Hello and welcome to the first edition of my blog. I am Fiona Wright, one of the Assistant Directors for Children’s Services in East Sussex. In my role I have responsibility for Education and Inclusion, Special Educational Needs and Disability (ISEND).
My purpose in starting a blog is to share some of the highlights for Education and ISEND and to give a flavour of education in East Sussex, especially how the local authority, schools and other providers work together in partnership. I am planning to blog on a monthly basis timed, where possible, to coincide with key points in the academic year. My thinking is that my blog will sit alongside, enhancing and complementing in a less informal way, other Local Authority channels of communication such as the Virtual School Bag (VSB), the Focus Message, key meetings with heads. I hope also that it will provide an opportunity to become a forum for sharing good news about our schools such as recognition achieved for good and outstanding practices not only locally but at a national level.
I hope you enjoy reading it and find it both interesting and useful. I am always keen to hear any feedback or ideas that you may have on what you would like to see included in my blog. If you have any successes or achievements you would like shared with the wider community please send these to me c/o Catherine Denyer (firstname.lastname@example.org). It is my intention to pilot this approach and will review with you how well it has worked at the end of the academic year.
First and foremost, on behalf of Stuart Gallimore, Director of Children’s Services and Councillor Bennett, Lead Member for Learning and School Effectiveness, I would like to welcome you back to a new academic year from what I hope has been a relaxing and enjoyable summer break.
I would also like to extend, on behalf of the Council, a welcome to all new members of staff in our schools. I am sure you will all join me in wishing the following new headteachers, acting headteachers and experienced headteachers appointed to new schools much success in their new roles. We look forward to meeting you and working with during the year ahead.
Sally Forbes, Acting Headteacher, All Saints CE Primary, Bexhill
Kate Owbridge, Headteacher, Ashdown Primary School Infants and Junior Schools
Steven Miles, Acting Headteacher, Castledown Community Primary & Nursery School
Sarah Massheder, Headteacher, Cross in Hand CE Primary
Alison Flynn, Executive Headteacher, Frant CE Primary School & Mark Cross CE Primary School Nathan Cline, Headteacher, Guestling-Bradshaw CE Primary School
Gil Sweentenham, Executive Headteacher, Hamsey and Plumpton Primary Schools
Sarah Curtis, Executive Headteacher, Nutley CE Primary and Mayfield CE Primary School
Sandra Denton, Acting Headteacher, Ocklynge Junior School
Katherine Bishop, Headteacher, Rotherfield Primary
Amanda Stewart, Headteacher, Roselands Infant School and Stafford Junior School
Emma Maltby, Acting Headteacher, St Mary the Virgin CE Primary School
Michelle Lord, Acting Headteacher, St Pancras Catholic Primary
Rachel Green, Sir Henry Fermor CE Primary School
Matthew Jarvis, Headteacher, Westfield School
Helen Smith, Headteacher, Wivelsfield Primary School
Anna Robinson, Beacon Academy
Peter Marchant, Cavendish School Academy Trust
Caroline Barlow, Heathfield Community College
Doug Downs, Robertsbridge Community College
Mike Hopkins, Principal, Sussex Downs College
At the same time I am delighted to welcome to ESCC
Ceris Edwards who has joined the Local Authority as the new Principal Educational Psychologist (PEP). Ceris brings with her a wealth of experience from a number of years as Principal Educational Psychologist in Sutton. The PEP role within East Sussex was reconfigured as part of the ISEND restructure which means that Ceris will have dedicated time to lead on key strategic agenda that aim to improve outcomes for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND). I know that Ceris is keen get out to schools early on this term and she will be in contact with headteachers directly to arrange meetings.
Richard Sutton-Smith who has been appointed as the new Head of Education Improvement in the Standards and Learning Effectiveness Service of Children’s Services. From September he will be working alongside fellow Heads of Education Improvement, Lesley Wickham and Elizabeth Funge, with a focus on the Primary phase. Richard brings significant experience from his recent role as a primary headteacher in Kent where he led an outstanding school which was the lead in the Claremont Teaching School Alliance.
Alan Powell who we are delighted to announce has accepted the Secondary Advisory Headteacher position. Alan brings a lot of experience and will provide a key role in driving forward Education Improvement Partnerships (EIPs) as a key part of our strategy, as well as providing on-going support for secondary improvement.
Emily Taylor who has joined the Local Authority as the new Senior Assessment and Planning Manager, taking over from Ed Harris who is remaining with ISEND in a different capacity. Emily brings with her a wealth of experience from her career in teaching in a range of diverse roles, including Head of Year, Senior School Leader, SENCO and Inclusion Manager in schools across Essex, gaining extensive experience in processes of safeguarding, school attendance, exclusion, alternative provision and nurture principles. Emily will be contacting heads shortly to introduce herself and arrange meetings.
2015 Exam Results
Over the summer we have received the latest round of key stage exam results. Although these are provisional figures at this stage and may be subject to change I am pleased to be able to say that overall the 2015 provisional results are showing that East Sussex has continued to build on the success of our 2014 results. Improvements have been seen across all key stages. Provisional data collected from schools and settings shows that, yet again, attainment at Foundation Stage, Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2 and in Phonics has improved significantly in 2015. We have seen slightly smaller improvement and variations across providers at Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5. A key priority for the forthcoming year will be to accelerate improvement and consisency of good performance across all key stages. I feel that it is important to acknowledge the results that several of our secondary schools are seeing, which include some large gains achieved by St Leonard’s Academy, Ratton School Academy Trust, Robertsbridge Community College, Ringmer Community College, Uckfield Community College, Willingdon Community School and Helenswood Academy for instance.
Congratulations and well done, not only to the pupils and schools whose hard work and dedication over the last year has resulted in these achievements, but also to the parents and carers for their support and encouragement. As a local authority we are committed to engaging with all our schools to build on our successes to ensure our children and young people are well-prepared for the next stage of their education. More detailed information on our results was emailed to schools at the end of August.
Ofsted – one year on
It has been over a year since our school improvement arrangements were inspected by Ofsted in June 2014 and we have worked tirelessly to address the issues raised and to build on the areas of good practice. I have been delighted that Ofsted inspections since June 2014 have seen the number of schools in the County judged to be good or outstanding rise. By the end of July 2015 79% of East Sussex primary schools were judged good or better, a significant increase of 9% since June 2014, the proportion of secondary schools judged good at their most recent inspections remains significantly above the national average at 82.6% and in special schools the proportion of good or better is 87.5% which is in line with the national average of 91% (each special school is equivalent to 12.5%). I fully understand that the sustained improvements we are seeing in the performance of schools and early years settings are due to the energy and resilience of everyone working in and with schools. I truly appreciate the hard work put in by everyone and, yes, while this is a positive overall story for the county, the real winners are the individual children whose futures are brighter because of the progress they have made under our care. It is knowing this which makes my job specially rewarding and I know that it is what drives all of us to keep striving for excellence.
ISEND Front Door
Following extensive consultation with schools and stakeholders, the ISEND Front Door opened up at the beginning of term 5. To date, we have had over 320 referrals into the Front Door, which aims to co-ordinate the support across all ISEND services and reduce the need for schools to make multiple requests for support. In delivering this service, we have been able to provide a high level of screening of cases which require involvement from different areas and provide timely responses to schools. I am delighted that a number of heads and SENCos have volunteered to sit on the multi-disciplinary panel that reviews the most complex cases, which has added to the richness of discussion and robust decision making. We are already seeing the impact of having a co-ordinated referral system in terms of reducing delays in allocating support and ensuring that the right support is provided by the right team.
Personal Outcomes Evaluation Tool (POET)
Children, young people, families and practitioners in East Sussex are being asked to take part in a national pilot looking at the impact of parts of the new special educational needs and disability (SEND) reforms. The evaluation will be part of the work to measure the difference that the newly introduced Education, Health & Care (EHC) plans and personal budgets have made to the lives of children and young people with SEND . Any child, parent, carer or practitioner who has experienced the EHC assessment and planning process are encouraged to take part to give their views and share their experiences. The results from this evaluation will be used to help improve not only what happens locally but also on a national level to influence the implementation of the reforms. The questionnaires can be completed between 1st September 2015 and end of December 2015. If you want to know more about the POET evaluation or would like to take part please contact ISENDprojects@eastsussex.gov.uk
Successes and achievements
I feel it is very important to celebrate our achievements and successes and I am aware that all our schools celebrate at a local level the many awards and achievements they and their pupils receive throughout the course of the year. It would not be possible to mention all here but I would like to share a few examples. Congratulations to
- Meridian Primary School on their success on achieving recognition at the Argus Education Awards in June as ‘Most Improved School’ and Northiam for being “highly commended” on their incredible journey to turn their school around from Special Measures to Good
- Chailey School who became the first school in the County to be awarded a national Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) Mark (silver)
- West Rise Junior School, which was awarded the TES 2015 Primary School of the Year
- Polegate Primary, who won a prize in the Key Stage 2 category of the TES Pupil Premium Awards for being one of the most improved schools in the country in terms of disadvantaged pupils’ attainment and progress
I look forward to hearing and sharing widely more of our schools successes over the forthcoming year. If your school has received recognition for any achievements that you would like to share with the rest of the school community please do let me know.
Apprenticeship campaign exceeds target
We were really pleased that the ‘You’re Hired’ East Sussex campaign to boost apprenticeships has surpassed its target. The campaign aimed to create 500 apprenticeship opportunities with businesses across the county. It also wanted to find 500 young people who were ready to become an apprentice. It ran from March till the end of August, and at last count 557 businesses were ready to take on an apprentice – exceeding our target. 30% of these placements have already been filled and more will be recruited to through the coming months. As the largest employer in East Sussex, the Council is leading by example, and a number of the placements are working in roles that deliver key services to our residents.
As part of our priority to drive economic growth, we’ve been promoting apprenticeships to businesses and would-be apprentices. Taking on an apprentice supports businesses to grow a confident and skilled workforce, and helps young people to get into work and gain qualifications up to a degree level while earning. We will continue to invest in local apprenticeships, and as part of our own apprenticeship programme we will help to get young people ‘work ready’ through our in house pre-apprenticeship module and work experience at the Council. Following their preparation they will be able to apply for an apprenticeship with one of our teams where they will be supported by both professional and peer mentors.
There is apprenticeship training available in positions such as teaching assistant, business admin, finance support, lab technician, ICT technician, caretaker and childcare/early years. For more information, contact email@example.com.
We are excited to be launching UCAS Progress Search & Apply in schools, sixth forms and colleges. SLES have invested in the online system for the next 3 years, as part of delivering our statutory responsibility to promote education and training opportunities to young people post-16. Once the on-line application function is embedded we believe it will offer significant benefits. Learners will only have to complete one application form for multiple courses at different providers. The ease of monitoring and tracking applications also has the potential to improve retention and joint working between schools and FE colleges, supporting our Intended Destinations and September Guarantee processes.
We have been working closely with all schools to encourage and support them to use UCAS Progress for all college applications going forward, and sixth forms and colleges are attending training in September to ensure they are ready for students to start searching and applying for courses from 1st October. If you would like any further information about UCAS Progress Search & Apply, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Changes to Ofsted Inspections from September 2015
Ofsted have proposed significant changes to the Ofsted framework which come into effect from September 2015. Details of the new Ofsted inspection framework including the new inspection documents, can be found on the Ofsted website at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/changes-to-education-inspection-from-september-2015
I thought it might be helpful to provide a summary of the main changes
- The introduction of a new Common Inspection Framework (CIF) designed to cover all the education services inspected by Ofsted including registered early years settings, maintained schools, academies, non-association independent schools and further education (FE) and skills providers. In practice this will mean that all settings will receive graded judgements in the following areas
– Overall effectiveness
– Effectiveness of leadership and management
– Quality of teaching, learning and assessment
– Personal development, behaviour and welfare
– Outcomes for children and learners
– The effectiveness of early years and sixth form provision, where applicable
- Outstanding schools will continue to be exempt from routine inspection, but Ofsted will retain the power to inspect if performance drops or other concerns are raised. The exemption from routine inspection does not apply to ‘outstanding’ special schools, PRUs and maintained nursery schools. However, under the new CIF, these settings will have the short inspection if they have been rated ‘outstanding’ or ‘good’.
- There will be short inspections, approximately every three years, for schools (one day) and further education and skills providers (two days) judged ‘good’ at their most recent inspection. This will either confirm the judgement of good or, if during the visit, HMI believes there is insufficient evidence for confirming the good judgement or that there is evidence to consider an outstanding judgement, they can request it is converted into a Section 5 inspection
- There will be an increased focus on the quality of leadership. Michael Wilshaw, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector (HMCI), praised the work of outstanding leaders and stressed that inspectors would be focussing on leadership to determine if the leadership team, including governors, has the capacity to not only maintain existing standards but to further improve them. He also said that Ofsted would be reporting to the Secretary of State on this and including the names of outstanding education leaders in their annual report.
For Ofsted’s summary of the changes, click on the link: