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Whenever I return to the Luton and Dunstable area I always feel at home. Having worked as a teacher, Deputy, and Head in Luton, returning for a visit or conference is always a pleasure.

It is great to recognise a number of familiar faces, and it was fantastic to get showed around by an ex-pupil of mine. Alongside this, having worked in the area, I understand the strengths, challenges, and complexities of the community.

Yesterday on my visit, I started off at the Level Trust Education and Poverty Conference delivering a keynote on my vision for disadvantaged children across England. In a theatre filled with individuals who are already doing so much for the most vulnerable children in our society, it really felt like we had a joint mission. Whilst there, I was also able to speak with a number of education leaders within the community. We spoke about how they have found returning from the pandemic, mental health support, and what more could be done to support the most vulnerable children.

Following this Conference, I was kindly hosted by Ardley Hill Academy, and joined by Lark Rise Academy for a lunch-time visit to speak about the importance of family within their community as part of my Family Review.

Thank you to the children, parents, and staff for taking the time to talk to me about such an important topic. It was heart-warming to hear them describe what family meant to them all. Whatever the shape or size of the family words such as love, trust, community, thoughtful, fun, and caring kept coming up.

Having met with Ardley’s Headteacher Steve Fox, Deputy Head Monique Berry, and Lark Rise’s Headteacher Romina Lang, it’s clear these values are also embedded in their school community.

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