A varied week
So much has been going on this week. What to share?
On Tuesday I drove over to East Midlands Airport to see how the last of the 6 Farnborough visits went. Colleen from the airport team led the group through some customer service role plays along with students from Derby College. And then it was lunch - lots of samosas - and certificate presentation. The project now continues with work experience and mentoring. I'm delighted that NTU, British Gypsum, Crowne Plaza Hotels and possibly Jaguar Land Rover will be running similar projects over the next three months. Nashville keeps getting closer to Nottingham.
Question Time at Rushcliffe is always interesting. Ben and Serena chaired this year's event with remarkable panache and there were reps from all the major parties. The most controversial debate took place around the NHS, mental health and, of course, Donald Trump. Councillor Cutts ensured, as ever, that there was a bit of spice thrown in. Good to see former Rushcliffe student back representing the Labour party. Is he really only 20!
And this morning I'm over to Arnold to see the Trust Rugby day in action. It's the second time that the Leicester Tigers have led the day and I'm told there'll be 80 boys and girls from across the three academies. Looking forward to it. Keep your eyes on Twitter to get a taste of the action.
I enjoyed the INSET day. It was good to see groups of people working together around the Arnold Hill site. In my brief talk I forgot to include the quote that I use so often - so I'll use it now. As Margaret Mead said "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever does".
The day gave teams from across the trust a chance to share ideas, experiences and, I'm sure, complaints. It's that sort of interaction that generates energy and improves the experience of children in our care.
The Board consists of similarly committed people who are keen to ensure the 4000 pupils have a great education. In order for this to happen they fully understand that the staff need to have the best possible working conditions. They asked me to talk to a group of relatively young teachers about their views of teaching as a long term career. I spoke to 16 teachers in their 20's from across the 3 academies and enjoyed 16 interesting, stimulating conversations. They told me that they like teaching - and I think they do. They also told me they are concerned about the impact of cutbacks on their workload and the advantages of being in good teams. I'll be sharing my report with the Board. Whilst I can't say it will change the world it will raise some points that can be taken further. Obviously we want to keep enthusiastic, capable people.
Similarly the Board and the Headteachers continue to think deeply about the best future for the 3 academies. The trustees - all unpaid of course - have been working long hours with the Headteachers and myself to agree the best way forward. I'm ever more confident that a better world will emerge.
Another half term
They just keep coming along don’t they!
Just a brief blog this week. Hope you have a relaxing break. If you are going skiing then please take care – I don’t want to see any one on crutches on INSET day.
See you all at Arnold Hill on 26th February.
Year 11 Plans
I've spent much of the last week interviewing Year 11 students at Farnborough. Ben Chaloner and I have divided the group up. It works out as 70 15 minutes chats each. And how illuminating I've found them.
The students have plans. Great plans. Some see university as the way forward, some college and then into the trades, some want to do apprenticeships. One lad wants to be a magician!
Every year I'm amazed by the variety of talents across the Year 11 students preparing to leave. It's something of a sadness that I rarely find out if dreams are realised, plans followed. In my assembly - currently on the 10th stage of a tour taking it across the Nottingham area - I focus upon the future. It's an amazing thin . None of us know what it holds.
I'm just going to check my stars in the Daily Mirror. Wonder what's in store for Geminians over the weekend?
Did you know?
An OECD survey suggest that British children are amongst the most anxious in the world and it seems that school is a key factor in this. That's very troubling. Perhaps there's a link with the other story that connected with me this week- the marginalising of the Arts. For years I've been telling anyone who appears to be listening that school life shouldn't be dominated by Maths and English. I'm the first to recognise that young people need to be numerate and literate but the extra demands of the new GCSE and the insistence that both are required for access to just about any course is too much. It places huge pressures on teachers and school leaders- but especially on the children. I have never heard that John Lennon, Elvis Presley, Adele, Tracy Emin, Michelangelo, the lads from Westlife, Anthony Hopkins, Kiera Knightly or Micky Flanagan excelled in English and Maths.( Odd collection of names. Forgive me) But they aren't or weren't half good at Arty things. More power to the elbows, the expressions and the voices of the artists I say.
I'm proud of the new Arts centre that's being half built at Rushcliffe, the great facilities at Arnold Hill and the appointment of2 Drama teachers at Farnborough ( despite the fact that a building designed by a firm called "Inspired Spaces" did not include a Drama studio ). As a trust we've been clear. The Arts matter. They let people develop and shine in ways that Maths and English are unlikely to. Perhaps if they were encouraged more children would be less anxious.
The INSET Day
The third Trust INSET day will take place on Monday February 26th at Arnold Hill Academy. In the first year we focussed upon employability. It made sense given that one of the trust's strategic objectives is to develop the most employable young people in the country. The event was held at Farnborough. At the centre of the 2017 event was the challenge of preparing children for the new type of GCSEs. Remembering information had surged to the forefront of educational practice. Bit of a contradiction to the idea of preparing for the world of work in the age of Google- thanks Mr. Gove- but we need to do everything possible to enable pupils to get the best grades.
Feedback from last year's event suggested that people with similar roles across the trust wanted more time together. That's what the 2018 INSET day will focus upon. After a brief input from me there will be whole range of opportunities to see what others have been up to and a chance share the best practice. You'll also be able to share problems and perhaps find solutions together.
We also plan to ensure the queues for lunch are shorter!