Embracing partnerships and the opportunities offered by them has always been a key theme running through the heart of Unity Schools Partnership.
And I am delighted to see this ringing true in these first few months of the new school year.
County High School in Bury St Edmunds this week welcomed a cohort of students and staff from the Hyougo Kenritsu Kokusai Koutou Gakkou school community.
It was the first visit between the two partner schools since before the pandemic and it offered both sets of students a great first-hand chance to experience different cultures and education.
Then there are partnerships closer to home. And it was equally positive to see Thomas Gainsborough School team up with Addvantage 4U to support some of their sixth form students with valuable life skills which they can then use in the workplace.
And over the weekend, we all paused to remember and pay our respects to those who had lost their lives in conflict.
It was heartening to see so many schools discuss and display their gratitude, both in classroom and then joining their communities for services over the weekend.
Just a few short weeks ago, we ran our pilot half term project which saw our schools close for two weeks rather than the traditional one.
First and foremost, we would like to thank every staff member and parent who contributed to our original consultation.
As mentioned, we felt this was worth considering and pursuing as part of a wider staff recruitment and retention strategy and as a way of seeing if it might combat staff and student illness – at a time where research shows there is a dip.
While it is too early to say whether the two-week half term was a success, we have begun collecting feedback from staff and parents.
Alongside this, we will be monitoring the data to see if there are any positive effects on attendance, something we will be continuing to assess until the Christmas school holidays.
We have received initial positive feedback about the two weeks, but I am also sure some parents will also have their own personal, and understandable, reasons as to why it doesn’t work for them.
We will be launching a second consultation later this year, which will be publicised in the local media, our own communication channels and throughout each and every school.
As with any consultation we run, we truly value each and every opinion and we look forward to hearing your thoughts going forward.
By Tim Coulson, Chief Executive, Unity Schools Partnership