President Statement. AEWM Conference May 20. 2020
I am honoured to be the new President of the AEWM. It feels quite a daunting responsibility –especially following in the footsteps of Jane and her immediate predecessors. This year I have been very keenly aware of the incredible commitment and support undertaken by Jane in helping drive the association forwards – tough shoes to fill but I will do my best.
As President I realise how fortunate I am to have such a great team within the National Executive Council. I see myself as being very fortunate in this regard. All NEC members have considerable experience in the public and private sector, all pulling together to advance the interests of the young people who must remain at the centre of our work
This is a time which stands alone in the history of the AEWM. To be in the middle of a global pandemic is to be in the middle of global change and uncertainty. The words` lock down`, Covid 19, Coronavirus and so many others would have been unthinkable just a few months ago.
Who would have thought? Mass school closures. Health and care services under immense pressure. Many schools staying open over the holiday period. Penalty Notices suspended. Courts closed. Exam testing suspended. A country in uncertainty, confused, unsure of direction – this is where the AEWM have an important role to play helping to clarify, prioritise and guide colleagues.
Here we are now. Having a conference `on line`. Staying at home. Communicating through Skype, ZOOM, Microsoft `Team` and other ways. Perhaps even via a phone conversation. We adapt and prosper…
It has been enlightening to witness the ongoing shared partnership with colleagues in the DfE. Your messages, your concerns and your questions matter. We can and have put these to the DfE and others. At a time of such change there has never been a greater need for our voice to be heard. You know what is happening on the ground. You care for the young people you are in contact with .You make a difference.
It seems ironic that only a few short months ago we were discussing an increase in Elective Home Education numbers. Now here we are with many thousands of young people at home for months. Perhaps there will be a new world once this is all over-a world of increasing home working, of community hubs. AEWM needs to establish our stance and promote as effectively as we have done since its founding in 1917
When this crisis is over we must learn from all that has happened. We must take this opportunity to look at our Education system in the context of all our experiences, our knowledge and our wisdom and must seek to help it adapt to the future. It may be that the. Boundaries between school and EHE blend/change. The AEWM should be at the forefront of reaching out to communities.
Finally as your President I will commit to ensuring your views are heard and that on your behalf I will continue to strive for the interests of the young people and their precious right to an education.
As a closing comment I suggest that we in the AEWM take a minute to reflect on those who have suffered , those who are suffering , those who have tragically lost their lives and also to those who are carers, volunteers, health workers, Educators and so many others who have placed themselves at risk of harm in order to help in these exceptional and challenging times.
Members may be interested to know about the International Network for School Attendance. A new network for Academics and 'clinicians. Further information is available at