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General Secretary Blog: 8th April - what I've been up to...


So, many of you may ask…what does the General Secretary of a trade union do!?

With the nomination process underway to elect the next General Secretary of the AEP, here is my fortnightly update – an attempt try and demystify the role – and share with members just some of the important and (mostly) exciting work we do here at the AEP!

Once again, the past fortnight has been a busy one! I’ve had lots of meetings – and lots of these are now transitioning back to being ‘in-person’. It’s lovely to see everyone again, and great to remember the value of interacting with colleagues beyond a screen….but it’s easy to forget it can be tiring!

Last week I was able to attend the DECP conference, which took place in Bristol. There was a great programme of speakers and seminars and I’d reiterate that it lovely to see everyone in person and meet new colleagues - as well as renewing “old” acquaintances. The mood was positive and it was good to feel the strong connections across the EP profession and share ideas and concerns.

The DfE consultation on Behaviour and Exclusions Guidance closed last week and thanks to some great contributions and ideas from members, we were able to submit a robust response on behalf of the AEP.

In England, we were pleased to see the release of the anticipated Green Paper on SEND and the White Paper on Schools. We are pleased to say that Charles Lang (Deputy Director SEND, AP and attendance at the DfE), who led the SEND Review, will be leading 2 webinars for AEP members on 26th April and the 7th June to discuss the review and on the recently published Green Paper. Details of these will be sent soon and you’ll be able to register. I look forward to meeting with Will Quince, Minister for Children & Families later this month to discuss the work and role of EPs in schools and settings.

The AEP also plan to hold its first Annual Conference in person since the start of the pandemic in 2020 - which will be held in York on 10 & 11 November. We are putting in a lot of work to plan the conference, so myself and a few colleagues visited the site this week to ensure it was the right place for us. It’s a particularly special event this year – not only in light of coming together in person again, but also because the AEP will be celebrating its 60th birthday!

As General Secretary I love being able to engage with different groups with members and listen to their concerns and issues. This week, I was able to meet with our TEP reps from our initial TEP training courses to hear about their training and their thoughts. TEP reps provide an invaluable link between future EPs and the AEP – it’s very important we have that connection. If you’re interested in the role of rep, or want to find out more, do contact us!

I’ve rounded off this week by visiting our head office in Durham to have an all-staff meeting - another ‘first’ in a long time! This has been a good opportunity to catch up with colleagues, get together and celebrate our good work in the past year – but also set ourselves goals and priorities in the future (even when I’m gone)!


Some of the key priorities in my calendar this fortnight...

  • Submit the AEP response to the Government Consultation on Behaviour & Exclusions Guidance.
  • Engagement with the Department for Education on initial training of EPs in England.
  • Attend and present at the DECP Conference in Bristol.
  • Reflect on discussions and take appropriate actions from decisions at the AEP National Executive Committee in late March (this is the decision-making body of the AEP – we meet around 6 times a year)
  • Engage with Government departments in Wales, Scotland & Northern Ireland.
  • Familiarise myself with - and highlight to members the newly published Green Paper of SEND and White Paper on Schools.
  • Meet with TEP reps from the AEP.
  • Help with conference planning for our annual conference in November. 
  • Hold an all staff meeting to discuss organisational priorities for the coming months.

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