As the year end gets within touching distance it is all too easy to count the days and I try not to do this. – that’s not to say I don’t do it, I just try not to! Time will pass regardless and by counting the days to the next holiday always feels like wishing your life away and I like to think that I am not always thinking about the next holiday! It will get here, when it gets here … and when it does come it is usually filled with those things that we don’t get the time to do in term time -> Washing, housework, car service etc etc

Talking of car servicing reminds me of this tweet … I have a confession … Shortly after I wrote this tweet, my car service was finished and so I packed my laptop and “my” remote control into my bag and pootled off home … I walked into my living room and guess what was sat on the sofa. Yep! My remote control hadn’t even left the house and I had walked away with the remote from the garage. Don’t worry I did return it … I sent it back in the post with an anonymous note that said “I’m an idiot!” The car is due for its first MOT in two weeks and I may actually ‘fess up.

Anyway I digress. Whilst this year has been crazy busy, it has also been exceptionally rewarding. I’ve mentioned before that I started in January at a school that was in Special Measures after doing some SLE work supporting the maths team. Since then we have been Ofsted’ed and whilst we have a way to go, the school is no longer in SM (we’ve still got some work to do but that’s also a good thing in my opinion) – on the first monitoring visit the, then interim HTs Nick Gibson (who is now the HT) and Lee Gray (along with the SLT) must have made a convincing case to get the first monitoring visit converted to a full inspection.  I have to be honest though when Nick announced that they would be staying for a THIRD day the feeling in the staff room wasn’t one of elation after being under scrutiny for two days already but coming into work on the last day it was evident that the staff were “up for it”. One of the things that blew me away and was somewhat unconventional was the staff meeting with the inspectors after school – so many of the long serving staff had things to tell the inspector about how the school had changed and were so very supportive of what Nick and Lee were trying to achieve. It was very touching to listen to.

Massive kudos must go to Nick and Lee because getting the first monitoring visit converted to a full inspection is almost unheard of! In fact, looking at the Ofsted data it appears that of the 711 schools that have been categorised in inspections (going back to 2006 I think!) as SM only 21 have come out of SM on “monitoring visit 1” and only 7 in under 1 year!!

Working in a school in a “category” is not for everyone and I’ve never been in a school when they’ve gone into a category but have now worked in two schools on their way out of it and also a school that was categorised as RI. The first was a school in Redditch (my first teaching job and so will always be special to me!) which was a National Challenge school that went on to become “Most Improved in England” and this is also where I first met Seager when he was a newly promoted HOD. I haven’t worked with him in my “day job” since leaving Alcester Academy two years ago but all that is about to change as he is joining me at North Bromsgrove from September as Lead Practioner. I’ve forgotten what its like to work with him and have flashbacks to how driven and full of energy he is! Our HOD is fab and we have a nice solid little team developing. It’s still very early days but the combination of characters and personalities will be a nice mix … they are all sooooo much more diplomatic than me! We will be looking for someone to join us from January with a view to finding a teacher able to take on the majority of the sixth form teaching .. so keep an eye out for the advert in the new academic year if you’re interested.. 

I know this year isn’t finished but thoughts are already turning towards next 2019/20 and we have suggested that a “year 10 into 11 transition meeting” is held with parents (its taking place in  the last week of term!) with the intention that its a short meeting to pre-empt any parental concerns following the year 10 exams, especially with those students at the bottom end of the Higher tier that are still yet to complete the course. During this meeting we’ll (hopefully) lay out a rough plan of what to expect during the year to come. We’ll also be introducing them to the idea of the “supergroup” as a tried and tested strategy and also changes to tutor groups. I still remember the meeting we went to when we moved to Alcester and I think it genuinely helped parents to know that there was “a plan” and that things weren’t being done on the hoof, so to speak. In my experience, issues arise when students and parents aren’t expecting change to happen … if they are aware of the changes it is much easier for all involved and doesn’t cause a blind panic. We know we aren’t going to reach every parent but we have to start somewhere. I would love to know if you do something similar??  

So … on the basis that two thirds of the JustMaths team are back together in a couple of months you can expect more blogging from me!