17 Jul

Hi everyone,

This has been a year like no other!

Along with the other trustees, we are very used to the pace of work (and change) within the Trust. However, this year we have seen, first hand, what values and principles really drive all our schools and our wider organisations.

Up until March it was pretty much business as usual. We’d opened a school (The Springboard Project) last Summer, we’d building extensions starting (or, in Hollinwood’s case, finishing) at almost all our schools and we’d overseen the biggest expansion of staff and children in our short history. If you are a regular follower of Graham’s blogs, you’ll know that we rarely stand still.

Then came Coronavirus!

I am so proud that, pretty much from Day 1, our schools continued to provide a hub schooling offer (in Tameside and Oldham) for a number of children of key worker families. Over the past few months we’ve seen this number gradually increase. We remained open for business.

We’ve also seen the staff in our schools set up and implement the “new Schooling Offer”. The Trustees have constantly monitored the home schooling offer (and use of the iPads), we’ve been kept up to speed with regards to the welfare calls and have, remarkably, continued to keep an eye on our Development Plan. I’d like to pay tribute and thank every one of our staff teams here – and I mean every one – our cleaners, premises teams, IT teams, support staff, classroom staff, Horizons staff, administrators, HR and business support, finance, training and health and safety teams, PR and leadership colleagues and, of course, our MAT executive team.

You may not be aware but many of them have worked non-stop from March, only having occasional days off at weekends or bank holidays. They have been truly immense. I know a significant proportion are continuing to work right through the Summer. One of the reasons our schools (and organisations) are so popular is the simple fact that our staff teams are some of the best in the country. It’s not rocket science. They are committed, skillful, innovative, passionate, resilient, relentless and, most importantly, care deeply about every single child and young person.

This hard work has paid off though.

Our children and young people have been protected and the majority have continued with their learning journeys. We know it’s not the same. We know it’s been disruptive. But the trustees have seen co-operation and acceptance in abundance. We just need to look through the comments on our social media platforms and the notes coming into schools to realise how supported you, as families, feel. So, on to our children and young people.

We know that many of you have missed out on many aspects of school life – the fun bits with your friends, the lessons, the chance to go on residentials, the proms, our amazing performances, our celebration events….the list could go on and on. I promise you we will make it up to you somehow.

As I said earlier, our planning continues at a real pace and we’ve got some amazing projects in the pipeline. Last week Graham mentioned Pennine House. Our premises teams and local contractors made a start on the refurbishment this week. On Wednesday the temporary modular buildings were delivered and placed at Hawthorns. Graham’s got another major announcement to make next week! We’ve been told that the blogs will continue through the Summer to ensure our families and young people are kept up to speed with the latest guidance.

So I think that’s it for another school year, hectic as always and busy in the best way. None of what we do is about egos or a need for recognition. Our passion drives our ambition. Our driving principle of ensuring the very, very best educational offer for every one of our children and young people remains at the heart of what we do. Can I thank you again for your continued support and can I take this opportunity to thank my fellow governors, trustees and members.

Have a great Summer and I’ll see you all in September.

Best wishes,

Steve