DYT Senior Consultant Teacher Jules Daulby looks back on an important summit for education, and a panel in which she participated and argued the need for morality in the management of MATs…

Representing my professional role with the Driver Youth Trust (DYT) and my voluntary passion, #WomenEd, I was invited by Ty Goddard from the Education Foundation to attend last week’s Education Summit 2017 in Manchester.  #WomenEd and DYT are about removing barriers and inclusion: women, needing to be part of the decision-making system in education (although females make up nearly 80% of the workforce, they are proportionally underrepresented in leadership positions) and learners with SEND must have their needs supported in mainstream schools (they are disproportionately represented in exclusion figures).  Systematic change is required to improve both the diversity of senior leadership and to enable children with SEND to flourish in mainstream schools.

My panel discussed ‘Educational Leadership in a Changing Landscape’ and I called for ‘Moral’ Mats (multi-academy trusts) where SEND and inclusion is central to policy.  I acknowledged the fabulous work some trusts are doing in this field (including our partner schools who are dedicated to ensuring children with emerging literacy are receiving the support and challenge they need to be successful), but I also warned of a growing number of exclusions for children with SEND, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds.  According to DFE figures children with SEND are three times more likely to be permanently excluded and those on free school meals, four times more likely. This must change; we need to go to the root of the problem, support schools in building capacity and knowledge in how to help students to have high aspirations and be able to succeed in education.  That’s why I’m so passionate about Drive for Literacy; it’s a whole school model which encourages and facilitates collaboration between schools and trusts to develop joined up systems.

Robert Halfon MP who in his speech, told us how helping vulnerable learners to achieve was a target for this government. I hope it was more than platitude because policy change is vital if we are to reverse the increase in exclusions and rise in home education in this country.  Inclusion is a tricky concept, it calls for diversity in society to be represented at all levels by removing barriers which is what we campaign for at #WomenEd.  The Driver Youth Trust want to see learners with SEND to be given the accommodations they are entitled to, so they have every opportunity to succeed in mainstream.  For both these endeavours to come to fruition, proactive policy change is required, or else we are at risk of letting many, often those with the least resources available to them, fall through the net and they may never realise what could be achieved in an equitable system.  That’s not good for them but it’s also not good for society who benefits from difference rather than homogeneity.