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‘So let us not return to what was normal, but reach toward what...

As many will know from my work with the ADCS Educational Achievement (EA) Policy Committee, my passion for levelling up and enhancing the role of education is undimmed even after a number of decades of commitment to the cause. Having experience of several White Papers and the legislation that follows I know that there will be opportunities this year to make real change in the places we serve if we seize them and they are suitably funded by national government.

As Chair of the EA committee and alongside the ADCS President and Vice President, we have been robustly engaged in discussions about the future role of the LA in education to help inform the upcoming Education (Schools) White Paper. We are continuing to stress the importance of our place based leadership, the moral purpose and our extensive statutory responsibilities. We know that form follows function such that the focus should be on high quality educational outcomes rather than only on organisational form.

There have been several recent announcements presaging the White Paper and, along with the linked SEND Green Paper, we expect to find out more soon. One of these announcements was the School Attendance consultation launched last week and the other is the announcement of a register for electively home educated children (children not in school), the need for which ADCS has long raised with government.

In my own local authority in Brent, we recently held our Children and Young People Department staff conference, which focused in part on our ambitions for 2022. We used the Amanda Gorman poem quote “So let us not return to what was normal, but reach toward what is next” as the basis for video inputs from a range of staff about their work and ambitions. These included setting up Family Wellbeing Centres (Hubs) with a multi agency approach to ensure a better future for families and from more than one colleague the benefits of The Staff College’s Black and Asian Leadership programme was highlighted. I was delighted to be told that I was just keeping the seat warm for the next generation of Children’s Services leaders!

I am determined that an outcome of our current work must be to secure for these future DCS’ an explicit and valued role for them in place based collaborative education leadership in the best interests of all children and young people, wherever they are educated.

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