It has been lovely to meet our new Year 7s over the last few days, and really give them the opportunity to start to become part of our school. With the bigger cohort, it is fascinating to watch a slightly different mix of students from different feeder schools integrate. I was chatting to some Year 8 students yesterday lunchtime and they were already reflecting on how far they have come (and indeed changed) since their induction 2 years ago. By having students up for 3 days now, it has really allowed the students to start finding their feet geographically around the school, and for them to experience lessons in a wider range of subjects in readiness for September.

I rarely indulge myself and attend conferences, but I did attend the Pixl conference on Wednesday with Mrs Solis. I have lost count of how many times I have said I will attend, but then ended up staying here, so it was nice to get out and talk to other schools and hear about their challenges and successes. One of the things that I find interesting talking to colleagues at Pixl is how many of the Pixl ideas and initiatives other schools choose to implement.  Last week, Amanda Spielman (Ofsted Chief Inspector) said she wanted to stop the “pixlification” of the curriculum, but I can honestly say that Pixl have never told us or pushed us down any route. Yes, Pixl recommend courses and qualifications based on the profile of your cohort to allow them to succeed; yes, Pixl introduce different intervention strategies and patterns of analysis to support student achievement; and yes, Pixl challenge schools to help improve outcomes for young people. Whilst I appreciate some schools are Pixl heavy on initiatives, we have taken the approach of cherry-picking the best pieces of advice and aspects of their service, rather than a blanket approach, and for me I am entirely comfortable with that. This week, for example, I saw an excellent way of analysing the focus of student interventions from a school in Horsforth (near Leeds), which we may well adopt at Marshalls, but I also saw other initiatives that we will ignore.

One session that I did attend was on the curriculum and staffing, and it was reassuring that so many colleagues face the same challenges on staff recruitment and retention. I was listening to the amount of vacancies that some schools have still got to fill, and felt reassured that our staffing is already secure for September.

Finally, could I say “break a leg” to the cast of the Addams Family ahead of next week. I have listened to the rehearsals (given the proximity of my office) over the last few weeks, and I am sure it will be a really good show.

Have a lovely weekend!

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