The level of networking and collaboration throughout the group is very visible, with some especially impressive work being done in the areas of SEND, Assessment, EAL Support, EYFS and Appraisal. But what is particularly noticeable is the undoubted raising of standards of teaching and teaching support in all our schools. All Heads are reporting very positively about their staff morale and commitment, especially this Academic Year, and this says more than anything else about the changed momentum within the group.

And let’s not take this for granted. At a time when the current national Education debate centres upon negative influences, such as staff stress, excessive workload and an overburden of external monitoring pressures, we can honestly say that the steps we are currently taking, and planning to take, will further resist such negativity.

We must ensure that we prioritise supporting all our staff and pupils as best as we can, especially by following through on our promises to deliver high quality CPD Programmes, supported by a very effective personalised Appraisal system that all staff will not only value, but will also enjoy engaging with. We raised expectations of significant staff support initiatives at Conference, and we have to deliver on this.

This is a considerable but very welcome challenge, since the response to our CPD questionnaire was so good. Our message to you all has been so well received, that owing to the many requests for CPD, this may not happen as soon as we would have liked, but happen it will….in the medium term if not the immediate (small steady steps!).

I hope to be able to let you know more details of the Group CPD programmes for 2018-19 towards the end of this term, but for now I want to thank you for all you are doing. You (we) are truly making a difference as we reject negativity and build our team, never losing focus upon what matters most and ensuring that we don’t get distracted from looking out for each other and for helping our pupils to be kind, considerate and confident achievers. Not an easy task for anyone in these challenging times, but easier if you are part of a team of like-minded people.

And, finally, let me remind you of this: Never underestimate the hugely powerful influence you are having on the young people in your care. They look to you for support and encouragement in so many ways, and whilst this is very demanding at times, and you feel you may be being taken for granted, take strength and encouragement from your team to help retain your energy and focus. In these testing times there has never been a greater need for you to look after yourselves properly and (at times) to exercise some “Courageous Patience”.

We all know and believe that “Every Child Matters”. We are building a team where every member of staff matters. Never underestimate the value of your contribution

Have a good break and recharge those batteries.

Jim Hudson

Director of Education