Our journey to the launch of the Vision for Inclusive Education

Jane Lancaster-Adlam: Whilst sitting in my Covid-19 lock down hotel room in Hong Kong I came upon an advert in the TES for ‘Head of Inclusion’ in Jersey – somewhere that I had never been but was drawn to the text which clearly indicated the desire for the islands education system to become more inclusive. Roll on three months and I found myself making the epic journey with my rescue chihuahua, Rosie by air to London for two weeks quarantine in Cambridgeshire followed by a journey by boat and a further two weeks quarantine.  

Quite a journey but so glad to have finally landed on this beautiful island, everyone was so warm and friendly to our whole family.  

The challenges of getting to know so many teams virtually, due to Covid, and visiting all the island’s schools in the few weeks and months that followed was an amazing experience and the true dedication of so many people to improving outcomes for children and young people was clear.  

Part of our journey towards a more inclusive system for education commenced with an overview of current practices, policies, and the voice of the island community. This was undertaken by a highly experienced team of practitioners from the National Association for Educational Needs (nasen) leading to the published review in December 2021 and its subsequent recommendations. 

Denise Drieu: In 2021 having recently hit the big fifty, I had spent time reflecting on the young me and the hopes I had had as a young person starting out in my career. At that time, I had worked in Government People Services for 30 years and it was time for a change. I had lots of transferable skills and experience having lead change and transformation projects for some time but felt worried about moving out of HR. I wanted to do something impactful and although I felt positive about what I had achieved to date I wanted to work closer to the front line. I rang up Jonathan Williams whom I had previously worked with and asked him for some advice. He had recently made the move from central government to CYPES to lead their Education Reform programme. I worked in education, starting my HR career there at the age of nineteen and had always viewed it as an area where it could add value. 

So, I met Jonathan over a coffee and cake at Durrell café and shared how I wanted to do something meaningful. A few months later Jonathan contacted me to say he had just the role and it wasn’t long after that I joined the team to work alongside Jane Lancaster- Adlam to lead the implementation of the Inclusion Review recommendations. It was just the opportunity I was looking for. 

Jane: The two of us joined together in April 2022 to facilitate the delivery of the nasen recommendations, recognising that it was going to be a long journey in shifting both culture and thinking. Some recommendations were relatively simple to implement and in the first twelve months we saw the development of the Virtual School, supporting all Children Looked After both on and off island, the training of all school SENCO’s in conjunction with Winchester University and the restructure of the Islands Primary and Secondary provision for children and young people with additional social, emotional and mental health needs (La Passerelle). The team also worked on the extension of our Additional Resource Centre’s within Mainstream Education facilitating more children attending their local schools.  

The most crucial element was to hear the voices of children, young people, their families, practitioners, and the community – those who have lived experience of what it has been like growing up on the island. 

Denise: One of the main recommendations of the report was about creating a consistent vison for inclusive education that everyone understood. Nasen had found that although everyone was committed to be inclusive, their description of what this meant in terms of practice, differed. This meant that children’s experience could be vastly different depending on where they attended. 

We realised this wasn’t an easy task as there are so many people involved! How do you create a vision that everyone signs up to and agrees, when you are working across a system which includes public, private providers, and charities. We decided that we needed to role model inclusion and give everyone the opportunity to have their say and contribute their views. We did this through surveys and public workshops. We went out and about and visited children and young people, schools, nurseries, and parent groups, community groups.  We needed to ensure the vision was written by us, so we gathered a group of representatives from across the entire system and asked them to co-design the vision and charter with us. The outcome has been a truly collaborative piece of work to which all stakeholders have contributed. 

Jane: All our teams are truly passionate about making a difference for our islands Children and Young people – we have achieved so much already and will continue to work in line with our new Charter and the recommendations from nasen to improve the outcomes for everyone. 

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