This blog isn’t intended to offer ANY answers, but please let me know if you can help with some.
Yesterday, I was lucky enough to be able to present our successes (to date) in closing the PP gap at Tower Hill to a large group of governors from around Oxfordshire. Well, I say “large” group; there were 22 of them. A fabulous group, full of bright, well-educated people who all seemed to have a pretty good grasp of the issues from the outset, to be honest – so much so that I wondered whether I was speaking to the already-converted. They certainly were interested, engaged and I have no doubt that all of them will go back to their schools ready to pin the subject high upon their school’s agenda.
But ONLY 22? Out of 300-odd schools around Oxfordshire actually indicates a pretty poor turn-out. The event had been advertised widely enough; it was free, it was only half a Saturday and it was raining, so no mind-changing at the last minute had prevented any from coming. It was the first of its kind in the county and it was a good programme, offering a good variety of speakers and information.
Last November, Oxfordshire laid on a fabulous day-long conference entitled “The Big Challenge.” It really was a fabulous programme, including Sir John Dunford, Dr Kevan Collins and a handful of us local heads who had some successes to share. The turn-out was disappointingly low. The event was open to Heads, SLTs, SBMs, Governors, Inclusion/SENDCos, and any other interested parties and was held at an easily-accessible training centre in the heart of Oxford, with lunch provided. Turn-out? Around 70.
Clearly, many schools are well ahead in gap-closing and been successful for a number of years. Others appear to have recently discovered what this extra pot of money is all about. But however far down the road a school is, SURELY it must be a high priority? Do we really have all the answers already? (No) Are we doing the best we can for the disadvantaged children in our schools? (No) Have we closed all of our gaps then? (Well, obviously not.) So why such a poor turn-out? Isn’t this a HUGE issue for our pupils? (Yes, yes, yes.)
So please, if you have read this blog and can point me in the direction of a local authority, or Trust, or group of schools, or region who has successfully managed to engage their schools in this agenda, let me know and hopefully we might be able to follow suit.