What a week it’s been! Driving home Friday after meeting Graham Evans, MP, reflecting on how fast-paced everything seems to be, I was reminded of the adage; if you want something done, give it to a busy person. . . And I am certainly busier than I’ve ever been before. I really am doing two full time jobs at the moment, meeting my duties with my current employer and working with the Project Group to ensure we meet all the deadlines needed.
I think the highlight of the week, from the project’s point of view has been some amazing bringing together of the building plans. On Saturday last, I had a three hour meeting with a couple of the group where we went through the site locations and plans to date, ensuring that everything was going to meet our requirements. By far the best meeting so far, however, was the Wednesday evening where we met with the architects to look in detail at both the temporary school and the new build.
After technical conversations, they asked me to talk about how I saw the school and as I talked, they sketched. After about an hour and a half, we paused and they said “Something like this, then?”, holding up their sketches, and I could see Sandymoor school drawn on paper, just as I imagined it! That was so spectacular - it actually took my breath away, seeing for the first time the building there in front of me.
I’m hoping to get an artist’s impression of it in the next few days; watch out for it on Facebook. I’ll wait until I have these drawings before trying to describe it. And the temporary school has shaped up too, with classrooms, science labs, technology rooms, and the offices, assembly space, etc. I am confident that this building will be a perfect start for us while we watch the main building grow.
And it’s not just been buildings that have been coming together; I’ve almost met a promise I made to parents at last week’s information evening of publishing term dates not just for this coming year, but the year after that too. I’ve also worked out the staff I need to provide the exciting curriculum right from day 1; this has all been costed and gives me exactly what I wanted to ensure that our year 7s in September start with the outstanding curriculum I promised as well as then growing as the school grows to support all the students. A key appointment for me will be a Literacy & SEN specialist to ensure that all our students have full access to the curriculum and the support they need.
If that wasn’t enough, we’re almost at the point of finalising the school uniform, designed to ensure our students are smart and ready for school, whilst being as cost effective as possible. Virtually every item required will be able to be found in all major superstores, with a school badge and school tie being needed from us.
It’s also been a fabulous week from the publicity viewpoint. I mentioned last time that we’d had a great interview with a reporter from the local paper; well, we made the front page, with a really good story about our vision. “I Won’t Let Our Parents Down” was the headline and I mean it. I take the responsibility of leading a school, looking after the most precious people, the children of the parents, so seriously. And a live interview just after the 8:00am news on BBC Radio Merseyside. Following a recorded interview with a local councillor. It also went really well and I had the opportunity to address some mis-conceptions the councillor was stating as fact. I get cross with this disingenuous approach, as if saying something loud enough and often enough makes it true. We are not taking anything like a tiny fraction of the money he claimed we were taking away from the local authority as over 90% of the children he is talking about are not educated in Halton anyhow. And to claim that we’re going to steal all the best teachers; I take that as a compliment that we’re going to be such an attractive place to work. I understand he is a former teacher … perhaps he’d like to send me his CV, like the significant number I’ve already had, even before we advertise our posts. It’s such a shame when politics gets in the way of doing the best for all the young people of an area.
I also had time to have a meeting with Professor Colin Whitehouse, the head of Daresbury labs. As a scientist myself it was wonderful meeting him and talking about the amazing things going on there as well as the opportunity to discuss ways we might hope to work together, along with all the other local schools.
On the horizon, the next important event is the next Sandymoor on Tour event, Windmill Hill Primary School, starting at 2 pm. I’m really looking forward to this as it’ll be an opportunity to explain so much of the concrete things that are now falling into place at such a rapid pace.