The engagement of this project has ended
about 2 years ago
1a. Overall, does the strategy reflect your aspirations for education in Camden?
1b. Please comment on whether, overall, the strategy reflects your aspirations for education in Camden?
2. Are there things missing from the strategy that you might have expected to see?
I would like to see the following being included :
1. climate change and how we can make a difference
2. life skills (financial and home economics) such as financial intelligence, cooking and healthy lifestyle
3. life skills (repair skills) such as sewing, woodwork, soldering, painting and simple repair around the house.
4. BAM and LGBT+ added into the curriculum
3. In developing this strategy, we considered the purposes of education. We want all young people to leave Camden schools as: ambitious, knowledgeable, intellectually curious and ready to continue learning throughout their lives so they can live, work and manage the challenges of an uncertain world with confidence and skill; good communicators and collaborators able to put across their thoughts, feelings and ideas, working well with other people; healthy individuals able to manage their own physical and mental well-being and lead fulfilling lives; creative and enterprising, ready to participate positively in life and succeed in work; and socially and morally responsible changemakers, who not only understand their rights and respect the rights of others but are also able to contribute actively to their community and to the planet. Do you agree with these purposes? If not, what changes would you suggest?
4. We want every child to have a more equal start in life and make a number of proposals to support that goal. These include a priority for parents to become prime partners in their children’s learning. Parents told us they wanted more opportunities to help them support their children's learning more effectively. Is there anything else that would help parents support their children’s learning or anything else in 'A Fair Start' that you would do differently?
Provide induction classes for parents about how to support their children. Lack of sleep seems to be hampering many students from focusing in lessons in school. The induction classes can reinstate the importance of sleep for their sons and daughters, how much technology is too much and the right balance of school work at home and recreation. The class can also include healthy lifestyle and recycling.
5. Please consider the proposed ten development priorities below, which form part of our ambition to provide ‘An Excellent School Experience’ for Camden children. Please rank these priorities in the order you consider to be of most importance, with the most important at the top.
Knowledgeable and skilled leaders and teachers who love working and learning in Camden
An inclusive, inspiring, creative and horizon-broadening curriculum in all our schools
Children’s health and well-being supported through the ethos, curriculum and practices of school life
A good, local school place available for every Camden child
A Camden accountability framework which captures the real story of the school
Every child a reader by 7
Ambitious inclusive schools
Harnessing technology to improve learning, schools and our local system
Successful transition between settings and phases for every child
Opportunity Centres to facilitate learning beyond the school day
6. The draft strategy includes a priority for every Camden child to have access to a good, local school place. To achieve this in the context of falling pupil numbers and reducing school budgets, the draft strategy proposes that Camden schools should consider a range of strategic, collaborative arrangements, including federating. Such collaboration has the potential for improving the quality of education in schools as well as making economies of scale. Please comment on this proposal for greater collaboration. Do you have any suggestions for how this might be taken forward in practice? Is there anything else you think it's important for us to consider?
Consider sharing schools with low pupil numbers with inspiring local organisations such as orchestra, theatre groups, local children organisations and environmental charity groups. This organisation can help inspire and teach the students in music, performing arts, climate change and other skills.
7. The draft strategy includes a proposal to set up ‘opportunity centres’ across the borough. We know every child needs to be able to learn beyond the school day, including access to IT equipment, good connectivity and space to study. These centres, based in secondary schools, would operate at evenings, weekends and holidays to provide support for learning, including personal study, small group tutoring and access to careers information and guidance. Please comment on this proposal. What do you think we would need to consider when developing this further?
I think the proposal is good because when it is cold, young people has no place to meet up which is warm and safe. I think the proposal can be extended to include recreational facilities in the secondary schools, such as table tennis, basketball court, football pitch, etc. It would be good to balance between educational support and physical and mental health support for all school children.
8. It has never been more important for schools to improve progression opportunities for Black, Asian and minority ethnic leaders. Given the power of educational leaders, they are uniquely placed to demonstrate leadership in action for anti-racism and social justice. The strategy supports the development of headteachers and governors as leaders of social justice. Please comment on this proposal. What else could we do to make our leadership in schools reflect better our school population?
It is very important for headteachers and governors to be inclusive. It is not so important to see the leadership in the schools reflect our school population. I believe that the best people should be in the leadership roles regardless of race or religion. BAM and LGBT+ should be made part of the school curriculum and examples of success stories.
9. The number of children with special education needs and disabilities (SEND) is increasing. We are ambitious for these children and support Camden’s policy of wanting their needs to be met wherever possible, in their local school or in the Camden family of schools. We believe that the best opportunities for children arise when they are educated near their families and their communities. Is there anything you think it’s important for us to consider in developing this approach further (*please also see the note above re the SEND strategy renewal)?
Yes, I would like to see a more inclusive curriculum where every teacher is trained to provide differentiation for children with special educational needs.
10. 'Flourishing Lives' emphasises our ambition for all our young people to move into adulthood as confident lifelong learners. It highlights the need to improve the system at 16+, particularly in developing technical and vocational education. It proposes a Camden Life Futures Plan for all young people at 16+ and stronger links with employers to make more of local opportunities, particularly in areas such as health and in the digital, scientific and creative industries. Could you suggest ways in which young people might be given greater access to the world of work?
Get every company and large organisation in Camden to sign into a programme where they support the local school communities whether it is financial, educational or food.
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I think the strategy is well-considered and appropriate for the challenges Camden faces educationally. The area I would add is around life-long learning, which will be critical to the "Life Futures Plan" having substance and support. Perhaps this area was outside the terms of reference of the strategy? There is huge scope to develop learning ecosystems which provide continuous learning opportunities for Camden residents of all ages.
As above, I would have liked to see life-long learning addressed. I also think that the strategy needs to embrace a much deeper commitment to mental wellbeing than PHSE , teams around the child etc. Schools need to spend far more TIME within the school day allowing students to share their emotional and social issues and supporting each other to get through the massive stresses all children now face. The 'crew' model developed in the States and rolled out at XP school in Doncaster is simple and achievable. Schools would need to train staff properly (which I can see is a challenge within a limited number of inset days), but after that it would be relatively easy to break tutor groups in two and give teaching assistants as well as teachers the role or crew leader. The only other thing schools need is the physical space for their own crew. I feel sure Camden schools can do this with a bit of lateral thinking. XP/the Edge Foundation offer help for schools wanting to explore this.
I agree with these purposes and think this list is comprehensive.
I think schools in England are traditionally very poor at embedding parental involvement in their child's education. Parents are still kept very much at arms length and parental engagement is often deeply superficial. Schools are often distrustful of giving parents a bigger role in pedagogy. But innovations such as 'escuela nueva' in Colombia show that parents can be very simply and effectively involved in a far deeper way, and the more they are trusted from early years onwards, the more they become constructive partners in their children's learning. I think the strategy should look at how the curriculum can involve parents more deeply and systemically. I would look to High Tech High, with its exhibitions at the end of every term which bring parents and the wider community into schools; escuela nueva as above; and I think there is scope to involve parents in contributing to the curriculum with short talks to students in lessons (these could be recorded if need be), work experience opportunities, and encouraging parents from all backgrounds to contribute to the life of the school through running clubs/sharing their culture at school events etc. But there needs to be an overall digital platform that allows parents to say what they could contribute so schools, so staff can then activate these offers easily. We have an incredible range of parental skills in Camden, and I don't think we are using these very effectively at the moment.
I think it's important to make inroads into the 55 percent of secondary age Camden young people who are not in our schools. This is exceptionally high, and is explained by 38 per cent of students being at private schools and 17 per cent being at state schools outside the borough. There are more and more compelling reasons why parents should choose their local comprehensive school. These include: Oxbridge facing growing pressure to take more students from state schools (with this likely to focus on comprehensives as opposed to grammars going forward); employers wanting employees from more diverse backgrounds because research shows it increases productivity; some companies no longer looking at educational background and developing their own entrance challenges based on the kind of skills that you can only acquire in more diverse educational settings. So Camden needs to develop a broad and deep strategy to win these families over. This is eminently achievable but it needs political will, a moderate amount of funding and a degree of imagination. It would be defeatist and unrealistic to think some of these families couldn't be enticed by our schools. At the same time, it's possible that some of our comprehensives will inevitably shrink in size. This is an opportunity to experiment with new, small school models of the sort exemplified by XP. Small schools need not be unviable: they need a flatter management structure which reduces costs and an engaging pedagogy which would be extremely attractive to many Camden parents. In other words, the falling roll is a call to arms to sell Camden's schools and to innovate.
I think this is a great idea, particularly with its focus on digital skills which are not always given enough time in school curricula (partly because of shortages of computer science teachers at secondary). My only additions would be: give communities - not just schools - a role in deciding what activities happen at these centres; give space to non-digital offers which build creativity and community cohesion. In this way the centres would develop more along the lines of learning ecosystems. They would also be a kind of reinvention of the Camden Institute back in the 70s, and the borough's proud tradition of evening classes (with the Working Men's College being the first of its kind in the world back in the 19th century). It's worth remembering also the the youth club provision in the 70s was extraordinary by today's standards, with teenagers coming from all over North London to a massive range of events at our schools (for example, Acland Burghley had its own youth club staff and a cafeteria within the building for students to have meals after school).
It is very challenging when it comes to encouraging BAME parents to come forward as governors. I think this is a symptom of a general disengagement with parents within the life of schools (see my answer to Question 4). So the way to get more diverse governing bodies - which is essential - is to create systems that routinely involve parents of all backgrounds in the life of schools through public exhibitions, encouraging them to come and talk in class etc. This builds parents' confidence, makes them feel welcome at school and that they have something to contribute at governor level. I think Camden tries hard to recruit BAME leaders, and it is only a matter of time before we appoint them.
I think it is really worth looking at schools such as (sorry, yes!) XP, which have an above average number of SEND children. They construct the curriculum so that these children feel they have something substantial to offer. There is no setting. Most significantly, these children become exceptionally confident and go on to achieve above average academic outcomes. Another key element is the time spent in the day building social and emotional confidence through much smaller tutor groups which become a kind of second family. I think that Camden Learning should fund trips for staff to see XP in action. It is, as the Times recently suggested, the school of the future.
I think that schools could look at the School 21 model, which develops a 9th GCSE option around skills with local employers. I also think schools can use their space in imaginative ways to develop vocational education. I would encourage Camden to look at Park Community School in Havant in Hampshire, which has developed a massive vocational offer. Students can cook in the school canteen, grow food for it on site, learn construction and printing etc etc. Most interestingly, the school runs a whole range of businesses in the community (tea rooms, a printing press, letting out of its facilities for weddings etc etc) which bring in additional income. Go and visit!
11. Do you have any further comments on the strategy?
I think the strategy is sound. The key issue is how do you persuade schools to enact it? I would argue that the falling school roll is a helpful catalyst to get heads thinking more imaginatively about what they are offering young people and the community at large. We need to turn the situation around, and energetically and imaginatively nurture Camden schools as being at the heart of their communities, and a key reason to stay living in Camden.
over 2 years ago
As far as it goes, these are appropriate aspirations. The aspirations are so general, however, that it is likely all schools will be able to say – with justification – that they are delivering on at least some of them. Is there going to be an exercise which provides guidance to schools on priorities? Will this be binding? And what will the centre provide in terms of added value through Camden Learning? It is obvious but still worth saying that the strategy will be judged on its implementation.
No. As above – it might have included how it will be implemented, by whom and with what resources – but understand that comes next. It is also understandable why, in the current financial climate and the demographic profile of Camden, the strategy does not discuss capital investment in the education estate.
These are all good aims. It is debatable whether the strategy makes the case for them being deliverable by Camden Learning (including the participating schools) either now or in the future.
This is one of the vaguer parts of the strategy. Schools themselves are best placed (at primary, certainly) to understand and help parents become more effective partners in their childrens’ learning, so it would be good to know what Camden Learning thinks could be usefully provided from the centre. Knowing pupils and parents well is the first requirement. Supporting digital skills for parents seems a worthwhile project in itself but not sure how much difference it would make to childrens’ education.
On taking this forward in practice – it is important that the schools involved are willing participants. On further points to consider: economies of scale are not necessarily achieved when schools federate – experience shows that there are often more “layers” of leadership, higher salaries for increased leadership responsibilities, fewer teachers in class and often unavoidable areas of duplication. Federation might well be necessary, but realising actual savings will mean actual visible changes to schools that parents and communities may well find difficult.
This would need to be excellently resourced with great teachers and other staff (e.g. careers experts) if it is to be a success – and even then would need a lot of luck to get started and keep going. Anything less would, I suspect, quickly become a white elephant.
We support the work done so far and would support further action for head teachers and governors. It is from the ranks of teachers that future head teachers are drawn, so a scholarship or other bursary support for young teachers with ambition might be helpful. In the meantime, it is the existing head teachers and school who need to be the leaders for change and social justice. The Camden emphasis on this appears helpful.
Local provision for pupils with SEND is important and desirable but quality – and appropriateness for the particular child – trumps locality. There may be many reasons why the local school may not be the best option for a child with particular needs enshrined in their EHCP. Rising demand for SEND services and the increasing costs will shape what is available but parents will need transparency on the ways in which needs are triaged and support allocated.
Looking forward to hearing how these aims and aspirations are given form. It is not easy to see how the local authority/Camden Learning can actually bring these about, so awaiting next steps….
whilst many of the aspirations are admirable, and most people I guess would support them they are not in many respects radical, and in themselves will not bring about the sort of changes aimed at. For example, not enough attention is given to the 'forgotten third'- firstly, why the examination system itself brings about failure for students who have worked hard to achieve grades 1-3 in GCSEs. As we have achievement gaps which are intractable, the actions taken to address these long standing gaps need to be more radical [e.g. no mention is made of GRT students]. Insufficient attention is given to climate change, arguably the most significant challenge we face now.
The strategy, not unexpectedly, calls for schools to be at the heart of the community [as many schools are already performing this function, this is not radical]- it would be more radical to see communities at the heart of the school [for example, in relation to the school site being a community resource.
Some ideas are just ludicrous- and not justified in terms of how this would be achieved and resourced- such as every child a reader by 7 years old [does this mean at a reading age of at least 7?]- no thought has been given to those students for whom this is virtually impossible [e.g. profoundly deaf students]
in the section on outcomes for students, I would expect this to include 'developing a critical awareness'- not just curiosity - especially as we are in a post-truth world as some people argue
there is little or no mention of systemic issues- for example, providing an anti-racist curriculum does not address the institutional practices etc that lead to [and continue to lead to] gross disparities within the education system
the strategy talks about a place-based system of school to school collaboration- but does not make reference to schools such as Hampstead which has more geographical [and demographic?] links to neighbouring schools in Brent and Barnet.
see above, it is essential that all students develop critical awareness, ability to detect authentic sources of reliable information, bogus arguments etc
more targeted support for home learning- as evidenced by the experience of lockdown during the pandemic- access to IT and other forms of media for disadvantaged students, and places to study for those in multi-occupancy households
currently this applies to primary schools only
answering this with a question: if our school is judged to require improvement at the next Section5 inspection, would Camden consider federating with another secondary school, with an executive HT?
how would this address achievement gaps, underperforming groups etc?
how would this be funded and staffed?
otherwise an admiral aspiration
currently white HTs are in the best position to be leaders for anti-racism and social justice- so can we hear from them about what they are doing to achieve these goals
this has always been a nationally underfunded area- so the main issue is appropriate funding based on ECHP recommendations
we need greater support to promote T-levels and apprenticeships
the strategy is aspirational, and in many places says the right things- but I question whether we have the right people at present to achieve these laudable aims
Should we also aspire to do more to reflect young peoples hopes for improving our environment?
Perhaps we should also be mindful of what the current workforce constraints mean for recruiting and retaining key staff in education in Camden in the coming years. Is there a programme we can initiate to retain key teaching staff to deliver our plans?
Camden could consider addressing issues around the Environment in this strategy document. Camden schools should take the initiative and consider plans for being “Greener” this year.
The Report could be titled: "Building Back Stronger and Greener" with an extra section on Schools and the Environment.
This section could be in several parts:
Part 1: What will Camden schools do?
Part 2: What will our Curriculum teach our children?
Part 3: What can Camden children do?
Part 1: What will Camden schools do?
Every school should report to the Governing Body the units of electricity and gas they use each year.
The Governing Body should take steps to explore options to reduce the use of electricity and gas each year. Options should include potentially allocating some of the school budget towards:
- Use of LED light bulbs (grants available?)
- Insulation (grants available?)
- Alternative energy efficient heat sources e.g. Heat pumps (grants available?)
- Use of Solar panels to reduce power needs (grants available?)
Part 2: What will our Curriculum teach our children?
Plan a layered and sequenced overlay to different parts of our school’s curriculum from Early Years upwards to be delivered from September 2022. This could be done by:
- Bringing together all Science Curriculum leads to plan how Environmental issues can be mapped on to existing Science planning (Suggestions: What happens when you burn fossil fuels? The importance of Forests - how trees and plants “breath” in carbon dioxide and breath out oxygen. How electricity can be generated from sustainable sources – Wind, Solar etc. How Insulation works.)
- Bringing together all Geography Curriculum leads to plan how Environmental issues can be mapped on to existing Geography planning (Suggestions: Deforestation, How Global Warming works, The impact of Global Warming on temperatures and the Consequences of rising temperatures)
- Bringing together all PSHE Curriculum leads to plan how Environmental issues can be mapped on to existing PSHE planning (Suggestion: Caring for our global community. Contributing to the Greater Good).
- Where appropriate, bringing together all Collective Worship Curriculum leads to plan how Environmental issues can be mapped on to existing Collective Worship planning (Suggestion: Protecting God’s Creation)
Part 3: What can children do?
School councils/Environment Champions etc from September 2022 should have input into some of these actions:
- Recycling policy and recycling in action.
- planting around the school.
- fund raising for green projects locally and globally.
- make links with schools around the world where climate change is having an impact.
Yes. But be mindful of retaining key staff to deliver all our plans.
Give ourselves the best chance of delivering all your plans with clear thought given to retaining and recruiting key staff.
Consider if there is more schools can do to take the lead on caring for the environment around us.