Skip to content

A message from Christine McInnes:

25 May 2021 weekly update

25 May 2021

This week, Christine provides an update on our SEND development work and extends an invitation to the 'Meet the Director' virtual meeting.

Dear Colleagues,

As I come to the end of my first full half term in Kent I’m really pleased to report I have visited 13 schools and have had so many invitations from headteachers, we are now booking in visits for the Autumn Term. A huge thank you for taking the time to show me your school to these leadership teams.

Richard Billings at The Towers Secondary Academy, Seamus Murphy at Folkestone Secondary Academy, Am'e Moris at Morehall Primary, Jason Cook at Aspen Whitfield Primary,  Neil Birch at The Beacon, Matthew Tate at Hartsdown Academy, Martin Jones at Dane Court Grammar School, Claire Whichcord at Cliftonville Primary,  Nigel Jones and Neil Willis at Milestone Academy, Abigale Birch at Ifield School, Anthea McLevy and James Williams at Parkside Primary (Canterbury), Jo Williamson at St Johns C of E (Canterbury) and David Elliott at The Archbishop Secondary Academy.

I have really appreciated the generous engagement of school leaders and offers of support.

The visits are giving me a real insight into the diversity of communities across the county, the strength of existing learning communities, some of the challenges for school leaders in the cycle of improvement and have helped to develop my understanding of the important role of the Local Authority within the Kent context. This morning I met with Claire Burton, the Regional Schools Commissioner and her team and I was really encouraged to hear her express the commitment to collaborative working. I am a firm believer that collaboration which brings together resources and expertise is the only way we as a system can tackle the wicked, entrenched issues in education which need new and creative responses that look further than individual schools. As Director of Education, part of my job is to communicate the shared vision of a Kent that works for all children and create the conditions for collaboration, identifying for common ground which enables us to act as system leaders as well as considering what is best for individual schools.

Thank you to those that responded to the County Approach to Inclusive Education consultation, we are considering the feedback and what it means for our SEND development work. Pupil Place Planning and school sufficiency is a priority for me at the moment, particularly with regard to our offer for children and young people with Education, Health and Care plans. Three important developments to update you on:

  • we are in the final stages of developing a sophisticated data tool which enables us to project pupil numbers and this is particularly important with regard to the new housing developments coming forward and SEND places we need to plan for the future
  • we are drafting a detailed report for cabinet on the capital implications of meeting our sufficiency duty which will be considered by Cabinet during the summer
  • we have established an officer working group which brings together SEND, Admissions and Area Education Officers to forward plan for the 2022-23 onwards admissions of children with EHCPs.

It is important not just to create sufficient places but to also ensure they are the right places and this means thinking about how we bring about change in the proportions of children with EHCPs attending the continuum of educational provision. Over time we want more pupils attending mainstream settings, as well as ensuring we have sufficient specialist places through a combination of SRPs, satellites and special school places and our reliance on commissioning places in the private sector reduces.  We will be sharing our thinking on this with you after half term, including goals for the percentages of children and young people with EHCPs that we would expect to attend mainstream schools, with the right support.

I do hope you are aware that we are organising a ‘Meet the Director’ virtual meeting on 11 June at 9:15am. Alan Brookes, Chair of KAH will be interviewing me, putting questions from headteachers and you can join us on Microsoft Teams on Friday 11 June at 9:15am. Further details will be shared in the e-bulletin following half term.

I hope you and your staff are able to have a relaxing and restful end of term break.

With best wishes

Christine McInnes
Director of Education