It has been quite an eventful week with the education debate at full council on Monday evening, the Council peer review; which included a discussion on Camden Learning, as well as the publication of Ofsted’s Annual Report.

Ofsted published their 2019 annual report earlier this week; with its key topics including off-rolling, illegal schools, standards in exempt schools and hitting back at some of the criticisms of the new framework. Last week in my blog, I talked about the three year KS4 and breadth of curriculum make up, which was also a key theme in the annual report, where Spielman stated that, ‘Grades are hollow if they don’t reflect a proper education underneath’. In its latest report, Ofsted paints an improving picture; with 86% of schools rated good or outstanding, compared to Camden’s current picture of 100% good and outstanding. However, the report underlined concerns about the numbers of pupils leaving schools without another to go to, as 20,000 left their state schools between Year 10 (2017) and Year 11 (2018), and also the practice “off-rolling”. The topic of pupil movement and inclusion is something we have regularly and proactively discussed with our secondary heads.

There were a number of recurring themes in the education debate which included the contextual challenges for our schools; pupil numbers, school finance and increasing the number of SEND pupils. The clear message from heads was the need to think differently about school organisation and the role of Camden Learning. Ofsted’s annual report also criticised some MATs for the excessive focus on back office functions rather than curriculum design, despite the clear value that can be added there. We want to ensure that school organisation in Camden enables our heads to remain focused on curriculum and outcomes, without the converging contextual and potential political agendas distracting from the key purpose. From recent conversations with heads, Camden Learning Board and Camden Council, I believe that one of the outcomes is the need for an education strategy, which brings together the key components of thinking differently about 1. School partnerships, 2. The progressive next phase and role of Camden Learning, 3. Place planning, 4. The school estate (premises) and 4. A coherent SEND strategy.

The annual Camden Learning Headteachers Conference will be held in Brighton on 26/27 March 2020, please see flyer attached below for more details.

Finally, it was pleasing that Camden Learning was a part of the council peer review; we look forward to receiving the overall feedback and the role we and schools play, as a key partner.

Jon Abbey

Managing Director, Camden Learning

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