Personal reflection on the most recent Blackpool Education Improvement Board (BEIB) Meeting on 30 November 2022

As the independent chair of the BEIB I committed to sharing more widely its work and keeping those in the town’s schools up to date with its actions and decisions. This letter summarises the discussions that took place at our most recent meeting.

The Board met recently at The Grange Centre and attendance was strong. It was the first face to face meeting since the review of our work in July. We welcomed colleagues from the DfE as we began integrating the work of the recently established Priority Education Investment Area Board (PEIA) in to the BEIB. The PEIA was established to provide advice and insight to the DfE’s Regional Director and ensures that the close on £1m additional income for improving literacy and attendance is spent wisely. I was invited to chair the PEIA Board and agreed as it is important it works in harmony with the BEIB.

We reviewed the current impact of mental health services in our schools and how we can better utilise the recently introduced Mental Health Support Teams. We also considered the progress made in the four key areas of the town’s education strategy:

  • Literacy
  • Inclusion
  • Preparation for work
  • Digital education

We reflected on the recent outcomes for pupils and students in all key stages and took into account the unusual nature of the assessments and how direct comparisons are inevitably difficult. We also discussed recent Ofsted judgements and the presentation made recently by Ofsted to Secondary Headteachers, at my request, to help determine how we can better understand the emerging trends nationally and regionally. It was useful to have a report from colleagues who attended the conference the day before where the voice of young people was considered. We have strengthened the representation from young people and governors in the past couple of years and these are bringing fresh perspectives to our discussions.

Since I took on the role of the Chair of the Board in September 2020, I have ensured that close analysis of data for attendance, exclusions and elective home education (EHE) and these aspects were discussed when we reviewed the high-level data dashboard. We noted the challenges that are being experienced nationally and locally in terms of pupil and staff absence and considered what more we could do to help.

We then considered feedback from the respective chairs of the Primary/Special/Secondary and Post 16 Headteacher groups. This discussion helped to identify the areas that I will raise at the next Children and Families Partnership Board. We also considered the possible impact of the approach the DfE has developed regarding schools that are not achieving Good Ofsted grades. I requested further commitment to try and improve the way we advertise staffing vacancies in the town and agreed to raise the issue at the next CEO Group.

Under ‘any other business’ we considered our approach to quality assuring alternative provision in the town and how effectively it had improved expectations and standards. We also restated the need for regular attendance by all at the various Boards and groups that feed views through to the BEIB. I explained the actions that are underway to find a successor as Chair of the BEIB; I intend standing down in the summer.

If you are interested in knowing more about the work of the BEIB or my views on a variety of educational issues, then follow me on twitter @FrankWNorris or at You can email me at

I want to take this opportunity of thanking everyone associated with Blackpool schools for the massive effort they have put in, not just this term, but for many years. I genuinely believe many more parents and carers understand the key role you play in the development of their children and appreciate it. I know there are a small number that don’t always make this clear but don’t let that get in the way of the gratitude the vast majority have for your work. I am immensely proud to be associated with Blackpool and understand the positive difference you are making.

Try and recharge the batteries over the festive period. 

Best wishes

Frank Norris

Independent Chair of Blackpool Education Improvement Board

12 December 2022


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