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The last few days before the schools break up for Christmas is a chance to pause, reflect and give thanks.

And how will we look back on 2022? In keeping with the two years before it, the last 12 months have brought huge challenges to the education system.

We still live and work with the ongoing disruption of Covid, thankfully to a slightly lesser degree, but we are now also facing up to the aftermath of a pandemic.

The cost of living crisis affects all aspects of society and this is certainly true in education where schools have had to carefully scrutinise their budgets and leaders have once again performed heroics amid such an unsettling landscape.

These challenges, sadly, will continue well into 2023. But I also know our schools will never stop in their bid to offer the best possible education to the young people they serve.

Ironically, this was once again shown this week when the snow forced many of our school buildings to close.

Utilising some of the learnings over the last couple of years, our schools quickly moved over to remote learning to ensure students were still able to access their lessons away from the classroom.

It was another example of schools going above and beyond for their students. Looking back over the last 12 months, there are examples of that at every turn.

Reviewing these newspaper columns in 2022, a recurring them, dare I say it, was ‘normality’ as each month passed and many of the Covid restrictions were eased.

Students enjoyed their first trips and productions for more than two years and we welcomed parents back into our schools to talk to them and show them some of their children’s excellent work in the classrooms.

The best of schools were once again in evidence as we celebrated the Queen’s Jubilee and then we were all united in sadness at Her Majesty’s passing.

From a trust perspective, we were delighted to once again hold our Unity Day, where more than 800 members of staff came together to further enhance skills, knowledge and wellbeing.

We also welcomed two new schools to our family after Breckland School in Brandon joined us (pictured) and Sir Peter Hall School in Bury St Edmunds opened in October.

Amid the challenges, there have been many success stories – both individually and for our schools. I will certainly look back on all the positives that have occurred in 2022 and would like to thank everyone who has contributed to so many highlights.

I would also like to wish our schools, staff, students and communities a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Tim Coulson, Chief Executive, Unity Schools Partnership