13 Mar

Graham

It’s been quite a varied week.

As I mentioned in my last blog, we have continued with our ADDO (Academy Dashboard Development Overview) meetings throughout the week.

On Monday Alison and Mike shared the progress and achievements at Springboard Project, our latest Free School to be part of the Trust. Many of you will remember that around 3 years ago we were very concerned about the “post school” opportunities for the young people that attended Spring Brook. Our solution to the challenge involved an application for, and subsequent building of, a new town centre campus. The Springboard Project has now been operational for just over 6 months and it was brilliant to hear of our successes. We heard of young people now involved in high quality work placements (particularly at Oldham RSPCA) and a curriculum offer that is constantly evolving to further meet the needs of the young people. I think what came through at the ADDO was a great deal of honesty. We’ve set up some things that have worked brilliantly – we tried other ideas that haven’t been as successful. There is a super Chinese proverb that I often quote,

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”

Taking the single step i.e. setting up the school has taken courage – Alison and Mike have shown that courage. Now we all need to support them on their journey of getting the school to a place where the young people can truly begin to succeed. The ADDO meeting gave us an insight into parts of that journey.

On Tuesday we moved onto Spring Brook Lower. We had the most inspirational sharing of good practice session. One of our Key Stage 1 boys shared with us his learning journey. The little boy in question has been with us for 6 months. It was amazing to hear about how skilfully the staff team have organised his, and the other children’s different learning areas. There is a space for key skills learning, another for messy play, one for group activities and another for more focused work. I loved the fact that he was able to clearly articulate what was expected in each different arena – and show us he did! We saw photos, films, written work and pictures. Outstanding learning. The change in the learning environment has been truly remarkable. Our 1:1 iPad project has been a catalyst for transformational practice. Most importantly, this little boy is back engaged in the learning process. He is succeeding. He is happy. He’s got friends. He’s understood.

On Wednesday our discussions moved on to Spring Brook Upper. Again, it was a really positive meeting with many of the new curriculum ideas and the building changes discussed. One of the most pleasing aspects that is taking place at Spring Brook Upper is how often the young people are now attending. The attendance statistic is one of the highest within the MAT. Our families and youngsters have really bought into the revised offer.

On Thursday Hawthorns came into the invitational meeting. For me, the highlight was again the celebration of excellence. Lindsey, a teacher from our early years department, offered a most amazing presentation. We were told about, saw pictures of and observed films that showed remarkable practice. One of the areas our other schools can learn from is the way Hawthorns uses Twitter. Families are constantly updated about their children’s activities and progress. I love how many smiling faces we have at Hawthorns. It’s a truly joyous place.

On Friday we had a very short ADDO meeting for our Future Finders provision. As you know, Future Finders gives a very small number of young people an “extra year” to gain employment. We listened to the challenges relating to the bureaucracy but were also informed of the impact of the offer.

So, in between these ADDO meetings you can be assured that I have also been involved in working with our local councils and national government in planning our present and future strategy relating to the Coronavirus outbreak. First of all, can I thank all our staff, families and partners for adopting a really sensible position. We have continued to work in a very controlled and measured way.

However, is important to plan effectively for every eventuality and contingency. We are working tirelessly to ensure we act in line with all available advice. All our schools and organisations have also developed policies and practices in the event that we have to close either parts of, or the whole of, our schools and post 19 centres. Can I ask you to ensure each school and/or organisation has your up to date contact details – phone numbers and emails? From tomorrow, we have agreed that we will do a daily update (@2.30pm) on all our social media platforms. The health and safety of all our children, young people, staff and stakeholders remains our absolute priority.

Thank you all for your continued support.

Graham

You can find all Graham’s previous blog entries here