I was in Manchester yesterday. There was an air around the City that is difficult to describe. A City in mourning. A City that was still coming to terms with the events of the night before. News trickled in throughout the day; the stories that we have all seen and the more personal ones of colleagues and friends whose schools and communities had been directly affected.
We often take for granted the resilience shown by young people. We are all too aware that there will be some in our schools who are finding it difficult to come to come to terms with what has happened and equally trying to understand “why?” As teachers and educators our roles go far beyond the classroom. The routine that schools are providing, the care and love that will be in abundance and the support and personalised offering each and every day are things that are frequently overlooked by league tables and other external agencies. Children are very special and we are blessed to be able to work alongside them each and every day.
Yet within our schools routine continues. It is this routine that provides many with the opportunities and happiness that they may not get at home. Every child is special and every child has different needs. This personalised approach to the needs of all our young people is what makes the ATLP so special. Our Year 6 students, and staff, did us proud during their SATS tests recently showing humour, resilience and teamwork. GCSE and A-level examinations are now underway with students, and again staff, showing similar qualities as they face their latest challenge.
Congratulations to all our young people for doing us proud once again with how they have risen to this challenge. Praise too for all our teams who have supported our young people – not just by helping children with their revision or exam timetables – but also by giving them the emotional support and skills to guide them through these landmark tests.
As educators, we know that what matters most is providing children with the right educational tools to shape their lives. The ATLP ‘manifesto’ is simple: ‘we work together to improve educational opportunities for every child’. And, while we await the outcome of the General Election and the testing times this brings, we will continue to collaborate with others, because it gives us greater strength and freedom to shape our own destiny.
This ‘system leadership’ was the focus of last week’s West Midlands School Led Conference, which I was fortunate enough to open. I was joined by ATLP headteachers, deputies and leaders, along with prominent local and national educational figures, to discuss the future of school-to-school support.
Perhaps the most inspirational speaker, though, was Ashley John-Baptiste whose life has been transformed through education.There is nothing more uplifting than meeting somebody who is benefiting from a quality education and who now passes that on to others: it is the whole ethos of our learning partnership.
Such ambitious young people are at the very heart of our work. Take the pupils from Brookvale. These future voters will be visiting Parliament on the eve of the General Election to gain a greater insight into the inner workings of Westminster.
Some might say that their futures will be influenced by the very politicians they will be visiting. However, I would argue that their future is in our hands. We have the power to instil one of life’s greatest freedoms: education.
Putting children first is a pledge we make across our family of schools. It is a test our staff pass every single day.
So please enjoy a well-deserved break with your friends and families over this (hopefully sunny) Whitsun holiday.