In a week when lunchtimes and learning time came under scrutiny, Camden welcomed Kate Green the Shadow Education Secretary to two of our Camden schools.

On Wednesday, Kate Green Shadow Secretary of State for Education visited Edith Neville and Regent High School, I was delighted to meet with her and discuss children’s recovery. Kate Green was joined by Rachel Reeves, the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer and Tulip Siddiq MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, who came along and spent time with young people and teachers. Our guests joined children at Edith Neville for breakfast, whilst also hearing from Ruby about the challenges that the pandemic presented and how the school responded to support and nurture the community. It was also an opportunity to see first hand the beautiful new building and the children spoke enthusiastically about the joy at using the outdoor space. The group moved onto the impressive Regent High School where Kate Green and Tulip Siddiq met with students and senior leaders, the conversation with the students was fascinating, they eloquently and honestly talked about their experiences over lockdown, the tremendous remote education offer and the challenges of studying whilst sharing a room with two younger siblings! The young people also had the opportunity to make their pitch to MPs, which included support for catch up, where it was clearly obvious that there was a degree of anxiety about aspects of learning that had been lost and how they valued the informal access to teachers to just drop in for technical clarity, further explanation and help.

On Tuesday, Camden Learning held our Post 16 conference, where we welcomed nearly 50 participants ranging from Headteachers, Heads of Sixth, Chairs of Governors, representatives from Westminster Kingsway and Councillors who listened to the provocations and findings, outlining how well young people are being served by Post 16 provision and what opportunities there are to further improve the provision and pathways for all young people. We broke into four thematic groups to discuss the four recommended areas of focus and explore the challenges and opportunities, which were:

  1. The non A level offer, including T-Levels
  2. Apprenticeships: Growing the number of apprenticeships offered to 16-18 year olds
  3. A levels: Continually improving A level provision
  4. Information, advice and guidance post 16 and recognising the growth of non-university options

Following the conference, we will consider the feedback and identify short term next steps along with longer term approaches to inform the plan. It feels positive to have clarity and purpose going forward.

Finally, I was reading an article from The Guardian titled, Is sleep a ‘magic pill’ for teen wellness in a mental health crisis? It is reported that concerns around youth depression and anxiety have skyrocketed amid the pandemic and disrupted learning and the social aspects of young peoples’ lives, researchers agree that a consistent sleep routine can go a long way to making students feel better. This reminded me that our Royal Free Hospital School have led a successful cross-phase learning hub for mental health alongside Parliament Hill and Christchurch Primary. The main purpose of this Hub is to share knowledge and understanding of mental health issues through dialogue and problem solving, building confidence in dealing with pupils experiencing mental health issues. As part of this, the hub produced a wonderful set of resources including guidance for parents on sleep, KS2 lesson plans, lesson resources, Year 11 sleep presentation and staff resources too, they can all be freely accessed here.

Jon Abbey

Managing Director of Camden Learning

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