This week, I visited Hampstead School and enjoyed my walk around the various departments, sampling a number of lessons and meeting a range of young people, who were engaged, polite and courteous. It got me thinking about the importance of the voice of the young person being at the heart of all that we do; and finding new ways of involving them and capturing their thoughts, feelings and views.

On Friday, it was the annual Camden Takeover Challenge, which offers an opportunity for young people, from primary and secondary schools to give their ideas directly to senior members of Camden Council. The workshops and discussions during the takeover week were all school based and were facilitated by teachers and/or council staff. This year the themes included equalities and disproportionality, diversity, The Education Strategy (including digital learning), recovery after Covid and being safe and staying safe. As ever, the young people were clear, articulate and passionate in their presentations and feedback, and left everyone in no doubt that our young people need to be involved as change makers and partners in ultimate decision making.

This week, Ofsted senior HMIs visited Camden for their annual conversation, with the focus on social care, but also the significant role schools have in safeguarding children. Once again, the importance of the voice of the child was highlighted in the conversation, particularly the importance of hearing their voices loudly in the child protection process, children in care council and the wonderful young inspectors’ oversight and report. I was able to share with HMI the outstanding partnership work of our schools in conjunction with children social care and early help, which included the welfare checks undertaken to ensure the visibility of vulnerable children throughout the challenges of the last 18 months, including the increasing complexity that has been presented to schools and partners on the challenges of parental and children’s mental health, and the rise in domestic violence. The good practice that exists in our Camden schools was certainly recognised at the Camden Safeguarding Partnership meeting this week, where Camden Learning shared the learning and recommendations from the Section 11 safeguarding audit, much to be proud of whilst continuing to strive for even better.

Jon Abbey

Managing Director of Camden Learning

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