Christmas Newsletter 2021
As we head into the last week of term, I just wanted to reflect on what has been a truly amazing effort by you all to ensure our children have been happy and safe, experiencing rich and carefully planned curriculum – with clubs, enrichment opportunities and catch-up plans in place. I had hoped that when I wrote this I would not be needing to refer to the challenges of Covid – but the challenges it brings have continued to impact on us significantly over the last two terms. We appreciate how amazing you have all been in working together to cover absence and adapt to changing guidance. I know you have all had to draw on all your reserves of energy, positivity and commitment. I cannot express enough how much this is appreciated and to thank you on behalf of the children for the impact your efforts have had on their learning and wellbeing.
Despite the challenges we have faced, we have continued to focus on school improvement and development. We have carried out a number of internal curriculum quality reviews and have identified clear strengths across all our schools. This process has proved to be a powerful opportunity for colleagues across the Trust to share skills and expertise; the reviews have enabled us to identify next steps for our curriculum teams to work on together.
We have welcomed a number of new staff to the Trust across our housekeeping, business & admin and teaching & learning teams. I would like to welcome you all and hope to meet you all in person over the coming weeks. We also say goodbye this week to some colleagues, including some longstanding members of our Trust family. In particular I would like to recognise the service of Harriet Phillips, who leaves her role as DHT at Castle Mead to take up a headship at Collingbourne Ducis. Harriet has been part of The Mead family since The Mead (Hilperton site) opened in 2001. Her dedication and commitment to children and staff alike will be greatly missed – we wish her luck in her new role. Kirsty Jamieson is retiring from her substantive role as Head of Safeguarding and Inclusion this week. She joined the Trust 13 years ago as part of the leadership team at The Mead. She has impacted hugely on the safeguarding and inclusive practices across all our schools. Kirsty will be enjoying more time with friends and family but will also be returning to support some specific aspects of Trust work in the future.
Thank you everyone for your efforts. With every good wish for a Merry Christmas – I do hope that you are all able to enjoy a restful and restorative break with your loved ones.
Lyssy Bolton, CEO
As always safeguarding and inclusion has provided all of us with lot of work and challenges this term but also huge rewards. I have led Safeguarding Effectiveness Reviews at our schools since September. These are always positive, collegiate activities that demonstrate the skills, knowledge and processes we all use to keep our children safe. Thank you to all of you who have taken part in all aspects of the reviews with such honesty and humility – they are so powerful in developing our practice.
I have worked with our team of Inclusion Leads over recent months to ensure our SEND policy and our SEND information reports are up to date. These are now live on the Trust website and clearly set out our inclusive approach. As you are aware the Safeguarding Policy and Code of Conduct have also been updated in line with the revised KCSIE document and other changes in policy and practice. Please do continue to talk to your Inclusion Leads / Headteachers or refer to these documents on the Trust website if you need to check your understanding of our own approaches.
The Harbour team have continued to work with children from within and beyond the Trust, continuing to develop their approaches to support children with a range of needs, including those children just transitioning into school.
Our Resource Bases continue their work to develop the curriculum to suit the needs of the children. Inclusion for them has been impacted by the restrictions of Covid but as opportunities increase they will benefit from becoming involved in the wider school life and I know will welcome visits from staff too.
I am struggling to believe this is my last contribution to a Trust Newsletter. I have been part of The Mead Trust for the past 13 years and it has become a huge part of my life.
My presentation evening last Thursday was absolutely lovely – if a little emotional. Thank you so much for all your contributions that made it such a special event. Thank you also for my lovely gifts. I am looking forward to enjoying he delivery of a book every month for the next year and relaxing at the spa.
It has been such a privilege to have worked with such dedicated staff over that time – thank you. Whilst I am very sad to be retiring from my role as Head of Safeguarding and Inclusion, I am excited by the fact I will be able to see more of my family, and especially my very fast growing grandchildren. I suspect this will undoubtedly include some child care – I am already booked for February half-term! I look forward to seeing some of you in the future as I will be continuing to support the Trust in some aspects of work.
Kirsty Jamieson, Head of Inclusion
Well here we are at the end of another term and Christmas is upon us!
It has been a busy term yet again with lots of CPD and school to school support. Amongst other things our Trust team have delivered training for Early Career Teachers, Graduate Teachers, SENCOs, SEMH specialists, subject leaders and teaching assistants. A very big thank you to everyone who has supported our programme so far this term. Evaluations have, as always, been overwhelmingly positive and as a result there has been demonstrable impact of practice. We have been really pleased to hear all your feedback regarding the computing curriculum workshops facilitated by Sarah Taylor. Many of you have told us how valuable this has been and how it has really supported you with your teaching of computing. Thank you to everyone who has given us this feedback. We always try hard to listen to your comments and ideas to help shape training and development opportunities.
We have continued to receive requests for school to school support from local schools, which a number of you have really successfully supported. We have now even had enquiries from as far afield as Middlesborough. You might all be pleased to know we didn’t think this was an easy commute for anyone!
Please can I urge all of you to complete the staff survey. We very much value each and every response. It will only take a few minutes of your time but could really influence planning and decision making.
A huge amount of work has been going on behind the scenes to streamline our systems and processes. This has included the implementation of the Access system for payroll and aspects of HR, broadband upgrades across all our sites, and the contracting of our new IT provider, Soft Egg. As with all of these types of changes there have been some teething problems, so thank you for your patience whilst things have been ironed out.
Now our new IT provider is in place we are working hard to audit our current servers, including removing documents and media that should no longer be kept, before designing a cloud-based storage system that will be fit for purpose moving forward. This is a huge undertaking and we will of course keep you up to date with developments.
Kyra has built a new look website for the Trust. Hopefully you have noticed the difference and find it much easier to navigate. Please remember to use the staff resource page as your first port of call for CPD request forms, checking the Trust calendar before booking trips and visits, and a wealth of other key information.
Our central team, school business and admin teams and housekeeping teams work tirelessly to make all our jobs easier. Much of their work is hidden from view. On behalf of all of us I would like to say a very big thank you to each and everyone of them.
Have a happy and restful Christmas break
Lindsay Palmer, Executive Leader
The Business Services team supports all our schools with administration, finance, housekeeping, repairs and maintenance and catering services.
As a registered company the Trust is required to prepare key statutory documents for submission to Companies House and the Educations and Skills Funding Agency. During Term 1 and 2 Business Services teams have been working alongside our external auditors and accountants to prepare the annual accounts which are submitted each year.
The annual cycle of maintenance for equipment and buildings is well underway – this continues throughout the year alongside any repairs that are required. Projects relating to heating are either underway or have already taken place at all 3 schools. Housekeeping teams have been continue to work hard to keep buildings clean and Covid secure as the pressure continues from the pandemic for enhanced cleaning standards.
With the relaxation of Covid rules nationally trips, swimming and residentials have started up again and office teams have been working hard to get arrangements for these in place after a long time without this activity. These teams have also spent a significant amount of time communicating with parents about their children who have Covid Symptoms or have tested positive for Covid – the teams have worked really hard to deal with the large volume of work the pandemic has created.
The Catering teams have been getting ready to serve hundreds of Christmas dinners this week – a huge job but always a fun and festive day across the trust! We are looking forward to helping to create a lovely Christmas celebration in all our schools for our children to enjoy!
Business Services Team