09 Dec

Graham
Visitors from Cornwall, two local governing body meetings, 3 Christmas showcases and 8 local leadership meetings…..it’s been quite a week! We always prepare for this time of year as we know it never fails to be incredibly busy but I can hardly believe that another term has almost passed, we’ve managed to cram in so much.

I was delighted to show some visitors around our post 14 provisions on Tuesday. We started at Medtia Square where John outlined what New Bridge Horizons is able to offer post 19. We saw some of the young people engaged in a yoga session, others hard at work developing their independence and self-help skills while yet more young people were out on volunteering and work placements in the community. John was able to explain the complex funding arrangements for our Horizons provision and gave a quick summary of how we have grown the facility to the super offer we see today – to think that 5 years ago we started off in a converted old people’s home with just 4 young people!!

Our next stop was the Royal Oldham Hospital for a chat with the students on our ‘Bridging the Gap’ supported internship project. We visited the laundry areas, the hospital shop and heard about the work on the wards. A highlight for me was calling in to see Elizabeth who is employed in the HSDU (Hospital Sterilisation and Disinfection Unit). Elizabeth was one of our very first ‘Bridging the Gap’ success stories several years ago. It is wonderful for colleagues from around the country to talk to Elizabeth about her experiences of the world of work, she really engages them and inspires them to develop something similar in their own region.

The Atrium café, one of our latest projects, was next on the list. It was brilliant to see and hear not just how well our young people are working in this busy environment but also how welcoming and accepting the staff from First Choice Homes have been of our young people and our collective ambitions. We had just enough time left for a whistle-stop tour of New Bridge Learning Centre and Hollinwood Academy but unfortunately we didn’t get chance to visit Spring Brook and New Bridge schools.

One of our visitors, Neil, is writing up his recommendations for Cornish schools and sent this lovely email:

‘Just passing on a huge thank you for organising the plan of events today for my visit. It has been a truly invaluable day and it far exceeded my expectations in terms of how useful my visit would be. The staff very kindly gave up their time to give me the grand tour and fill me in with all the details about P16/P19 developments for which I am very grateful. I’m sure you have been told this many times but the Group is inspirational. It has been so refreshing to listen and talk to colleagues whose visions are so learner focused and who are prepared to take the necessary risks/changes to bring about much needed opportunities for the students.’

On Tuesday and Wednesday evenings our local governing bodies were briefed about the latest developments at both New Bridge School and Hollinwood Academy. Wednesday also saw us treated to both a morning and evening performance of our traditional Christmas Showcase followed by a final performance last night. There was a wide array of talent on show and I am certain that all the families who were able to come and watch went home with a smile on their faces and feeling particularly festive.

A number of us have been involved in some initial planning this week in relation to the newest member of our Group, Spring Brook Academy. The new staff are all having ‘job chats’ and they have come up with some really exciting ideas on how we can improve the opportunities for the young people. I am so pleased that they have bought into our ambitions for Oldham and I know we will have an excellent team who, given appropriate buildings and resources, will be able to offer our young people an enhanced curriculum.

That’s it for this week – the festivities begin in earnest on Monday, hold onto your Christmas hats!!

Graham