Christine shares information on Ukrainian arrivals to the UK and in-year school admissions, and the launch of the KCC Reconnect Kent Big Writing Challenge and 16 to 19 Review Report publication event.

Dear Colleagues,

It hardly seems possible that this week we marked the second year since the pandemic lockdown and the first month of the Ukraine war. I know for those of you struggling to manage the impact of rising infection rates the Easter break can’t come soon enough. Covid now seems to have come off the DfE’s agenda but if there is any guidance or support that would be helpful from KCC please do let us know.

The generous offers of help for Ukrainian families are increasing day by day, thank you. We will be writing out to schools with a more detailed briefing note in the near future, but in the meantime, this is a summary of the current position.

There are arrivals presently coming to the UK through two routes:

  • Extended families, with Ukrainians joining families already in the UK
  • Homes for Ukrainians, where UK residents have offered accommodation.

The national guidance provides an application process for organisations as well as individuals to offer accommodation if this is of interest.

We are still working with the Home Office to place Afghan families, and thank you to those of you who have worked so hard to ensure children and young people have been welcomed into Kent schools and they and their families supported. The approach being taken for Ukrainians is very different and will mean, at least initially, placements are likely to be more dispersed. Advice on admissions was provided last week, applications for school places need to be through mid-year admissions route.

A number of groups have been established in KCC and with key partners to enable a strategic response and communications are being planned.

We all know that the early years is a really important first step in an individual’s life-long learning journey so I thought you would like to see this film about just one KCC Reconnect project delivered by the KCC’s Arts Service. The Playground project has taken artists into libraries and children’s centres to deliver sessions to 0 to 2 year olds. It’s interesting from an education perspective, but also just fun to watch!

Today sees the launch of the KCC Reconnect Kent Big Writing Challenge, where children are being invited to take part in The Kent Big Writing Challenge, with a prize-giving ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral in August. The theme of the challenge, which is being organised and promoted in collaboration with the KM Charity Team, is “local heroes”. For further information and for details of how to enter, go to the KM Charity Team website

The KCC Reconnect programme has been shortlisted as a finalist for two national awards so well done and good luck to the team in the forthcoming presentations to the decision-making panels.

As part of the DfE renewed focus on school attendance, the Education Endowment Foundation is searching for evidence of school based interventions which have improved student attendance. They have asked for schools to come forward to be part of a national, evidence based research project which aims to map what evidence is currently available and inform any future grant making decisions.

Further details and information on how to apply to be part of the research can be found on the Education Endowment Foundation website

Those of you in the secondary phase and officers are impatiently awaiting the overdue announcement about the Government’s intentions for the post -16 sector. In the meantime work in KCC continues apace with the launch of the 16 to 19 Review Report publication event taking place on Thursday 28 April from 1pm to 4:30pm. The report is the culmination of significant fieldwork and consultation with both providers and young people and will shape KCC’s work in the post 16 sector going forward. To secure your place, please complete your Eventbrite registration

Sadly, no school visits this week (or next) to report back on, but I did miss out on telling you about one visit last week. On my way back from a meeting in Dover, I called in at St Anthony’s School in Margate. The headteacher, Robert Page, is chair of the SEMH special schools group and I wanted to talk through with him some of the feedback we are getting from schools and parents about pupil emotional health and wellbeing and the impact on school attendance. I arrived at 3:10pm on a Friday afternoon and was met with incredible enthusiasm by Robert and his leadership team who gave generously of their time when I am sure they had 100 other more pressing priorities, including their life outside of school. Apart from an invaluable discussion about SEMH, Robert did challenge me about my lack of coverage of The Six Nations Championship rugby union competition, particularly the spectacular win by Italy in their game against Wales. Even team captain Michele Lamaro described Italy's incredible victory in Cardiff as "unreal". To be honest, there has been so much going on I missed both the Paralympics and the Six Nations. I am absolutely over the moon for Italy though, they need all the good news they can get.

Have a good weekend. Next week’s Kelsi e-bulletin will be sent out on Thursday 31 March.

Best wishes

Christine McInnes
Director of Education