Over the last term and a half we have established a really good relationship with everyone at Eastwood. You probably know that Mr. Chaloner has been working out there as Head of School since Christmas. He's been doing an excellent job. I've been calling in 2 or 3 times a week and have got to know the staff, governors and some of the pupils pretty well. In January a Department for Education official met myself and Richard Jenkins, our Chair of Governors, and assured us that we were ideally placed to sponsor Eastwood. Soon after we received a letter saying we were in the Top 100 schools in the country and then we received a letter from OFSTED saying we were doing so well that they had no plans to inspect Rushcliffe even though it should really have happened last year. Then OFSTED visited Eastwood and said lots of positive things about the impact Rushcliffe had had on the school. In the circumstances it was hardly a surprise when the Eastwood Governors asked the Rushcliffe Governors to sponsor the school into Academy status. Lots of meetings took place in March in order to agree a way forward that worked for both schools.
To everyone's amazement on the last day of the Spring term it became clear that a change to DfE policy meant that doubt over the sponsorship plan had emerged. As the Easter holiday progressed it became increasingly evident that Rushcliffe was no longer considered an appopriate sponsor for Eastwood because we aren't officially "outstanding" according to OFSTED. The fact that our examinations results are as good as any in Nottinghamshire and that we are optimistic that if the inspectors visited they would find us to be "outstanding" appears to be neither here nor there.
And so the Eastwood Governors have started to look for another sponsor and we are preparing to pull out. It's very odd. The Head of OFSTED has said on a number of occasions that he's frustrated by the lack of interest Heads of successful schools show in helping others. Rushcliffe has taken a very positive approach to this but yet the DfE don't seem to appreciate the effort that has gone into the project and the impact that has been made. I think upon reflection the "powers that be" might decide they have got this one wrong!
However.......being back at Rushcliffe full time will be a pleasure. I'm really looking forward to it but will retain fond memories of working with some great people at Eastwood. Mr. Chaloner and I will continue helping the school move forward but both expect to be fully engaged back at Rushcliffe soon.
On another subject I was delighted to meet Hayley Guest and Lisa Russell yesterday afternoon. They organised another school re-union in March. It went really well and they managed to raise £400 through a raffle. The money will go towards making the Governors' Achievement Evening a spectacular success in July. The idea of keeping old school friends in touch with each other is wonderful. It sounds like they have good memories of life at Rushcliffe in the 70's and 80's. I'm keen to help them increase attendance even more at their next event in a couple of years time.