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A message from Christine McInnes:

9 September 2021 weekly update

9 September 2021

This week, Christine welcomes us back to the new school year with an update on the events over the summer break.

Dear Colleagues,

I do hope you are starting the term having had at least some time to rest and relax as I am sure this academic year will bring its challenges as it unfolds. I managed to get a couple of weeks in Italy, which I am really thankful for. Apart from the benefits of sitting on the beach and swimming under a very hot sun, it also gave me a chance to have my annual catch up with family which was lovely. However, the news throughout August from Afghanistan was very distressing. It was heartening to also see the overwhelming response across the UK in welcoming families fleeing the conflict. Thank you to those of you that have worked with the LA to place newly arrived children in school and are providing support to the families. We are continuing to liaise closely with the DfE on longer term planning.

Thank you too for your work prior to the end of term which ensured the KCC Reconnect programme was hugely successful. The data is currently being collated and will be shared in the near future.

The beginning of term seems to have gone relatively smoothly, aside from anti- vaccination protestors outside a few schools. Certainly, the children in my family, my nephew and grandson, were delighted and enthused to be back to school, as was my tiny second nephew of two and a half who started nursery.

Many of you have attended flu vaccine briefings this week. We are now working with health colleagues to plan for a roll out of covid vaccines in anticipation of a change of government advice on this matter. Please do look out for correspondence on covid vaccination as there will be a very quick turn round required.

Following the IT failure last term, Cantiuum have continued to work over the summer to restore all functions and officers have resumed regular meetings to monitor the situation. I am aware that a few schools are still having problems, if so it is really important that these are logged through the system. Currently calls to the School Service Desk are lower than last year, which could suggest that the systems are working well.

You may be aware there has been a recent change in the law on food labelling following the sad death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse as a consequence of an allergic reaction. We will be writing to you separately with more detail on this legislation and the implications for food labelling.

Finally, on LA staffing matters, you may be aware that Celia Buxton who has been leading the education SEND inclusion work has been appointed as Director of Education for Medway. My warmest congratulations to Celia and I am sure it will come as no surprise when I tell you the reaction to this news from everybody has been ‘she will be a real loss’.  I am working on addressing this gap in staffing and I just want to reassure you that we will be maintaining a continuity of support for schools at this really critical time. I am hoping to tell you more next week.

I also want to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to colleagues in the LA who have continued working over the summer - this used to be a quiet time but those days seem long gone!

With best wishes

Christine McInnes
Director of Education