A warm Welcome Back to the autumn term and it has been wonderful to see various Twitter feeds with pupils arriving at schools, photos of classroom arrangements and reassuring messages to your school communities. I do hope you managed to have some sort of holiday and break over the summer recess, although I know many of you have been in school planning for wider opening in September, catch up classes or summer camps, it certainly has not been the typical summer holiday that we have been accustomed to.
It has been really valuable catching up this week with all Headteachers on our Zoom briefings, there has been plenty to discuss and as we plan ahead for the weeks to come, I know many of you have really valued having Dr Leonora Weil at our meetings to update us on test and trace, guidance on bubble arrangements and the topic for this week – face coverings! On Thursday, I joined Leonora and other professionals on a webinar for parents and carers, although I believe we did a comprehensive job in providing facts, guidance and reassurance, it was patently clear that there is a lot of anxiety, emotion and uncertainty around the return to school for their children. It is undoubtedly a time when schools will need to provide more regular communications, not only informing parents of updates, but reinforcing key messages in different imaginative ways.
It is pleasing to report how well our Camden young people did at GCSEs and A levels this year, after weeks of disruption to their studies, they then had to withstand and deal with uncertainty and the potential lottery of an algorithm to calculate their grades. Common sense eventually prevailed and teacher assessment informed outcomes for our deserving young people, who needed certainty and opportunity to enable them to move onto their next steps either post 16 or post 18 and realise their potential. This did get me thinking about the concept of potential, we in education often talk about reaching or realising one’s full potential, and we are determined that no child falls behind. However, this is not universal, I have never forgotten the conversation I had with a head in a deprived area about ten years ago, who muttered, ‘What do you expect from these children?’ There is no place for that draconian and complacent sentiment in the education system. I have been reflecting on post 16 and those two words, potential and ambition, which we want to fuel and encourage in all our young people, is synonymous with next steps to new pathways and opportunities. So I am so delighted to see young people back in school, that schools can help pupils reach their potential, so that as they move onto their next stages of education they are truly satisfied and fulfilled.
On Monday, Heads and Chairs of Governors will be receiving their annual confidential, two page scorecard from education services, ragging a position, based this year on a more transparent methodology, which will inform and contribute to the standards meeting conversations. We have listened and acted on feedback from schools and hope that the scorecard is a useful tool for the leadership team and governing body. We look forward to meeting with you over the next few weeks at your standards meetings, to discuss a range of themes including outcomes, curriculum, safeguarding and school priorities.