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A message from Patrick Leeson:

28 March 2017 weekly update

28 March 2017

Patrick outlines this year's updated and refreshed Vision and Priorities for Improvement document for Education and Young People's Services.

Dear Colleagues

Vision and Priorities for Improvement 2017-2020

As you know we update our strategic plan every year and the latest version of Vision and Priorities 2017-2020 (PDF, 2.7 MB) is about to be circulated to schools and other partners. It sets out what we have achieved to date and the priorities going forward in improving Education and Early Help Services in Kent.

We state boldly that we want Kent to be the most forward looking area in England for education, learning and early help services so that we are the best place for children and young people to grow up, learn, develop and achieve.

We also want to ensure that all children get the best start in the Early Years by attending good or outstanding childcare and early education settings and all pupils are able to go to a good or outstanding school where they will make good progress. This progress must include ensuring all young people move on to positive learning destinations that provide them with the best qualifications to access training and employment.

And to ensure vulnerable children and their families are supported we want to provide early help services in a timely and responsive way, so that they are safeguarded, their educational, social and emotional needs are met and outcomes are good. This includes their active engagement in learning and employment.

There has been much progress and improvement in education quality and outcomes in Kent but challenges remain.

  • 9% of Primary schools and 14% of Secondary schools in Kent are still not good schools
  • Gaps in achievement are still too wide
  • Too many young people either do not engage or are not achieving qualifications to a good enough standard at post 16.

The economic and social cost of educational failure and too many young people with low level or no qualifications is immense. Gaps in our educational provision, and provision that is less than good, can damage the life chances of children and young people.

We see it as our job to ensure the right educational provision of high quality is there for all children and young people, including appropriate pathways to ensure all young people can gain good qualifications and succeed to age 18 and beyond. It is our role to build and support effective partnerships and networks that are more effective in delivering better services and improved outcomes. We also see our role as championing more innovative and creative practice and ways of working.

Many aspects of education in Kent continue to improve, including more good and outstanding schools (currently 91%) and better standards of achievement at the end of Primary education and at GCSE. The system as a whole has moved on significantly but some groups of children and young people are still being left behind, and these are our biggest challenges.

Our achievement gaps for Pupil Premium pupils, Children in Care and learners with Special Educational Needs are still too wide and their outcomes are not good enough.

Our NEET figures, while reducing, are still too high and too many 16-18 year olds are either not participating in education or training or they do not have the right options, support and provision to ensure they achieve success.

Too many 16-18 year olds and some older students with learning difficulties and disabilities do not have the right educational provision available for them in their locality, including the support they need to access training and employment.

Like many parts of this country our educational success is put at risk by the challenges of recruiting the right teachers, Headteachers and other staff in key services.

As more schools become academies, and form multi-academy trusts, there is a big challenge in the system to develop the kinds of leadership and governance that will deliver success in the future.

And as the system changes there is a challenge for the local authority to adapt its services and to work in even more robust partnership with schools to ensure the right services are available and all children are supported, with a sense of shared responsibility for the needs of all children and young people.

The biggest asset we have is the capacity to work together in partnership, to maintain a strong education community in Kent and to have shared goals for further improvement.

In going forward we continue to set ambitious targets for further improvement and we continue to seek new ways of working. We will shortly be setting up the new Education Services Company and appointing a new Chief Executive to lead this. We will also be developing and taking forward our proposals to establish LA supported multi-academy trusts where schools want to do this.

I hope you find that the Vision and Priorities document reflects our shared values and goals for children and young people as we continue to work to make their lives better.

I hope you and your staff have a relaxing Easter break.

Patrick Leeson, Corporate Director Education and Young People’s Services