18 Mar

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Graham
It has certainly been a significant week for education. We have had the publication of a new White Paper which has some momentous implications. There will be massive changes to the education system as all schools will be expected to become either an Academy or part of a Multi Academy Trust by 2020. On top of that, we are likely to see more changes to lesson planning, marking and teacher training.

From our Group perspective, as I mentioned in last week’s blog, we have seen this agenda coming for a number of years and we have established ourselves as a large organisation with a strong reputation. We need to reflect on the implications of this government’s policy for our organisation. Over the coming years we are likely to be asked to work with and support other schools. There is also a strong likelihood that many schools will request to join our Multi Academy Trust. Growth within the Multi Academy Trust offers many opportunities for the young people and staff but can also lead to challenges.

It is interesting to think how our schools and organisation have developed. Our many, many outstanding achievements have been possible initially through our growth and subsequently through our conversion to an Academy; a few of these include:
• Our full year offer
• Our after school clubs
• Our post 19 developments
• Our employment strategy
• Our curriculum developments (including our pathways)
• Our staff development opportunities
• Our amazing facilities and buildings

These opportunities, and many, many more, would not have been possible if we had stayed as separate, small special schools. However, we do need to face up to our challenges. As we grow larger and support a more diverse group of children, young people and young adults we have to ensure that each individual organisation retains, and further establishes, its unique identity whilst remaining true to our overall ethos.

An area of work we are presently engaged in is making each organisation more autonomous whilst also ensuring we make best use of all the staff at our disposal. We know that cross-site travel is problematic and we are trying to develop a staffing structure to minimise this occurring. We are aware that the young people need more support to access our offer and we are developing our apprenticeship model and offering our teaching assistant team better development opportunities.

We are constantly reminded of the national challenges in respect of assessment, the curriculum and the shortage of teachers. Our teaching school status and expert senior team are leading on innovative solutions to these changes.

We understand the ‘rhetoric’ behind economies of scale, financial savings and business acumen. Our HR, business, administration and finance teams will need to expand and diversify to ensure best value principles are adhered to and both savings and revenue can be diverted to our young people.

Do I regret becoming the leader of a Multi Academy Trust? Never! It is inspiring to see the teams who work in our classrooms. It is exciting to hear of the latest plans and ambitions that the staff have for your children. It is fantastic to work in buildings that are modern and designed to meet the needs of our children and young people. Most of all, it is wonderful to see how both the staff and young people rise to every challenge and face it head on. I love the fact that we do this in true Northern spirit, with Oldham grit and determination.

Regrets? It’s still, in my eyes, the best job in the world.

Have a great weekend,

Graham