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A message from Christine McInnes:

8 June 2021 weekly update

8 June 2021

This week, Christine provides an insight into the impact of the latest Government policy announcements.

Dear Colleagues,

I hope you had a restful break over half term.

Term 6 continues with the same level of uncertainty we have worked with during the year, as the planned activities for primary to secondary transition are now having to be reviewed. It is exhausting and frustrating as unfortunately postponing transition days is likely to compound the negative impact of the pandemic on the most vulnerable children in the system.

The last few weeks have been eventful at a policy level, firstly with the publication on Wednesday 26 May of the scathing Public Accounts Committee report Covid 19: Support for children’s education and secondly the surprise stepping down of Sir Kevan Collins, education recovery commissioner, after just four months in post.

The PAC took the DfE to task about both its lack of planning prior to the pandemic and lack of planning for the future. Key PAC concerns centre on the DfE’s proposals to support catch up for vulnerable children, ensuring tuition support is targeted to children on FSMs (the National Audit Office says less than half on the scheme are from low-income homes) and absence of metrics to assess the success of the catch-up programme. Just one week later, Sir Kevan, invited to advise the government on helping children catch up learning lost in the pandemic, resigned saying the planned investment of £1.4 billion over three years, or £50 per pupil per annum, compared with his recommended £15 billion "falls far short of what is needed".

This funding announcement follows a potential loss to Kent schools of over £4m of Pupil Premium funding arising from administrative changes to the data collection made earlier this year by the DfE.

A triple whammy for vulnerable children and significant added strain on school leaders working to narrow the attainment gap. Sadly, it’s not a positive end to what has been a demanding and exhausting year.

On a more positive note though, when I visit schools I am seeing committed and enthusiastic staff, proud to show off best practice and pleased to engage in professional discussions about what could be better. And most importantly, children and young people who are happy to be there. So all I can say is, keep up the great work!

A final reminder that the ‘Meet the Director’ virtual meeting will take place on Friday 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.

Some Local Authority news to finish, I’m please to let you know that we recently appointed Lee Round as Interim Area Education Officer (South) - congratulations to Lee on his appointment.

With best wishes

Christine McInnes
Director of Education