12 May

GrahamThis week I have spent quite an amount of time working with Hawthorns School in Ashton. Hawthorns is the latest school to request to join our Multi Academy Trust. I wrote last week about the benefits of joint working and I am looking forward to welcoming Hawthorns into our Trust at the earliest opportunity.

Hawthorns is a school just off Ashton Moss that supports the learning needs of children with complex needs aged between 3 and 11. It’s a lovely school with some amazing features and the architecture alone is worth the visit – it’s one of the only schools that I know with a grass roof!! However, it is what’s inside that’s most impressive. Hawthorns has been a National Support School for over 5 years now and has developed practice that is truly outstanding. The school is well organised with a wonderful ethos that promotes learning. The teaching I have witnessed is inspirational. The support staff are committed and caring.

I spent time last week discussing with the staff, the governors and members of the local authority the advantages that would come from our organisations working more closely in partnership. There was a resounding positivity about the proposal for Hawthorns to join our Trust. The staff welcomed the opportunity for further training and development and appeared positive about the chance to work in a larger local organisation, and the families were very impressed with our Trust’s extra-curricular offer. The LA felt that there were only benefits in working more closely together and the governors were unanimous in their praise of our accountability structures. All in all, both parties will gain considerably.

We have also been putting the final touches to our revised leadership structure. As I mentioned last week, our schools have never been so popular and to ensure that we are positioned to continue to be successful the Trustees have agreed a model that offers individual schools more autonomy.

It was interesting to listen to Dr Adam Bodison, a colleague we work with from NASEN, discussing the numbers of children with additional needs within the school sector on Radio 4 this morning. Adam made the point that we need to face the challenge of an increase in numbers by ensuring we have both enough special school places and that mainstream schools can be suitably empowered. I know that our Teaching School, The Learning for All Alliance, is presently working alongside our mainstream partners to do just that.

Can I thank all the staff who have supported our children through their SATs this week. The children appear to have coped remarkably well but I think I will need to brush up on my spelling after hearing about the spelling paper!!

Our New Bridge Group lotto is now up and running and we are keeping our eye on that £25,000 jackpot! It is a great way to support all our young people and if you haven’t yet signed up to take part in the weekly draw, please click here to find out more – best of luck!

Anyway, that’s it for this week – have a great weekend everyone.

Graham