Tuesday 7th February 2017
Parents may have seen and heard some of the coverage in the press, BBC website and BBC Radio about reintroducing Secondary Modern and Grammar Schools. I have been on the record in all these situations about the real dangers this presents to education in North Somerset. This is a real worry. Currently we are able to provide a situation where children of all abilities make comparably strong progress. Our Progress 8 scores for last year show that. The implications of selection would retain strong provision for the minority able to access new Grammar Schools but we know that the provision for everyone else would be weaker. You don’t have to go back to the 1950s as it is demonstrable from Kent, Buckinghamshire and Northern Ireland where so called Comprehensives or High Schools (actually Secondary Moderns) produce far weaker progress scores and fail to achieve the loyalty of their communities. We have so much to lose here in Portishead where our school is successful, we can hire the best teachers to work here and there is such strong support from our community. A number of our parents have been active in lobbying against selection and have been writing to the papers and our MP, Dr Fox. Grammar provision in either Bristol or Weston super Mare will lead to Secondary Modern provision in Portishead. We need to be heard on this issue.
I am looking forward to welcoming Nicky Morgan MP to the school this Friday. As Secretary of State she championed the concept of Character Education and will be visiting us to explore the work that we did leading to our DofE Character Award back in 2015. She shares my concerns about selection and I shall also be ‘bending her ear’ on this when we meet!
Our work with external partners continues to bring benefits to our pupils. You will see elsewhere in the Newsletter that Japanese Olympian, Miss Mizuki Fujii, visited us this week with colleagues from Bristol Jets Badminton to do a demonstration and talk to our pupils. We accessed this through our partnership with the Bristol Sport organisation. We have also hosted a recent Engineering Networking event run by our friends in Gordano Partners. We aspire to having just as many ‘favours to call in’ as any independent school so that our young people can access the same advantages.
You may be aware that the local situation with Multi-Academy Trusts has changed significantly since we set up the Lighthouse Schools Partnership last year. North Somerset Local Authority is withdrawing from all non-statutory service and consequently all remaining maintained schools need to start the process of Academy conversion. At the same time the government have taken the view that they want MATs to be somewhat larger in scale so that they have greater capacity. So it is likely that Lighthouse Schools Partnership will experience some growth in coming months and years. Our Trustees are carefully considering these issues now and will consult in our community before any such development occurs. As always, our priority will be putting our school and our Partnerships in the best circumstance to maintain their ethos and success.
Lastly, our Deputy Head, Rod Bell, has been appointed as Executive Headteacher at Corsham School and Corsham Regis Primary School in Wiltshire. He will be a great success in his new role but a real loss to Gordano. After a very searching two-day interview process we have appointed Mr Dan McGilloway as Mr Bell’s successor. Mr McGilloway is currently Head of Pastoral at a very successful school in NE Somerset. He will be starting at Easter and I know will be a great addition to our Senior Team at Gordano.