What a busy first week back it has been, with Brexit and a general election called on the 12th December, as well as business as usual for our schools. On Wednesday, primary headteachers from all the Planning Areas met, to hear from the Council about a set of proposals. Aiming to create a sustainable pattern of school places across the borough; in response to the declining pupil numbers and the inevitable pressure this is having on school budgets. What we have seen with the recent budget proposals, is that London schools have seen the lowest percentage increase for per pupil funding, in comparison to the rest of the country, thus suggesting that the national funding formula will even out the per pupil distribution unit. The meeting on Wednesday did provide the opportunity for proposals to be outlined, although these have not yet been adopted by Camden, instead provided an opportunity for further engagement and response to the proposals. What emerged for me, was that the SEND, Early Years and Inclusion agenda need to be brought together quickly, as place planning cannot be engineered without considering the important inclusion elements too.

At the secondary chairs of governor’s session on Wednesday evening, Christine Gilbert led an engaging discussion with chairs considering the education world going forward. Whilst clearly Brexit will hog the pre-election headlines, education is set for a key role, with the political parties already positioning themselves around funding, replacing Ofsted and trading it with a local authority-led school accountability system. Christine outlined her three key priorities for education going forward; accountability will still be a key requirement, whoever is leading the country, with potentially Ofsted changing their brand. Secondly, that a school led system will continue to flourish, with education partnerships locally connecting schools and partners, providing the glue to hold together a fragmented system. Finally, the importance of teachers, both how teachers are recruited and retained, particularly as the statistics continue to show the increasing numbers of teachers who leave the profession. We understand the challenges of retaining teachers in the capital with the associated living costs, but the Ofsted framework has recognised the importance of staff wellbeing, reducing bureaucracy and for us, promoting a local Camden offer.

Our very own Kate Frood has written an article on Schools Week titled, ‘The role of head should be more than a staging post’. Kate writes about the school system and how it has changed over time, the role and value of Camden Learning and the wonderful council and how it prioritises education. Kate passionately talks about the role of the headteacher and leader in our system, however, considering the proposals that I referred to in the first paragraph, we are in a period of huge ambiguity, which actually means thinking differently about how we might need to do things across our schools system. You can read the full article here.

A reminder that the Camden Learning Deputy and Assistant Headteachers Conference will be taking place on 14/15 November in the lovely Harbour Inn Hotel in Brighton. It promises to be an engaging and thought provoking couple of days with speakers including: Dr Andy Cope, Professor Sonia Blandford and Becky Allen. It would be marvellous if Deputy and Assistant Headteachers could prioritise this event, as it is a valuable opportunity for self-reflection as well as the chance to engage with other leaders from across Camden.

Jon Abbey

Managing Director, Camden Learning

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