I started the week in London. Again, I hear you say!!
I decided to travel down to the capital on Sunday afternoon as the idea of getting up at 5.30am on Monday didn’t fill me with a great deal of anticipation. The other issue is that if I travel “peak time” the cost of getting here and back to London is bonkers! I can fly to Turkey for the same cost of a standard return! My stay at a £49 per night Premier Inn pod and a curry on Brick Lane seems much more civilised!
Anyhow, on to the meeting. I had been asked to chair a meeting of Chief Executives and principals of Pupil Referral Units/Alternative Provision providers. As you know, we have a stake in this world with some of the support we have been offering to the Tameside PRS. It was interesting to note that many of the challenges we face in the North West are replicated across the country. The SEND team from the Department for Education joined us for a slot. As you can imagine, this section of the meeting generated quite an amount of discussion and debate. Much of the frustration in the room centred around how National policy was somewhat lacking in this area and how too many mainstream schools, nationally, were permanently excluding children and young people. This has led to all sorts of challenges around provision and budgets. There was a glimmer of hope that seemed to suggest there was discussion at a very high level about the establishment of a cross party government committee to govern the offer for young people with additional needs. I think this could really provide clarity and an improved direction of travel.
On to Tuesday, and on to the AJ Bell Stadium, in Salford. I had been asked to present our work to a Greater Manchester Careers Conference. One of the other reasons I’d agreed to attend was that it also gave me the opportunity to chat with the GM mayor, Andy Burnham. The Mayor was able to offer some real clarity in relation to the future developments within Greater Manchester. As you may know, he introduced free travel for 16-18 year olds (Our Pass). His future commitments also talk about the development of an Apprenticeship and Careers offer (GMACS). I was able to discuss with him how young people with additional needs should be up front and central within this initiative. Andy was in total agreement – he will be visiting our schools and organisations in the near future.
The rest of the week was devoted to our Oldham and Tameside challenges. The most significant issue continues to be managing the ever-increasing numbers in our schools. I blogged at the end of the last academic year about the challenges we continue to face. I met with school leaders, and our EHCP co-ordinators, to better understand this year’s issues. Our initial intelligence seems to suggest further complications for 2020/21.
Anyhow, that’s it for this week. Another busy week next week involving a meeting with the Regional Schools Commissioner, in Manchester, meetings with our trustees and an emergency meeting at the Department for Education to discuss medical provision (and the variability of it) in our schools.
Have a great weekend,
You can find all Graham’s previous blog entries here