Education leaders from across Boston and Skegness came together last week to hear from Ofsted’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, at the second Constituency Schools’ Conference, hosted by Matt Warman MP at the Giles Academy in Old Leake.
Following the success of the first Constituency Schools’ Conference in 2017, this year’s conference gave head teachers and school governors across a large rural constituency the opportunity to get together to discuss the important issues which are affecting local schools. While many of the constituency’s schools provide students with a brilliant overall education, only 14 per cent of state-funded mainstream secondary pupils in Boston and Skegness are in a school rated ‘good’ by Ofsted, so the conference also provided an opportunity to share best practice across the sector.
As well as Amanda Spielman, HM Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills for Ofsted, speakers included John Edwards, Regional Schools Commissioner for East Midlands and Humber, and Mark Foley, Deputy Director of the Education and Skills Funding Agency.
Matt opened the conference by sharing a personal message to local education leaders from Secretary of State for Education Damian Hinds, who paid tribute to local teachers and governors’ “dedication to doing the best for their pupils”, and reiterated the Government’s aim to “[strive] harder than ever to make sure every child in this country gets the very best education.”
This was followed by an ‘In conversation with’ session with Ofsted chief Ms Spielman, which saw schools raise questions around offering an enriched curriculum and the data element of school inspections. Topics discussed also included the proposed new Ofsted education inspection framework which is currently out for consultation.
Amanda Spielman commented,
“I was delighted to be able to join teachers and school leaders from Boston and Skegness, to listen and respond to their questions and to discuss our plans for the new inspection framework. As I said, let’s all be talking about education, not about numbers!”
Mark Foley, Deputy Director of the Education and Skills Funding Agency also gave a presentation on schools’ financial health and efficiency and shared information on benchmarking tools for finance, national deals to enable schools to benefit from bulk buying power, and support available from ESFA.
This was followed by a discussion led by Regional Schools Commissioner John Edwards on the context and opportunities within education in the constituency. The key message was that collaboration between schools, whether schools with similar characteristics or schools from a shared geographic area, is vital to driving improvement.
To close the conference, Matt chaired a Q&A session with the panel, which enabled the local leaders of education and governors to raise further questions on specific issues.
Speaking after the event Matt said,
“I am so grateful to the dedicated school leaders and committed volunteer governors who do so much to ensure their schools offer the highest teaching quality and provide all students with the opportunity to reach their full potential. The Government is committed to ensuring schools are equipped to deliver the best possible education to all students. A good education can be the single greatest transformer of lives, and it is rightly at the heart of government policy. School standards are rising. As at August 2018, there are 1.9 million more children being taught in good and outstanding schools nationally compared to 2010. This represents 84 per cent of children, compared to just 66 per cent in 2010, and is, in part, down to education reforms.”
Education Secretary Damian Hinds MP’s full message to local teachers was as follows:
“What you and your teams do is one of the highest callings, the noblest of roles, with an impact on our society, far, far into the future. I have been so struck by the hard work, the care, the imagination shown by teachers and leaders – their dedication to doing the best for their pupils. So, I’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you. There can be no great schools without great teachers. To motivate children, to make knowledge meaningful, to inspire curiosity.
The quality of teaching matters more than anything else. We have, together, been striving harder than ever to make sure every child in this country gets the very best education – so that when they finish their formal education they have the knowledge, the skills and the qualifications that set them up for life, whatever path they take. I know that some areas of the country, such as Boston and Skegness, face unique challenges, in recruitment for instance. So I welcome schools coming together to explore the best possible outcomes for pupils, I hope that the event this evening is a huge success and that you will be able to share some of the outcomes with me.”