What a frenetic and anxious week it has been, not withstanding the performance of the England football team; dealing with the surge in COVID cases in schools and then the interpretation of the DfE guidance for post 19th July and into the autumn term. Without repeating the technical detail from Friday’s tea time COVID update, there is much to understand and then apply to school settings for the end of term; hosting summer schools including the range of summer activity programmes, planning for the autumn term, along with putting in place a revised risk assessment and the rigour of testing and tracking. We are working closely with Public Health colleagues to ensure that the advice provided is agreed and understood regionally, so that we can work with schools, partners and parents/carers to ensure we are being as consistent as possible.

One of the regular and refreshing features of the last few months have been the Camden Conversations and last week, we were delighted to welcome Nick Brook, Deputy General Secretary of the NAHT. Nick was able to reference the Improving Schools, report of the School Improvement Commission, which really gets to the core business of building a school system of high excellence and high equity everywhere. What I really do like about the report, is the emphasis of valuing the people in school, where Nick stated that, ‘Ultimately, school improvement takes place on a teacher-by-teacher or classroom-by-classroom basis. Our goal is for every pupil in the country to be taught by an expert teacher, with strong pedagogical content knowledge’. The report rightly focuses on the conditions and investment needed to support teachers to thrive. The report highlights the need to prioritise staff development and designate a senior leader as the professional development lead, responsible for overseeing, coordinating and championing high-quality teacher professional development. A fair bit of the conversation was about the politics and Ofsted, however as schools grapple with guidance and the need for pupils to catch up, never has the ambition of equity and excellence been stronger.

The Education Strategy is beginning to take shape and one aspect of the strategy is the potential for a Camden Curriculum Pledge. The reason I mention this is that I read the Durham Commission on Creativity and Education – second report 2021, which has got lost somewhat with everything else going on DurhamCommissionsecondreport-21April.pdf

The report’s main findings:

  1. Covid-19 has shown that creativity and cultural experiences are fundamental to the lives of young people and the culture of schools. We should use these experiences to celebrate the return to education as a rich and rewarding process.
  2. The rapid adoption of digital platforms is an opportunity to increase the understanding and practice of teaching for creativity in schools.
  3. Universal access to teaching for creativity is not possible without addressing the current inequity in digital access.

What was fascinating with the report is the reference not only to remote learning, but the emphasis on creativity in schools and digital access and platforms. Leaders reported that they wanted more creative pedagogies tailored to technology; but tackling inequity in provision and access was seen as fundamental.

Finally, it was fantastic to have educators from across the country joining us for the webinar on Monday, we hope you found the panel’s insights and expertise as interesting and useful as we did. The recording and slides shared are all available to view on this web page.

Jon Abbey

Managing Director of Camden Learning

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