The AEWM National Conference 2014

Forward from the President Julie Weddell

"I am pleased to share that our national annual conference, held on 8th October, 2014' was a great success. I was honoured to welcome delegates and speakers on the day which had a wonderful atmosphere. Delegates were keen to share their knowledge and experience with each other and the speakers. The speakers were inspirational, informative and, at times, emotive. This provided busy managers with the opportunity to reflect on their practice, hear how other Local Authorities were working and take back important messages to their own Authority. The evaluations of the day were extremely positive, with all speakers receiving praise. All delegates stated that they would return to a future event and some good topics were suggested. The national executive council is already working on the conference for next year, so watch the website for details."

We have summarised the presentations below for those who were unable to attend the conference:

Pat Witherspoon, Mayor of Redditch opened the conference.  Her speech reflected a long career working within Local Government, including education welfare, safeguarding and Chief Education Officer in Solihull.  Pat reminded us of how long our posts have been in place by reading out an advert for a job pertaining to Section 36 of the Elementary Education Act 1870.  The three main duties of the post were to see that the name of every child between five and fourteen years was on the register of some public elementary school, or to satisfy himself that the child was under efficient instruction in some other manner; to secure the regular and punctual attendance at school of children whose names were on the school roll; to make inquiries and report with regard to the remission of school fees in necessitous cases and applications for part time labour certificates.   The post called for the highest gift of tact, common sense, humour, understanding, sympathy, courage and straight forwardness!  

Ade Adalo from the DfE (School attendance) gave a presentation about absence trends and the impact upon attendance and attainment and he also outlined the following:

Over the last two years the Government has been implementing Charlie Taylor’s recommendations. It doesn’t stop there as the Government continues to review the measures schools and local authorities use to improve attendance. They have consulted on repealing the defence mobile children have when it comes to absence and considering lowering the current persistent absence threshold and changing the way they calculate persistence absence. The Government wants pupils in schools- where they should be and absence at schools should only be down to unavoidable causes.

Keith Bates, Head of the Education Investigation Service - Dudley MBC

Keith provided a presentation on the subject of "policing parental responsibility measures" an enforcement model that is compliant with the national occupational standards for enforcement services. Importantly the model operates across three key themes of Prevent, Protect, and Pursue. Thus enabling services to maintain and deliver effective enforcement in times of reduced resources delivering a model of preventing further offending, protecting vulnerable children and adults and pursuing those who commit offences. The Education Welfare functions as we know them have been devolved to schools who undertake all support work with children and families to improve attendance.

Toby Stewart, Providing Support to Families of Offenders (POPS) and Barnardo’s i-HOP

National one-stop information and advice service for professionals working with children and families of offenders. Toby informed conference that 200,000 children are affected by parental imprisonment each year. Half a million children visit a parent in prison each year, and 25% of children of prisoners are at a higher risk of mental health issues.  7% of children will see their father go to prison and this unsurprisingly has a negative impact on school experiences, it can lead to stigma and isolation for the family. Web-based knowledge hub supported by telephone helpdesk (0808 802 2013).   

Stewart is keen to publicise the work of i-HOP and will travel to LAs to give presentations.  He can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Mark Simms, HMI OfSTED

Mark provided a detailed data rich presentation from the OfSTED dimension on school absence patterns, attendance and attainment and the inspection of attendance which included the framework for inspection, inspecting attendance and the considerations for schools.

Zoe Renton, Head of Policy, Public Affairs at the NCB.

Provided an informative presentation on Children Missing Education connected to the recent national report produced by the NCB on CME.  This involved an introduction to the NCB, who the children are, how many children are CME and why, What Children and Young Peoples Services say, and whether local authority responses were effective.

 Vic Goddard Head Teacher of Educating Essex Fame

 Vic was an extremely entertaining speaker, recounting issues relating to his school and the local authority; he was able to deliver an informative and at times funny presentation.  Vic was very congratulatory of the work of attendance services and the support given to schools.  For a service that is more often than not ignored in respect of the efforts that have been made over many, many years in securing children’s education this was a most welcome statement from a highly recognised performer within the education sector.

Mike Neumann, Director, ITS Training (UK) Ltd

Mike provided an entertaining quiz and attended a stall for conference, this allowed members to get a flavour of the service provided by ITS.  ITS training have provided investigative skills on the enforcement role to a number of EWS teams.


 In Closing

If you are a member of AEWM and you attended the conference you will know that the content of the conference was of a high standard supported through the evaluation of the conference through the members who were present.  If you are not yet a member now is the time to think about joining us, next year’s conference will not be that far away. Follow the link below to find out more about joining the AEWM; we look forward to seeing you.

 A selection of photographs from conference