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CEO Blog Post 17.09.21

Hardip BegolI hope you’re excited that school is back – I know that I am. I had the pleasure of joining the INSET Day at The Littlehampton Academy at the start of September and loved the recognition of pupils’ efforts in getting the qualification results they deserve and the work of colleagues in assessing and recommending grades.

But, it’s a new academic year, so restoring the rhythms and routines of school life with high expectations for pupils and ourselves of the standards we can reach and the outcomes we can achieve was the key message.  I really enjoyed the three INSET sessions I joined on:

  • the quality of education – assessment, curriculum, teaching and learning;
  • attendance and behaviour; and
  • maximising progress for all pupils through inclusion.        

Professional development

The successful Woodard Webinars are back! Last year we had some of the best education thinkers in the country and internationally.   The first Woodard Webinar of 2021-22 is with Peps Mccrea on 12 October and he’ll be talking about Motivated Learning.  Peps is a former teacher and author of 3 books:

  • Lean Lesson Planning;
  • Memorable Learning; and
  • Motivated Teaching.   

He’s the Dean of Learning Design at the Ambition Institute. There’s a great article about him here. There’ll be more details on how to join the event closer to time and it will be available to watch afterwards.

The Trust’s Strategy has priorities to achieve the highest standards of leadership and to attract, recruit, develop and retain the best people who meet high professional standards and have uplifting, purposeful careers.  One aspect of the work of the People Strategy is to improve leadership and management, which is why I’m so pleased that our first cross-Trust CPD event this year is on appraisal.  This will take place on 23 September from 4-5pm with simultaneous sessions for appraisers and appraisees, which will be available for viewing after the event.  We all know that an effective management relationship makes a significant difference to performance, well-being and career development, so its worth learning more about improving one important aspect of this relationship, which is appraisal.

Health and well-being

Our health and well-being is important. I’d encourage colleagues to have a look at the Trust’s Health Assured offer.  It provides access to a 24-hour helpline, a confidential counselling service that covers a whole range of support and a ‘My Healthy Advantage App’.  Logging on to the app also gives access to discounts at various stores and includes a regular wellbeing check to rate your mental, physical and financial wellbeing. 

School Improvement Team

I’m really pleased to announce that the Trust’s full school improvement team is now in full swing.  

It is led by Director of School Improvement, Carol-Anne Alcock, and includes Ruth Ashbee as the Trust’s Curriculum and CPD Lead, and our part-time subject leads - Alice Penfold (English and literacy), Lucy Dixon (Maths) and Jill Rowell (Modern Foreign Languages) - and our science adviser, Gareth Honor (in order):  

SI TEAM

It is also great we have commissioned Natalie Packer as our Special Educational Needs and Disability Adviser.  (You can find more information about her here.)

The cross-Trust subject networks which were established last year have their first meeting of this year on Monday 27 September.  I’m really grateful for those who have volunteered to lead these and the agendas look really exciting and varied.  Some of the issues different networks are covering include the Ofsted subject research reviews, the best ways to teach specific challenging aspects of the curriculum, and how to close pupil premium gaps.   

The evidence is that collaborative working with expert input focused on practical ways to improve pupil outcomes, supported by school leadership and sustained over time, is one of the most effective forms of teachers’ CPD.  These subject networks should be a powerful improvement tool – and it is always great to talk to colleagues with a love and passion for the same subject outside your school.

Safeguarding

I want to thank the Trust Safeguarding Leads – Duncan Jack, Karin Porter and Becca Watson – for their work over the summer in producing the updated Trust child protection and safeguarding policy and a new peer on peer abuse policy, plus the training materials you will have received at your INSETs.  We must avoid any complacency with the evidence showing that our pupils will be subject to harassment in and outside school, online and in person, even where there are no reports and it is everyone’s responsibility to safeguard their wellbeing.       

RBoys Don't Tryeading

I'm a bit embarrassed that I only managed to read one book over the summer holidays (that Netflix account has a lot to answer for). But what a great book. Boys Don’t Try? Rethinking Masculinity in Schools, by Matt Pinkett and Mark Roberts, was full of practical, evidence-based approaches, rather than gimmicks, to address engagement, achievement and sexism.  

The school improvement team will be incorporating some of that into their work when looking at maximising progress for all pupils, particularly those who can struggle in our schools as well as across schools nationally.  

I am looking forward to visiting St Augustine Academy and Polam Hall School later this month and hope to see many of you at the appraisal CPD.   
 

Hardip Begol
Chief Executive Officer

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