CEO Update 8 December 2016
As we approach the end of term and the start of the festive season, I have been reflecting on the achievements of our learners in school. In my position, I have the privilege of visiting schools every day to see learning in action and can see the progress of our oldest students who are preparing for their A levels and, in some cases, their university applications. It is gratifying when we have known them and seen their development over a number of years. It is fitting that we have awards evenings for our GCSE, BTEC and A level students in the last week of term to reflect on their achievements.
At the other end of the learning journey, it has been wonderful to see our youngest learners in
Y1 Bradley Stoke Community School
Reception performing in their Christmas plays and musicals and to see how much they have learnt in the 3 months since they started school. Every day is a privilege as an educator and it is good to be reminded of that when we are tired at the end of term! Thank you for your support in 2016 for your children and for the staff who make their learning possible in school. Have a good family break and please come back refreshed for what promises to be a busy and exciting 2017. There will be a full Olympus Academy Trust newsletter for you in January.
You may be aware that South Gloucestershire is one of the lowest funded authorities in England for education and the figures are the same for maintained schools and academies. The government postponed the introduction of a national fairer funding formula in the summer which was due to have been introduced in 2017. We now know that we have to wait at least another year. In the meantime, we have much less money than schools in other areas to try and deliver the same educational outcomes – this is clearly unfair – and we are bracing ourselves for our most difficult budget-setting exercise ever for our schools for 2017-18.
In order to offset some of the financial challenge, there are some things we organise as a group of schools to get better prices and value. For example, we have recently entered into contracts for catering across the Trust and have most of our schools on the same cleaning contract now too.
You may have seen or heard in the media about our potential involvement with both Patchway Community College and Winterbourne International Academy. Both schools are facing difficulties for different reasons and need to join different multi-academy trusts from the ones they are currently in. Patchway has recently had a difficult Ofsted inspection and needs lots of money to help improve its facilities as well as its educational outcomes. I have been supporting Patchway with other Olympus colleagues but we are waiting for funding from the Department for Education to be awarded for improvements before our Board of Directors can decide about them joining Olympus. At the other end of the spectrum, Winterbourne International Academy is in new buildings and is the largest school in South Gloucestershire with 1800 learners, but the Ridings Federation has been in financial difficulty and the decision has been taken that Winterbourne (and Yate) need to join other Trusts. We believe that a local partnership is the best solution and have submitted a proposal to the Department for Education for Winterbourne to join Olympus with support being provided by us in partnership with Castle School Education Trust. We will know soon whether this can go ahead.
If Patchway and/or Winterbourne join our Trust, we will have more scope to provide school improvement support for all OAT schools and greater partnership opportunities. We are not under-estimating the challenge but feel strongly that it is the best solution for our local communities and will keep you updated about developments.
Thanks and best wishes,
CEO, The Olympus Academy Trust