February 22nd 2016
It was a historic day for the Trent Academies Group. Almost 400 people assembled at The Farnborough Academy for the inaugural Trust Conference. I can’t pretend I wasn’t a bit nervous about it. There were lots of things that might have gone wrong – but none of them did. A fine example of team work. Buses arrived on time, hall set up perfectly, electrics worked well, refreshments in place and queues didn’t take too long. And the presentations, speakers and discussions seemed to go well and feedback suggest they were appreciated. I felt that the day worked. I will know more when the Survey Monkey evaluations have all been returned.
One thing I really hope is that every member of staff is aware of the challenges faced at each academy. I hope there is no sense of superiority anywhere in the Trust. We have quality people who are working hard at each academy. So many people trying their best to ensure that all our pupils get the chance to shine as brightly as possible. Only a tiny percentage of staff have experienced more than our academy and I am sure they recognise that each academy has its strengths – and areas it needs to develop. The work is never complete.
One of the Governors who attended – and I’m pleased so many did – said he worried a little about the use of the term “support staff”. He wondered if it was a little demeaning. Having asked a few members of the support staff I’m assured that it is fine and certainly better than “Non-teaching staff”. But if anyone has a better term please let me know. In my presentation I tried to get across the impact that enthusiastic and capable support staff have increasingly made over the last 20 years. It’s a different world to the one I started my career in and I certainly have deep gratitude for the work they do and how they do it. To those who have only known a world with support staff I say appreciate them, it was tough when they weren’t there.
And so hopefully the Trent Academies Group moves forward with greater unity. Contacts have hopefully been made and we are more aware of what we need to do to ensure our pupils – 4000 of them – have the best chance possible to access satisfying jobs.