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A special time for families, Christmas is also a particularly lovely time in schools.

It’s an opportunity for celebration and performance and gives parents and families a chance to join in school events.

Christmas marks for me a whole term working with colleagues across the Samuel Ward Academy Trust. There are so many aspects of the work that have been very enjoyable. And while there are, of course, challenges in leading any organisation, one of the features of the Trust is the leadership from such a strong group of headteachers.

Anyone who visits schools know of the huge influence that the headteacher has over ethos and effectiveness. We are fortunate to have such a fine group of headteachers to lead our individual schools and therefore contribute to the entire leadership of the Trust.

Although headteachers are the ‘face’ of a school, there are others involved in the leadership. Each term, we bring together the senior teams of all the schools and it is an impressive group.

We have seen some develop as school leaders and become headteachers when vacancies arise. We have also been delighted to attract talented heads from outside the Trust to join us too.

The unsung heroes of school leadership, though, are our Trust board and school governing bodies.

The Trust has a couple of hundred volunteers who give many hours of their time, entirely unpaid, to oversee the work in every school and across the entire organisation.
Whilst in some multi-academy trusts, the role of governing bodies has been downplayed, we welcome and are hugely grateful for the time and skills they bring which benefits each school.

Although volunteers, the work of governors is inspected as thoroughly as that of teachers and school leaders. The inspections this term have included very encouraging comments about the quality of the work of the governing bodies, including one example where the ‘scrutiny’ function they exercise was particularly commended.

The aim of all our school leaders is that the children and young people, for whom we are responsible, achieve the very best and have a thoroughly happy and fulfilling time at school which in turn helps them grow into responsible citizens.

We focus on specific areas to see where we can improve further. We found the recent report by Ofsted on effective practice in reception classes particularly helpful and are looking to ensure that all children are up and running with reading in this very important year of their school life.

May I wish all the readers of this newspaper a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Tim Coulson, Chief Executive, Samuel Ward Academy Trust