Our Strengths and Challenges
The Mayor has identified children and young people as a key priority within her manifesto, and is firmly committed to playing a role in the provision of education across the borough. It’s also been recognised that in order to ensure continued success of our schools’ educational outcomes, there must be a further emphasis on building stronger partnerships with teachers, governors, parents and pupils.
Directing our Children’s Services, is Tim Aldridge. Tim has had numerous success stories leading and developing teams to operational success. Most recently one of his notable achievements has been transforming Havering Council’s Children’s Services from ‘Required improvements’ to a ‘Good’ Ofsted rating. Since October 2019, we have seen the permanent appointment of a Corporate Director, Director of Operations and other senior members of the management team, highlighting the growing stability across the Children and Young People’s Service.
As part of our combined commitment to build strong educational partnerships, we have established an Education Partnership Board representing the whole range of Newham schools, from nursery to sixth forms, academies, maintained and free schools. The forum is a mechanism which will enable Newham schools to influence key decisions surrounding education in the borough. The work of the Partnership Board is supported by the council, through sharing of a wide range of detailed data and information. This ensures the work of the board is well-informed and the decisions made are based on factual evidence.
Overall we have seen an increase in those engaged in education, employment and training. Keen to continue this upward trend, we champion development opportunities for the children and young people of Newham. Our borough has a bright future; however, our growth doesn’t stop here. We are always striving to improve the outcomes for children and young people, no matter how big or small, simple or complex.
Although we are listed as the 12th most deprived area in the UK, we are making great steps in a positive direction. 9 in 10 of our schools are consistently performing above the UK’s average for reading, writing and mathematics, including GCSE level. Research carried out by The Education Policy Institute has shown the Borough to achieve a top ten UK ranking across primary and secondary schools.
With an overarching aim of improving the lives of children and young people in the borough, we incorporate a CYPS Improvement and Change team into the organisational structure. This team will be delivering projects and improvement work across the directorate, dedicated to improving outcomes.
Driving our Strategic Improvement Plan is Newham Together. It focuses on seven key themes for improvement and delivery, detailing the required actions to implement necessary changes. A key part of Newham Together is ensuring the voices of children, young people and families across the borough are reflected in the work we do.
The Strategic Improvement Plan underlines our commitment to a transparent approach to our progress. The plan identifies areas of improvement, whilst monitoring development of key objectives, showcasing key successes. By working in collaboration with our partners we can tackle the challenges young people face, ensuring our services continue to improve.
Previous attempts to appoint to this vacancy have proved unsuccessful. Although we had shortlisted candidates to interview stage we unable were able to convert any into a successful appointment. We want to learn from past campaigns, to understand what can be done differently to increase attraction and engagement to this position.
One of the key challenges facing the industry is the scarcity of staff. With a third of teachers across the UK actively thinking of leaving the industry in the next five years; we’re facing a realistic prospect of a teacher and school leader shortage. Education support staff roles have also reduced, affecting the development of children with the most complex special needs. This has a knock-on effect to the SEND provision service, where we have seen an increase in the exclusion of pupils. Facing the regular ‘challenge themes’ of SEND, we want to probe and explore to identify solutions, ensuring best-practice and continuous improvements are achieved through a collaborative partnerships.
We are firmly committed to opposing further academisation of schools, but equally recognise the importance of maintaining strong relationships with existing academies. As we face an unprecedented period of change the new Director will need to establish effective professional relationships with all schools during such a challenging financial climate.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the lives of millions of people. As schools across the borough have closed, the crisis magnifies the impact on children’s social life and learning. For most schools teaching has moved online, bringing with it a various hurdles. When teachers and pupils transition back into the learning environment, a clear robust strategy will need to be defined, detailing a swift recovery plan.
Key priorities in the first 12 months
In addition to the responsibilities listed in the job description, we have identified the following as key areas to address in the first 12 months of the appointment.
- Initiating and implementing a recovery plan, bringing together the community of schools, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic
- Collaborating with the political leadership team, to develop and embed the new school’s partnership model, which is currently under development.
- Leading on the response to the SEND area inspection, which will take place shortly before/ after the appointment.
- Providing a consultative approach to the development of a long-term plan for secondary school places.
- Reviewing the structure of Educational services, to assess whether they are fit for purpose, and the required changes to improve our offering