Unity Schools Partnership

MAKING REMARKABLE CHANGE HAPPEN

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Last month, I wrote about my hopes for more stability ahead after the unprecedented events of the last two years.

Within little over a week of the column going to print, we began witnessing the horrors of war as Russia invaded Ukraine.

The daily headlines, images and stories have been difficult for us all to comprehend.

But what of our young people? How do we talk to them about the events in the Ukraine, especially coming in the aftermath of a two-year pandemic?

These are difficult questions which come with the acknowledgement that none of us have all the answers.

Schools have a role to play in opening up discussion, listening to the views of young people and guiding them where they can.

It is a difficult balancing act but one that school staff cope with admirably whenever a disaster hits our TV screens and newspapers.

As wellbeing becomes an even bigger issue for us all, Unity Schools Partnership has signed up to a new ground-breaking SEEN (Secondary Education around Early Neurodevelopment) programme.

Delivering innovative science lessons to secondary school pupils, the programme helps students understand how baby development and care have a long-term impact on adulthood and wellbeing.

It is part of a wider drive to increase public understanding of how early experiences can shape the adults we become. These include the way we talk to babies, encourage learning through play and how to strengthen resilience.

We have joined up with leading trusts from across the country to deliver the programme this academic year.

The earliest years of children’s lives are critical and we are delighted to support this crucial work in widening the understanding of children’s early development.

I write this column in the days after World Book Day, which was, once again, celebrated with so much enthusiasm, engagement and colour across our schools.

As always, we had an array of fantastic costumes – from pupils to staff alike.

But it also gave a great opportunity for other impressive literary-inspired work, including older pupils reading to their younger counterparts.

We even had book-themed potato design competitions at a couple of our schools. This might seem a different way of celebrating World Book Day, but there was a great reason behind combining potatoes and books.

The schools in question wanted to introduce something that would spark creativity and also engagement between families and pupils when they were designing their potatoes at home and thinking and talking about reading and characters.

This was a great way of using a much-loved national awareness day to promote parental engagement in reading.


By Tim Coulson, Chief Executive, Unity Schools Partnership