18 Jun

Graham
First of all, can I apologise for not writing a blog last week. I’ve had the most amazing couple of weeks. As many of you know, I was away with our Year 8s in Disney. It still remains one of the highlights of my year. We have now been to Disney for the last 10 or so years and there were a number of different aspects that struck me last week. Firstly was the commitment, hard work and expertise from our staff teams. We had pupils and staff from all our schools and everyone worked tirelessly to make sure our children had the most incredible experiences. Whether the children chose to watch the shows, ride on the roller coasters or meet the characters they were always supported by a staff team that accommodated their needs.

It was also brilliant to see Luke Flanagan coming along as a volunteer. Luke was one of our first cohort of children to join New Bridge School just after we opened. What an advocate for New Bridge and Oldham 6th Form College he is. It was wonderful for the other children to see, with hard work, what they can achieve. I think we need to extend this initiative next year. We have so many mature and sensible youngsters that can model the behaviour and attitudes that we expect within the Group. I hope you followed our adventures on Facebook. I, and I’m certain, my colleagues were very pleased of a rest last weekend. To follow up on the residential theme we also had our Year 6s at Hollinwood away last week and our Spring Brook children are away this week coming. Our Year 11s from New Bridge are also at Haven this week. What brilliant opportunities our young people receive.

This week has been equally rewarding but for very different reasons. On Wednesday I presented at a conference in Wakefield for Yorkshire and Humber special schools. As well as talking about the national agenda, I also discussed with them our Group employment strategy and the work that we do with our post 19 youngsters. To a school they found it inspiring. We sometimes take for granted the work we do in Oldham. We assume that it is replicated across the country. I often see in the Oldham Chronicle that Oldham is the bottom of this league table or that league table. No one ever promotes the wonderful work that our teams and young people achieve.

I could have exploded with pride on Thursday afternoon when I attended the Future Finders graduation. The number of these young people who have moved into work is truly outstanding and an inspiration, not just for Oldham but for the rest of the county. On Thursday evening I was asked to attend a dinner at Westminster, in the House of Commons. Professor Barry Carpenter and myself told anyone who would listen about our young people. To put this into context there were Lords, Ladies and MPs present. I was so proud to portray our young people alongside a professor from Cambridge who was telling the assembled audience about her students going to GCHQ etc. Well, Minister and your lords, ladies and gentlemen, the New Bridge Group youngsters achieve in equal measure by playing a part in our community, by securing jobs at the university, the hospital, the library, Premier Inn – I went on and on!!! I know who was he was impressed with most! Let’s celebrate it from the rooftops.

On Friday I travelled to Northampton and Milton Keynes to do just that. I recalled tales of our Oldham young people going to university (more of that later in the year), young people with their own companies, young people living independently within our communities, young people volunteering and young people working.

I’m writing this blog on Sunday rather than my usual Friday as I needed a few hours break, so I can’t wish you all a great weekend – instead, let’s all look forward to another great week in school.

Graham