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Communication with our families and placing our schools at the heart of their communities are recurring themes within this Trust.

And so when it came to proposals to extend the October half term to a fortnight, we were never going to simply make a decision.

Last week, our schools wrote to all parents as part of a wide-ranging consultation exercise that has been launched.

I am sure the plans will provoke an array of views – some thinking an extra week’s holiday gives more time to relax and recuperate and possibly get away for a more affordable break.

On the other side, we know there will be those who may find it hard to arrange childcare for the extra week.

First and foremost, we are clear that nothing has yet been decided and that we value each and every person’s opinion.

There will also be no loss of learning with every school deciding on how to make up the time, in a way that is best for them.

Along with trusts up and down the country, high absence rates of staff and pupils during the longer Autumn term, where pre-winter viruses emerge, is known to be a problem.

Recruitment is also an issue across the sector and we are looking at ways to retain and recruit the best staff possible.

By adding five days to the October half term, we believe this will impact positively on the physical, emotional and mental health of our staff and pupils.

The plans are just one of a number of ongoing consultations across our schools, which can all be viewed on the news section of our website.

Last month, I wrote about the success of a food festival, organised by our Curriculum with Unity Schools Partnership (CUSP).

As part of the festival, more than 100 schools across the country signed up for the week-long activities.

Schools within the Trust once again united last week for our ‘Keep Safe’ week designed to promote the importance of safety in school and in the community.

The week included special visits, workshops and online sessions and schools discussed subjects ranging from peer pressure, keeping safe online, road safety, bullying and county lines.

A highlight of Keep Safe week was a special in-person meeting of the Trust Council where more than 30 students from across our schools joined together to discuss the importance of safety.

It was lovely seeing representatives from our schools all in the same room. But what was even more impressive was the thought-provoking level of engagement every pupil showed when it came to keeping safe and what more can be done.

There were plenty of takeaways from our young minds and I know our schools are already thinking about what more can be done.

By Tim Coulson, Chief Executive, Unity Schools Partnership