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CEO Update – 15.9.23

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Well, I can’t believe it’s Friday – what a week!!

Everything was set for a productive and relatively quiet week.  My diary was full of development meetings with staff and pulling together a number of evaluation documents.

On Monday, at precisely 12.00pm, we received a call at Hollinwood Academy from the central Ofsted team. It’s one of those moments that fills school leaders with dread. After a 15 minute conversation, the number of inspectors coming into school had doubled! The DfE had our number of pupils at just over 100!! So, then the fun started.

What followed was exhausting, intense, exhilarating but ultimately amazing.

Unfortunately I’m not in a position to give you all the details of the outcome of the inspection, as the final report needs to go through a period of scrutiny. I am, however, able to share with you that the governors, trustees and leadership team are very, very pleased with the outcome. I’m also delighted to be able to say that the inspectors were incredibly supportive and encouraging.

I’m obviously delighted (sorry, Lauren!) that everything went well but I am also encouraged by how well the Hollinwood team (especially Jaina, Laura and Natalie) rose to the challenge. All the team – the cleaners, the lunch time staff, the premises teams, the business and administrative support, the classroom staff – were phenomenal. For many of the staff it was their first experience of inspection – you were all amazing. I was so proud of you all.

One of the questions the inspection team asked our governors was related to the ethos of the school. Our trustees’ and governors’ reply epitomised our whole Group.

They talked about a can-do attitude, of having high expectations, of valuing the contribution of every individual and of always pushing the boundaries. We never settle for less and always look to improve.

This week, and throughout the inspection period, I have witnessed first hand our ethos in action. I saw young people from all our schools involved in D of E expeditions. I saw (on the website) one of our youngsters being presented his Gold Award by royalty. I laughed out loud as our Horizons groups soaked up the sun and sea in Benidorm (the laugh out loud moment was seeing John in his swimshorts!). I heard that one of our students has been offered a full-time job at the David Lloyd health club. The special element of this is he is only 17 and fast-tracked our work internship pathway. I held meetings in Tameside to start to explore joint working initiatives that can only be of benefit to everyone involved. All this in one week!!

The inspectors read out a couple of quotes from the Ofsted parents’ questionnaires. Can I thank you all for your amazing comments? To hear the difference we have made to your children (and yourselves) was truly humbling – and I’m rarely humble!!! I hope I can use some of your responses in our induction and ongoing training.

So, back to the Ofsted feedback on Thursday morning. I witnessed the team at Hollinwood applaud each other’s achievements – what a team – our ethos in action.

We’re all pretty exhausted now. Personally, I’d like to thank Jenny, Geoff, Moira, Liz, Dan, Annabelle, Louise, Sul, Rita, Wendy, Liz, Karen, Rebeckah and Anna – you all add such value to our schools.

What a team we’ve got – what a future we’ve got! In the words of Steve Jobs,

‘If you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next.’

Have a great weekend – come on England!


You can find all Graham’s previous blog entries here


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