This week we have spent quite an amount of time planning for the next academic year.
As I said last week, it’s really important that all of our teams keep an eye on the future. We need to ensure that our buildings are fit for purpose, our staffing solution is strong and our predictions for the numbers of children and young people are accurate.
So, let me feed back on events of the last week.
Let’s begin with our young adults at Medtia. We have opened up negotiations to further develop the town centre building and also extend the lease, thereby ensuring provision for the next ten (or so) years. Our numbers continue to rise steadily and I know many families would really struggle without our Horizons offer. I really welcome the opportunity to secure its future.
Staying in Oldham town centre, we spent an amount of time discussing the Engagement Pathway presently based within Springboard Project. We’ve got some exciting plans. I mentioned last week how difficult it has been for many of these young people to access community placements as a result of the pandemic. Last week we planned, as we hopefully move into a more settled time, for the return of these community placements.
We spent a significant amount of time last summer planning and then organising The New Bridge College, at Pennine House so Jaina, and the team, are quite well placed to move forward.
I had a number of meetings regarding Spring Brook with a particular emphasis on extending and widening the offer. It’s one of our schools that is facing a rapid demand for places. We spent time last week scoping ideas as we move towards outstanding.
Ten or so years ago when we built New Bridge School and Learning Centre, I remember an LA officer saying we’d set an over ambitious target of 180 young people – “you’ll never fill it” they warned me. Our projection for September is around 530 children and young people. If you provide an excellent curriculum, and extra curricular offer, employ the best staff and never lose focus on a tangible outcome, families will inevitably chose the school. They continue to do so – as our teams continue to provide a truly outstanding offer. We’re planning accordingly.
Hollinwood Academy finds itself in a similar position. We’ve spent an amount of time this week looking at the young people who are reaching the end of Key Stage 4. It’s been really tricky. I’m delighted that we appear to have offered a really personalised solution to every single young person. Ensuring that we think about every single child as an individual has been key to these discussions. Laura and Natalie have worked particularly hard. If the school (or other schools in the Trust) weren’t able to offer the exact provision, for a small number of children, they have done what our schools have done in the past – they’ve created their own solutions. They have “tweaked” the curriculum, the organisation and the staffing to truly personalise the offer. I believe families are being informed.
Onto our schools in Tameside. I’m delighted to be able to tell our families, of our children at Hawthorns School, that planning is well ahead with ideas and thoughts about our expansion. We face a similar challenge to our schools in Oldham. Hawthorns is a really popular, over-subscribed school. The school leadership, colleagues from the LA and myself met last week. We are hoping that we can agree a date straight after half term to continue our discussions with you. I can assure you all that we have not lost any momentum.
One of the significant developments, that also relates directly to Hawthorns, is our support and involvement with Samuel Laycock. Jen Tinsdeall is an excellent head teacher who sees the value of partnership working. She reached out, a couple of months ago, as she wanted a closer relationship with both the Trust and more importantly, wanted to ensure improved transitions between Hawthorns and Samuel Laycock. We were delighted to be able to work alongside the team. Helen Wilson, one of our advisory team, is working alongside Jen on a daily basis. Pierre, and our executive team, are also on hand as required. It’s such an exciting opportunity to really influence the offer from our 4-year-olds through to our 16-year-olds in Tameside. Together we will make a difference.
So, all in all, quite a busy week.
Another week over – please take care and stay safe.
You can find all Graham’s previous updates and blog entries here