EBDOG would like to thank Iain Maxwell and his team at Suffolk County Council for all their hard work in hosting the latest EBDOG conference which was extremely successful and enjoyed by all.
The pre-conference dinner was held at the Athenaeum, a beautiful Georgian Grade 2 listed building. It began with a champagne reception, kindly sponsored by Built Offsite. The meal allowed for all those attending to catch-up over a lovely meal prior to the planned speakers and workshops the following day.
The conference itself was held at the modern Apex venue at the heart of Bury St Edmunds town centre which offered a wonderful juxtaposition from the festivities at the Georgian Athenaeum the night before. Both buildings were a perfect example of the beautiful architecture from times gone by and the forward thinking architecture of the here and now.
Suffolk County Council offered an array of workshops focusing on many of the challenges faced by those working within education for their local authorities. This included: place planning within Early Years, Managing the increase for SEN places and Pupil forecasting. All the workshops were very informative and offered opportunities to consider the various methods and approaches adopted by a range of authorities from around the country.
There were a number of interesting guest speakers on the day; this was kicked off by Deborah Cadman, Chief Executive of Suffolk County Council who gave us a warm welcome to Bury St Edmunds and offered us an insight into some of the changes they are currently implementing within education. Deborah discussed the challenges of restructuring from 3 to 2 tier schooling system, particularly given the pressures to academise. At the heart of the change she highlighted the ‘Raising the Bar’ initiative to help ensure children reach their full potential.
All attendees also received a presentation from Tim Coulson, the Regional School’s commissioner for the East of England and North East London about their plans to create 500 new free schools by 2020 and how they hope this will be achieved. Victoria Dare, Head of the Basic Need Team touched upon the Government’s plan to invest 200 million pounds into SEND, but how this will be distributed is still to be bottomed out.
Concertus Design and Property Consultants gave a presentation alongside Joy Stodart, Senior Infrastructure Officer at SCC about the challenges of building a new secondary school in a more unusual location which many found extremely interesting. This presentation proved the importance of collaborative working and thinking outside the box.
Peter Colenutt, Chairman of EBDOG explained some of the topics the EBDOG committee have been deliberating over such as the White Paper on the government’s strategy for Academisation. He outlined the previous trends over time for schools to become academies and how this is now changing in light of the government’s plans. Peter also touched upon the importance of the capital cost benchmarking process. He urged for greater participation from LAs, as more information people provide to the report the more accurate and useful the information for the wider authorities will be.
The day closed with a talk from Mike Green (Director of Capital, EFA), Vicky Dare (Leader of the Basic Need Team, EFA) and Lara Newman (Board Director of Cleanslate Ltd). This enabled those attending to ask questions regarding their issues and concerns but also for Vicky Dare to discuss the potential opportunities Cleanslate are currently offering and how they would like to work in partnership with local authorities to deliver school places where required.
EBDOG would also like to thank the event’s sponsors and exhibitors. Their displays, literature and knowledge sharing very much adds to the conference, their commitment is very much appreciated.
Overall, an extremely interesting and informative day. Once again, thank you to Iain and all of his team for organising and hosting such a wonderful conference. All presentations and documentation from the event can now be found within the Document Centre under Conference 2016.