Skip to content

A message from Christine McInnes:

8 November 2023 weekly update

8 November 2023

This week, Christine updates on working with partners, SEND improvement, headteacher briefings, the EEFective Kent Project and Pathways for All.

Dear Colleagues,

Working with partners

Since last writing I attended the Kent and Medway Health and Care Symposium where there was a fascinating key note by Hilary Cottam, author of Radical Help. One take away I had was the way that our approach to risk is stifling the innovation and creativity we need to address the current challenges. I presented a SEND update to our Specialist post 16 Providers (SPIs) network and met with TEP colleagues to plan for services for the next financial year.

Last week I was really pleased to visit Sheppey College for a presentation by Charlton Athletic Community Trust on the school improvement work we commissioned before our funding was ceased. The inception of this work was a request from DfE two years ago for the LA to consider developing a locality-based school improvement project where we had a geographical cluster of schools that were struggling which complemented existing school-focused improvement work. This project worked with a number of primary schools and the secondary school on the island with targeted projects in early years, year 6 to 7 transition and particularly vulnerable pupils at KS3 and KS4. The project is small scale but has had clear impact including getting youngsters back into school and achieving, in one case with a pupil who had not attended for three years. The presentation is available for information (PDF, 1.4 MB), we are currently working with local members how to mainstream the work.

SEND Improvement update

I attended SEND scrutiny sub committee which was focused on parental and young people’s engagement. To inform the Committee members understanding of the complexities of SEND and to hear from practitioners, a series of visits and presentations are taking place, so Committee members will be meeting with Hilary MacDonald, former HMI and Peter Gray, the consultant working with us on Localities. A visit to The Malling school has taken place and the next visit is to meet parents and carers of pupils with EHCPs attending Turner Academy

We are currently working on evidencing the progress we have made against the Accelerated Action Plan at a monitoring visit by DfE and NHS England taking place on Wednesday 15 November, with evidence being submitted next week. There has been a huge amount of work done since last year’s revisit and since the Improvement Notice was issued earlier this year. Much of this work has been about getting infrastructure in place, so progress measures are looking okay but inevitably there is a lag with seeing the impact for children, young people and families. The monitoring team will be meeting with representatives from schools and parent groups during the afternoon’s programme.

Our work with the SEN workforce continues and now that we have been successful in stabilising and training the workforce we are putting targeted tools in place to support staff to prioritise work in three key areas. The first report will highlight forthcoming deadlines related to issuing of EHCPs to improve the number issued in timescale. The second is a tool to improve data quality through weekly reminders about data input and the final area are weekly reminders about outstanding queries and complaints. The tools are being rolled out team by team to ensure we can check embedding of the practice and we are confident that this work, together with the targeted backlog teams we have now put in place, will show improvement against Key Performance Indicators by January 2024.

KCC headteacher briefings

Just a reminder to join one of the two virtual KCC headteacher briefings taking place on:

The agenda (PDF, 184.7 KB) has been slightly amended and we will joined by Dr Alison Ekins, VIAT who is briefing on the development of our new SEND support document. Teams meetings are being sent out so please do accept one of them, or use the links above to join on the day.

EEFective Kent Project

Our formal partnership with the Education Endowment Foundation has drawn to a close and the project is now being evaluated. All schools in Kent are being invited to take part in a short survey which aims to understand if the project has helped to increase the uptake of evidence-based programmes in Kent schools and has supported collaborative working between schools. Please help us understand how effective this project has been, whatever your level of involvement - all schools are encouraged to give their feedback by completing the survey

Find out more details (PDF, 168.2 KB).

The Pathways for All Sector-wide post-16 conversation, 28 November 2023

I am looking forward to seeing all our senior Post-16 leaders at our sector- wide conversation on Tuesday 28 November. If you have not already booked, we strongly urge all senior leaders within the sector to prioritise attending this event so that you can input into decisions affecting your area.Invitations have been sent out but if you have missed yours, please book your place. The meeting will consider the impact of qualification reform and the need for a Kent wide response.

Find more information about the aims and content of the day (PDF, 163.5 KB).

And finally…

Many are struggling with the cost of living and you are on the front line supporting families (and some staff) so the most recent report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation may be of interest

Have a good week.

Christine McInnes
Director of Education and SEN