17 May

Graham

That’s how we do it in Oldham!!

I’ve had the absolute privilege of spending 4 days with the most amazing group of people.

On Monday evening I travelled down to London to support an Apple conference on Regent Street. Hollinwood Academy were showcasing our 1:1 project and I had a couple of meetings with key people from the Apple UK team. Many of the delegates were quite surprised that I had to shoot off to get the train (no, not a helicopter!) to meet up with our Year 8s from all our Oldham schools, at Disneyland Paris. I think their collective surprise came from a number of angles:

  • We take the children to a lovely hotel
  • We take every child who wants to go
  • We subsidise the visit, to make it affordable for all
  • We take the children on any ride they want to go on (Tower of Terror anyone?)

For aspiring school leaders in the rest of the country – this is how you do it:

  • You recruit, support, retain and reward the best staff in the country
  • You give the children challenges, take them out of their comfort zones so that we can be in awe of their achievements
  • You employ a back office team who are entrepreneurial in the way they generate monies to ensure the costs aren’t a barrier
  • You trust children to make good choices

The recipe is simple – best staff + amazing children = schools that are inspirational and transformational.

Creating meaningful futures. Two of our former New Bridge students supported us this year. Luke is going into his last year at University and Jack is at Oldham Sixth Form College. They are amazing role models for our Year 8s. There are no glass ceilings in our world. On Monday I told Apple colleagues that technology will transform our knowledge and learning (and subsequent life opportunities) for our children with the most complex needs. I don’t know how yet – but it will. We have absolute faith and determination. Our teams will make it happen. We will work with other like minded schools across the world to get there.

Back to Paris – I hope you’ve followed our adventures on Facebook and Twitter.

The pictures tell you some of our stories – the characters, the rides, the hotels, the restaurants, the fun with friends, the new relationships, the shopping (!), the coach ride….I could go on.

From a personal perspective, it gives me the renewed energy to meet the challenges I sometimes face. It reminds me why I do the job I do. It reminds me that my roots are from a Northern industrial town. I’m a working class chap who got incredibly lucky. My passion is about making a difference. My values come from grandparents born and brought up in Watersheddings and Glodwick.

My thanks, as always, goes to every member of staff – no individuals need to be mentioned. We are a New Bridge Trust family – you work in our schools for exactly the same reason as me – you are passionate about making a difference. You’ll all have your own values that drive your work but I guarantee they’ll all be similar.

Our schools in Oldham (and Tameside, in Hawthorns’ case) are the best in country. No hiding behind Ofsted ratings (although we can do that as well if you’d like) – we’re the best because we are relentless. We are relentless in improving everything we do. We work with schools and organisations that are the best in the world. We take risks, make mistakes, get bits right, move on. No excuses.

That’s how we do it in Oldham – we’re happy for you join us on our journey, whether it be to Paris or beyond.

Graham

You can find all Graham’s previous blog entries here and view our Disneyland Paris Facebook album here