In the first edition of the Mercian Voice, we shared feedback from MAT staff questionnaires. High up on the list of priorities that you identified was a request for quality CPD. And so, just over a month later, on the 7th November, we launched a new programme for aspiring Middle and Senior Leaders. The first cohort includes colleagues from all five schools and that’s important: we want this to be an opportunity to learn together, to form networks for the sharing of best practice.
In our first session, we looked at models of leadership, drawing on Andy Buck’s excellent book “Leadership Matters: how leaders at all levels can create great schools”. Figure 1 below is one of the models we looked at from the book. We found it useful to pause and think about where we spend most of our time. Many colleagues agreed that we tend to gravitate towards the bottom left quadrant – perhaps rightly so: we need to get things done! But the CPD session forced us all to stop and reflect about making time for the quadrant on the top right, so that we can be clear on our vision and create teams of people who will work together to bring that vision to reality.
Future sessions will include seminars from MAT colleagues. Sharing an area of expertise or special interest with others is a good form of CPD in itself. When we next meet Adele Biddle and Matthew Moore from Aldridge and Conrad Bourne and Nigel Jobling from Shire Oak will be speaking on educational research and teaching & learning.
We are also very fortunate to be working in partnership with a local Teaching School for this programme. Eleanor Langston-Jones from Earls School in Halesowen will be on hand at every meeting to offer advice and support.
Over a year ago now, the DfE approved a bid by the Vine Trust Group and Walsall Studio School to open a new Alternative provision Free School in Walsall.
This was how the original pitch was made to the DfE. ‘The Ladder’ is an alternative provision free school proposed by Walsall Studio School that will provide students an effective ‘step up’ for those for whom mainstream schooling has been challenging and ineffective.
This new, much needed provision derives its name from the royal led, 'Ladder Apprenticeship campaign', overseen by Walsall Studio School’s Chair of Governors.
The campaign's partnership consists of print media organisations, employers, public and third sectors, who have each agreed to support the creation of the Ladder school, as a fitting tribute to the campaign that has thus far, created over 2000 apprenticeship jobs.
In some ways it has been a frustrating time since the government gave the original green light. The Education and Skills Funding Agency blocked any further progress until a site for the new school was agreed … and that took far longer than we expected!
We are delighted to report that, at long last, it’s all systems go! Dan Parkes and the Ladder School team are working hard to see if we can get the school open (in temporary accommodation initially) by September 2018.
That will be a huge step forward in our aim to provide the right education pathway for every individual pupil in Walsall.
In the last issue of The Voice, we flagged up a new initiative from The Mercian Trust and the University of Birmingham working in partnership. It is a form of Teacher Subject Specialism Training (TSST) which we are calling B Physics. We are now in a position to give you a few more details.
There will be four sessions this academic year:
Each session will begin with a talk entitled Why this matters for the whole group and then there will be two different workshops: one for those who want to focus on K3/4 teaching; one for those wanting to discuss matters relating to A Level teaching. The workshops will be led by Physics teaching specialists from Mercian schools with support from PhD students and HE staff.
Each session will be at a different school venue within The Mercian. On the day, the UoB will send two PhD students in to the school from 12 noon with a brief to help with careers advice, A Level teaching or individual coaching. The Why this matters talks and workshops will be scheduled from 4pm to 6pm.