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How are communities held together?

Earlier this week I met Anne and Gill. They are Church of England vicars. We talked about the way their local community had fewer opportunities to share real experiences with other people. I agreed with them.

Local shops in small towns are closing – so those interactions have largely ceased. There used to be many a chat at the grocer’s or the butcher’s. Supermarkets have more or less finished them off.

There was a time when most of the population watched the same TV programmes. Conversations were easy to start through a mention of Morecambe and Wise, Coronation Street or Top of the Pops. Satellite TV, the internet and catch up TV mean that rarely does the nation – or even a small community – watch the same thing.

Pubs are closing all around us. The idea of the “Local” is now history. Whilst bans on smoking and “drink driving” are to be welcomed there is a strong argument that the numbers visiting pubs have been reduced by changes to the law. The availability of wine and beer in supermarkets and the access to in home entertainment has further reduced visits to pubs. This means most will close. Another chance for communities to interact disappears.

There is an argument that the internet has allowed greater interaction between human beings and whilst on one level this is true there is a lot of evidence to suggest that much of it is false and some of it is dangerous.

So what’s left to pull people together. My friends from the clergy and I agreed that the churches and schools were crucial in pulling people together. High profile buildings in the centre of towns, villages and estates should be put to better use to unite groups of people. We decided that schools and churches should work more closely. From now one we intend to.

Phil Crompton
Executive Headteacher

Meeting others

Last night I attended a Chamber of Commerce networking event. It’s the first time I’ve been to one and it was quite an eye opener. There must have been 25 people from different organisations in attendance and all that was expected was that you spoke to the others to find out if there was anything to be gained from further contact. Until recently this wasn’t the sort of thing that educational leaders were expected to do. Now it is. It wasn’t hard work!

I had conversations with someone who was a well being consultant, a gentleman who worked for a company which organised apprenticeship programmes, a couple of lawyers, a chap who organises alternative learning experiences for primary school children and someone who marketed a chain of hotels. There was one man who was a private investigator but I didn’t get the chance to speak to him. They were all very decent people, all working hard in their different ways, all seemingly talented in their different ways. You might say they were all shining brightly in their chosen fields.

Whenever I meet people from outside the world of education I find it useful. People running their own businesses or working for companies unrelated to education often have a different take on the world. We obsess about examination results – and who can blame us given the pressures we are under –but employers don’t see them as being all important. Last night I again heard people say they wanted to see young people emerging from school with a range of qualities : resilience, team working, numeracy, communication, imagination, self-sufficiency. These are the words that are used. They always are.

Across the Trent Academies Group we are keen to ensure the skills that make young people highly employable are developed as fully as possible. Interaction with employers, work based projects, visits to places of work...... All these matter. On February 22nd we are holding a staff training day which will revolve around how we, as a trust, can do more to help our pupils to become even more employable whilst still keeping focussed on the need to maximise examination results. All staff in the trust will come together for the first time. It should be interesting. It is important.

If anyone wants the a name of the private investigator or the well being consultant please let me know as I have their business cards!

Phil Crompton
Executive Headteacher

Communication could be better

Of course it could. Rarely has an organisation completely sorted communication. There will always be someone who says “Why didn’t anyone tell me what was going on?” and then in the next breath say “I get bombarded with e-mails”. I say it myself! Organisations the world over agonise about how best to communicate.

The Trent Academies Group does try hard to get it right. And sometimes we do. Every academy has a weekly briefing – two at Farnborough – and notes are taken and circulated so that part time staff are kept in the loop. Every academy has an e-mail system that staff are free to use in order to share information – though targeting the right audiences remains a challenge. Every academy has a website which lets the world know what’s happening – the events, the successes and the policies. Please note the work that Rob Hackford has done in modernising the Arnold Hill website with Rushcliffe and Farnborough soon to follow. We also have Twitter accounts and I’d recommend that those with an interest in the world of Twitter make sure they are following:


In our values we commit “To keep everyone informed“. Communication is never done but please be aware that we are constantly looking for ways to do it better. Please let me know if you have idea as to how we can make a leap forward.

This blog has been happening for a while but I didn’t let many people know. Now I have!

Phil Crompton
Executive Headteacher

This is the Trent Academies Group : January 1st 2016

We live in interesting times. The education system is changing rapidly. Local authorities – rightly or wrongly – become ever less significant in influencing the way that schools and academies operate. Every year the number of academies grows and there is an expectation that academies will work closely with other like minded organisations in order to maximise the life chances of young people.

When I became headteacher at Rushcliffe in 2010 after 10 years leading schools in more socio-economically challenged areas I was determined to first improve it from OFSTED “Good” to “Outstanding”. There was no reason why others should be in that category whilst Rushcliffe wasn’t. In February 2014 we achieved that goal. Immediately we asked to be involved in helping our neighbour Farnborough School to improve. It had been judged as having special measures in November 13. By the end of the month Ben Chaloner had been transferred over to Farnborough from his Deputy Head role at Rushcliffe. By September he had been joined by Alison Hallam as a seconded Deputy Head and Dave Salter as Head of English.

Meanwhile at Rushcliffe well respected former Head of Maths and Deputy Head Steve Lewis had become the Headteacher. I was now the Executive Headteacher and spent my time travelling between the two schools/academies – often by bike.

In the Autumn term on 2014 we were asked by the Governors at Arnold Hill Academy on the north side of Nottingham to consider acting as a supportive partner as they has faced some trouble with OFSTED. By the middle of December a relationship had started with me spending a considerable amount of time in Arnold as the previous headteacher had departed.

Farnborough School had ceased to be. It was replaced by The Farnborough Academy and the Trent Academies Group was born. As 2015 progressed Sharon Smith was appointed as Headteacher at Arnold Hill. She took up the post in March just as the new building began to be constructed.

And on January 1st 2016 Arnold Hill formally became part of the trust known as the Trent Academies Group. We are three academies which rally around a flag that says “Everyone will be given the chance to shine brightly”. Whilst the academies have their own individual identities they are also united by shared ways of doing things and shared beliefs.

Over the last year Rushcliffe has been recognised as a World Class School, Arnold Hill has been moved out of serious weaknesses by OFSTED and The Farnborough Academy continues to improve its reputation across the west of the city.

My role has changed and is changing. I travel between the three academies to ensure we are doing everything possible to raise standards in challenging economic times and to support the Heads and their senior teams as required. I even get to talk to pupils sometimes! Rarely do I cycle between the academies now. The hill between West Bridgford and Arnold has put paid to that.

This blog will be updated on a weekly basis. I hope that others will read it and consider joining the Trent Academies Group or at least working more closely with us.

That, however, is what the Trent Academies Group is at the moment.

Phil Crompton
Executive Headteacher