27 Apr

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Graham
Well, another week passes.

As you know the last few weeks, for me, have been massively influenced by my experiences over in the USA. A number of years ago I remember completing a project plan to develop both our employability and technology offer at New Bridge School. I think it’s fair to say that in quite a short space of time the school (and now the trust) has one of the strongest employment pathways within the country.

More young people than ever are experiencing the world of work and are moving into employment and volunteering. However, as always, we still have more work to do to ensure this pathway becomes an aspiration and reality for all our learners. Our technological strategy hasn’t moved at the same pace, although elements of this offer are outstanding – I’m particularly thinking of our Digit4ll pathway and Enterprise work. My drive has been to ensure that all children and young people use mobile technology to enhance and support every aspect of their learning. Their learning in classrooms, their learning in corridors, their learning at lunch times and in clubs.

We have decided to trial one to one devices (iPads) at Hollinwood Academy. Earlier in the week myself, Jaina, Laura, Natalie, Jenny and Nic had a really productive meeting with a team from Jigsaw who will be supporting the roll-out of the initiative. At this point in time a robust project plan is being developed that involves our young people, staff, families and stakeholders. Clearly this will be a really significant piece of work but I am absolutely certain it will enhance learning, in all its forms, for all our children and young people. As I mentioned last week in my blog, we have ambitious plans starting with Hollinwood that are very quickly cascading to all our schools and organisations.

Linked to the area of ambition, I was interested to read a response to one of my previous blogs. It’s always great to start debate! The respondent suggested that there was a need to support mainstream schools in their understanding of young people with additional needs. I couldn’t agree more. The challenge for our trust is to ensure that all mainstream schools understand our young people better. We are able influence this agenda.

I have held a view on inclusion for a number of years now – it has never changed. All young people have an absolute right to a first class and outstanding school experience. The building/s that they attend should always be an irrelevance. An individual child’s well-being should always be paramount, as should ensuring that the curriculum offer is leading that child/young person to the destination that they, or their advocates, aspire to. All our children have this fundamental right.

In my opinion the most significant barrier to moving this agenda forward, at this present time, is not the mainstream schools themselves or the lack of creative thinking. As long as schools continue to be measured and judged on levels of attainment (Key Stage 2 SATs and Key Stage 4 GCSEs) it will be very challenging to convince all schools to accept all youngsters. I wrote a few months ago that the changes to the curriculum offer at Key Stage 4 and the move to a more knowledge-based curriculum have the potential to alienate some youngsters even more. Our mainstream system presently struggles to celebrate diversity. I’m not convinced that the present education system, and the controlling parties, are in a position to take on this challenge. Who knows what the future policy direction may be?

In the interim period, our trust will continue to influence elements that are within our direct control – our schools and organisations.

Have a great weekend,

Graham

You can find all Graham’s previous blog entries here