05 May

GrahamIt may have been a short week but we have managed to fit quite an amount of work in!

I returned to school on Tuesday mightily relieved that Bury had managed to avoid relegation to League Two. Well done to Oldham who managed to retain their League One status the week before. I sometimes wish that my father had taken me to watch Manchester United or City when I was younger as this lifelong burden doesn’t appear fair to anyone!

Anyway, on to school matters. This has very much been a week of ‘finishing off’ a number of projects that required tweaking and further attention. I have been working on a reorganisation of our leadership team to ensure that we continue to be fit for purpose. One of the challenges our central team has is that colleagues are constantly pulled from one school to another; there are days where some of us can be on 4 or 5 sites. Our proposed revised structure aims to give control back to individual schools and ensure that the directors are able to respond more appropriately to need. I am presenting the revised structure to Trustees next week so hopefully I can communicate it through to stakeholders in due course.

I am also working on a document that sets out how our Trust can support other schools. I am aware that the New Bridge Multi Academy Trust is sometimes portrayed as a huge organisation that continues to grow. We never have, and never will, actively set out to ‘recruit’ schools to our Trust. We will, however, respond to need. I was speaking to a parent on the car park earlier in the week who was delighted that her son had made such progress at Hollinwood Academy. By this point in time we could have almost doubled the number of children in Hollinwood Academy, the demand is so high from families. This demand doesn’t just happen by accident, families want our schools because of the staff who are within them. It is our staff who make the difference. Their skills, knowledge, commitment and dedication to all our children make the difference. Our children only get one go at a great education. So many of our families come to visit our schools disillusioned with the present system! Where we constantly see this, this is when our Trust will look to expand to ensure the brilliant practice that we often take for granted can be offered to other children and their families. If this means that we continue to be criticised then so be it – at least I can continue to have car park conversations about how happy, settled and comfortable our children are!

The rest of the week has been filled trying to support our schools plan for next year. New Bridge School has more children than ever before. As noted above, Hollinwood Academy is already full to our commissioned places 18 months ahead of schedule. Spring Brook is also expanding to numbers we haven’t seen in the last few years. Our team at Horizons are expecting more than 20 young people to join then over the Summer period – 5 years ago we set up our post 19 provision with just 6 young people and in July this number will be near to 100!!

It’s SATs next week for some of our children at Hollinwood Academy and our teams have purposefully kept the event very low key. My son is also sitting his SATs so I share some of your anxieties and frustrations. I am far from convinced that the stress some schools put the children under is necessary, it seems disproportionate to the information these tests give both schools and families. I know my teachers are able to tell me very accurately, without the need for tests, the skills, attributes and ‘levels’ of all our children. This is done through continual assessment and an excellent knowledge of each individual child.

Anyway, I’ll step down from my soapbox now in time to wish you all a lovely weekend,

Graham