03 Mar

Graham
I am writing this blog at the Oldham Head Teachers’ Conference, an annual event where senior leaders from across the borough meet to listen to speakers and also get an opportunity to find out what is happening in schools all around the town.

The highlight of the event is always the participation and involvement of the children. Last night, before dinner, we were entertained by the Oldham Music Service’s Youth Brass Band. They played a number of different pieces that they had showcased across the country and I found it both exhilarating and affirming in equal measure. To hear amazing music, arranged and played with such skill, shows just what the young people of Oldham can achieve. The proud history of brass bands in Oldham stretches back through generations and I loved the fact that traditional music making, particularly our brass bands, continue to be at the heart of our community. It was certainly inspirational.

There is a wealth of research to show that the power of music and learning to play an instrument helps brain development. The young people who entertained us last night displayed confidence, maturity, patience, enjoyment and each of them made their individual contribution to a delightful overall sound. These are skills and attributes that we should be encouraging in all our children and young people and are ones that are so prevalent in our schools. I would like to thank everyone connected with the Oldham Music Service for arranging such a brilliant evening of entertainment.

In last week’s blog I mentioned that I would keep families and stakeholders up to speed with the numbers within all our schools. I’ll start with New Bridge where I believe we have one of the largest intakes in our history wanting places at both New Bridge School and New Bridge Learning Centre. To put this in context, we now admit more children into a single year group than we used to have in the whole of Hill Top (one of our previous schools) 10 years ago! Our Group has taken a strategic decision to always ensure we can offer places to as many children and young people who fit our profile. I know from the feedback from families and the young people themselves that many of them want their children to attend New Bridge because of the amazing pastoral systems, our innovative curriculum pathways but most importantly the sense that they feel valued by our amazing staff team.

Hollinwood Academy is virtually full, short of a couple of non EHCP places. This week the team have been working on ‘tweaking’ our Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 offer to make sure that the curriculum absolutely matches the needs of our learners.

Both Spring Brook Upper and Lower schools are steadily, but surely, growing. I’d personally like to thank the staff, families and young people at Spring Brook for their support. We have instigated quite a number of changes, especially at the Dean Street site. The staff have researched, planned and implemented a slightly different class organisation and delivery methods. We anticipated a number of teething problems!! However, I am certain that working through these challenges now will ensure that our children will benefit in the medium and long term.

We met on Monday regarding our new free school, the Springboard Project, which will further support the vocational and curriculum offer for our Spring Brook Key Stage 4 learners. I am delighted to able to report that everything is going along smoothly and we are just about to enter a more formal consultation period when we will be able to give you more details about this exciting development.

I can’t finish without mentioning both Horizons and Future Finders. At this point last year we were only talking of leasing two floors of the Medtia Square building! We now have more than 80 young people aged between 19 and 25 accessing this provision – we certainly need all four floors now! When you visit, however, you rarely see the youngsters as they spend the majority of their time within our communities or at work! Brilliant! Watch this space with regards to Future Finders, as I understand there are some very exciting ideas that further relate to supported work and internships.

Have a great weekend – it’s certainly been a productive and profitable week!

Graham