29 Nov

Graham
What an amazing week – visits from international companies, HMI meetings, the opening ceremony of a new school and yet more success in the jobs market. Where do I start?

Well, on Monday we had a visit from all the education team from Apple UK. Jenny Dunne organised an amazing day. We started at our training rooms at Hollinwood Academy where we discussed our journey relating to the iPad strategy. We then visited different sites in groups of threes and fours. My group started at Spring Brook Lower. The children (and staff) were incredible. They all did their own “show and tells”. We saw art work, communication templates and a variety of programmes that showcased the children’s work. It was truly transformational.

From Spring Brook our group travelled up to our Digit4ll Pathway in Medtia. Jordan gave our visitors a remarkable insight into the curriculum offer. I was stunned, let alone our visitors! We saw canvas making, mugs with photos, green screen filming, the editing suite and our latest innovation, heated neck warmers! It was breathtaking to see the “industry” that the young people were bringing to their learning. We moved swiftly over to The Atrium café where Colin, one of our job coaches, explained and showed the team from Apple how he uses QR codes to support independent work (and living). Now you know I think we have “outstanding” schools but believe me this went beyond outstanding. It has the potential to be revolutionary. Our thinking about how we use QR codes to support everyday living and working will be phenomenal.

The afternoon went as well as the morning with visits to see the iPad orchestra in New Bridge – who’d have thought we would have heard Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer played using GarageBand! Our last visit saw us quickly cross the car park to Hollinwood Academy to see how the young people were using iMovie. We concluded the day by bringing everybody back together to have a question and answer session. I know from the feedback that every single person who was involved found the day both inspirational and uplifting. This is just one message I received,

“Thank you so much for this week, what an amazing day! I can’t personally stop recounting it to colleagues. I was sharing your story with my colleague who leads on the planning of our half day Leadership event in London. We would love you to share your powerful story of how you are using Apple technology to make a difference to your students’ lives across the Trust.”

I’m sure other heads will blog about the impact the visit had on them.

So, on to our HMI visit. Phil and I are presently supporting the PRU (Pupil Referral Unit) in a neighbouring authority. We were asked to drive over to meet the HMI team that were conducting a monitoring visit. The reason I wanted to blog about it is to say what a pleasant experience it was!!! Blimey, I hear you say! Sometimes the inspectorate gets a bad press. However, this HMI was knowledgeable, interested and empathetic. He understood some of the challenges that schools and PRUs are presently facing. It felt like he wanted to support and empower rather than criticise. I’d be more than happy to work with him again in the future. More like him would be welcomed.

Today I’ve had the privilege of being invited to the opening of The Springboard Project. Paul Scholes kindly agreed to officially open the school. As you know, Paul used to play for England and that team over in Salford – what are they called – oh yes – Manchester United!! We’ve had a lovely morning. We had colleagues from the LA, Trustees, Governors, our building contractors and many, many other friends of the school. The young people gave our assembled dignitaries a tour – Levi did a brilliant job of telling Paul all about the school – he was fully kitted out in his Oldham Athletic shirt.

I’d like to pass on my warmest thanks and congratulations to Alison Tootill and all her team. They have provided the young people with a school absolutely fit for purpose. Without their dedication and commitment, we wouldn’t have had this super provision. They really are living our vision of “Creating Meaningful Futures”.

Finally, on to why I will never get fed up of doing this job. Last week I was told that Josie, one of our post 16 students, has been successful in getting a job at David Lloyd Leisure. I’ve personally seen the progress that Josie has made since she joined our school in Year 7. She’s grown into an independent and very caring young woman. She is amazing. For the staff that know her well, you are aware she has a lovely character and is wonderful at working with people. David Lloyd have obviously seen these traits and offered her a job. Well done Josie – you really deserve it.

Anyhow, that’s it for another week. There’s lots happening behind the scenes that hopefully I can tell you about soon. Watch this space.

Have a great weekend all,

Graham

You can find all Graham’s previous blog entries here