23 Feb

Graham

Welcome back, everyone. It’s been a very quiet week for me, for a number of reasons. My children and wife have a different half term to us so I’ve had to get up on a morning, tiptoe to the bathroom and ensure that I don’t make a single noise. I can’t say it’s a great feeling driving into school and knowing everyone else is tucked up in bed!! The wonderful thing about our schools however, is that as soon as you enter through the door it suddenly gets busy, busy, busy.

This week we have been finalising the legal stuff to allow Hawthorns School in Tameside to join our Trust. Everything is now on track for Hawthorns to join our family of schools next Thursday. We already know their school really well as many of the children join New Bridge on transition at Year 7. I’ve always been mightily impressed with their ethos and their child-centred approach to learning. They, like us, place the children at the heart of everything they do. I’d like to welcome them on board and I am really looking forward to sharing their expertise across the Trust in the future.

I’ve also been involved this week in working alongside the local authority in helping them develop a strategy to support their action plan following the SEND local area review. As many of you are aware, the review was quite critical of a number of issues but the one of the areas I have been asked to support with is that of ‘aspiration for all children and young people’.

I was delighted to sit alongside the New Bridge governors on Thursday and listen to both Jenny Dunne and Geoff Howard tell us about the work they have completed on our New Bridge Dashboard. It struck me, as I was listening to them explain the rationale, that running a school and ensuring children and young people are successful is far from rocket science. First of all the young person needs to attend, to be safe and to be happy – a prerequisite for any learning to take place! Secondly, they need to establish and retain excellent relationships with other children and the staff team. They then need to engage in the learning process.

When we talk about the learning process, we don’t just mean the ‘academic’ subjects (although these are important), we also put a huge amount of effort into developing the whole child, ensuring that they can participate in sport, be active and be creative. We have very clear strategies to ensure we develop what could be loosely called ‘softer skills’. These include getting on with other people, communicating appropriately, knowing how to help others and being a member of the wider community.

We also use our communities as a learning resource. When it all comes together, we have to ensure that everyone is doing the best job they can do, whether it’s the children themselves or the staff. So, the formula is pretty much the same in any school. I guess what I’ll be asked to do over the next few months is transfer the aspirations we have for all our children in the Trust into other schools!! I’m really looking forward to it.

So, a week that started with soft footsteps in our bathroom ended up with exploring softer skills in the Oldham SEND strategy – an interesting old week!! I’m off to the cup final with my son to cheer on City, after nipping to the Palace Theatre on Friday evening to watch Thriller, the Michael Jackson musical. I hope you all have a great weekend.

Welcome back everyone,

Graham

You can find all Graham’s previous blog entries here