CEO Blog – Week Commencing 25/02/2019

CEO Blog – Week Commencing 25/02/2019

Welcome back to Term 4,  I can’t quite believe we are over the half way mark for the academic year already!

I hope all readers had a great half term. As promised to my children and for those wondering following my post before the break; we played lots of Star Wars Monopoly and went for a couple of long walks together as a family (much to my youngest’s dismay)!

The first week of Term here at Thinking Schools Academy Trust was certainly not a quiet one; we welcomed the newest edition to the Trust family, Meredith Infant School who officially converted and joined us on Friday 1st March. Every member of the Meredith Team received their Trust induction welcome pack along with a Trust cupcake. We are delighted to welcome Meredith to the Trust; Lucy Carroll, Headteacher of both Meredith Infant and our Junior School next door, Isambard Brunel has been working across the two schools recently to secure stability and success for both.

I’d also like to begin with a personal highlight for me this week, which I have been a part of through my work with a Year 6 Maths intervention group at Isambard Brunel Junior School. One of the students has really been struggling with his maths but absolutely smashed his time tables work sheet on Friday morning and another student has trebled her arithmetic scores this week in comparison to when I first started supporting the group in January – I was absolutely delighted for them both. I’ve really enjoyed my time in the classroom and having the opportunity to work with these children and the Year 6 team.

The first week of Term 4 sees Year 6 students across the country receive confirmation of their secondary places for next year and in-turn, our secondary schools have confirmation on their 09/19 Y7 cohort numbers with all filling to PAN (published admissions number). As we approach exam season, this is a busy time for our Secondary schools. I am hearing lots of feedback from our Year 11 leads around the cohort’s improvement and readiness in taking their mocks shortly or who have already done so at the end of last term, which is great news.

I’ve had a handful of Headteachers contact me this week letting me know how excited they are for staff appointments they have made for September 2019, which is so encouraging to hear. I joined the panel for the Vice Principal interviews at The Portsmouth Academy and was delighted with the offer we made to one of the candidates who has accepted. In the climate that we face today with slowing numbers of teachers qualifying each year and our recruitment of core subjects becoming slightly tougher and tougher each year as a sector, to hear of some true ‘shining stars’ joining our workforce to educate the 8500 children in our care really makes me smile. But, it’s not all about attracting quality staff, the training and nurturing is equally as important. New Horizons Children’s Academy was praised this week by a student mentor visiting from Canterbury Christ Church University for it’s fantastic practice and support to develop the next generation of teachers.

I’ve also been hearing of lots of positive and inspiring CPD sessions that have been taking place for staff this week, from ‘further use of Thinking Tool in KS2 Maths’ as Newbridge Junior Schools to Makaton training at Penhale Infant School. New Horizons Teaching School spoke of excellent engagement at their events this week including Autism training and TSST specialist training.

The first week of any half term for us is filled with our Primary pupils engaging with their new topic for the term. We’ve had visits from Vikings, Florence Nightingale, tortoises – Mr Green & Joey, Paramedics and Dentists, slime lessons and Ready Steady Cook challenges to name a few!

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As a Trust we wholly believe in an ‘all-through’ education model, which sees our pupils transition from our Primary to Secondary schools. Parent of a now Year 7 pupil at Holcombe Grammar this week, who was one of our pupils at Cedar Children’s Academy, sent a heart-warming email across to Cedar staff this week to inform them of the progress he is making and the dedication Cedar staff showed him to support him in getting there. RGS also spoke of high parental engagement at their Year 13 parents evening this week. I encourage all parents to engage wherever possible within their child’s school life, ask the questions, join in the parent open days at school, and please do pass on any positive feedback, our staff love hearing of the positive steps children are taking at home to aid their studies, or any success stories about their education once they have left to go onto secondary school.

We are of course not shy to admit any negatives and challenges we face across the Trust too; one of our Primary schools has been struck with an on-going sickness bug for another week which is unfortunately affecting their overall attendance.

Overall this has been another exciting challenging week. Next week we have World Book Day being celebrated across the schools on 7th and 8th March.

What is your favourite book character? Mine would have to be Druss from Legend, but I can’t promise you’ll be seeing photos of me in the Druss costume next week!

Watch this space for some fantastic and imaginative costumes and from both staff and pupils as I let you know what Thinking Schools Academy Trust got up to!

All the best,

Stuart