10 Feb

Graham
It’s been a really profitable week. This is the time of year when we start to plan for our next academic year’s intake. September will come around really quickly.

This piece of work has been given greater significance this year as a result of the growth of Hollinwood Academy and with Spring Brook joining our Multi Academy Trust. While many schools in Oldham continue to report challenges and issues that relate to falling pupil numbers, we are faced with the opposite problem. All our schools are over-subscribed and our job is to ensure we can offer places to all the children who have placed us as their preferred first choice. I would much rather our schools and post 19 provisions have this ‘problem’ than deal with the issue of falling rolls, reducing budgets and the threat of staff redundancy.

The increase in our numbers and the changing nature of our young people was placed into a national context on Wednesday when I was asked to chair a conference for Optimus in London. It was interesting to hear that our experience in Oldham appears to be very similar to that of others across the country. What I find intriguing is how some of the more outward facing schools view this as a real opportunity to further develop both our collective and individual offers, yet other schools see it as an enormous problem! Our Group sees our expansion as very much a positive.

This week we have held some preliminary discussions about buildings, curriculum, staffing, groupings and organisation. There have been some very creative ideas that will need further development with a wider group of stakeholders. We hope to be able to discuss some ideas with you all in the next few weeks.

I spent some time up at our Horizons provision yesterday and it was wonderful to see how engaged the young people were. It came as a surprise to me that we are now approaching our first year in the Medtia buildings. To think that when we first looked into moving into the centre we initially considered leasing just the first two floors. The building, in the centre of town, now supports three of our curriculum pathways, our Future Finders supported internship course and over 80 young people who attend our post 19 Horizons provision. It’s been a truly remarkable journey – the leadership from John, Dan and Richard, together with the support of a transformational team, has ensured that we are making a real difference for our young people and their families.

It’s also our half term next week which means a holiday for some and holiday clubs for others.

Have a great weekend – stay warm!

Graham