Welcome back after a rather rainy and windy half term, hope you all managed to have a decent break.

Just before the half term break, Camden Learning held our second annual general meeting at the beautiful Regent High School, celebrating the strong spirit of partnership and active collaboration. Many thanks to those members who attended and also those that submitted their proxy forms, voting for the necessary and suggested governance amendments. I was delighted to review the last twelve months, where I highlighted the powerful platform for change, as schools work together, with the council and other key partners for the benefit of all Camden young people.

We have nurtured strong relationships with school leaders, educational practitioners, other professionals and partners, as these are the building blocks of success. In summing up, I borrowed a phrase from our Independent Chair, Christine Gilbert; schools invariably work within a number of configurations, but that Camden Learning is the glue that binds them together locally, with a shared focus on Camden as a place and its communities.

The highlight of the AGM was the annual lecture from the impressive Sir Kevan Collins, previously the Chief Executive at Education Endowment Fund and now Vice Chair at Learning by Questions. Those in attendance were treated to an insight into his learning from his time at the EEF and the research schools that were primarily set up to narrow the disadvantage gap. The themes that Kevan explored were narrowing the gap, tackling inequality and being the ‘best at getting better’; the latter, a strong phrase that resonates with the education priority here in Camden. Rather than calling them priorities, Kevan presented five options for consideration: 1. Tackling the gap, 2. Embracing informed autonomy, 3. Addressing the lived experiences of our children, 4. Working with the grain of our families and communities and 5. Building professional capacity.

There were many ‘take aways’ and I have included Kevan’s presentation which I know you will find useful. The EEF invested £125 million in researching how to break the link between family income and educational achievement and Kevan summarised his six key lessons. To start early, before the disadvantage gap truly takes hold, which reaffirms the importance we attach to the best start in life and the investment made in early years. To work with the grain of families and communities, doing more of the investment in early education and learning, focusing on increased access to high quality services for all and achieving this by supporting the managed expansion of new community led schools. As we begin our work on the Camden Education Strategy, there was much that Kevan stated, that compliments what is needed locally, coupled with bold thinking and operating in an increasingly complex system.

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