19 May

Graham
It’s been another busy old week. On Tuesday and Wednesday we held our Parents’ Evenings at Hollinwood Academy and New Bridge School. It is always a pleasure to meet families and discuss the progress that your children are making. The number of families that attended was superb. Thank you for supporting your children, it makes such a difference when our schools and families work in partnership.

On Wednesday evening we also held our Year 8 Disney meeting ahead of next month’s trip. It always amazes me how quickly our France residential comes around. It really is one of the highlights of my year! The children are understandably very excited – the anticipation is sometimes as exciting as the trip itself. This year we are taking children from New Bridge, Hollinwood and Spring Brook.

On Thursday Jenny Dunne and myself ventured down to Hillingdon and Uxbridge to support a number of their schools with some work on progress and assessment. Last year I supported the same schools with some curriculum work. We were able to present the Dashboard ideas we have been working on in our Trust. They were interested in the process we have gone through and the content of the Dashboard. We explained that the ‘academic’ elements of the Dashboard have been received by our stakeholders relatively positively. Most of the teachers and deliverers felt that the new system was more user friendly and gave them better information about the progress of the children and young people. When we eventually get the reports out to families we would be interested in your views. While the academic side appears to be going well, unfortunately the same cannot be said for the ‘learning for life’ areas. The feedback we received from our staff when the project was trialled was that the system was too time consuming and confusing. We still have work to do on it to make it more fit for purpose.

I stayed down in London for a conference on Friday. Daniel Wood and John Holland were brilliant in showcasing our work with Future Finders, Bridging the Gap and Horizons. As always, the interest from other schools was tremendous. Events like this one really illustrate how much we try to offer our youngsters. They certainly enable our schools and town to be viewed in a really positive manner.

I hosted a question and answer session at the end of the conference where there was quite a discussion about the forthcoming election, the effectiveness (or not) of EHCPs and the possibility that the whole school system will be ‘academised’ over the course of the next parliament. One thing that appears certain is that the pace at which we are working will continue. Enabling the schools in our Trust to stay ahead of the game continues to be my personal driver. My task is to ensure that we have enough resources to fulfil our ambitions and to place the right staff in front of your children. The leadership team of our Trust work tirelessly to make sure we give our staff the correct working environments and tools to give your children an outstanding education. My role, and that of many of my colleagues, sometimes aligns more to that of a civil servant or a politician. We all, however, share a passion for improvement and excellence. One brilliant aspect of my job is that I can always centre myself with events like this week’s Disney meeting and Parents’ Evenings – they make all the trips up and down the West Coast Mainline and the constant networking worthwhile.

To think I used to play a guitar for a living!! Have a great weekend,

Graham