The latest update is typed during half-term surrounded by refurbishment paint, mugs of builder’s tea, notes from a ‘holiday’ ACE Meetings with Y11 parents, tweets ready to go on school funding, and the phone resting back in its holder after speaking to the local police about travellers dropping in on the school site. I remember doing the NPQH Headteacher course and none of this was mentioned – though it is this variety that makes the job so enjoyable and makes the time whiz by.

The last half-term has brought much good news and lots of reasons to be positive. The recent Y11 data drops shows that good progress is being made and that the school is on course for further improvement – a trend replicated across the year groups. There are plenty of booster sessions running each night across the school and Saturday School starts soon too. We have also extended our online revision provision with MathsWatch and Educake Science now available to all students and passwords are currently rolling out.

We have continued to critique our own work and have recently had an External Review of our Pupil Premium provision which is an area we are working hard to improve. The OFSTED-trained inspector we invited in flagged up plenty of good practice and noted some areas we could push more on so it was a very valuable experience. Elsewhere, we have had external lesson observations rolled into our own self-evaluation with representatives of John Taylor and Arthur Terry in our classrooms and Plantsbrook running middle leader development sessions. Schools are very much about learning and any school leaders who think they are above learning should probably think about giving up the job.

The site continues to be improved and the half-term started with re-furbished communal areas and is ending with a new and extended Student Support Centre and a refreshed and updated reception area. There will still be finishing off to do over the next 2-3 weeks but such is the way as a half-term window of a week is rarely enough to get everything done. The new reception will very much set the tone for the school – light, bright and celebrating the current students. There is always room to acknowledge past successes but a school has to be more about bringing new ones and we believe that a revitalised environment brings a momentum and drive that propels all aspects of a school’s development.

Other headlines have seen the highest possible regional Platinum Award for bring a Music Education Hub and providing ‘Excellence in Music Provision’… formal acknowledgement of our work with the St Chad Rotary via the Interact Club and out recent work with The Teddy Trust… acclaim for our ‘Battle of the Bands – 1960s’ night… countless sporting victories… a big E-Safety Week as part of our E-Safety Mark standard… and a great third place finish in the North-West STEM Finals. Additionally, we were delighted with the number of applications for September 2017 and we are now the most heavily subscribed school in the area. Every term seems a busy one, and at the moment every term is a successful one.

The horizon is a busy one two, though largely due to outside factors and agencies providing challenges and opportunities for the school. We have OFSTED due and though this is not making us work any harder (it would be impossible to do so) it is an extra focus on our minds. We are keeping an eye on academy status which very much remains on the Government’s and Local Authority’s agenda so are plotting and talking to others about our next steps. We are also dealing with the challenges of falling budgets and a teacher recruitment crisis and though we have appointed some superb new staff they can take a little time to reach their starting date. Anyone who reads the news will know this is a tough time in education and our school will only continue to thrive with the support and encouragement of the community it works in.

Anyhow, time to go, the mural designer has arrived and the painters want to get into the new reprographics room…

Matt Allman
March 2017