16 Sep

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Graham

Can I first of all apologise for not completing a blog last week – it proved to be one of those weeks where there don’t appear to be enough days!! It also coincided with my wife’s 50th birthday celebrations which saw our extended family from America staying at our house….chaos ensued.

I always look forward to a new academic year. I love to see the excitement on the children’s faces and I love the fact that our staff are re-energised and full of brilliant ideas.

The summer is a really busy time for our extended schools teams. I know that this year has been particularly challenging as all our sites have been opened for more children and young people than ever before. I would like to thank Karen, our Extended Schools Director, and all our full year teams for their commitment and support to all our young people. I know that our families really value our unique, extended school offer.

We have been busy over the summer supporting Spring Brook School with their academy conversion. We are delighted to welcome Spring Brook School into our Multi Academy Trust (MAT). We have been working with them to ensure their school buildings, at Heron Street and Dean Street, are transferred into our MAT and we have a provisional date of October 1st for their conversion. We are looking forward to working alongside a committed team of professionals who I am certain will add value to the other schools within our Trust.

We have heard today that our post 16 free school bid, The Spring Board Project, has been approved by the Secretary of State. In real terms this will mean that some of the young people from Spring Brook, presently at the Dean Street site, can access a more appropriate curriculum model. Once I have more information I will let you know.

Again, linked to the expansion of our Group, I am delighted to be able to inform families that we have been successful in bidding to run the café at First Choice Homes. Daniel has written about it in his blog here. I am really looking forward to drinking an Americano at The Atrium in the very near future!

I would also like to congratulate the Kingfisher Community Special School on today’s news of their own successful bid to open a new free school, Halcyon Way, for primary aged children with severe to moderate learning difficulties. Following conversion they are now an academy called Kingfisher Special School and have set up their own Multi Academy Trust, the Kingfisher Learning Trust, to run both schools. Even more good news for families in Oldham!

It’s been an interesting few weeks for central government. 18 months ago I recall Nicky Morgan, the then Secretary of State for Education, stating that she was going to ensure schools had a period of stability. Since then this stability has given us, to name but a few……

  • a revised external accreditation system (no more A*s to C, now 9 -1)
  • the scrapping of all attainment levels (now replaced by end of year expectations)
  • the re-emergence of the grammar school debate
  • an overhaul of the primary curriculum.

Nicky Morgan has gone and Justine Greening is now in post – let’s hope that she doesn’t want stability!! Just for once though, wouldn’t it be wonderful if one of them took a real interest in our children, our schools and our families. Our strongest ally, Edward Timpson, sometimes appears a lone voice. I chair a national group, Special Schools’ Voice, and we continue to work with central government and Minister Timpson to ensure the provision and the outcomes for our children are improved. We continually lobby for fairer funding, improved post 19 provision, more joined up services (health, social care and education) and better training for undergraduate teachers.

There’s loads to do both locally and nationally – I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Have a wonderful weekend,

Graham