23 Oct

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GrahamIt was wonderful to see our young people on Match of the Day last week – if you missed the programme you can watch it here. A huge ‘well done!’ to all those who participated.

We welcomed a number of primary school colleagues to Hollinwood Academy and New Bridge School on Monday. The intention was to see how our local schools can utilise our facilities and to further improve our working relationships with our neighbours. They were all suitably impressed, particularly with our soft play centre!

Earlier in the week I met with our ICT team who have been working on the pupil sections of our schools’ websites to support learning at home. You can access the areas directly by clicking here for New Bridge School and here for Hollinwood Academy.  Please get your child to navigate and explore all the pages – there is an introductory video from Mr Bright on the ‘homework’ area. We know we need to develop it more for children and young people working at earlier levels and we would love to get your feedback. I know that the ICT team are planning to gather your views and, very importantly, understand from you as parents how we can improve this section in the future.

We have applied for a change of use (similar to planning permission) from the council for the Medtia building. I am aware that the process appears never-ending but I am certain families will bear with us as, hopefully, the outcome will more than justify the time spent with our legal and finance teams. The opportunities afforded by moving to a modern, purpose-built facility in the middle of town are numerous. I really believe that our pathways, New Bridge Horizons and Future Finders will be in a position of strength in this provision.

We are presently completing a ‘Teaching School’ application. If we are successful, New Bridge will become a National Support School. There are many advantages to this status including being able to offer initial teacher training (with an emphasis on our learners), the opportunity to engage in research projects and to lead developments across the borough with regard to young people with additional needs. It is only open to schools that have received ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted judgements. I’ll keep you up to speed with developments as we know them.

It was interesting to note that the Local Government Association is lobbying the government for a common-sense approach to holidays within term time. Let’s hope we get to a compromise position. If your child needs to take time off during term time please talk to your Head of School or Learning Centre. They are able to make allowances in ‘exceptional’ circumstances – in most cases I believe that our children spending quality time with their families and carers constitutes exceptional!

I am aware that half term is now upon us. Many schools look forward to a well-earned rest but not us! Across the New Bridge Group our holiday clubs offer planned and focused activities for all our children and young people. Organising these clubs is a massive, complex operation and my thanks go out to Karen Bingley and our full year staff who do a wonderful job of managing the logistics. Brilliant. I have seen the planning that goes into these weeks. To give you an idea of the scale of the task, I can tell you that more children and young people attend our holiday clubs than are on the roll of the majority of other special schools!

Whatever your plans are this holiday, can I take this opportunity to wish you all a safe and happy half term.

Graham