14 Jul

GrahamIt’s been another very profitable week. I’ve spent a lot of my time meeting with colleagues who work across the central team of our Multi Academy Trust.

It’s been fascinating hosting a number of recent conference events where the issue of ‘to be or not to be’ an academy is often discussed. I believe that the whole issue of academies, free schools etc. has become massively politicised. From the New Bridge MAT perspective, we’ve tried to strip away the politics and have used the freedoms offered by academy status to work alongside like-minded colleagues in similar schools. This collaboration has allowed us to improve standards across the board.

This week I have met with many of our ‘central’ staff who have a significant role in ensuring that we advise, support and, in turn, raise standards across the MAT. We have a group of colleagues in a central directorate team who lead on training and development, equality and diversity, extended schools, mental health and safeguarding, health and wellbeing, employability and also support me as assistant executive officers. We have a ‘back office’ team of experts who lead and support our schools with finance, HR, payroll, transport, premises, ICT and communication. It’s been my pleasure this week to meet with all these individuals to ensure they are happy within their present roles and that we understand the changing nature of their jobs.

None of this would have been possible without our partnership with other schools. Interestingly it would be almost inconceivable to think that a single school would be able to employ one of these highly expert staff. I read with great dismay in tonight’s Oldham Evening Chronicle about a school in Oldham that is having to reduce staff hours and stop certain activities:

Due to changes in the way schools are funded the school governors have been trying to stave off staffing cuts for the last few years to make the budget balance. You might have noticed we have had a freeze on replacing school staff for the last 18 months, which has already led to a reduction in teachers and support staff.

Thank goodness our MAT and our schools are in the business of employing people rather than making them redundant.

So, on to our children and young people! It was so hectic last week that I didn’t get chance to congratulate members of our Digit4ll pathway for their national awards. These are the innovations I talk about that are available through the academy model. Last week we saw our young people travelling to London, attending and winning national awards. It’s absolutely what we aspire to for all all our young people. Well done all, you did us proud.

Likewise, last weekend I saw photographs of our young people on various DofE expeditions. Brilliant. On Tuesday and Wednesday evenings many of us witnessed a truly beautiful Aladdin production. It had everything – live music, dance, performances, costumes, a brilliant set and props. Most of all we had a large group of young people acting, singing, performing and achieving together. They came out of the performances buzzing.

Tonight’s the prom – cue the limos, ball gowns and tuxedos. I can’t wait!