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CEO Update – 15.9.23

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Perhaps it’s me but through this “Covid period” it appears the days seem to drag and yet the weeks fly by!

When I reflected as to why I felt that way I realised that my working days, and probably many of yours, have changed massively.

As I previously have mentioned I’m now based at New Bridge Learning Centre, in Fitton Hill. In line with our risk assessments, and so as not to compromise bubbles, many of the central teams, like me, are restricted to working in isolated offices and using Teams, Zoom or Skype to meet with people.

Usually, my days are incredibly busy and include travelling from school to school, site to site and all around the North West and up and down the country. I didn’t realise how much I would miss this aspect of my job. I love meeting the staff, seeing the children, chatting with the young people, laughing with colleagues! It made me realise what a tremendous job our staff teams have done in keeping the routines as near as normal for our children and young people.

So that led me to think about how many of our children and young people are feeling? Over the last couple of weeks, I have mentioned our Invitational and Governing Body meetings. The Trustees and Governors have been delighted with the support our teams have offered the young people. The staff teams have superbly managed to balance a continuation of our curriculum offers with a significant emphasis on well-being. Many schools have changed their organisational structure. Importantly many, many staff have given feedback as to how some of our revised systems have improved the overall offer for our children and young people.

I’ve certainly thought about the last 6 months and am determined to use it as a learning platform. We’re determined to do this. In the meantime, we need to continue to be vigilant and stay safe.

A couple of national bits to report back on. On Wednesday I, along with a number of others in the SEND National Reference Group, put a plea into government to explore how our frontline staff could be placed in a higher wave for vaccinations. I feel strongly that our staff that work in classrooms should be treated in the same way as many colleagues that work in hospitals or social care settings. I have written before that many of the children and young people in our schools (and Horizons settings) struggle with social distancing protocols. It’s these types of situations that I outlined in my conversations with Government. To avoid any more disruption, vaccinations will go a long way in keeping our colleagues as safe as is possible.

In the same meeting, and along with many other school and MAT leaders, we responded to the Secretary of State’s proposals for next year’s exams. I feel the proposals don’t go any way near far enough to respond to the disruption many of our young people have faced over the last number of months. Many, in our schools, have only accessed face to face teaching for a handful of weeks. Other children, in some areas within the country, have been unaffected. I think written exams have value, but one would have thought a properly researched written mathematical formula, that adequately reflects lost learning, could be produced and administered. I get the feeling that as other areas in the country experience the reality that we and much of the North West have faced since September, Government thinking will change!!

Finally, can I continue to thank everyone for their messages of support and encouragement. It means a lot to our teams when families respond positively. The advantage of the weeks flying by, is we’re another week closer to getting back to normality.

Take care, stay safe everyone.


You can find all Graham’s previous updates and blog entries here


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