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We all know about the challenges currently facing society.

The cost of living crisis is affecting schools just like it has hit homes and almost every aspect of our everyday lives.

Last month, I wrote about the importance of a school within their community.

I make no apologies for once again highlighting this undeniable bond with the launch of the ‘Happy Shed’, which has started within some of our schools.

The premise is simple. We have asked for donations of everyday toiletries and school uniform. A school then provides a discreet, informal space to house the goods and members of the school and wider community can take some of the items for a suggested small donation.

Such initiatives are nothing new. Many of our schools have run foodbanks from their buildings and pulled together to support their community on many other occasions.

In the centre of their community, they are ideally placed to host such services, often with students and staff working together to run it.

This is one of those occasions where it is both a source of good news, but also with a degree of sadness that such a service is needed in the first place.

We will continue to do all we can to support our families and also our local community.

One of the great things about our trust is how our schools work together, while always retaining their identity.

This was apparent once again this week with a food festival, organised by our Curriculum with Unity Schools Partnership (CUSP).

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

Alongside live online Q&A sessions and ‘cook-along’ workshops, it will end with all the schools coming together to showcase what they have created.

The festival is a fantastic way to bring everyone together and a perfect example of the importance of digital education.

It would be wrong of me to not refer to last Wednesday’s industrial action – the first taken by school staff in generations.

We sympathise with those who took the incredibly difficult decision to strike, like we sympathise with those who didn’t and our school leaders who had to plan and risk assess and make very difficult decisions.

Of course, any missed day of education is a day too many and we sympathise especially with students as well as families who had to arrange their own contingency plans.

With more strikes currently planned, we will look at what lessons can be learned from last week and once again witness our schools showing agility and flexibility where possible.

By Tim Coulson, Chief Executive, Unity Schools Partnership

Photo caption: Students and staff launch ‘The Happy Shed’ at Thomas Gainsborough School