It is interesting to read that the government has failed to meet its third deadline to publish the long delayed SEND review this week. There was the suggestion that, this review would outline proposals to improve capacity and support for families, as well as secure better value for money. I try not to get too political in my blogs, but does this delay not then emphasise the scale and complexity of the SEND agenda, whilst during this delay young people and families continue struggling to get what they need. Although the government state they are committed to deliver ‘real and sustainable change’, the pandemic has magnified the complexity and demand. This also emphasises the importance of us outlining and drafting our local SEND approach to meet the needs of Camden children and families, whilst being mindful of what might eventually come from the DfE.

Ofsted this week released a host of updates with reference to the revised inspection framework, which includes expectations around sexual harassment and how schools are deploying the use of tutors. The guidance for section 5 inspections now states that inspectors will look at how tutoring supports curriculum aims and education recovery. It is outlining that the use of tutors will be integrated into the quality of education and the leadership and management sections. Following the sexual abuse review, Ofsted has predictably added a new section addressing what all schools (Primary, Secondary and Special) are expected to do and those schools judged to be lacking ‘adequate processes’ will be likely to be considered ineffective. As discussed with heads recently, inspectors will expect and check that there are comprehensive records for all allegations and that school policies are reflected in its curriculum. If a school’s ‘Quality of education’ is to be judged good or better, teachers must have good knowledge of the subjects and courses they teach and this includes effective support for those teachers teaching outside their main areas of expertise. This was a key element in the pilot inspections around technical accuracy and sequencing of learning, which includes the teaching of phonics and early reading. Finally, schools normally receive a section 8 inspection every four years, the guidance now states that, ‘For the first routine inspection after May 4th 2021, this period may be extended by up to six terms’.

This week has seen the second year of the Virtual Work Experience programme and despite the limitations and loss of work experience opportunities, Camden STEAM have done a tremendous job in working with local Pledge employers including: Google, Camden Spark, SCS Railways and Camden Council securing placements for 133 Year 11 and 12 students. National charity Speakers for Schools provided the platform and digital infrastructure to support the placements. At Google, students were working together in virtual groups alongside industry mentors to deliver a proposal for the development of the new Google building and retail space. Through a series of masterclasses, and small group work, students worked on a real-life construction project to deliver high speed rail with SCS Railways. I was pleased to be invited to hear from young people who were working out engagement with creative and cultural education in Camden. Young people presented their learning from the week through their own independent research and in sessions with our Camden Spark partners. We also asked them to share ideas about what they want, what is available/missing in Camden and what they think we could do to improve the local creative offer as a Local Cultural Education partnership, alongside young people. Additionally, students working at the council produced stunning presentations including solutions to meaningful challenges of homelessness and reimagining a local high street. The students were able to communicate ideas passionately to an inspired audience of councillors and experts. Well done to all the young people who have been participating in the VWEX this week.

Jon Abbey

Managing Director of Camden Learning


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