A report on the latest Blackpool Education Improvement Board meeting

3 May 2023


Blackpool Education Improvement Board (BEIB)

I am the independent chair of the Blackpool Education Improvement Board. I took up this role in September 2020, and have been supporting the Council’s work in a number of ways since then.

The BEIB meets five times a year and draws together the main groups of school and trust leaders as well as governors and younger voices. I try to attend the various representative group meetings, such as the Primary and Special Headteacher Group, the secondary school and post 16 leaders’ group and the Trust CEO meeting so that I am aware of emerging issues in good time. Recently, I have been invited to the SEND Partnership Board. More on this later. These activities ensure that discussions at the BEIB are relevant.

In recent months I have begun to chair the town’s Priority Education Investment Area Board (PEIA) which advises on spending priorities determined by the DfE. The current areas are literacy and attendance and behaviour.

The BEIB last met on 26 April and followed up on actions and updates from the previous meeting. These included:
– An update on the success or otherwise of recent mental health initiatives in our schools
Progress made in raising speech and language issues at the Children and Families’ partnership Board
– Securing a better understanding of how many families eligible for free school meals were not claiming and how we can exert pressure on the government to improve this
– Transition arrangements particularly for those moving from secondary to Post 16

The meeting then received an update on the progress being made to improve work between various agencies responsible for services to children and families in the town. The current plans for the PEIA were explained and how the funds would be allocated and how procurement would be managed.

The town has a 10 year education strategy that links closely with the town’s economic regeneration plan. A key element is the success of all pupils and students. The Board considered the dataset that was shared at the recent SEND Partnership Board and considered what it was telling us about the quantity and quality of services for these children and young people. The discussion was lengthy with many follow up action points but broadly it was agreed that we would encourage more insights into the quality of services and focus on Post-16 destinations more.

At each meeting we look closely at the Data Dashboard that summarises 25 or so of the key indicators. This meeting saw us focus fully on attendance, exclusions and the number of children and young people electively educated at home. All of these aspects are not as strong as they were before the pandemic, and replicated across the country. We considered what more could be done with schools working together to help improve provision for all.

I gave an update on some work I had been leading on in recent months. Blackpool is facing a teacher recruitment crisis which is generally not of its own making. With the likely closure of the local SCITT due to it not being reaccredited by the DfE as a future provider despite it being generally outstanding added to the national recruitment problems that have been well publicised the town may be heading towards a major problem in not having sufficient teaching staff. In order to try and tackle this issue I have brought together many of the town’s trusts and schools to try and identify the best practice and ensure better use of existing tools we have available. A number of actions have been suggested and I intend to firm these up in the coming weeks.

A proposal was made for an event that brought local and regional business leaders together with secondary and Post 16 leaders to try and create a smoother path for students to progress into the workplace. The event is being planned for late September. A small group of leaders from schools and business is being created to make the necessary arrangements.

A short discussion took place regarding my decision to stand down from the BEIB at the end of the year. The new appointment will require an advert and appointment panel. It was agreed that I should take this matter forward with senior Council officers.

The next BEIB meeting will be held in early July and will include a formal review of our work. If you wish to raise an issue for the Board to consider then please escalate it through your Headteacher, who can bring it the next representative group.

If you are interested in the work of the BEIB or my thoughts on education matters, then please follow me on twitter at @FrankWNorris or at www.FrankWNorris.co.uk

Best wishes

Frank Norris
Independent Chair of the BEIB


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