29 Apr

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Graham
Good evening! I appear to have had my own ‘UK tour’ this week. I have managed to visit Birmingham, London and Manchester as well as spending time in Oldham.

On Tuesday I chaired a meeting of the Special Schools’ Voice, an organisation that works directly with central government to try and improve the provision for our learners. All areas of the country are represented. We had some far reaching discussions but the recurring theme, the issue that schools across the country are concerned about, continues to be the recommendations in the white paper that all schools will be academies by 2022. As I work in a multi academy trust, I have always been an advocate of schools having autonomy. I talked a few weeks ago in my blog about the benefits that academy status has offered our Group. I do, however, struggle with the principle of schools being ‘forced’ into becoming academies. Many small special schools are working particularly well under the control of local authorities and would struggle with the administrative and financial demands that certainly go alongside academy status. It will be interesting to see the changes that occur within the white paper as it moves through parliament.

Yesterday I was asked to present about our Group in London. I always love these events, although I would prefer not to have the get the 6.10am train! I try to use as many of our young people’s films and pictures as possible to really give other schools a flavour of our work. One of the great things about working alongside other schools is being able to learn from them about their practices. I heard about a really interesting assessment model that I have passed on to our teams – it may help with our New Bridge dashboard.

Today I have worked alongside Oldham secondary heads to work through some of the recommendations from the Oldham Commission (visit their website here to download a copy of the report). There are many challenges, particularly relating to offering a more suitable curriculum to learners at Key Stage 4. I outlined the work that we do in relation to our pathways, Bridging the Gap and Future Finders. I think initiatives like these may become very popular in the next couple of years.

Alongside my travels we have been finalising our staffing solution for the Group for next year. We have already started our recruitment process and it was lovely to see the article about Jaina in the newspaper. As I mentioned last week, the growing numbers of young people in all our provisions gives us the best type of ‘headache’. We are delighted that we can continue to offer jobs and opportunities for local people. The energy that new staff bring to our Group often transfers directly into the progress and achievements of our youngsters.

Anyway, have a great Bank Holiday weekend,

Graham