Virtual Schoolbag (VSB)

19 Jul 2018
Business managers, bursars and secretaries, governors, headteachers, ict technicians, pastoral care leaders, sencos, teachers and teaching assistants of all schools
23 Jul 2018
Focus Message – July 2018

From the Director of Children’s Services, Stuart Gallimore


  • STOP PRESS: provisional KS 1 and 2 results
  • ESCC wins bid to become Careers Hub pilot
  • SENDing a positive message

An article by Stuart Gallimore in the MJ in his role as president of the ADCS

STOP PRESS: provisional Key Stage 2 results

The efforts of pupils and school staff across East Sussex have been recognised in the provisional results for Key Stage 1 and 2.

At Key Stage 1 schools performed well against national averages and at Key Stage 2 East Sussex schools improved at a faster rate than the national picture, bringing the county broadly in line with the national averages and in some measures slightly above. This is a real credit to the hard work and determination of primary schools. More details to follow as results are confirmed.

East Sussex wins bid for Careers Hub pilot

East Sussex has won a bid to pilot one of 20 new Careers Hubs. The Hubs will work with schools and colleges, education and training providers, universities, employers and careers professionals in a geographical area to ensure that careers outcomes are improved.

The successful bid follows effective partnership working across the county to support quality in careers provision and drive up participation post-16. This has included a bid by Skills East Sussex to the Careers and Enterprise Company to develop an Enterprise Adviser Network – business volunteers who work with senior leaders in schools to support and implement career engagement strategies. As a result, all 40 schools and colleges in the county have now engaged with the programme and the majority are matched with an Enterprise Adviser.

The Department for Education published the Careers Strategy last December which was followed by Statutory Guidance this January. Key areas for schools to note include:

  • a greater role for Ofsted to review careers in school and college inspections
  • a legal obligation to ensure all pupils hear from technical education and apprenticeship providers
  • the school careers programme and details of the ‘Careers Leader’ to be published
  • all schools to be working towards and achieve the eight Gatsby Benchmarks as set out in the Gatsby Foundation’s ‘Good Career Guidance’ by 2020
  • Schools to offer students seven meaningful encounters with employers (including STEM) from years 7-13, one every year; and
  • all schools to be working with an Enterprise Adviser by 2020

Evidence is emerging that where schools work to achieve the Gatsby benchmarks and effectively with their Enterprise Adviser, there’s a significant impact on attainment and progression, particularly for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The Careers Hub pilot will enable ESCC to increase the capacity and reach of its Enterprise Adviser programme, and scale up projects piloted over the last two years, as well as improve employment outcomes for young people with SEND. Key elements will include:

  • support for schools and colleges to meet the Gatsby Benchmarks through training for careers and school staff
  • scaling up of initiatives such as Industry Champions, Open Doors work place visits, apprenticeship roadshows and careers events
  • supporting young people with SEND to access supported internships, apprenticeships and employment; and
  • continued support for schools to gain the ‘Investors in Careers – Quality in Careers’ Standard

For further information, please contact

SENDing a positive message

In a recent article in The MJ in his role as Director of Children’s Services at ESCC and President of the ADCS, Stuart Gallimore welcomed the renewed focus on funding for special education needs and disabilities schooling – and the future benefits this will bring to young people – but warned that schools still have a balancing act to perform before cost pressures ease.

“Recently, the Education Select Committee announced inquiries into school and college funding and special education needs and disabilities (SEND). I am delighted to see a focus on these important areas.

Schools sit at the heart of our communities, they’re not just places where children and young people develop academically, but socially and emotionally too. They play a key role in promoting resilience and wellbeing and preparing all learners to become active citizens of the future. Every day really counts. In addition, schools are increasingly going above and beyond, taking steps to ‘poverty proof’ the school day by providing the most vulnerable pupils with essentials such as food, clothes and even sanitary products, despite facing significant financial pressures of their own.

Although the Department for Education’s schools budget has been protected in real terms, per-pupil funding has not increased in line with inflation. The National Audit Office estimates schools will experience an 8% real-terms reduction in per-pupil funding between 2014/15 and 2019/20 due to cost pressures. Schools are forced to make difficult decisions including reducing the curriculum offer and cutting back on pastoral and other support services to cope with budget cuts. With limited resources, some schools can find it difficult to fund the additional support some children and young people need to successfully access education in a mainstream setting. This is resulting in children with quite low-level needs who could, with the right support, thrive in a mainstream school setting being squeezed into specialist provision. This is not in their best interests. Further, more pupils in specialist provision means more pressure on the high needs block budget, which is already over stretched beyond its means. In 2016/17 the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) surveyed its members on high needs funding, the majority of respondents reported significant overspends in this area.

In addition to the financial pressures facing our schools, a high stakes inspection regime and ongoing exam and curriculum reforms is driving exclusive practices in some schools as they struggle to meet the complex and overlapping needs of the most vulnerable learners while sustaining rapid improvement. We are seeing the rate of exclusions rising, with children who are eligible for free schools meals (a widely accepted measure of deprivation) more vulnerable to exclusion than their peers, as are children with SEND, learners from some BME groups and children in care.

According to the latest available figures from the DfE, 35 children and young people were permanently excluded each day in 2015/16, up from an average of 30 per day in 2014/15; fixed period exclusions have also risen. This is not in the best interests of our learners. ADCS members are concerned that a growing number of exclusions could have been averted if more resources were available for pastoral and classroom support – the real-term reduction is school funding is driving down capacity to deal with behavioural issues at an early stage. This means individual pupils, particularly those with complex health and social care needs, are at a growing risk of falling out of mainstream education, especially when we factor in the reduced ability of local authorities to step in and provide additional support due to a 49% reduction in funding since 2010 (NAO, 2018).

With a sufficiently funded education system schools would be much better equipped to ensure all children can achieve their full potential, enabling them to better support children who have additional needs, placing inclusion at the very heart of the education system. The Government recently announced plans to spend £200m on expanding selective schools, imagine how many more pupils with SEND could be supported to remain in mainstream schools with this level of funding?


Catherine Denyer
Catherine Denyer
Project Officer: (Strategic Planning & Commissioning/Place Planning)

Phone: 01323 466886