13 May

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GrahamWhat a week! We’ve seen a significant policy reversal from the government, Parents’ Evening, an unexpected school shutdown, HMI meetings and SATs…

It was interesting to read, after my blog of last week, that the Secretary of State had apparently reversed her policy with regards to all schools needing to convert to academies. The timing of the statement, coinciding with the announcement of many local election results, could be viewed as somewhat suspicious. Many news agencies didn’t even pick up on the policy change until late in the day. When you actually read the details of the change, however, she talks in terms of slowing down the proposals and targeting underperforming Local Authorities. I get the feeling that a number of ‘underperforming’ LAs will be scrutinised initially and the schools in those areas ‘encouraged’ to academise. In many ways the move could be perceived as a political gesture aimed at keeping a number of the more successful LAs happy. I think the policy direction will remain typically unchanged for many (northern based) schools and LAs. Interestingly, many school leaders commented this week on the academisation of the whole system being driven by economic savings rather than by educational improvement. The treasury appears concerned about the sustainability of funding both LAs and a more school based system – one system has to change significantly!

I believe Tuesday’s Parents’ Evening at the school site was going particularly well until around 6.30pm when a large part of the local area experienced a huge power cut. I was at another school at the time but thankfully it was a bright and pleasant evening and New Bridge was evacuated safely. Little did we know at that point, though, that the power cut had severely damaged our electrical board and circuits, affecting our entire ICT infrastructure along with our phone lines. Our team tried to repair the damage late into the night but unfortunately at 10.30pm I had to make the call to say that we wouldn’t be able to open the New Bridge School site the following day. With all our systems being down we were unable to notify families through our website, by email or text and we had to rely on our social media pages and local radio stations to issue updates. North West Electric managed to restore the power supply to the school on Wednesday afternoon and we were able to start getting messages out. Unfortunately very little of this was within our area of control and all I can do is apologise for the inconvenience it caused you and your children.

Yesterday we met with one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMI) with responsibility for children and young people with additional needs. It was refreshing to hear that Ofsted are now trying to work much more in partnership with schools. She certainly left us with food for thought!

And finally, the SATs. I am certain that many of you struggle, as I do, with the frequency and content of some of the national standardised tests. Our team are presently working on the ‘New Bridge Dashboard’ (possibly to be renamed the ‘New Bridge Route Planner’) which will assess the progress your child makes in areas such as independence, communication, personal qualities, working with others, keeping safe, being healthy and being creative as well as the academic areas. Subordinate clause, anyone?

Have a great weekend,