City of Bradford metropolitan district council

John Leese – education safeguarding – attendance, prosecutions and licensing

John joined Bradford Council in November 2021, a challenging time to join at the tail end of the Covid Pandemic, and with the country struggling to re-adjust. John hit the ground running, quickly assessing the situation through discussions with leaders, staff, schools and stakeholders. John was able to use Azure’s Experience, Innovation and Success to achieve some initial quick wins, introducing Azure’s Staged Intervention Approach to Bradford to help manage pupil poor attendance, as well as using his background in data analysis to target resources at vulnerable persistently absent children.

May 2022 saw the introduction of the Department for Education’s “Working Together to Improve School Attendance” (WT2ISA) and John was able to use the guidance to spearhead a campaign aimed at getting professionals supporting families to work together to improve school attendance. Key to this success was the development of a Multi-Agency Attendance Improvement Group, which in April 2023, delivered a Multi-Agency Attendance Conference attended by almost 300 professionals. Understanding the importance of education and attendance to early intervention has helped motivate the professional network, with further opportunities to work together currently being explored.

John’s work on Attendance in Bradford has also been recognised nationally by the Department for Education, with John being asked to present his ideas and solutions to other Local Authority Attendance Leads and Directors of Children’s Services (DCS). John is also working with the DfE and ITS Training in the development of professional standards for Attendance staff in schools and LAs.

Swindon metropolitan borough council

Andrea packer – Lead for education welfare

Andrea took on an interim role in March 2022 as the Lead for Education Welfare at Swindon Borough Council, initially for 3 months to co-produce and develop a new attendance strategy in line with the new Department for Education attendance guidance.  This contract ended up lasting for 14 months in total, and saw Andrea also taking on lead responsibility for Exclusions and Safeguarding. Andrea’s responsibilities include operational and strategic activities.

London borough of Newham

John Leese – group manager / consultant – attendance, cme, ehe and licensing

John’s initial remit was to improve council policy and practice for Children Missing Education (CME) in preparation of an Ofsted inspection of Children’s Services (ILACS). This work involved designing and implementing new policy and procedures based on previous knowledge and experience in this area, working with services across education and social care to ensure roles and responsibilities for CME are disseminated appropriately across areas, and introducing strategic and operational accountability through the introduction of a strategic CME panel, underpinned by performance data. This work has also involved producing reports to present to departmental management teams, as well as the local safeguarding children’s board.

Azure also held a wider role leading on attendance (both statutory functions and traded elements), elective home education and child employment/entertainment, implementing improvements predominantly focused on utilising technology to improve service effectiveness and providing resources for schools, professionals and parents to access in these areas.

Azure also contributed to several multi-agency panels in the areas of complex safeguarding, youth offending, fair access, behaviour, and special educational needs, as well as acting as a budget holder for this area, with a budget of approximately £750k, with responsibility for generating income of just under £300k.

Finally, Azure led a wide-ranging review of services for vulnerable pupils, leading to a restructure of roles with a view to moving officers under the umbrella of a Vulnerable Pupils Service, ensuring all vulnerable pupils have access to education provision suitable for their needs.

dudley metropolitan borough council

John leese – lead – education investigation service

Azure initially provided Interim Management support, and went on to provide consultancy and staff induction support. Our initial brief was to provide management support to an EducationI Investigation Service integrating into a wider Early Help Service, but developed into providing a whole plethora of information, advice, guidance and directs upport in a range of areas, including:

  • Helping the service moved their Casework Recording System from CapitaONE to Synergy Core;
  • Reviewing criminal investigative procedures to ensure they met the expectations laid out in the Criminal Procedures and Investigations Act and the Police and Criminal Evidence Act;
  • Helping the service review it’s Standard Operating Procedures in relation to Elective Home Education and Children Missing Education;
  • Introducing changes to the referral processes to ensure that the maximum amount of valuable information was made available whilst ensuring children and their families were offered and had access to Early Help and Support.
  • Sharing Azure’s Staged Intervention Approach to Poor Attendance, with the principal that the balance between challenge and support is consistent, and geared towards families being offered Early Help where appropriate.

E-ACT Multi-academy trust

john leese – vice-principal, regional lead for attendance and safeguarding, consultant

John, via Azure has provided a number of services to E-ACT, a successful Multi-Academy Trust consisting of 25 inspiring academies across the country. Azure’s focus was on providing Attendance and Safeguarding consultancy to the South-West region, and to an individual secondary academy in the West Midlands. Azure’s biggest success was in relation to the support John provided as an Interim Vice-Principal to a large 1000+ pupil Secondary Academy. John acted as a Designated Safeguarding Lead and Attendance Lead, as well as a member of the academy’s senior leadership team. Success here was achieved against a back drop of an academy that had just been placed in special measures, facing unparalleled scrutiny from Ofsted, the DfE, and from national media outlets.

“Leaders have introduced systematic, efficient and responsive procedures to follow up pupils’ non-attendance. There are now swift interventions with pupils and their families where concerns regarding attendance are identified. These actions have already successfully started to address poor attendance. The proportion of pupils persistently absent from school has declined.”….”An increasing proportion of pupils arrive at school on time and internal truancy from lessons has reduced by three quarters…”  “A recent audit of the school’s safeguarding provision has provided external validation of the success of leaders’ actions to address this aspect of the school. “- Ofsted – Monitoring Inspection – December 2017



Azure have been working with Education Futures to provide interim management solutions since 2017, supporting us to build links with Bradford, Swindon, Dudley and Newham Councils. Education Futures have provided Azure Ed with an extremely professional service which has not just benefitted Azure, but also the organisations we have worked with.

“Our friendly team focus solely on placing leaders in the education sector. We bring our skills, knowledge and understanding to every project, delivering a tailored solution on every occasion.
Delivering successful results for a wide range of organisations, we’ve become a respected and trusted brand across Schools and Local Authorities. Most of our work arises either from repeat business or recommendations from satisfied clients, building on our reputation for delivering a high standard of service and an honest and professional approach.”

Azure highly recommends Education Futures, either as an organisation looking to recruit permanently or temporarily, or if you are a professional looking for your next opportunity.

ITS Training (UK)

Training Associate / Consultant

Azure provides Associate Trainers to ITS Training to deliver courses with a focus on criminal investigation, including core investigation skills, witness statements, investigative and PACE interviewing and court presentation skills. ITS provide a wide range of training to organisations on investigation, and law enforcement activities.
Azure highly recommends ITS Training when it comes to meeting your training needs in relation to investigations. ITS personalised approach, together with years of experience in both the investigative and training arenas ensures that both organisations and learners are left 100% satisfied with their training experience.

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