24 May

Graham
This week has very much been one of planning for next year.

I’ve been involved in discussions with schools, trustees and governors about next year’s plans.

I’ve also done some work for the schools, students and teachers network (ssat).

I was delighted (just for you, Lauren!) to speak at a conference today, in London, entitled ‘Moving forward with confidence’.

Events like these offer an opportunity to showcase the work taking place in our schools and, as importantly, to listen and learn from other colleagues throughout the country.

Interestingly, at this event a significant majority of the time was spent discussing the precarious financial position many schools find themselves in.

I know I touched upon this issue last week in my blog. The schools in our trust have been safeguarded against the financial pressures as a direct result of our growth strategy. Bluntly put, the more schools, pupils, students and teaching school work we do, the more revenue it brings into our organisation. We are able to find efficiency savings by being a large organisation. Growth is essential but only allows us to ‘stand still’ in relation to recruitment. We are admitting more children and young people into our schools but can’t afford new staff to support them!! We will certainly need to be even more innovative so we can avoid future challenges.

If there has ever been a week to convince me that our strategy of becoming a Multi Academy Trust was the correct one – this has been it.

I listened today to community special schools who could not afford to appoint staff to their schools. Some were making redundancies galore. The picture is truly alarming. Schools are having to close as a result of not having enough staff! Clearly there needs to be a solution to this. It feels that the children in our schools are pawns in a very large game! Mainstream schools are asking our sector to take more children, the numbers of children and young people being assessed for EHCPs are at record levels and the local authorities’ high needs funding (where most of our finances come from) is under massive pressure. Our children make up around 2.5% of the school population. This appears to be growing.

I truly believe our schools have performed remarkably over the last number of years. From our perspective we have redesigned our curriculums, we have redesigned our workforce, we are offering some of the most exciting personalised pathways in the country and we are embarking on a technological strategy that will enhance learning. We continue to strive for excellence under mounting financial pressure.

Many of the children and young people have a half term break next week – have a wonderful time. Daisy, less than 10 days till Disney!!

Graham

You can find all Graham’s previous blog entries here