Headteacher Weekly Bulletin 08.03.19

Good morning

It’s going to be a bit frantic today so I’m making an early start on the old bulletin.  We have a weekly SLT meeting at 7.30 (it’s now 7.13) so hopefully I can bang out a few paragraphs in the interim as I absorb my first dose of caffeine of the day. 

Second yoga session last night and I have to say it was pretty tough; my decrepit body (the result of years of physical punishment on the rugby field) with its aching joints (several now held together by bits of metal) didn’t respond well to some of the challenges.  Jackie, the instructor, had us doing some ‘hand-stand preparation’ and some one-legged balancing thing, which my (partially false) left hip objected to.  Anyway, short-term pain for long-term gain as they say, so I’ll grin and bear it for now.  I did feel suitably stretched and chilled afterwards.

The yoga was a much needed means of relaxation after two governors’ meetings this week (Tuesday at Willows Primary and Wednesday saw our own Full Governors’ termly gathering) and a Trafford Secondary Heads’ meeting yesterday.   I have to be honest, I do struggle with concentration on these occasions but there was lots of fruitful discussion and positive outcomes from all three.  The first presenter at the Heads’ meeting yesterday was a Superintendent from Greater Manchester Police.  This was inevitable, I suppose, following last weekend’s tragic events both locally and in Essex, and subsequent knife-crimes this week.  What is clear to me, and indeed all those present yesterday, is that this is an extremely complex issue that requires extensive collaboration to resolve – and it absolutely can be resolved.  Schools, families, the community, social workers, the police, young offenders’ organisations and other groups and agencies have to work together.  It was made clear to us yesterday that, with finite resources currently available, we will not be seeing more police officers on the streets.  I disagreed with the police officer yesterday, who suggested this was not a political issue.  Strained budgets in public services will ultimately impact one’s capacity to educate our young people, keep them safe and keep them healthy.  Or am I just being simplistic?  There are, of course, things we can do in schools that don’t require investment and we will continue to educate our young people in the most appropriate way on such matters.  As always, on these occasions, we also remind our students that the risk to them is minimal and there is no need for mass hysteria. 

What I have taken issue with this week, to the extent that I felt compelled to write to Sir Graham Brady MP yesterday, is the fact that a group of police commissioners, the Mayor of London and several ill-informed journalists, amongst others, have pointed the finger of blame at schools and permanent exclusions for this rise in knife-crime.  I pointed out that permanent exclusions are a consequence of unacceptable behaviour not a cause of it.  I have deemed it in the best interests of Wellington School and its students and staff to exclude a number of students over the last seven years; each decision was not taken lightly (it is the last thing a Headteacher wishes to do) but I can say categorically that in each case it was the right thing to do.  The issue is perhaps what the ‘system’ does to support these young people subsequently but this is not the fault of Headteachers or their schools. 

It is now 15.12 (told you it would be a busy day) and I raised the above with MAD Club at lunchtime.  In short, they were horrified that schools should take the flak and, furthermore, were glad that we have such high expectations and standards of discipline at Wellington.  As I have always said, there are occasions when the needs and best interests of the majority have to be considered ahead of those of an individual.

It was Year 13 mock results morning earlier with an assembly and a few words of motivation / wisdom from Mr Cropper, followed by the issuing of results and finally the opportunity to review one’s results and carry out some action-planning.  The Year 13s are, overall, in a very strong position (we and they will not be complacent), so most were satisfied with their mock results and predictions.  Inevitably, some were disappointed but the overwhelming message from this morning was that every student can make progress over the coming months with the right attitude and approach and perhaps with a few (not too painful) sacrifices.  Well done Year 13 and the very best of luck between now and June.

Well done also to the Year 11s who finished their mocks today.  I think we have all been pretty impressed with how they have conducted themselves over the last two weeks and Mrs Baxter, our exams officer, even took the trouble to email me earlier (on behalf of herself and her team of invigilators) to say how impressed she had been with the students.  Let’s hope this is reflected in mock results.  It certainly bodes well for the summer.   

Plenty more to be proud of and to celebrate this week.  In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a prouder member of staff than Mrs Soldiew, one of our fabulous TAs, this morning, when she came to tell me about a Trafford Youth Parliament event.  It’s fair to say that for several of the students she took along yesterday, this was very much out of their comfort zone but, my goodness, what a brilliant job they seem to have done.  Well done to all those who attended.  You can read more from Mrs Soldiew herself in Latest News.

As usual, I have not yet had chance to read any items submitted by colleagues but I am aware of two football successes – Year 8 and Year 9 boys, so another well done to both teams and their teachers, Mr Morgan and Mr Cawley.  Perhaps not quite on the level of Utd’s achievements in Paris on Wednesday night but we’ll take it!

As part of our ongoing efforts to cater for the wellbeing and mental health needs of all members of the Wellington community, Mrs Norbury, our SENDCo, delivered a session on anxiety in the Vale Hall last night.  Around 40 parents attended and the feedback has been excellent.  Please do look out for such events in the future, after all, they are of benefit to your child but to you, as parents / carers, as well.

In a similar vein, you should now be in receipt of log-in details for the Classcharts parent app which is launched on Monday.  We are hopeful this will work effectively, but I am always suspicious of technology so do bear with us if there are any technical glitches initially.  Fingers crossed. 

Can I thank former student and teacher, and now good ‘friend’ of Wellington, Denise Laver, for bringing to our attention the sad passing of Godfrey Allen, another former teacher, at the age of 87 on 16th February.  Godfrey’s funeral took place this week.  He was “a dear friend and teaching colleague,” writes Denise, “and always an amazing font of knowledge.”  Our condolences to Godfrey’s family and may he rest in peace.

I’m not massively in the mood after another busy week but I’m of out to friends’ this evening and been asked to make the effort to get home at a decent time.  With that in mind, I’ll bid farewell and hit the M56. 

Should be a good weekend; my rugby team will hopefully secure the league title away at Sandbach on Sunday and then it’s back to the club for a celebratory glass of sherry and the Utd v Arsenal game. 

Have a good weekend.

S Beeley