Tuesday, July 24, 2018

As you read this you are within touch of the well-deserved summer holidays, well done to all our teaching staff, support staff and school leaders in Nottingham City schools. Thank you for your hard work this year, for looking out for children and young people, for picking them up when they slipped and for teaching them a rich, diverse and probably quite challenging curriculum within school and often outside of lessons. If you are a school governor reading this, thanks for all your time, energy and support too.

Many have said to me a key issue in Nottingham schools is the lack of ambition and aspiration, whilst probably true in pockets I have to refute that from my experiences this term. There are many amazing projects and events like the hoodwinked benches but I want to reflect on an event run by the RSC in conjunction with P6P and other partners to put on Macbeth. Yes really! Macbeth, at the Theatre Royal with 7 primaries, one secondary, and one special school. As I sat in the audience reflecting on the nerves the children might show as they appeared on stage and looked out towards all of us in the audience, I found myself sitting by some local year 4 children who had come to see the play. I asked if they knew the story and they replied with a fair old measure of disdain “Yes, of course we do, Miss has told it to us, we have read most of it and we have seen a few video clips” and then another piped up, “I’ve read the whole script too.” I had to check they were Y4. As the curtain went up we saw an incredible performance starting at a very high standard with those infamous witches, wonderfully portrayed by pupils from Oak Field. I really saw no lack of ambition that afternoon…and I suspect neither have you as the rhythm of the school year brings sports days, summer concerts, plays, arts weeks rewards, awards and yes of course….some SATs, GCSE and BTec or A Level exams. I strongly felt in my initial welcome back in the autumn that partnership work is the way to further unlock potential and ambition and the RSC project perfectly encompassed that, so does much of the cooperative work on display in the summer.

At Radford and Lenton library with Cllrs Trimble and Piper. Celebrating the #Hoodwink book benches and launching the summer read.

The summer term also brings transition which I suspect will always be an issue for schools. Not just Y6 to Y7 either, I overheard an NQT at a conference sharing concerns about her ‘new’ timetable and classes next September, change for her, in a sense ‘transition’. We professionals have our thoughts about September’s classes and even if similar content to cover we know that different groups bring different challenges and opportunities. We have probably already checked off a few names. So if we have a few bothers ourselves then we understand the Y6 moving school or the next Y11 facing their GCSEs and potentially their last year at school, or the child having to move school for whatever reason. We can all look out for each other in transition. Of course, some staff have bigger transitions, they are moving school or maybe leaving the profession or retiring. To each of you thank you for your work in Nottingham some over a whole career and our very best wishes for your transition – continue to be ambitious and to look out for opportunities wherever this summer takes you to.

On behalf of Nottingham City Council thank you again for playing your part, a very significant part and we hope you have a lovely summer break. We will be ready and waiting afresh in September to carry on the good work.