This week, new DfE figures show more than one in five children (1.74m) in England are now eligible for free school meals, marking an increase of 420,000 pupils, this significant increase follows a steep rise during the pandemic, with the highest rates in the North East and Midlands. During that period in Camden, we saw a 25% increase in pupils eligible for FSM, which impacts on our schools, particularly with reference to the changes in schools’ funding for the poorest children, where extra funding for schools will be based on data from last October, rather than the latest figures for January 2021.

In the DfE report that was published on Thursday, the headlines suggest that the numbers of new teachers to the teaching profession rose and the number that left reduced. I am delighted that Camden Learning is a local delivery partner with EDT, in delivering the new Early Career Framework and range of National Professional Qualifications (NPQs). There will be six NPQs offered, currently being re-written and re-designed by EDT, all part of the new drive to enhance teacher professional development. There are three leadership related NPQs, which are themed around Executive Headship, Headship and Senior Leadership; with three specialist NPQs focused on: Leading Teacher Development (which is well placed to support the new mentor role), Leading Teacher and Behaviour and Culture. As I said at the Head teachers briefings this week, we aim to start in November with the NPQH and NPQLTD and to recruit and do them well, we are also hoping that these two programmes will be fully funded. NAHT-led School Improvement Commission highlighted that, ‘first and foremost, the role of the school leader is to create the conditions in which teachers can flourish and pupils can succeed’-our ambition is to encourage the next generation of leaders in Camden, in tracking talent and encouraging diversity in our schools.

On Thursday evening, we were delighted to welcome Julian Grenier, the headteacher of Sheringham Nursery School and Children’s Centre in Newham who had been appointed by the Department for Education to lead on the 2020 revision of Development Matters. Julian had a captive audience as he went through the statutory changes to the EYFS from September. Julian outlined the key points, which were that the 17 ELGs had been re-written, with the expectation now being on children either meeting or not meeting the Early Learning Goals rather than exceeding and reaching into the National Curriculum, but instead providing depth and coverage in Reception. It was refreshing to hear the importance on the repurposing of pedagogy, with the advice to practitioners to focus on what is useful; checkpoints, not checklists, in other words, previous tracking and assessments were actually getting in the way of teaching, learning and engagement. I have really being reflecting on catch up over the last few weeks and begun drafting, what I think are our emerging local priorities, which, in terms of early years focuses on communication and language (in fairness this has always been a priority), Maths, the ongoing focus on learning to count, relationships with simple numbers and fluency in counting; finally, self-regulation and behaviours for learning, engagement, play and socialisation. Julian Grenier has helpfully written an independent guide and it is free to download as a PDF from www.development-matters.org.uk.

In case you were not able to attend Julian’s session, please use this link EYFS Reforms – Jun 17, 2021Passcode: 9R+sy2%n to access the recording.

Please find below the link to the most recent Camden Conversation:

Camden Conversation – Wellbeing during and post pandemic: Prioritising equity and care – June 9, 2021Access Passcode: +9=4?aJ7

Jon Abbey

Managing Director of Camden Learning

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