Return of the Blog
I've missed the last couple of Fridays. My reader must be furious. Back today with a few words about the move towards the merger with the Spencer Academies Trust.
Last Monday it was announced that, subject to due diligence, Farnborough, Rushcliffe and Arnold Hill will be working as part of the Spencer Academies Trust from September. This all seems a logical response to my retirement from the post of TAG CEO. I hope no one is thinking there's a comparison with the Sainsbury / ASDA merger. There isn't. No one gets bonus money. The trustees have worked so hard to get to this position. Hour after hour - and all for no personal gain. And I certainly won't be getting a reward. All that's for another world.
The proposed partnership seems like a more effective way to run a public service. The enlarged entity will have more influence, more capacity to improve the academies and greater economies of scale. I hope everyone will attend the after school sessions next week at which Paul West and the Headteachers will give their views about where we are now and what the thinking about the future is. Tuesday is Rushcliffe, Wednesday is Arnold Hill and Thursday is Farnborough. A Q and A document has been published but please be prepared to clarify any concerns you might have.
See you next week. Somewhere.
Three great things
As I approach the last term of my tenure I become increasingly moved by the wonderful things that happen across the trust. Here are three from this week alone:-
Arnold Hill's Harry Potter Day attracted the interest of J.K. Rowling herself. A direct tweet from her is something that's viewed by her 12m followers. The Arnold Hill name has been shared across the world and attracted a lot of media interest. Wonderful.
The Farnborough Under 15 and Under 16 Boys' football teams won the City Championships on the same day. Two titles. Makes up for Wigan going out of the FA Cup!
"Grease" at Rushcliffe was first class. Not the most moral of tales perhaps (might be an age thing!) but great singing and musicianship. Really professional and four evenings given up by students and staff is not to be sniffed at. Serious commitment to the cause.
Thanks to everyone who made these things happen. Each will be remembered by student involved forever.
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?