Collaboration with Mossy Lea
From March 2019 St George's entered into a formal collaboration with Mossy Lea Primary School, Wrightington. a small rural school in Wrightington, that we had been previously supporting. The school had had a very turbulent 2 years with numbers plummeting from being full, which is 50 kids, to having 10 on roll currently. Clearly this number of kids has led to financial difficulties for the school, and with the school already in its 2nd year of “Requires Improvement” by OFSTED it was very vulnerable to being graded inadequate, academised or indeed closed – 3 very unpalatable outcomes. The future of the school was discussed at length between teh LA, Dociese and both sets of Governors, with many options brought up. The option that has been decided on by governors of both schools, myself, the LA and the Diocese is for the school to enter into a formal collaboration with St George’s which began on the 1st March. Arguably there are some negative implications for this place, and I will try to address these through Q/A. I will be at ML for 2 days a week. Anna Hitchen is the head of school in my absence at St George's, I remain in overall charge, but Anna has Headteacher authority in my absence…. Louise continues as Assistant Headteacher.
Aside from the moral duty to support other schools, there are also genuine benefits for both places – I honestly believe that. There are 2 big benefits at St Georges. Firstly, opportunities for the teaching staff. They have a genuine choice. For some teachers, who in time, wish to progress in their career, this is an opportunity to gain experience working with a school in a different setting. They will be able to share their skills and expertise with other teachers, and will utilize their skills to the benefit of Mossy Lea. The opportunity to join me in supporting, and leading Mossy Lea is an attractive offer for teachers, and one that will help us recruit the best, and retain the best…. both of which are crucial for school improvement.
A 2nd benefit is financial…. Whilst there will be a need for strengthening the leadership of the school, there will be substantial financial savings for this school, which at a time of reduction in expendable funds, and with many other local schools reducing staffing, St Georges will be able to invest the savings into teaching staff and support staff at St Georges, and ensure that we can maintain class based staff aplomb.
Q Who is in charge of St George’s?
A Andy is. I will have a rather, unworthy title, of Executive headteacher of both schools.
Q Does a school not need a full time headteacher?
A. No! A school needs full time leadership. And it will get that—both school’s will. The leadership teams remains the same at St George’s—Myself, Anna and Louise. Indeed the preferred model from the government now is for the best headteachers (no comment….) to lead a cluster of schools, with heads of schools, or school managers in each school.
Q Has St George’s become an academy?
A No! And nor will we unless the financial differential becomes too great—then I suppose reluctantly we’ll have to.
Q Have the 2 schools merged?
A. No! Not at all. They are 2 independent schools, under the luxurious leadership of one executive headteacher. They have 2 budgets, 2 governing body boards, 2 OFSTED numbers etc…
Q Will teachers from St George’s go and teach at Mossy Lea?
A Yes I hope so—but it’s up to them. I will be asking them that question myself over the coming weeks. But if they do it will all be sorted this end so transition is seamless.
Q Will it have a negative impact on St George’s with Andy being here less?
A Of course it will!!!! On a serious note, no of course not. We’ve been here before haven’t we; faced with change. And we’ve always not only made it work, but made it successful. And we will do the same regarding Mossy Lea. I promise you. Indeed I actually believe that the changes will have a positive impact on the school…. We can keep the staff: pupil ratio lower than it would have been.
Q. Is there a fixed day when Andy will be out?
A. No, but until September 2019 it will be 1 day a week equivalent, from September it will be 2 days per week.
Please do email me any other questions that you may have, or of course come in and see me or any member of SLT for a chat. Many thanks for your support now and always, Andy.