03 Feb

Graham
I was delighted to read the latest blog from our New Bridge Head Boy (available here). Jack wrote with real passion about equal opportunities and how he has been prepared and supported to move to college. Jack continued his thoughts about New Bridge by saying,

‘I never criticise New Bridge because undoubtedly it’s the best school in the United Kingdom, it offers support and gives fantastic opportunities that last a lifetime.’

I’ve spent most of the week in Birmingham and London. I have had a series of meetings with the Department for Education where a number of members of Special Schools’ Voice (SSV) met with leading officials. We meet with them every term to ensure that they are ‘kept in the loop’ regarding both the issues that are challenging the sector and also the areas where central policies are working well. We discussed a wide range of issues, from the challenges of recruitment, the roll out of Education Health and Care Plans, Multi Academy Trusts, the increasing number of children in all our schools, the revised funding formula to assessment. These meetings certainly enable our Group to keep up to speed with the latest developments and trends. They also allow us to be signposted to the best practice across the country.

I’ve also been on some CEO (Chief Executive Officer) training. As our Group continues to expand, I felt it was important to take stock of my individual role within our Multi Academy Trust (MAT). It was great to meet with colleagues in the same boat and for me to try and navigate my way around the fragmented educational landscape that we are all asked to work within. It’s a real balancing act ensuring that we constantly strive to improve all our schools and provisions while at the same time work within a reducing overall educational budget. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has done research into school budgets and has concluded that over the last 3 years we have lost between 8% and 13% of our total budgets. I have advised our governors and trustees that by working in partnership with other schools as a MAT, and thereby growing our operations, we have managed to deflect the majority of these financial challenges. The BBC had a number of reports this week highlighting the problems some areas are experiencing; Cheshire schools are debating a 4 day week and in West Sussex school leaders are talking of ‘dire circumstances’. Being ahead of the game and able to navigate our schools through these challenges is fast becoming a significant part of my role! This week’s training has helped clarify my thoughts on how best to lead our schools into their next stages of development.

However, my fundamental role is to continually improve all our schools. My passion is that every young person who attends Spring Brook, New Bridge, Horizons and Hollinwood Academy feels exactly the same as Jack. Thank you, Jack, I know your words mean so much to our team. Our trustees, governors and all our staff teams share a moral purpose; to ensure that every child and young person across our Group has the same experience as you.

Have a great weekend,

Graham