Welcome once more to Heads Up after what appears to have been another week of relative calm with absences from schools still low.
That is not a coincidence, as I keep repeating. That is the result of your continued care and diligence as well as the rolling programme of testing. While these tests are now being carried out at home, it was so important that schools took the lead back in March around the wider reopening to create a culture where testing became the norm. In terms of keeping as many young people in schools and settings, while protecting the communities, the testing programme owes much of its recent effectiveness to that.
Testing will potentially change for pupils with certain disabilities in which the current test, which uses a swab around the tonsils, will no longer be the only option available for home testing. The Oriental Gene device offers a similarly effective test but only uses nostril swabs which will make the testing of some of our young people so much easier. That’s a welcome development.
Another welcome development is that we are starting to see a little bit more ‘business as usual’ with every passing week. Foremost on our ‘business as usual’ in coming weeks will be the forthcoming Local Area and SEND inspection being conducted jointly between Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission and covering the while range of education, social care and health provision for our cohort of young people with SEND.
This will be happening from early June onwards although exact dates have yet to be confirmed with us. We are well into the planning for this and a document has been included which shows where we are focussing our resources. Schools may well be asked questions and we want to work with you on this so if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email them to the dedicated address at firstname.lastname@example.org
Duane Chappell, Strategy and Commissioning Manager for SEND and Inclusion, will join us on next Tuesday’s call to take any questions and she will be doing a series of virtual roadshows with consortia chairs. When we know more detail of when they will be, we will let you know. Our intention is to keep you informed every step of the way.
This week saw Matt Briggs take up his post as Strategy and Commissioning Manager for Early Years and Education. He will, as he mentioned in a guest introduction a few weeks ago, be looking to meet as many of you as possible in the coming months and I’m sure you join me in wishing Matt a warm welcome to Warwickshire.
And finally, in staff matters here at the County Council, next week we will be wishing a fond temporary farewell to my PA, Michelle Sherwood, who will be known to many of you. Michelle starts her maternity leave on Monday. Again, I know you will join me in wishing Michelle and her family every happiness. PA duties will be picked up during Michelle’s leave by Katy Lee, who has spent recent weeks shadowing Michelle and getting up to speed.
That’s it from me for this week. I look forward to seeing as many of you as can make the call next Tuesday. In the meantime, have a good weekend.