Brighton for the NAHT National Executive

IMG_3034Brighton in a storm is an interesting place to be! Travelling from London the weather was getting worse so by the time I arrived on the south coast strong winds and rain were certainly the order of the day!

I was down here for 3 days presenting and seeking views on Primary Futures from the SEND Committee and the Practice Committee with an assessment meeting in the sandwich just to vary the diet!

A number of special schools or schools with specialist provision have registered for Inspiring the Future and or Primary Futures and have used the opportunity to engage with volunteers over the last few years. The NAHT SEND Committee are eager to develop a series of models which can be piloted in schools next year which will take the best examples of what has worked well whilst also looking at some new ideas to give the children and young people opportunities to meet and work with volunteers from many different backgrounds. One of the key elements to be considered will I suspect be preparing volunteers for what could be a very different experience supporting in a special school environment. It is hoped a draft paper will be prepared before xmas so the committee can consider next steps and timescales for this development in the spring.

IMG_3035By Friday the weather was little better. So much for the weather down south!

My final meeting was an important one with the Practice Committee to review progress to date and to look ahead to plans for 2016, which will be our second full year. There was a lot of discussion with some good ideas shared to guide our thinking particularly around school engagement and recruitment which will be our focus in the coming months. The challenge of increasing volunteer uptake will now sit firmly with the Education and Employers team in London. We are also keen to expand the number of team members we have to try to get into areas around the country where Primary Futures is not well used at the moment. It’s always an experience to work with people who tell it as it is. Maybe some in other walks of life could learn from that?

At the end of a long week it was encouraging to know that the work we are doing in helping to raise aspirations is adding value. Also pleasing to be told that a report due out from the CBI the following week, ‘Primary Thinking’, would reference very clearly the work and importance of Primary Futures. As I left Brighton it was raining!


Primary Futures and Reach2 in Colchester

On one of those dark, damp autumn days I arrived once more at Wakefield Westgate Station at 8.00am ahead of the journey south. First to Kings Cross then across to Liverpool Street for the 50  minute journey to Colchester. It was the Monday after the grim events in Paris so I was not surprised to arrive in what felt an unusually quiet capital city.

The mood brightened as I was looking forward to visiting Unity Primary Academy in Colchester to work with colleagues in the Reach2 Academy Trust from the East Anglia cluster¬† On arrival at Colchester Station I had a short taxi journey to the school with a taxi driver who had what could probably be termed ‘extreme views’ on how to solve the worlds problems! He certainly spoke his mind!

I arrived at the school to a welcoming reception area and office staff and was quickly whisked away to meet a sea of expectant faces. I’m never sure what to expect but was made very welcome by the assembled multitude. Even the technology worked perfectly which is always a bonus! The following 45 minutes seemed to go very quickly as I shared a Primary Futures presentation and engaged in discussion with colleagues. As ever it was important to stress that PF is school led. We are happy to support in any way we can but the project has to be owned by the schools. I can see some real middle leaders possibilities coming out of the session and will be watching with interest to see where this group of schools take it next. A big thank to you all for the opportunity to share with you :).

By Steve Iredale