16 Oct

GrahamAnother really busy week across the New Bridge Group.

On Monday we had our first peer to peer review at New Bridge School and the Learning Centre. Colleagues from Kingfisher School, Newlands in Rochdale and an HMI worked alongside our staff in evaluating a number of key issues. We were delighted with the response from the young people. As always they were honest with our visitors. All were proud to talk about their work and their many achievements. Our visitors commented upon the quality of teaching in the lessons they observed and the over-riding ethos of support and co-operation. We had especially asked them to look at some of our training packages that are available to staff. They were very impressed with what is on offer and also what our future plans consist of. We have a number of developmental areas that we need to work through to improve the offer for all our young people and our team will be putting these into operation in the next few weeks.

Hollinwood Academy has had a relatively quiet week. As you know, we had a meeting with the Local Authority to try and offer some extra places to more children and young people. Our weekly admissions panel meets every Tuesday and we are getting more and more applications for places at Hollinwood Academy. I think we already have around 10 children on a ‘waiting list’. Some of these children are presently not in school and I really hope that the Local Authority (who fund the places) are able to work with us to avoid the children and their families becoming even more anxious! On a positive note, can I welcome Robert Cockfroft and Nicola Ferron onto the Hollinwood Academy Governing Body as its first Parent Governors.

On Thursday we had a meeting with the directors and trustees of New Bridge Horizons regarding the lease at Medtia Square. For the first time in a number of weeks I am confident that we have agreed a proposal that suits all parties. I am still slightly reluctant to give a time frame but, subject to legal agreements, we are hopeful we may have the ‘keys’ within the next few weeks. This could mean that we can start the transition into the new building sooner rather than later, and a fully operational building after the Christmas holiday is now looking like a possibility.

I have spent quite an amount of time this week in London. I had a couple of meetings on Tuesday that centred on the revised Ofsted framework. The new framework has many positives with regard to our sector but there are a number of areas that we believe could be improved. We feel that many schools, including our own, continue to be slightly confused as to the demise of National Curriculum assessment levels. As you may be aware, the progress and attainment judgements are now almost entirely made up from Key Stage 2 SATs results and Key Stage 4 GCSEs (A*-C). This seems eminently unfair to many of our children and young people as only a small proportion of them would be working within these national levels. We believe that many of our young people make ‘outstanding progress’ (as shown by our tremendous outcomes) but it is becoming increasingly difficult to evidence within a system designed, primarily, for mainstream schools. I was also asked to speak at a Westminster event regarding people with disabilities in the workplace. I was able to showcase Bridging the Gap and Future Finders. I have hopefully raised our profile and have had some tentative discussions with Barclays and the Co-operative Group.

Have a great weekend,

Graham