27 Sep


My week began and ended in London with Bury, Oldham and Ashton stuck in the middle.

On Monday I attended a new national network of Chief Executives. We had an interesting meeting where a wide-ranging number of areas were discussed. It was fascinating to note the significant variance of funding in different areas of the country. Now I know that this issue has been in the “really difficult” pile for quite a while now, but someone really needs to grasp this issue. I’m really concerned that many schools (including our own) are being seriously disadvantaged by this inertia. There was also an interesting debate about how pupil referral units and some alternative providers are working with children who become non-attenders. Oldham seems to have more of an issue with this than Bury and Tameside, I’ve no idea why? One thing is for certain, we need to try our utmost to ensure these children feel “wanted” by the school system. We initially need to build trust and most importantly ensure our curriculum is innovative and relevant to meet their needs. These young people, more so than many others, need to see the purpose of school.

In the middle of the week I was both shocked and upset by the antics of some our elected politicians in London. While the majority of members of parliament behave in a totally sensible manner, a small number behave in a totally inappropriate manner (how would we feel if our children acted in such a way?).

So, this week we have seen one party (or another) state they are getting rid of Ofsted, bringing all independent schools back into the state sector and redesigning initial teacher training. That’s on top of recent announcements of revising the curriculum offer to ensure it is more practical (T Levels), getting rid of teaching schools and replacing them with Super Hubs and collapsing Multi Academy Trusts. You really couldn’t make all of this up. I won’t hold my breath!!

I try not to be political in these blogs but I really feel that the longer that politicians continue to involve themselves in the education system, the more confusion and frustration sets in. Schools and school leaders need stability, families need stability and, most of all, children and young people require a common-sense approach to the education they receive. Maybe it will all become clearer in the next few weeks!!!!!

As you know, we continue to support the pupil referral services in both Tameside and Bury. I had a number of sessions on Wednesday and Thursday where teams of people explored some steps of change. We keep being told that more young people with additional needs will be supported in mainstream schools – I can categorically tell you that, at this point in time, it certainly doesn’t feel that way!

On Friday I was in London again to meet with Nick Whittaker, HMI, and Ofsted national lead for our sector. I really like Nick, he has led schools and he talks a lot of sense. Maybe he should have a tee shirt made – “one day all inspectors will be like me”!! We agreed that the new framework with its priorities of intent, implementation and impact was a significant step forward. Let’s see if our schools see the difference.

On Sunday I’m travelling back down to London, alongside Laura from Hollinwood Academy, to present to other school leaders about our work with Apple. It was brilliant this week to see our children at New Bridge using their iPads. Maybe the common-sense approach to the education system, that I mentioned earlier, should involve a greater reliance upon technology. Our world will certainly become more reliant upon technology, perhaps it’s a good idea to prepare our children with the skills, knowledge and expertise to use it.

Have a great weekend,


You can find all Graham’s previous blog entries here