Education strategy to ‘build back stronger’ for current and future generations
A strategic plan to help ensure Camden has an education system that is fit for the challenges facing the borough up to 2030, including recovery from the impact of the pandemic, will be consulted on from Friday 22 October.
The draft Camden Education Strategy aims to ensure schools, sixth forms and early years services are in an even better position to work with their communities, the Council, Camden Learning and others to prepare children for life, learning and work after the COVID-19 pandemic.
The nature and scale of the pandemic mean its impact is already profound. We know that it has touched the lives of every child and every family, but it has also revealed great differences between families’ lives and laid bare huge inequalities and widening achievement gaps.
Overcoming those inequalities – ensuring that no child is left behind - is a fundamental element of this draft strategy. It argues that equity and excellence are not alternatives and recognises the enormous contribution that schools have already made during the pandemic to support children’s learning and the wellbeing of pupils and their families.
With a strong emphasis on creative learning, wellbeing, inclusion and active citizenship, one main theme of the draft strategy is greater collaboration between schools – with ‘no school as an island’ – and schools at the heart of their communities.
Reducing and removing barriers to education and participation – particularly for lower income and vulnerable pupils and families - as well as tackling discrimination of all forms, including racism and gender-based prejudice, are also important elements of the draft strategy, called ‘Building Back Stronger: Camden’s Education Strategy to 2030’.
The proposals, which were co-produced by the Council, Camden Learning and local school leaders, aim to harness the opportunities of digital and remote learning and build on children’s experiences of using digital technology during the pandemic to give them greater access to learning opportunities, both during and outside the school day.
One idea is to set up ‘Opportunity Centres’ in the borough, with free access to WiFi, to facilitate out-of-school learning for pupils, especially those who don’t have quiet or suitable places to study at home.
The draft strategy also highlights the need for a sustainable school system to meet the challenge of falling pupil numbers and squeezed finances – and the pressing need to consider collaborative arrangements.
Other key proposals in the draft strategy, on which there is due to be wider public consultation, include:
- Pre-birth to adulthood pathway for all children and young people, with access to additional support for families
- ‘Team around schools’ support for families and children – and training to further develop school staff capacity to work with vulnerable pupils and their families
- Food in school initiatives to link with wider food poverty work in the borough
- Every child to be a reader by age seven – and ensuring children can “speak and write with clarity” by age 11
- A ‘Life Futures Plan’ for all post-16 students
- Innovative early years work, including a Parent and Child Psychological Support (PCPS) programme, available for all families with children aged under five
- Opportunities for parents to develop their digital skills with a free course for any parent who wants to develop basic digital literacy skills so they can support their children’s learning
- Supporting more successful transition of pupils between educational settings, e.g. from primary to secondary school
- Engaging more schools in Trauma Informed Practice in Camden (TIPiC) training and a multi-agency approach to preventing school exclusions
- Piloting a Camden School Report Card so schools can give a fuller picture of their achievements and how well they are supporting pupils
- A commitment to strengthening provision for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) within mainstream schools and to working closely with stakeholders, such as schools, parents and local health trusts, on a new SEND strategy.
Crucial to implementing the draft strategy would be a ‘Think, Test and Learn’ approach to trial new forms of collaboration or other innovative projects, such as the proposed Opportunity Centres, before they are rolled-out boroughwide.
This is a unique moment, as we come out of the pandemic - a once in a generation opportunity to refresh our ambitions for our education system in Camden. We know that COVID-19 has touched the lives of every child and every family, but it has also revealed great differences between families’ lives and laid bare huge inequalities and widening achievement gaps. Overcoming those inequalities – ensuring that no child is left behind - is a fundamental element of this strategy.
Former Ofsted Chief Inspector, Professor Christine Gilbert CBE, who is the Chair of Camden Learning, said:
“This is a time of great change and we know that ‘getting back to normal’ is not enough. The policies and practices that have delivered improvements for the previous generation of children will not take us to where we need to be by 2030.
"We therefore talked with young people, with schools and many others in Camden and beyond to help us think about the future. This included thinking about the sort of education that will foster young people’s ability to stretch themselves, to fulfil their potential, to be confident in themselves and their identity, to lead happy and fulfilling lives, to find rewarding work and to contribute positively to society.
"It included thinking about ways our schools could collaborate to build back stronger. This has all given us an ambitious agenda for change which we want to discuss more widely across Camden over the next few months before agreeing the final strategy in January 2022."
- You can read the full draft strategy, as well as a summary version, on the Building Back Stronger website
- The Council and Camden Learning are keen to hear ideas and feedback from all those with an interest in education in Camden. Consultation questions will be available once the formal consultation begins on Friday 22 October but, in the meantime, please visit the Building Back Stronger website to find out more and email us with your ideas and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org