01 Feb

It’s been a really productive week – in spite of the weather!

First of all, can I thank you for your support and understanding this week. As you know, as long as it is safe to do so, we will always try and keep our schools and organisations open. It’s important that I explain the process we go through to make decisions about opening our organisations. We have our “Oldham and Tameside weather watchers”. Throughout the evening they are our eyes and ears in various areas in our borough. They report in to our communications team. The same occurs from around 6am. At about the same time we also get a position from both councils about the home to school transport. Our obligation to you all is that we will publish (on social media and on local radio stations) our intents by 7am. We hope that this allows you all to make the necessary arrangements. This worked brilliantly this week – thank you again.

So, in reality, it’s been pretty much a normal week!

As you know, the pace at which we work is far from “normal’. This week we have worked on a number of different strategies. We have continued to try and understand the issues (of numbers) at Hollinwood Academy. I really understand everyone’s frustrations! In hindsight, we could have easily designed the school for 400 children and young people, the demand is so high! In reality we are trying to ensure our “uniqueness” (the size of the school, the staff/pupil relationships, our personalised offer etc.) is not compromised. I wish I had an easy answer for you all – but I don’t. Our teams are working and liaising with Oldham, Tameside and Rochdale councils to try to put a (more) strategic plan in place.

If the situation at Hollinwood was an isolated issue, it would be reasonably easy to manage but all of the schools in our Trust are facing the exact same challenge. Hawthorns was designed for 65 and now has 104 children, Spring Brook was designed for 75 and now has 90 and New Bridge was designed for 300 (on two sites) and now has just short of 400 learners. There was an interesting TV piece (on the national news) on Wednesday. We’re clearly not the only area experiencing these pressures. So, let’s see these challenges as opportunities?

The relationship our Trust has with our local authorities is excellent. They, like us, want high quality and quality assured local places for the children. They, on the whole, do not want to send children to “out of district” schools. They see the value of children being educated in their local areas. The research clearly shows that this leads to improved outcomes. I can assure you that, as never before, key senior colleagues are working collaboratively to find some tangible solutions to these challenges. Hopefully we can explain some of our thinking at some open events later in the school year.

Let’s hope that the weekend weather allows us to enjoy the great outdoors. Have a wonderful couple of days,


You can find all Graham’s previous blog entries here