Well what a week on so many levels, however, the absolute highlight has to be the wonderful news that Bavaani Nanthabalan won the prestigious Head teacher of the Year Award in the primary category on Wednesday evening. I think Georgia Gould captured the mood in her Tweet, ‘You just have to walk into Netley Campus to feel the warmth and inclusivity of her leadership. She is a force of nature who puts her heart and soul into creating opportunities for children and families’. Bavaani is an inspiration to so many people and a genuine system leader, I am so proud of her and her achievements, I could not think of a more deserving winner of the award.
This week I chaired the second Camden parent webinar, where questions were submitted beforehand to a panel of experts, which included public health colleagues and our own John Hayes, as the head teacher representative. We covered important topics which are causing parents anxiety and concern, ranging from infection control, the importance and approach to wearing face coverings, dealing with student anxiety and managing attendance to name a few. I think the difference this time around, was that it was a session where we responded to questions, rather than the lecture style earlier on in the term, also we had the first-hand experience of a head teacher, who gave a practical and real perspective, which the parents really valued.
This week I introduced the first two Post-16 engagement sessions with schools and businesses, where we were exploring the challenges to Post 16 education, the local strengths and how these can be adapted to enhance an offer in Camden. Currently there are formal, national consultations out, reviewing Post-16 qualifications from the DfE, excluding T levels, A levels and GCSEs, so the timing of our own engagement exercises is itself useful. Our aspiration has to be to improve the quality, breadth and take up of the Post-16 offer in Camden and make visible the forgotten third, where alternative, quality pathways need to be developed. As expected, the Spending Review this week, acted largely as a one year ‘continuity’ announcement from the DfE, there is an overall small uplift in funding which covers a one-year increase in per pupil funding in schools. The additional capital announcements on school rebuilding, new Institutes of Technology, and T-Level facilities, are mostly reannouncements, as was the £375m package on skills and retraining, which was set out in the Summer Budget. The most specific new announcements today were around job retraining, and apprenticeships, which is what we heard was an important opportunity from our businesses that attended the sessions.
A couple of reminders; I wrote to all schools on Monday about the expectations for remote learning from the DfE following the 22nd October Act, where there were a number of links for your reference, the key message was that where school bubbles go down and young people have to go home, schools have to provide 3 hours tuition for primary schools and 4 hours for secondary aged students, this then needs to be recorded on the daily DfE return, which is being monitored very closely-thank you. Finally, on Wednesday 2nd December, we have our second Camden Conversation at 4:30pm with Shalina Patel and The Black Curriculum, it will be a great session; if you are not able to attend, we will be recording the session which will be shared. You should have all received the invite with the Zoom link, if not please email Hana.Emami@camden.gov.uk.
Managing Director of Camden Learning