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Looking out on the horizon

22nd November 2021

As I sit at my desk admiring the autumnal colours outside the window I have a moment of gratitude for the seasons we are gifted and the pleasure of being able to work in such a vibrant county.  For many colleagues across the country, I know they aren't quite so fortunate to look at the stunning horizon that I have today.

Looking out on the horizon is something we in education have innately built into us.  It is at times difficult to always know what is on the horizon as we navigate whatever is the latest policy decision.  However, this year we have been blessed in the school improvement team with the ability to move at pace towards the horizon.

I have had the pleasure of working with each and every primary school in our trust as well as working alongside secondary colleagues to help get to the nitty-gritty of teaching and learning.  This term alone, we have delivered a vast professional development offer which has engaged over 170 of our colleagues.  I have been astounded at how engaging and receptive colleagues have been whilst we have really delved into the pedagogy of teaching and learning.  Staff have all learnt from each other and are starting to build strong support networks in primary subject specialisms.  This in turn is driving up standards whilst ultimately sharing the workload, ensuring that the children in our trust get the very best we can offer and staff are supported.

Primary schools in our trust have been working this term on identifying areas of strength in their quality first teaching and areas which they may wish to strengthen.  Colleagues have engaged fully in evidenced-based research and we have attended some very engaging professional discussions around what makes the biggest difference to the pupils in our schools.  More to follow in the coming months.

Whilst our primary schools have very much been focussing on teaching and learning of reading, we have also paired that right back to our work on phonics.  We have carried out an audit of various providers and schemes and all schools will be rolling out phonics training for all staff so that our youngest readers have a solid basis from which to build future reading skills.  

I do hope that staff and governor colleagues manage to get into schools during the festive season to see the great work that has been going on. It always brings a smile to my face and a tear to my eye to see our youngest pupils don their tea towels or angel wings and belt out Away in a manger- usually out of tune and tie!

Kathryn Krynicki, Director of Primary Education, Athena-GEP

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