08 Nov


Hi all,

Usually, after a half term, I start my blogs by welcoming everyone back into our schools and post 19 organisations.

This week has been totally different.

All of our schools are operating in very different ways. None are working at full capacity. On Monday I attended a meeting with the health officials from Oldham and Tameside and we were presented with the latest statistics. They make worrying reading. The confirmed cases in both areas continues to increase significantly. The rate of hospital admission (for COVID 19) is also higher now than it was at the height of the first outbreak in April and May. We must continue to be vigilant and careful.

From a school perspective I’d like to thank our families for your continued and unwavering support. I know our virtual and remote offer is strong. However, I am also aware that the very best model of schooling, for most of our children and young people, is the face to face delivery alongside their friends and peers. All we can hope is that the technology of improved testing and a vaccination programme gets us out of this position sooner rather than later. We’ve so much to catch up – shows, awards, residentials etc. etc. We will beat the virus and get back to a new normal.

On Wednesday I chaired an excellent meeting, in Tameside, attended by a number of our families, local councillors and LA officials. We discussed many issues relating to Hawthorns – especially what the next few years may look like. Again I feel confident that, by joint working, we will come to both a consensus and agreement about our next steps. We will continue to build on our momentum over the next few weeks and months.

On Wednesday afternoon we faced yet another crazy situation. All organisations were emailed the latest government guidance that related to those staff, pupils and young people defined as clinically vulnerable and clinically extremely vulnerable. Without any warning, we were informed that young people, who have Down’s Syndrome, had been included on the CEV list.

Yet again, in my opinion, a huge own goal by central government.

The reason I believe it was ill judged is very simple. Some people who have Down’s Syndrome may be more vulnerable to the virus, some may not.

They should be treated in exactly the same way as every other adult – on an individual basis using a personalised risk assessment.

On the basis of the information we had, on Thursday, we’d no choice other than to stop a number of our young people attending the Learning Centre, Horizons, New Bridge College and Future Finders.

That decision felt discriminatory and wrong.

Many of us, including many families (who I am very thankful to) have tried to better understand the issues and tackle the fundamental challenges as to whether the information, circulated on Wednesday, is considered as guidance, advisory or mandatory. I’m working on the issue today and will contact affected families and young people later on.

So all in all a busy week. Let’s hope for a little more stability over the period ahead.

Stay safe,


You can find all Graham’s previous updates and blog entries here