Better Together

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Overcoming the challenges we face in education

As leaders we face some of the most significant challenges seen in education. We are at a pivotal time to shape the educational landscape and direction that provides the opportunity to influence a generation far broader reaching then our own temporary custody within individual schools.

The two most significant challenges we face are those provided by the uncertainties of school funding and the need to ensure a deep-rooted focus on recruitment and retention. The question remains what can we do to address these areas that has an impact in all our schools and will we be in a stronger position standing individually or through working in collaboration?

Recruitment and retention – the quality of education is defined not by the amount of time in the classroom or the size of the class but most importantly by the quality of instruction. The defining factor remains the quality of learning, teaching and leadership to ensure progress and that every child makes the most of their potential. Through working together we have the opportunity to develop strategies for professional learning from the “cradle to grave” and ensure that our schools actively track, engage and provide opportunities for talent management and succession planning at all levels.

Financial uncertainty – the one thing that is clear is that there will be continued change and uncertainty within educational finances. We will face these in isolation with potentially catastrophic effects in that some schools may cease to exist or we have the opportunity to ask ourselves what we can do differently or more effectively by working together. This may include contracts, services, capital development, income generation and staffing.

Underlying this is a commitment to looking to embed and develop the school-led system so that there is a strength of voice when we stand together. Currently there is a risk that we are susceptible to political winds of change and we need to overcome this through helping shape our own destiny. We are challenged to establish a way of working in “accountable collaboration” underpinned by peer review, joint curriculum development and defining a shared strategy, vision and direction.
It is here that we have to take a leap of faith, to have the strength and moral conviction to find a path through the challenges that lie ahead. We simply owe it to ourselves, our students and the school communities we serve to find new ways of working together with creativity, commitment and a shared vision and direction. I am sure that if we invest the time and energy to get this right working in a multi-academy trust can achieve this vision and direction.

So it is time to face the challenges and uncertainties head on and discover new ways to solve these challenges standing stronger and better together. Are you ready for the journey?

Everybody’s free to wear sunscreen 

I’ve known Deborah long enough to say that when she wants something – she can get it done. Let’s support her on her journey!

bowelbabe

For me my life didn’t change at 4pm on an idle Tuesday, it was 7pm on an idle Thursday just before Christmas 2016……


I’m the perfect example of a text book hypochondriac, one that immediately think dizziness means a brain tumour, a cough means lung cancer, and blood in the stools means Bowel cancer. However years of CBT has meant that I’ve learnt to rationalise every ailment – including the last year of a change in bowel habbits that I put down to too much wine, a new job and stress of trying to be that full time working ‘super mum’.


If only for once someone believed me earlier that I wasn’t ‘crying wolf’ – when in my normal nervous GP ‘question time’ I tell the doctor I think I have bowel cancer – I’m actually laughed at – not once but 3 times over the course of 6 months!…

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Fed as a leader…

Leadership Concept

Some thoughts and notes from the recent conference on leadership in Birmingham. A few questions to consider.

  • What feeds, develops and challenges you as a leader?
  • How are you committed to continuing to grow and learn?
  • What will you to have a relentless focus on simplicity and improvement?

We can’t have a diet of junk food and need to be broad and balanced in what we eat and drink. Perhaps we need the same exercise and commitment in our leadership development. So thanks to those that shared in the journey and I hope we can all find a meaningful way to share the experience when we return to the pace of life in school.

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One of Seven

A thoughtful Easter reflection so poignant in the world this week and today on Good Friday.

BeautyBeyondBones

Eli, Eli, lamma sabacthani? My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? Matt 27:46

What a week it’s been.


I’m writing this on Tuesday night with a heavy heart after the terrorist attacks in Brussels today.

There’s a somber tone to the world. One of despair. One of hurt. One of fear.


And I can’t seem to shake the fact that this tragedy occurred right as we’re about to enter the Easter Triduum — Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. — The pinnacle of our faith. Paradoxcallythe most sorrowful, and yet most joyful occasions.

But today, there is a palpable sadness, blanketed over the global community. Which reminded me of the darkness that covered the earth at noon on Good Friday, as Jesus was hanging on the cross, right before He died.

Good Friday. The day when He hung on the tree.


While He was upon the…

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On a mission? A modern discipleship…

My message at the end of our school year.

stpaulslearning

our mission

This week our theme in school is “responsibility” – the Gospel reading talks about how Jesus called the disciples together and sent them out in pairs taking nothing with them in the challenge to live their lives of faith and spread the Good News.

What does this tell us as we come to the end of the school year and for the summer ahead?

  1. Let us travel light – perhaps we are weighed down by all that we want and own. The challenge is to cherish the moments, memories and people we are with not the gifts or possessions we bring back from our travels. We can sometimes live a “virtual reality” taking pictures and videos from our phones rather than seeing life in full technicolour. I remember being lucky enough to be in the Olympic Stadium the night Mo Farah won the 5000m Gold Medal at London 2012. How…

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Back in the old days… do you remember??

stpaulslearning

summer-chairsDo you remember the old days? I must be feeling a little older as sometimes I find myself looking back and seeing the past with rose-tinted spectacles… for us all it may be a time of carefree childhood, a point when we were madly in love or a sense of satisfaction and joy in our professional lives – I think elite athletes may talk about “flow” or this may be like Ken Robinson’s “element“.

As a teacher I have this view of “life in the summer term” when I was first teaching. It was a time when you could get to do the things you had been desperate to focus on all year, you got space to think…. ultimately it felt like you had the most precious gift – “time”. I also remember it as always being sunny so perhaps it is not a memory based in great realism!

This…

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How can we be Christ in the world?

Please read the reflection for this week and say a prayer for Mohammed…

stpaulslearning

Christ-of-the-Abyss

The theme for this week in school is “The Body of Christ” – we are currently deep into the season for Confirmation and First Communion celebrations which mark a new beginning in the lives of those who receive these sacraments on their Christian journey…

My daughter is excitedly preparing for her First Communion celebrations this weekend… this ranks as highly as the anticipation of the BGT final and the longing for Christmas or Birthday celebrations (pretty high overall!). Initially the focus for her was the prospect of a new dress and shoes – we had to persuade her high heels, a veil and lace gloves may be a little bit of a distraction on the day and were pleased when the Priest suggested simplicity was the way forward for them all.

The Eucharist lies at the centre of Christian faith in an act of thanksgiving. The distinctive belief in the…

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