20 Oct

We are all presently busy with lesson observations and appraisal meetings. These sessions give our senior staff an opportunity to observe the amazing work our classroom staff do. As you know, the curriculum offer in all our schools is very much a strength of our Trust. Transferring the schemes of work into individual chunks of learning is very much a skill some take for granted. It really is wonderful to see how our expert staff differentiate the learning objectives for your children to ensure they are precise. I know I can go into any lesson and be confident that a child will learn something in that short period. These vital pieces of learning form very quickly into a portfolio of knowledge and skills that our children and young people can generalise into the home and community.

We had our executive leadership meeting on Tuesday evening. It always has a packed agenda. I expect all the leaders to give a 5 minute summary of their area of responsibility or place of work. The meeting starts promptly at 3.45pm and I have to hurry colleagues along to finish at 6.30pm. Geoff, our assistant CEO for pastoral issues, even managed to finish the meeting and get to watch Oldham at Bradford, although I think he may have a number of speeding tickets!!

The most pleasing aspect for me is to hear how committed all our senior team are in constantly looking at improving the provision for our children and young people. I heard about the (re) development of our new free school, the Springboard Project, our intention to open a new post 19 college, many exciting developments in all our schools, the increase in numbers at Horizons and many, many ideas around family engagement and better supporting the mental health needs of our most vulnerable learners.

All these ideas have to be kept within a financial envelope and Wendy Lees is always at these meetings to ensure every part of our organisation manages its financial obligations. Having a really dedicated, experienced and skilled financial management team has certainly improved our present and future planning. As well as hearing about our latest developments, the meeting also allows us to explore up and coming issues across the Trust. We are still challenged around the growth of numbers in all our schools and that leads into the whole issue of recruitment and staffing levels. This needs to be really carefully managed.

In the middle of the week, a number of senior colleagues, governors and trustees were involved in the appointment of the new head for New Bridge School. As you will recall, Judith is retiring at the end of this term and the Trust has been proactive in securing the services of a very experienced colleague from a local school to ensure a smooth transition. I can’t say too much at this point as we are still in the process of finalising contractual issues but I can tell you that we are delighted with the proposed appointment. I am certain that the new head will be a real asset to New Bridge and our ambition to take it ‘beyond outstanding’.

On Thursday evening I was invited to attend the annual NASEN (National Association for Special Educational Needs) awards ceremony. It was a wonderful opportunity to catch up with colleagues from around the country and spend quality time with leading academics – Professor Barry Carpenter sends his best wishes to everyone in our Trust. I was delighted to witness Camberwell Park School, in Manchester, winning a really prestigious award as you may have noticed on our Facebook and Twitter feeds. Well done all!

Have a great weekend,


You can find all Graham’s previous blog entries here