06 May

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Graham
We have had a wonderfully productive week.

We usually find that this is the term where we can really achieve our best results. One of the main reasons for this is the fact that our schools are operating in a really controlled and calm manner. The children who have joined the schools have settled and understand the routines. The staff team now have an excellent understanding of the young people and have established good relationships with them.

This shorter week started for me in Nottingham. I had to attend a National Leaders of Education conference where the main points of the recently published white paper were discussed. I alluded to the most publicised area last week in my blog, that of all schools becoming academies or part of multi academy trusts by 2022. There are other significant areas identified in the white paper and I have noted a few of the ones that could impact upon our Group:

  •  replacing Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) with ‘a more challenging accreditation’
  • implementing a national fair funding formula
  •  improving the effectiveness of pupil premium spending
  •  removing the requirement for parent governors

All of these areas, along with other planned changes, could have a significant impact upon our Group.

As an established Multi Academy Trust, we are constantly evaluating our workforce to ensure that it meets the needs of our children, young people and adult populations. I welcome the opportunity to support our newly qualified teachers into teacher status. I would also welcome an acknowledgement from government (and subsequent legislative guidance) as to the impact that our non-teaching colleagues have on the progress and attainment of our young people. As we move onto our second decade as New Bridge we have learnt so much about building, developing and supporting a workforce that truly supports both the academic and pastoral needs of our young people.

We are watching the suggestion of the implementation of a national funding formula (and maybe the tinkering with pupil premium) very carefully. We have a constant struggle to ‘balance the books’. I am aware that all public services are expected to do ‘more with less’ but it is becoming increasingly challenging to generate new funding streams. We took the appropriate strategic decision a number of years ago to become a convertor academy and this autonomy has allowed us the opportunity to develop the business side of what we do. This, in turn, has safeguarded and increased jobs. We know that the national funding formula is unlikely to give us increased funding, the best we can hope for is that we don’t take too much of a ‘hit’.

I struggle to see the logic in suggesting the removal of parent governors. I am proud of the fact that our members, trustees and governors are local people. We are directly accountable, thorough these boards, to our local community within Oldham. Our articles of association are written in this way and this will not change.

I was delighted to be able to show around Dr Jacqui Ashton Smith, Executive Director of Education of the National Autistic Society (NAS) yesterday. We are looking at creating a more formal partnership where our Group can advise about destinations including employment, volunteering and independent living and the NAS can advise us with the development of our new progression matrices.

Anyway, that’s it for this week. Have a great weekend – let’s hope the sun continues to shine.

Graham