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City hosts inaugural Education Inclusion Summit

TV star Jay Blades MBE joined the Mayor of Wolverhampton Councillor Sandra Samuels OBE to officially open Wolverhampton's inaugural Education Inclusion Summit recently.


The event brought together professionals from across the education sector and was designed to inspire schools and providers to ensure the needs of the city’s children are met through their learning experiences.


The summit, held at the GTG Training Centre, featured a range of inspirational speakers who highlighted the journey that children and young people experience in education – and how schools, settings and agencies play a key part in shaping that journey.


Attendees participated in a number of workshops focusing on race and culture, LGBTQ+, children in care, and employment pathways for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).


Members of the HY5! group for children and young people with SEND gave a presentation about what being ‘included’ means for them, reflecting on a residential they enjoyed during the summer holidays, as well as a workshop on how it feels to be a young person with SEND in Wolverhampton. Meanwhile, representatives from the Children in Care Council delivered a session on Total Respect training which was well-received.


Attendees also worked to create a shared vision as to what inclusion should look like, agreeing a number of key principles. These are that every child receives a warm welcome, is valued and feels they belong; that every child is included and has their needs met in their school; that parents and carers are empowered to participate fully in their child's education; and that children are at the centre of all decision making.


Councillor Chris Burden, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Work, said: "As a council, one of our key priorities is to ensure that children have the best start in life, are able to develop well and are can access high quality education.


"Key to this is ensuring education services are as inclusive as they can possibly be, and it was great to be able to bring so many professionals together to focus on this very important topic at our first Education Inclusion Summit.


"While we appreciate there is still much to be done, we have asked all the participants in the summit to pledge their commitment to embedding the vision and the principles for all young people in our city."


Amy Bates, Designated Safeguarding Lead and SENCO at Highfields School, said: "I have worked in Wolverhampton for 16 years and this was one of the best events that I have attended. I found all of the speakers very thought provoking, emotive and motivational. The workshops were also excellent and provided a number of reflection points."


The summit also saw the council's Corporate Parenting Officer Hannah Finch and Home Education and Travelling Childrens Officer Hannah Hill presented with the Education Otherwise Gold Award for excellence.


The award was developed as a quality mark to reflect the collective experiences of home educating families, with respect to the quality of support they have received and recognises officers who have achieved very high standards in their role. The accolade is particularly meaningful as they were nominated by electively home educating parents.


Young people with special educational needs and disabilities shared their experiences at the Education Inclusion Summit.


Hannah Hill and Hannah Finch receive the Education Otherwise KIT Gold Award for excellence from the Mayor of Wolverhampton Councillor Sandra Samuels OBE and Jay Blades MBE.

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