06 Oct

Graham
Well, I’m now firmly established in my new room at Spring Brook Upper and loving every minute. What a team! One of the wonderful opportunities I have with our Trust is the chance to spend time with different groups of staff and young people and get to know them better.

Whichever site I work from, one crucial element remains the same – all our schools need to continually adapt and change to make the offer right for our young people. We had a discussion this week at Spring Brook that was identical to the one I had last year at Hollinwood Academy! We constantly think about the curriculum offer to make sure it’s right for our children. We always need to ensure that our staff have the necessary support and training to fulfil their roles. We have an ongoing need to adapt the outsides of our buildings and our grounds to make sure all areas are safe. Finally, we evaluate all our internal rooms and spaces to make sure they are appropriate for learning in the 21st Century.

The most effective way of ensuring these adaptations are made is to engage directly with the staff who work with our young people on a daily basis. They are far more skilled and knowledgeable than I am about understanding what is required!! I guess my role, and that of our leadership team, is to try and find the monies and resources to make the changes happen. One thing I know for certain is that we have enthusiasm and resilience by the bucketload – it is very inspiring! I’d also like to mention the amazing premises team at Spring Brook Upper, every morning the school is absolutely spotless!

We were part of the Ofsted Local Area SEND Review on Wednesday. Members of the inspection team held meetings with staff, governors, families and the young people themselves. They were particularly interested in a number of key issues including the support from social care colleagues, the impact of Oldham’s Local Offer and our understanding of the Education, Health and Care planning processes. We were able to give them an insight into a number of our innovations, some of which we now take for granted. We were also able to wax lyrical about our 48 week offer, our before and after school clubs, our extra-curricular opportunities and, of course, our outstanding curriculum offer. They were mightily impressed to hear about our curriculum pathways, supported work internships and Bridging the Gap, as well as our extended post 19 offer at Horizons.

Following the visit from the inspection team, I caught the train down to London for an afternoon meeting with the Department for Education. We discussed a number of issues that are very pertinent to the specialist sector across the country, covering a range of topics including:

  • a worrying trend of some local authorities directing special schools to offer children a place, often against the advice of the professionals within the school
  • the growth in numbers of children wanting places in our schools
  • an update on the latest funding arrangements
  • the exciting developments around Post 19 provision
  • an update on the SEND Local Area reviews currently underway

We were also presented with a draft Preparation for Adulthood tool that Special Schools Voice has been instrumental in developing. More of that later in the year, as I’m certain we’ll use it to further develop our ‘Learning for Life’ areas within the New Bridge assessment dashboard.

So, overall a varied and profitable week. There’s a lot more to do but (most days) I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Have a great weekend,

Graham

You can find all Graham’s previous blog entries here