Education Strategy 2024 to 2027

Last updated 14 May 2024


We are proud to launch this strategy that describes the work overseen by the Dorset Education Board for children and young people from birth to 25.

The work has been developed through deep collaboration with our settings and schools, wider community partners, parent carers, children, and young people, to create key milestones to achieve our longer-term Children, Young People and Families Plan.

We are highly aspirational for our children and young people and are proud to represent their voices here. 

We are blessed with a diverse and dynamic education community in Dorset and together we want to create the very best educational opportunities and outcomes.

This strategy takes each Dorset Education Board priority and describes where we are now, sets out our vision of where we want to get to over the next 3 years, details our commitment and provides a summary of the plans supporting each priority, and the impact we will have.

We will achieve this by upholding our shared values.

We are placed to progressing the commitments within our Student Pledge and Workforce Pledge as we move this Education Strategy forward.

The Dorset Education Board

Dorset Education Board (DEB) was formed in 2022 to oversee our aspiration to achieve the Best Education for All.

The Board is led by independent Chair, Stephen Twigg, and brings together:

  • the Department for Education
  • maintained and academy school leaders of all phases from early years to post-16
  • the Diocese
  • Dorset Parent Carer Forum
  • Police
  • NHS
  • Dorset Council officers

There is direct engagement with children and young people to ensure the board is informed by their views.

The DEB agreed these core aims:

  1. To ensure every child is receiving education in an Ofsted ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ Education setting.
  2. To close the disadvantaged attainment and achievement gap to zero by providing inclusive support for our disadvantaged and vulnerable children so they can achieve alongside their peers in their local school or setting.
  3. To ensure that all our children and young people thrive in their education with the skills they need ready for adulthood.

Since the inaugural meeting, the DEB has gained pace and momentum in driving projects to meet these aims and is ambitious to provide robust leadership and oversight of the detailed work being undertaken.

This strategy lays out our commitments and priorities for the next 3 years to enable detailed plans and strong accountability across the partnership.

Our shared values

Our shared values are:

  • always putting children and families at the heart of everything we do – including how we develop and shape services
  • no child or family left behind – we strive for equity of outcomes for all
  • focus on early intervention and prevention – offering the right help in the right place at the right time
  • working restoratively – doing things with families, not to or for them
  • thinking family – providing a joined-up approach
  • focusing on and building on the strengths with individuals, families, and communities
  • being inclusive – challenging discrimination where we see it and promoting a sense of belonging for all our children in communities
  • taking a rights-based approach to our work
  • delivering best value for money – spending the Dorset £ on the things that get the best outcomes for children and families
  • always remaining hopeful and determined to achieve good outcomes for all

Partnership vision

We recognise our education community is broader than the schools and settings that provide education in the formal sense.

A great education system is reliant on truly effective partnerships.

We are blessed in Dorset with strong partnerships at a strategic and local level with shared ambition and values and a strong sense of moral purpose.

The Dorset Council Childrens'  Services Partnership:

  • Dorset Council Childrens' Services, Police and Health 
  • parents, carers, children and young people 
  • Ofsted 
  • voluntary and community sector 
  • Department for Education 
  • setting and schools 
  • local business and enterprise 

The shared ambition:

  • belonging 
  • inclusion
  • safeguarding
  • social mobility
  • next steps

Mission statement

As a partnership we will continue to work as an education community to provide accessible and inclusive high-quality education for every child and young person in Dorset 0-25, enabling them to achieve their potential and ‘become active citizens of the future.

This is taken from ADSCS report November 2023.

We want all our children to thrive and have a strong sense of belonging within their own communities; to feel safe, trusted, and welcome within their education setting and be excited about lifelong learning.

We want our young people to imagine, work towards, and secure a future that meets their needs, and provides fulfilment.

Our priorities

Our priorities are:

  1. Listen to our children and young people.
  2. All our children and young people feel they belong.
  3. Our children and young people achieve their potential and succeed in preparing for Post 16 and adulthood.
  4. Continuously strengthen our workforce.
  5. Our settings are financially strong and sustainable.

Priority 1: Listen to our children and young people

Many of our children and young people are doing well in education. They achieve well, enjoy a breadth of experiences that enhance their childhood, and have a good sense of where they want to get to in adulthood.

However, this is not the case for all children and particularly for those who are “different” to most peers through characteristics such as:

  • financial wellbeing
  • race
  • ethnicity
  • gender
  • gender identity
  • care status
  • whether supported by a social worker or other agency
  • sexuality
  • special educational or additional needs or disability (SEND) 

This gap is not only in attainment, but in sense of inclusion, belonging, and emotional wellbeing.

The Student Pledge

As children and young people are at the heart of this strategy, Dorset Education Board has organised events to ensure their voices have informed our strategy and to enable our pledge to them.

We are thankful to:

  • Budmouth Academy
  • Mountjoy School
  • Dorchester Learning Centre
  • Atlantic Academy

for the opportunities to hear directly from their students, and to Dorset Council Youth Voice team who have facilitated sessions with:

  • young carers
  • children who are Electively Home Educated
  • Youth Parliament
  • Youth Council

You will find the wisdom of our young people throughout this document.

We are extremely grateful for their thoughtful reflections on what difference we can make, through our pledge.

Our vision

The Student Pledge is founded in what our children and young people are telling us.

These are the words of Dorset Youth Voice 

  • I want to learn about life
  • I want better understanding and support of my mental health
  • I want better awareness of the challenges young people who are different face
  • I want to make friends and try new things
  • I want to feel welcome, safe, and trusted

Our pledge to students

Through our pledge to students we are working towards:

  • helping children and young people gain the feeling and skill of helpfulness and purpose
  • accept, respect and champion individuality for children and young people. As well as seeing them for who they are and promoting diversity for all ages
  • help to create a fair and equitable culture in all schools across Dorset
  • support all children and young people at all ages to have healthy friendships and to try new things. We will do this by creating different safe spaces and groups in Dorset
  • promote good mental health and well-being in Dorset for all children and young people. We will continue to support better access and reduced waiting times to mental health services
  • offer every child and young person the opportunity of an affordable school trip. This will include a one night stay away from school
  • support schools to help prepare all children and young people for the world of work across Dorset. This will include things like interview preparation, how to write a C.V. and email etiquette in Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHE) lessons
  • continue to support the development of better, cheaper and more frequent transport. So, all children and young people can get to their important places easier in Dorset
  • support the growth of safe places that meets the individual needs of children and young people within the local community
  • listen to all children and young people of all ages through all means of communication. Making sure their views and feelings are heard

Our commitment

  • establish a lead and a working group for the pledge and include the voices of children and young people
  • share the pledge with members of the education community and all relevant partners, including children and young people and their families and carers
  • publish the pledge on relevant platforms
  • create ways of measuring performance of each pledge
  • report on our performance at each Dorset Education Board Meeting
  • seek feedback from stakeholders
  • provide an update on progress to stakeholders in each summer term

Our impact

We want children and young people to describe experiences in their childhood that tell us we are delivering on our pledge.

We want to see and feel this in all our education settings.

Through the Chesil Literacy Project, Chesil Literacy Project students from older settings work with pupils in their traditional feeder schools as part of Chesil Book Week.

‘Bold Voices’ is an award-winning social enterprise bringing school communities together to learn, discuss and tackle gender inequality and cultures of gender-based violence. The Blandford School are part of the ‘Bold Voices’ community.

In our work with school's leaders, we will ensure that school’s curriculum reflect the many people within society, both historically and in the present. Through our curriculums individuals are celebrated for their key achievements.

The Peer Mentoring Programme currently running in Chesil schools aims to develop positive and healthy friendships whilst supporting the move from primary to secondary school. This will be available across the county.

The use of Local Alliance Group (LAG) funding to provide summer schools to help young people to develop friendships and to feel a sense of belonging as they move schools or year groups.

Promotion of the PSHE Association membership to all Dorset schools (including a discount).

Dorchester Youth and Community Centre (DYCC) are running projects that help young people living in Dorchester and the surrounding areas. These include Youth Sessions, Networks for NEET (13-18), Year 6 and Year 8 youth clubs, GRT bespoke support (LAG funded project) and Paradise (a club for young carers).

Our Youth Centres offer a range of opportunities for young people across Dorset. The Pineapple Project - Dorset Council, keeping girls and young women safe – community guardians – started in Weymouth and is rolling out across county.

Education Challenge Lead (ECL) school visits and learning walks afford the opportunity to feedback to schools and to collate pupil voice feedback.

LAG funding has been used to create dedicated sensory spaces in several schools to ensure that they are inclusive and supportive environments for all children.

Priority 2: All our children and young people feel they belong

Our vision

Quote ‘Relationships are not built in a day; they are built daily’. - Mark Finnis

Local Child, Local School


We believe that children and young people thrive when they can access their local early years settings, schools and services.

Our ambition is for children and young people to attend their local school where appropriate, where their needs are met.

As stated in our Children Young People and Families Plan 2023-33 Best Education for All, “We want our children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) to be healthy, happy and safe, and able to achieve their potential to lead a fulfilling life. We want them to have, and to expect the same opportunities in life as other children and young people.’’

Our children and young people told us that belonging is acceptance whatever you feel. It is being together and not feeling lonely, it is being part of something – a community. It is having a voice and being heard.

Quote "When you belong, you feel safe and there is care" Voice of our LGBTQ+ community

For many young people in Dorset, belonging is their everyday (very positive) reality.

We aim to ensure that this is the lived experience for all our children and young people.

We want our communities and schools to be inclusive places where all our children and young people feel they belong.

We will support all our schools and settings to be inclusive for all our children and young people through thinking therapeutically.

We want our children and young people to have the right support at the right time enabling them to have a stable and settled education.

We want our children and young people to be able to achieve their goals so that they are prepared for adult life and go on to successful futures.

Our Dorset Belonging Strategy and Plan, Attendance Strategy and SEND Strategy - Dorset Council describes the priorities for all partners across Dorset in addressing key issues, including attendance, mental health and emotional well-being and suspensions, and exclusions through children and families experiencing a deep sense of belonging.


We want attendance to be everyone’s business and a key feature of all frontline council services and partners’ work.

Attendance has long been viewed as important, at both early years’ settings and schools, with research showing that regular attendance at educational settings is linked to positive outcomes for children.

We understand that the barriers to attendance are wide and complex, and some children and young people find it harder than others to attend school and therefore schools and partners will take a supportive and relational approach to improving attendance.

We also recognise that securing good attendance cannot be seen in isolation and is linked to curriculum, special educational needs support, pastoral and mental health and wellbeing and family support.

Attendance trends

We have seen some small improvements to overall absence and persistent absence – although levels are still very high compared to pre-pandemic levels. Severe absence is continuing to rise.

Attendance trends of % increase in absence – Autumn and Spring Terms for Dorset, National, Southwest and Special needs. 

  • 2018 to 2019 all were broadly at 5 %
  • 2020 to 2021 all were broadly at 4%
  • 2021 to 2022 and 2022 to 2023 all were broadly at 8% apart from nationally which was 7 %

Severe absence trends for Dorset, and nationally

2018 to 2019:

  • Dorset 0.9%
  • nationally 0.8%

2020 to 2021:

  • Dorset 1.0%
  • nationally 1.1%

2021 to 2022:

  • Dorset 1.9%
  • nationally 1.5%

2022 to 2023:

  • Dorset 2.2%
  • nationally 1.9%

Through our Dorset focused attendance campaign, and locality-based initiatives, we will keep a strong focus on working together with children/young people, their families, and schools to address this national issue at a personal level and with a local partnership-based approach.

Therapeutic thinking is at the heart of our inclusive practice.

We believe that further development of therapeutic understanding and practice amongst our workforce will support in addressing attendance issues, reducing suspensions and exclusions and fostering inclusive learning environments.

Our commitment

Best start in Life

Providing the Best Start in life is key.

Through our Best Start in Life Children Young People and Families Plan 2023-33 we want equity for every child so they can:

  • access their early education entitlements in a high-quality early years provision alongside their peers in their local community
  • access wraparound provision in their community enabling parents and carers to increase access to paid work
  • have strong attachments with their families, caregivers, friends, and important people in their lives
  • be confident, happy children who are ready to make the move into their statutory education
  • have any additional needs identified early and support provided without delay to achieve their full potential

We will work together to ensure our early years children are school ready and our schools are ready to receive our youngest children from their early years setting.

Strong relationships between the important adults in a child’s life will help children do well in a range of areas including their ‘prime areas of learning’: communication and language, physical development, and personal, social, and emotional development.

Supporting parents of children with additional needs and, or a disability is a key focus in our approach to giving all children the best start in life. We have more to do to empower families, building their agency so they feel confident in representing the needs of their children, and the wider family.

Our early years work will ensure that families and settings are well-placed to support children’s learning and increase access to high-quality learning opportunities.

We will:

  • allocate resources to provide universal, targeted and specialist support for our children under 5 through our Family Hubs and early years settings
  • work with settings to follow a system-wide graduated approach to ensure they can meet the needs of most children though delivery of high quality, ordinarily available provision in early years and later years provision
  • provide expertise with early years settings to identify the needs of children planning effective interventions and strategies with others to remove barriers, improve outcomes and improve equity for children and families
  • work with early years practitioners to build their capacity to support children and families by sharing tools and techniques that enable our youngest children to thrive and make progress
  • meet local authority statutory duties to provide information, advice, and training to childcare providers


As a partnership we will work together to ensure our belonging strategy becomes a reality.

We are committed to delivering our five key priorities:

  1. All schools and settings have a truly inclusive ethos, adopt a therapeutic thinking approach, and have accessible learning environments in which children and young people can actively participate.
  2. All young people are ready for the next phase of learning and that phase transfer support them in developing a new sense of belonging in the new environment.
  3. Additional support is available to ensure a sense of belonging is maintained in all learning environments.
  4. Build capacity for collaborative working between settings to retain ownership of ensuring children and young people have a sense of belonging, and secure positive outcomes for all children within their area.
  5. Dorset is inclusive and accessible for children, young people, and their families so that everyone has a sense of belonging in their community.


We will:

  • ensure that attendance is everyone’s business
  • make attendance a key feature of all frontline council and services and partners’ work
  • work in partnership with young people, parents, schools, health, youth justice service, police, and other partners
  • embrace new ways of working to support and enable innovative practice
  • identify and understand barriers to attendance in Dorset
  • provide good quality services
  • ensure early identification and support

We are supporting schools to address attendance through our ‘Dorset Attendance Campaign’

Our Education Challenge Leads are hosting attendance meetings for schools in each locality.

Therapeutic Thinking and Autism In Schools training is offered to all schools. An ‘Alternatives to Exclusion’ presentation has been delivered at The Designated Teacher Conference by one of our Senior Educational Psychologists and a Headteacher from one of our Learning Centres. Outreach support for schools is available through TADSS – Teaching Alliance of Dorset Special Schools TADSS.

Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)

We will:

  • embed co-production across all aspects of our work so that parent carers and children and young people with SEND are recognised as equal partners and are fully involved in decision making
  • work in partnership to promote transparency and consistency in decision making and delivery of support
  • embrace new ways of working to support and enable innovative practice
  • commit to identify and understand the challenges faced by our families who have children with SEND
  • commit to providing good quality services with clear and accessible information
  • prepare young people for adult life and independence from the earliest years
  • ensure that moves between services or changes in provision and support across all ages are smooth, seamless and supportive.

Local Alliance Groups

Each locality has a strategic group that has prioritized creative solutions focused on inclusion.

One project in a Dorset first school has focused on children from under-resourced backgrounds who have been invited to attend a healthy cooking club.

The funding enabled the project to expand so that their siblings and parents/carers can also attend, cooking healthy family recipes and then taking the meals home to eat.

In December, the 9 children attending the club cooked a three-course Christmas meal, designed and created by them, and served to their invited family members.

It was a huge success and an example of how this funding has been used to support projects bringing communities together.

Quote Julia, Year 4 parent said “ Being part of the POW cooking club has not only brought our family closer, but it has also made healthy eating on a budget a fun and manageable reality. I love that my child is bringing home ideas that we can then include in our weekly meal planning. My child now eats a greater variety of food – this is having a positive impact on her physical and mental health and wellbeing"

Localities will continue to identify opportunities through the LAG funding that will further support inclusion through strong links to curriculum and learning.

Our impact


  • over the next 3 years we will significantly reduce Dorset’s exclusion and suspension rates
  • we will reduce the use of part-time timetables and the length of time that children and young people are on them
  • we will build on our above national average of continuing to reduce our numbers of young people not in education or training (NEET) by offering support either directly or via other professionals already working with them or their families
  • we will have no children of compulsory school age without a school place
  • children and young people will tell us schools and settings are inclusive and that they have a sense of belonging and feel part of the school or setting irrespective of background, needs or culture


  • we will secure improved attendance for both primary and secondary schools. With a key focus on severe absence
  • the attendance of vulnerable groups, such as children with a social worker, children with SEND and children eligible for free school meals will be closer to their peers
  • we will identify early causes so they can lead to developed targeted interventions
  • we will have a robust approach to phase transfer

Quote "The culture of the school draws a line in the sand about prejudice, discrimination, and bigotry despite the challenge of their demographic in some regards." taken from Ofsted feedback St Osmund’s C.E Middle school.

Priority 3: Our children and young people achieve their potential and succeed in preparing for post 16 and adulthood.

Our vision

Quote "There are three essentials to leadership: humility, clarity, and courage" Chan Master Fuchan Yuan.

We will strengthen distributed leadership throughout our education community and within all settings so that children, young people, families and wider members of the setting feel emboldened and empowered to influence positive change.

For example, we want Designated Safeguarding Leads and Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators to contribute to decision making, both within their setting and to inform local and county-wide strategy and planning, in recognition of the skills and knowledge these members of the workforce bring, alongside a deep commitment to children’s welfare and outcomes.

We want to ensure that our children and young people have access to a rich and stimulating curriculum that appreciates the uniqueness of every child/young person. This should provide them with the skills and knowledge they require to reach their chosen destinations and engender a lifelong appetite for learning.

There should be opportunities to embed skills, such as financial literacy and IT literacy, STEM, and a diverse range of culturally and artistically rich experiences to enhance opportunities for social mobility. Such as every school in Dorset being a Rights Respecting School - Rights Respecting Schools Award (

The Chesil Challenge

The Chesil Challenge set up as a collaboration between schools supported by Marc Rowland , and the Education Challenge Leads. 

The aim is to address educational disadvantage, through planning, implementing, and evaluating an effective disadvantage strategy within the Chesil community.

We will be taking the learning from the Chesil challenge to expand further practice across Dorset.

The challenge sets out to raise attainment for all pupils, whilst narrowing the gap for those who are most under-resourced.

This important work involves, talking about Chesil children and seeing outcomes as a shared responsibility, between all phases of education.

The aim is to ensure that Chesil children have the educational outcomes, resources, and opportunities that they need to flourish and thrive, supporting Chesil children to have the belief that they can achieve great things.

Quote ‘A good education, with the qualifications to show for it, can transform lives for the better. Conversely, young people who finish their studies without attaining the expected standards will struggle both in further study and the world of work" Education Endowment Foundation Attainment Gap Report.

Best Start in Life

The first 1001 days from conception to age 2 is widely recognised as a crucial period in the life course of a developing child and these first days play a significant factor in shaping both their childhood and their future life. 4% (15, 183) of the Dorset Council area population are aged 4 years and under (Census map Nov. 2022) and are the future of Dorset.

The number of children aged two to two-and-a-half years old meeting or exceeding the expected level of development in 2022-23 was lower than in the previous year, new statistics published by the Department for Education (DfE) have revealed:

  • 87.9% of Dorset children tested in their Ages & Stages Questionnaire at 2.5yrs are at, or above, the expected level in all five areas of development (Communication, Social, Fine Motor, Gross Motor, problem solving skills)
  • 65.6% of Dorset children are achieving a good level of development in their Foundation Stage Profile (lower than Southwest, Statistical Neighbours and national average)
  • 68% of children in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) achieve a ‘Good Level of Development’ compared to 67% nationally however, for children who are eligible for Free School Meals, this reduces to 46% in Dorset

(Gov.UK 2022/23) 

Our commitment

Quote "Children’s education should help them fully develop their personalities, talents and abilities. It should teach them to understand their own rights, and to respect other people’s rights, cultures and differences. It should help them to live peacefully and protect the environment" Article 29 – Convention on the Rights of the Child -Child’s version.

As a strong education team of school leaders, subject specialists, teachers, teaching assistants, education challenge leads and specialist teachers we will continue to strengthen our work in supporting every child to reach their potential.

We recognise the important role that parents and carers play in influencing and encouraging children and young people to be aspirational.

We know that some groups of children and young people, such as those eligible for free-school meals, tend to under achieve when compared to their peers and we are committed to an enhanced focus to closing the gap for these pupils.

In 2017 the Social Mobility Commission reported that Weymouth and Portland were the 3rd worst local authority in the country for social mobility. We strongly believe that a strong education is a key factor in improving social mobility.

We will monitor outcomes for children and young people from early years through primary years and into Key Stage 4 (GCSEs) and Post 16 (Key Stage 5) to ensure that all parties are clear on shared priorities for improvement.

Dorset has a long tradition of sharing information on our strengths and weaknesses, and we will continue to encourage and foster an open and honest environment where these are shared to encourage improvement in outcomes for all.

From recent outcomes we have identified underachievement in writing for boys at primary age, and mathematics achievement for girls at the end of year 6 - that continues to GCSE attainment.

We want our young people to have access to good quality careers information advice and guidance, in line with the Gatsby Standards.

We will continue to support careers leaders in schools through our partnership with the Dorset Careers Hub and support from our Enterprise Co-ordinators, ensuring our schools are focused on those that are likely to struggle with the transition to post-16 provision.

Through our locality teams, and a whole family approach we will identify early those young people at risk of not being in education or training – NEET- and intervene to provide them with the skills and resilience to make the successful transition into adulthood.

We will work with post-16 providers and young people to further develop a broad range of post-16 options, which recognise young people’s aspirations and link to the future skills need of the Dorset economy.

This will include provision which supports our young people with EHCP’s into meaningful employment, including Supported Internships, as well as a range of pathways for those young people who are more suited to vocational and practical options.

Our Ofsted outcomes improved in 2022/23. Dorset remains 4% below national for the percentage of good or outstanding schools and we continue to work to achieve better outcomes.

For Quality of Education, we are 1% below national average at 75% and we will work towards exceeding national standards.

We will also focus efforts on leadership, behaviour and attitudes and personal development as we see these as essential elements of great schools.

Ofsted outcomes 2022/23 – Dorset and National figures

Overall effectiveness:

  • Dorset 85%
  • National 89%

Quality of education:

  • Dorset 75%
  • National 76%

Behaviour and attitudes:

  • Dorset 85%
  • National 88%

Personal development:

  • Dorset 87%
  • National 91%

Effectiveness of leadership and management:

  • Dorset 86%
  • National 91%

Elective Home Education

We will be supportive of our children and young people who are educated at home.

Working as a partnership we will encourage and maintain strong links between home and the facilities and provision available in the child’s/young person’s local community, so they are safe and have a strong sense of belonging.

Quote "Every child has a right to an education" Article 28 – UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Our impact

Best Start in Life:

  • 100% of early years providers are good or above
  • children in the EYFS will continue to achieve above the national percentage for a Good Level of Development (GLD). We will close the gap of 6% to meet and aim to surpass the national percentage of 52% for a GLD for those children eligible for free school meals

Best Education for All:

  • positive relationships with home educators rooted in a desire to have a genuine mutual understanding based on trust, and respect. Ensuring that elective home education EHE is chosen by families for positive reasons
  • our girls will feel and be more successful with their maths learning facilitated by confident and appropriately trained teachers and Tas.
  • boy's writing outcomes will meet and aim to exceed the national standard
  • greater opportunities for children and young people to have experiences of a foreign language and culture
  • to close the 5% Dorset/national gap of young people achieving grade 5+ in core subjects at GCSE
  • all our schools in Dorset will be Ofsted rated good or outstanding

Priority 4: Continuously strengthen our workforce

Our vision

Quote "‘High challenge low threat’ and ‘Humans first, colleagues second" Mary Myatt.

Our multi-disciplinary teams work with settings to ensure that all children achieve and belong.

We strive for a curriculum that is meaningful and relevant to our children and young people within their localities, whilst securing and further improving outcomes to exceed national standards.

We continue to build on the Dorset Children Thrive Model to support children and families in the communities in which they live, learn, and grow.

We believe a confident and well supported workforce is key to achieving our aims.

Creating a safe environment for our early years settings and school's workforce where challenge can be presented in a nurturing and supportive way is key is to our children and young people having the best experience of learning that they can.

Ensuring strong links between Children's Young People's Mental Health services, health partners, to include health visitors and school nurses and our schools is vital in supporting both the young people and the workforce that cares for them.

Through Families First for Children Pathfinder Programme, Education will be become the fourth statutory partner.

This will further strengthen our partnership working and provide a range of opportunities for our education workforce to deepen and extend their safeguarding knowledge and practice.

Our collaborative work to develop a workforce pledge as part of The Best Education for All Children and young people’s family plan has begun.

We have a representative of professionals from our local early years settings and schools to shape the content of our Workforce Pledge.

Our commitment to the Workforce Pledge will support the well-being of our schools’ workforce whilst addressing and future proofing recruitment and retention into Dorset schools.

We will work with creativity to balance the needs of our local schools’ workforce within the national context.

Our commitment

Working collaboratively with a range of settings and stakeholders we will listen to what our workforce are telling us they need to be the best they can be at providing a rich, safe, and sustainable learning environment for all our children.

The key themes of our workforce pledge are:

  • leader well-being
  • Teacher, TA and Early Years practitioner well-being
  • Mandatory centralised induction training for TAs
  • continued commitment to setting relevant professional development
  • career progression for TAs
  • pay progression for TAs
  • recruitment and retention of TAs, Teachers, and School Leaders

Schools are telling us that bespoke induction training and graduated training for TAs and teachers will better equip them for the challenges they are facing in their settings.

A review of TA pay structure will lead to more sustainable retention and recruitment and begin to address this national crisis.

Leader well-being support and interventions that are accessible and meaningful are high on the agenda of the workforce pledge.

Our impact

We want working in a Dorset school will be an exciting and rewarding experience through which opportunities for personal growth will be recognised, harnessed, and rewarded.

We will see a reduction in stress related workforce absence and colleagues will feel part of a safe and supported workplace.

Quotes "‘Every interaction is an intervention" Mark Finnis.

"Ultimately what matters is that the practitioner is the intervention" Marc Rowland.

Priority 5: Our settings are financially strong and sustainable

Our vision

Quote "‘Hope is a way of thinking – a cognitive process" Brene Brown

We aim for settings to get the best value from every pound spent, to facilitate the best outcomes for our children and young people.

Dorset already has an ambitious and extensive funded capital programme for SEND.

Our ambition is for children to be able to attend their local school, so that they can be with their peers, their families and their communities; and also avoid long travelling distances.

Our experienced finance team work collaboratively with schools to support their financial planning, implementation, and monitoring.

Through our Schools’ Forum we will listen to and work with Trusts, and maintained providers of each setting tier to provide the support we can manage the challenges presented by the national context of early years and schools funding.

Our commitment

Working with our whole school community:

  • we will develop a strategic 3-year financial plan linked to their school development plan (SDP). Funds are spent on children in school today and deficit is avoided, now and in the future
  • we will have a whole school culture of value for money, involving governors, SLT and all teaching and support staff
  • we will have regular reviews to ensure the budget is on track, SDP priorities are costed and are being achieved and grant income is being used effectively (e.g. pupil premium / sports premium)
  • we will work towards staffing levels that are appropriate to meet the school’s needs and affordable in the medium term
  • we will ensure schools’ equipment, building and grounds are maintained and used effectively to the benefit of all pupils
  • we will provide Team Around the Setting meetings (TAS) linking early years settings with members of the Locality Teams to share best practice supporting the conditions for partnership working

We will work hard to secure additional funding for our capital programme for SEND

On the 5th January 2024 we applied to the DfE for additional High Needs Placements Capital Allocation bidding round 4 to deliver a further 116 places for £13.6M.

The nature of inclusive practice and the belonging strategy means that every school has a role to play in meeting the needs of all local children, including those with SEND.

This means we need to invest across the whole estate, especially where there are high levels of need.

For example, we have invested some of our SOCA funding to improve toilets and accessibility at several schools and academies including:

  • Prince of Wales School
  • Westfield
  • Cheselbourne
  • Yewstock
  • Wyvern
  • Cerne Abbas

Inclusion hubs at mainstream schools and academies have opened this year at four schools:

  • St. Mary’s Bridport
  • Bincombe Valley
  • Ferndown Upper School
  • Gillingham Secondary School

As a local education community, we have come together to plan and develop how we will support more children and young people in their local school and community, in a financially sustainable way.

We are committed to progressing:

  • enhanced phased transfers, to include peer mentoring and summer schools
  • support to mainstream schools through outreach
  • turnaround places at Learning Centres
  • re-engagement packages for individual children and young people
  • teaching packages
  • Aspirational Vocational Pathway offer
  • classroom without walls
  • examination centres
  • a new model of resourced provision – special school satellites

For early years settings, this involves:

  • offering tailored information, advice, and guidance to support the development of strong business models
  • reviewing how we provide local authority support to early years settings designed around children and families
  • providing regular networking opportunities for early years settings to access information, advice, and guidance to support their sustainability and quality of provision
  • identifying any additional funding that might support the sustainability of early years settings

Our impact

Our children, young people and their families will have a strong sense of belonging within their local community by being able to access welcoming and exciting learning environments in their local early years settings, schools and post 16 providers.

What success will look like for a child in Dorset

Listen to our children and young people

Deliver our commitments to children and young people in the student pledge.

All our children and young people feel they belong

Achieve the five key priorities in our Belonging Strategy.

Our children and young people achieve their potential and succeed in preparing for Post 16 and adulthood:

  • better social mobility for our children and young people
  • improved outcomes for all children and young people from early years through to post 16
  • maximised opportunities for engagement with supported internships and apprenticeships
  • all our schools to be Ofsted graded good or outstanding

Continuously strengthen our workforce

Deliver our commitments to our education workforce through the workforce pledge.

Our settings are financially strong and sustainable:

  • all our schools will manage their budget well with appropriate support and challenge.
  • we will apply for grant revenue and capital funding for our schools as and when the opportunities present.
  • we will support our academies in their bids for revenue and capital as opportunities present

Our pledge to our education community

We want Dorset to be the best place to be a child, where communities thrive and where our families are supported to be the best they can be. Our partnership has a bold and courageous vision to deliver the best education for all our children and young people.

How we will ensure we deliver our Education Strategy

The progress of this strategy will be reviewed at the Dorset Education Board.

A termly report detailing evidence and impact of action points will be presented for each of the priority areas.

Key performance indicators will also be monitored through the Education Performance and Practice Board and Childrens' Services Performance Board.

Our SEND Board was created in 2023 and reports to the Dorset Education Board. The diagram below shows our strategic partnership governance arrangements.


ADSC – (Nov 2023) A future vision for the education system A future vision for the education system ADCS

Brene B – (2021) Atlas of the Heart

Education Endowment Foundation (EFF) – (2017) The Attainment Gap Closing the attainment gap EEF ( Finnis M

Myatt M – (Jan 2024) Some thoughts on curriculum progression and inclusion

Rowland M – (Jan 2024) The Chesil Challenge

Sawtell S – Headteacher Briefing on Inclusion

Unicef – (1989) – The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

The Convention on the Rights of the Child: The children’s version | UNICEF


This strategy was last reviewed in 2024. 

Th next expected review date is 2027.