Agenda item

Belonging Strategy - Scene Setting

To receive the presentation of Simon Wellman (Director Education and Skills).


The Cabinet Member for Children, Young People, Education and Lifelong Learning will also attend for this item.



The Committee received a presentation from the Director: Education and Skills on the background and context surrounding the Belonging Strategy. Members were informed that the strategy sought to support children’s social, emotional, and mental health needs in an education setting.

It was noted that in order for the strategy to succeed consistency was required across the Borough, regardless of maintained or academy status. The Director: Education and Skills reported that belonging to a group can have either a positive or a negative effect on a child. Positive groups fostered good connections and outcomes, whereas the opposite was true for negative groups. Members heard that belonging in schools aimed to foster connections to positive groupings, and that negative reinforcement or exclusion may push a child towards negative groups.

The Committee heard how the Telford Education Strategic Partnership and the Belonging Strategy were created to instil collective ownership around the agenda. It was focused on building relationships, trust and respect amongst schools that led to them talking to each other and promoting the strategy externally. Members were informed that in order to promote further integration the board of the Partnership included Academy CEOs and individuals involved with mainstream at differing levels. The Director: Education and Skills reported that the support of schools and multiagency groups such as Family Safeguarding was needed to support families and, where appropriate, provided high quality alternative provision with minimal disruption.

The Covid-19 pandemic had created further challenges as many children had found it difficult to return to school due to gaps in their learning and prolonged isolation. It was highlighted that this only made belonging in schools more important and that schools had done a great job in achieving this. Members heard of the many steps taken during the pandemic to promote belonging, including school based mental health support teams, a pre-exclusion hotline and a formal review of alternative provision. During this time, a number of Telford Head Teachers took part in a research project that reported on their leadership journeys during the lockdown phase of Covid-19, between May and July 2020, which would be published in an  UCL Journal.

The Director: Education and Skills reported that moving forwards the focus of the belonging strategy was based around pupil voice. They sought to promote a whole system approach to restorative practices, developing online programmes and future school leaders.


Members posed a number of questions:

Did the strategy incorporate teacher’s sense of belonging or just children?

Staff and students were incorporated as a positive environment for all was required to promote belonging. From a national perspective there had been a focus on staff wellbeing meaning this was key. They sought for all to have a sense of belonging not just to their school but to Telford and Wrekin. It was noted that the introduction of a weekly notice board for the Borough’s schools had been well received and the use of school buildings for community activities was encouraged.

How would belonging be measured?


Each school was its own institution and had its own culture, but data around EHCPs and exclusions provided key indicators. Since schools began publishing data they found that schools compared their performance to others. This was further aided by head teacher’s forums and monitoring pupil’s voice.


What would be the next steps for the strategy and was there anything further scrutiny could do?


It was intended that the strategy be re-launched alongside pupil voice and they were looking for more schools to get involved following the success they had had with the pilot schools. It was suggested that Scrutiny could visit one of the pilot schools. The Director: Education and Skills agreed to formulate more proposals on how Scrutiny could be involved and coordinate with the Committee regarding a school visit.