24 Jan

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Graham

It’s been a really busy week.

At the start of the week we had a number of meetings related to The Springboard Project, the latest school to join our Trust.

As many of you will know, the Springboard building is in the centre of town, next door to Medtia. As a result of the layout of the building, we are quite restricted in relation to offering the young people the practical areas within the curriculum. In a series of meetings we explored how we could offer areas such as painting and decorating, plumbing, plastering, brick laying etc. etc. I believe it’s essential that these areas, and more, become part of a more practical and holistic offer. Alison and Mike are exploring the curriculum content and Dan Wood has been tasked with trying to source buildings where these activities can take place. I’m expecting positive news in the very near future.

So, on to the second half of the week and our continued journey with Apple.

Jenny Dunne, our Assistant CEO, and myself had been invited a few months ago to speak at Apple’s International Conference, held this year, in London. On Wednesday evening we both travelled down to the capital.

The day itself showcased outstanding practice from across the world. The New Bridge MAT story was showcased alongside other key notes from United Arab Emirates, Italy, Germany and Scotland. It is quite humbling to think that our schools and organisations, in Oldham and Tameside, are in such exalted company. It reinforces the amazing work our teams are involved with. We were the only MAT, that supports learners with additional needs, that had been invited. That’s from Western Europe and the Middle East. Just occasionally it’s right to shout out about our achievements and our plans for the future.

The Vice President of Apple Worldwide, Doug Beck (who Laura and I met last year) opened the day with a presentation about the importance and purpose of education in the 21st Century. His central message focused on being “bold”. He stated that true transformation can be very, very challenging. School staff require resilience. School leaders need to be innovative, creative and bold.

Jennifer Marshall, another of Apple’s senior executive team, gave a really interesting insight into some research that Apple have been involved with. It explored the skills that employers require. Many of them resonated with the direction of travel within our schools. I loved a couple of quotes from Jennifer. One really struck a chord with Jenny and I..

“The truth is we all don’t see things the same, the power is we all don’t see things the same.”

..and cue the New Bridge MAT and Group story.

I’m usually not nervous when it comes to presenting. This was slightly different. We had a very large and packed auditorium, we’d had 7 iterations of our presentation, 2 rehearsals, we’d been choreographed, told where and where not to stand, practised walking onto and off the stage (including how to go up and down the steps), we’d been sound checked and we even had our own dressing room complete with an iron and ironing board (in case I’d got a crease in my shirt!!!!!). Normally I rock up and natter on for 40 minutes!

Anyhow, we started with the film about our amazing young people..

I gave an overview of all our schools (and organisations) and Jenny talked about our mission statement and values. We moved into the reason we introduced iPads. Jenny spoke about the impact technology is making within the schools. I wrapped up by talking about our future plans. In the plenary session, afterwards, we were approached by colleagues from the UK, Sweden, Italy, the Middle East and Germany.

We will continue to ensure our offer, in our corner of Greater Manchester, is informed by the best practice in the world. The day was a complete celebration about how technology can make a difference to every single individual. My final quote is from Apple’s core values that relate to equality and diversity. It’s very powerful:

“(we aim to) unlock the unique genius in every learner so they can make a difference in their world”

We’re on that journey. Have a great weekend,

Graham

You can find all Graham’s previous blog entries here