Our priorities for 2020

Dear colleagues,

Happy New Year. A very warm welcome back to all of you as we return to work for 2020. I hope the holidays and start of term have gone well for you, your staff and pupils.

Here at HLT, our priorities for the year continue to encompass a range of work which we aim adds to the care, education and experiences of all our children, young people and families in Hackney. I wanted to remind you, as we start 2020, of our priorities:

  • Working with you to ensure pupil achievement is high, particularly for those groups who have historically performed less well
  • Working with you and other partners to ensure a high standard of care and education for all, including reducing exclusions
  • Working towards providing excellent provision for SEND young people
  • Developing educational practice for our young people in the Orthodox Jewish community
  • Significantly improving outcomes for black boys and young black men
  • Ensuring excellent workplaces and professional development for all in education
  • Having and providing highly effective and efficient operations, data and service functions
  • Describing and implementing an education service structure which works for our family of schools/settings and our role as part of the council; embedding the work of HSGB.

I know that I will see many of you at the Hackney Headteachers’ Conference: Inspiring through the Curriculum on Friday, 17 January 2020. We will certainly pick up on a number of those priorities at the event. I look forward to an exciting, enjoyable and inspiring day of learning and sharing ideas.

You will also be hearing from your School Improvement Partner in the first part of the year. We are committed to adding to our strong School Improvement Team and are currently recruiting for a primary and secondary Leadership and Management Adviser for April or September 2020.

I also wanted to let you know that I will be writing to you in specific letters about three issues during January. These are:

  • Adding to our special educational needs provision in Hackney – our current provision and how we hope to expand this, including encouraging additional resourced provision
  • More information to follow up regarding my letter of 16 December about plans for Hackney Learning Trust structure
  • An update on rolls, predictions of pupil numbers and how we will support settings at this time.

Do look out for these letters.

I very much look forward to our working with you and your teams, over the coming year to make our children’s lives even better.

With every best wish,

Annie Gammon
Director of Education
@HackneyDirofEd

Listening to and understanding the experience of young people

Dear colleagues,

I hope this term has continued well for you, your staff teams and all our students/children. Thank you for all you continue to do to ensure all our young people from 2 to 19 get the best possible education, achieving highly and thriving personally.

I am really pleased that we now have the Hackney Schools’ Group Board launched. As you will know from either attending the launch or from my subsequent letter, we are going to have three key themes for our panels. These fit well with our shared work on curriculum, pastoral care and being part of the Hackney community. The themes are enhancing belonging for all, reading for all, and leadership on school curricula and research. You will know from my letter that we are inviting applications to be on the HSGB panels: please do consider applying or encouraging your senior leaders to apply. Applications from all phases and settings are welcome. The closing date is Friday, 10 January 2020.

I have been struck on my visits to schools over the past term and year with the articulacy of your school council members or student ambassadors. This has also been the case with the cross borough group: the Young Futures Commission. I am privileged to be on the board of the Commission and I look forward to their report which will be out in the first part of next year. Thank you for your hospitality in welcoming Young Future Commission members into your schools. Listening to and understanding the experience of young people is always valuable.

We have now had seven school Ofsted inspections in the borough under the new framework. Local expertise is building up in terms of what is being looked at by inspectors. Of course, as expected, a major focus has been curriculum: intent, implementation and impact. Do get in touch with your SIP if you have any queries, and there is training at the Tomlinson Centre on Monday, 13 January 2020 on Ofsted Preparation. Briefer updates will be given at primary and secondary headteachers’ meetings.

We continue our emphasis on working to reduce exclusions, with an emphasis on making sure that early effective support for children is in place. The Reducing Exclusions Board is meeting on Monday, 9 December 2019. On the agenda are case studies of successful early help for vulnerable children and the finance of exclusions.

Please do let me, or other colleagues know if you have any questions, thoughts or concerns about our work at HLT.

I wish you all a good final three weeks of term.

With very best wishes,

Annie Gammon
Director of Education
@HackneyDirofEd

Raising the school’s profile through social media

Dear colleagues,

I hope that you and everyone in your staff teams, together with all your children/pupils, have had a good start to the Autumn term. The Autumn term, with over 15 weeks of education, is where almost half the learning in the year takes place. Thank you for all you are doing to ensure that all your children make best progress and achieve well during this term and the rest of the year.

I am conscious that during September and October, as new early years, Year 7 and Year 12 children gain a sense of belonging to your institution and begin making strong educational strides in their new phase, you are also opening your door to prospective pupils for a 2020 start. I was struck, at a recent school visit, by the role which the school’s social media feed (using Twitter) had played in raising its profile and encouraging parents to come and look round on open mornings. It is becoming an increasingly important part of a school’s communication with potential and current families.

Having spoken to parents and headteachers approaching these times of choice, I know that parents/carers are very grateful for the time both prospective and current school staff spend advising them: thank you. The admissions team are always happy to advise parents further.

A number of Hackney schools are due Ofsted visits during this year. We are seeing the first few Ofsted reports across the country under the new framework: see the article “A first look at Ofsted’s new inspection reports”. Here are examples of a “good” primary school report and a “good” secondary school. I have not seen “outstanding” reports published yet, under the new framework, but I am sure they are on their way.

HLT are running preparation for Ofsted sessions on Monday, 7 October and Monday, 13 January. Do sign up. Primary Schools can sign up here and Secondary Schools can sign up here.

We continue our emphasis on working to reduce exclusions, with an emphasis on making sure that early effective support for children is in place. The Reducing Exclusions Board is meeting on Monday, 7 October and will be looking, amongst other topics, at draft advice for schools on reviewing their behaviour policies and relationships with parents/carers.

I am looking forward to the launch of the Hackney Schools’ Group Board on Wednesday, 13 November. We have completed interviewing for places on the board and expect to send out more information shortly.

I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the Headteachers’ Termly Briefing on Thursday, 17 October at 8.30am.

Please do let me, or other colleagues know if you have any questions, thoughts or concerns about our work at HLT.

With very best wishes,

Annie Gammon
Director of Education
@HackneyDirofEd

Wishing you all every success for the forthcoming school year

Image of Hackney schoolchildren

Dear colleagues,

I hope that you and everyone in your staff teams, together with all your children/pupils, have had as good a summer holiday as possible. I wish you all every success for the forthcoming school year.

You will be aware that primary colleagues knew their results in early July while secondary colleagues have received theirs in mid/late August. I am pleased to say that GCSE results have, when taken across the borough, improved on a number of measures. I think it also worth noting that, for the first time, over a thousand young people got A-level results in Hackney school sixth forms. This figure is up over 20% from the previous year: it is a good sign of strong GCSE results, and the strength of the A-level offer in Hackney.

I know that you will have high quality training and preparation time planned for these first INSET days of term. Our school standards and improvement team, led by Stephen Hall, have also been preparing for their work with you – using the updated Good to Great policy as a basis for this planning – and incorporating the known OFSTED changes coming our way. As you will know the Good to Great policy has always focused on supporting schools to improve quality of education. We have extended the remit of the support we provide to include some of the other aspects of leadership: governance, finance and premises so that where a school is experiencing any challenges in these areas we have a framework for support. The welcome letter from Stephen Hall, which you will have received has more details about this. Please do let us know if you have any queries about this.

The professional development of all our staff is key to their fulfillment and to ensuring the best quality provision for our young people. I have been thinking about all the new colleagues starting this week: their induction, and then their ongoing professional development, is so important for their sense of belonging to their new institution and their future success. I do want to encourage you and your team to join the many training and networking sessions on offer across the borough, via HLT sessions, network meetings or via the teaching schools offer. You will have been sent the hard copy booklets, which are also available here: Early Years and Childminders Training Programme; Primary CPD Training Programme; Secondary CPD Training Programme.

Every child matters to us. I have been thinking, too, about all the students starting at schools new to them this week. You will be ensuring they are well inducted and get a strong sense of belonging and ambition from the start. I started off this blog talking about achievement of pupils and the many strengths in Hackney. One of the areas where we are going to improve further across all phases is in further raising the achievement of our black Caribbean children. I am pleased to welcome Orlene Badu to our team as the leader of education initiatives in this area. Orlene will be in touch with you about her remit.

Most crucial to our young people is the face to face work you and your staff do with our young people in children’s centres, nurseries, primary school, secondary schools and colleges and other settings. Thank you for all you do, as leaders, to ensure this is of the highest quality, it really makes a difference to each child and to their family.

I very much look forward to seeing you at the primary headteachers’ meeting on Thursday, 19 September at 8.30am, or the secondary headteachers’ meetings on Thursday, 3 October at 2.30pm. One of the key topics at these meetings will be the role and launch of the Hackney Schools’ Group Board. We have been interviewing for places on the board and expect to send out more information later this month.

Please do let me, or other colleagues, know if you have any questions, thoughts or concerns about our work at HLT.

With very best wishes,

Annie Gammon
Director of Education
@HackneyDirofEd

Thank you and have a great summer holiday

Dear colleagues,

As we reach the end of this academic year I want to thank all of you, and your teams, for your dedication, collegiality and professionalism during this year.

I have been fortunate to visit a great many Hackney schools over the past months. I have always been impressed by the deep understanding, care and ambition with which our headteachers serve our communities.

I have also been struck by the closeness of ties across our education community. As you will be aware we aim to continue to develop further productive joint work. This is both through sharing the strong educational capital which already exists in Hackney, and by developing innovation in practice. Do look out for more on these next term.

Part of shaping the future network of our schools is the introduction of the Hackney Schools Group Board. I am pleased to be interviewing for the Hackney Schools Group Board Chair this week: there has been very strong interest in this role from highly skilled candidates. We look forward to the launch and implementation of the work of the HSG Board in the autumn.

I know primary colleagues will have been analysing their summer results closely, and secondary colleagues will follow suit in August. We have much across our borough to celebrate in terms of young people making excellent progress and being ready for their next step. Well done.

I wish you a well-deserved rest over the summer vacation and I look forward to seeing you in the autumn.

Best wishes,

Annie Gammon
Director of Education
@HackneyDirofEd