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The value of play, learning & community

20th April 2020

In the weeks before Easter and during the Easter holidays, I was proud of our work as a Trust. Witnessing first-hand the difference our collaborative provision was making to our most vulnerable and key worker children was immensely heartening. In these strange times, the value of play, a hot meal, learning and community are stronger than ever. The work of the staff to provide this for the children and each other was fantastic. Thank you so much to everyone who has contributed, and to the Headteachers for managing and leading their staff in these uncertain times.

We move into the summer term with a new reality dawning. We will keep an eye on the media debate about schools reopening, and will need to consider how best this may work for ourselves, but my hunch is that we will not be open until after the May half-term at the earliest. I will probably be proved wrong, but I believe our focus, for the next few weeks at least, is to support our teachers provide meaningful and high-quality learning to our children remotely.

Thank you for the work you have done so far in this area. Please do continue to review and reflect on what works for your children in your setting. The work of the Oak National Academy at secondary level is an inspiring example of collaborative teacher effort producing something meaningful, however much the mixed response in the media suggests. I have also been inspired by how each school has engaged with its parent and child community to adapting guidance and support materials as this time of remote learning develops. What was successful before Easter may not be afterwards, and how schools are keeping their ear to the ground and leading through these shifting sands is excellent.

Primary school offers were encouraging across the Trust for September 2020 commencement. With only three places vacant, our work reflects the high esteem local schools are held in across our communities. Congratulations to all our primary and infant schools.

I am also extremely proud of the support teams in schools, and the central team at Athena, for the professionalism and commitment during this time. Budget setting (and adjustment) continues, admissions work progresses; site management and sports halls do not build themselves. Thank you for all you are doing.

Our Trust governance continues to move forwards. This week sees a virtual board meeting, a Heads conference call and finance committee, and next week our education committee goes ahead. We continue to meet as an executive central team weekly. Thank you to all those involved, and rest assured our support and capacity to provide for schools continues despite the lockdown.

In conclusion, then, I have pride in what we are achieving as a Trust. Our ethos of better together is well illustrated. Take care in strange times.

Jack Mayhew, Executive Headteacher  Athena Schools Trust

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