This week, we say farewell to Kim Garcia. Kim is leaving Warwickshire County Council today after 18 months, having initially joined for a short period in 2019 as a consultant to lead Warwickshire Education Services’ Transformation Programme and the review of the Education Strategy. 18 months later, he is finally stepping away, having also taken on the role of strategic lead for Education and Early Years and helped the service through one of the most difficult periods in its history responding to the challenges of COVID-19 and the impact of the pandemic. He leaves with our sincere thanks for all that he has done, our very best wishes and, most of all, our very fond memories.
We asked Kim to reflect on his time with us and his plans looking forward:
“Well, it is quite difficult to sum up the last 18 months. The path we have had to follow certainly wasn’t anticipated. It really has been challenging and quite a final chapter in my career book.
As Ian mentioned last week, I have had a long career in education – 47 years in fact – and I have been fortunate to gain a wide range of experience in Education over that period through teaching, working in local authorities in officer, adviser and directorate roles and national advisory, governance and executive roles across England and Wales.
The last 5 years has focused on consultancy work and along came the opportunity to join Warwickshire in October 2019 to join the Education Services SLT and lead the Transformation process and other strategic priorities. We got off to a very good start on the change programme and by December had received approval of our future operating model for Education Services. We moved ahead through consultation and by mid-year 2020 we had secured a very strong tier of first-class commissioning leads for our key service areas. Given the outstanding personnel in the county, that was no surprise.
But 2020 was the year that changed so much. So many young people and staff were affected by the national response to the pandemic and so much of that was out of everyone’s control. What we could manage, though, was how well we responded in Warwickshire and we certainly did. In the short time I had been at Warwickshire, I had gained a lot of confidence in everyone involved. The county is so fortunate to have such good people both in the local authority and in its schools and settings. Professional, resilient and really caring people working across so many disciplines in the county, all of whom have the child at the heart of all that they do.
Looking back the pandemic could have separated and isolated us but, in fact, it brought everyone together in such a strong and collective response across all schools and settings. I was particularly struck by the will to adapt to the circumstances and the commitment, dedication and co-operation that were ever present. These are the things that helped all of us in Warwickshire through the hard months that we have endured.
If that sounds like I am blowing Warwickshire’s trumpet, well, yes, I am. This is not just my opinion. During the last year I have had the pleasure of joining weekly meetings with the DfE and the local authority, under Ian Budd, has been commended on so many occasions. Our collective reputation is in very good shape. That’s testament to everyone.
Will I look back on my time with Warwickshire with pride? Yes, I will. Over the time I have been here it has been a privilege to lead Education and Early Years, oversee a large number of strategic development projects and programmes and help to lead our COVID response. All of that work was only made possible because of the teamwork both in Education Services and across schools and settings. I will always remember the ability and dedication that I have seen in Warwickshire.
The next year will no doubt be challenging, but Warwickshire will respond well. Its schools and settings have strong leadership, great staff and a committed and professional local authority supporting them. Education in Warwickshire is in good hands.
Having reached age 69 in February, my task now is to adjust to retirement and make the most of the adventures ahead. I shall keep a toe in the education waters through Director and Chairing roles with a Multi Academy Trust and being on a Governance Leadership Group, but there will be time for family, for more recces and outings with my two walking groups, committee work organising a music festival in my area and my own projects and hobbies.
Overdue travel will be very much on the agenda, too. As the name suggests, I am of Spanish descent. So, when travel restrictions are lifted and it is safe, a family reunion in New York and then the Caribbean, where I grew up, will be on the cards, as will visiting family living in Greece. Until then, exploring many beautiful areas this country has to offer will start with a week by Lake Windermere and with Scafell Pike in our sights!
So, all that is left to say is thank you to you all for the support and the co-operation that has been ever-present throughout the last 18 months. There were positives for us all in 2020, not least the way the Warwickshire family of schools came together with one common ethical purpose and the benefit is evident.
I am very grateful for a rewarding and successful career in education and having worked with many excellent people, including this final chapter in Warwickshire which has been a particular pleasure and privilege.
Very best wishes for every success in the future.”