Hello and welcome once again to Heads Up.
As we end the final week of half-term, I’m very pleased to share some fantastic news just received regarding secondary school rebuilding work. It is also great to be able to update that our laptop distribution scheme is nearing completion and has seen so many devices, so swiftly, going to Warwickshire schools to help meet the needs of learners. There is even space for a brief teaser on a gaming conference which might be the first fork in the road for some of our young people as they look to embark on the world of work.
But first of all, we have been absolutely thrilled with the announcement from the Department for Education that not one but three Warwickshire Secondary Schools, Kineton High, Southam College and Hartshill School have all being included in the Government School Rebuilding Programme. This will see all three schools undergoing major rebuild and redevelopment of their school sites.
Warwickshire has done so well to secure investment of around £60m for the three schools out of a total of 50 schools in this nationwide programme. We presented an enabling approach and prioritised ‘making it happen’, an approach that will stand us in good stead as we facilitate what will be a challenging timeline to deliver the new buildings.
These projects will sit alongside other major projects such as the forthcoming new All Through School at Oakley Grove in Warwick (details of the presumption competition coming soon), the new Houlton School in Rugby and The Warwickshire Academy in Bedworth. This announcement comes on the back of the news last week that a new 900 place Higham Lane North secondary school will be built in Nuneaton as part of the Government Wave 14 Free School Programme.
We are pleased that one of Warwickshire's schools has been successful in its application to become a Teaching School Hub. It will join the new network of school-led centres of excellence for teacher and leadership training and development. Further information on the government announcement this week can be found here Teaching school hubs - GOV.UK.
For secondary age pupils considering their future development, the option of furthering their education through a vocational approach has become increasingly possible with the growing popularity of apprenticeships. As I write, we are in the middle of National Apprenticeship Week and one of the areas that our young people can quite realistically think about starting a career in, here in Warwickshire, is the gaming industry.
It seems too good to be true for young people, but it is a fact that Warwickshire is acquiring a strong reputation, nationally and across the globe, as a growing hub of creativity in the sector. Gaming development is fast becoming one of the region’s main paths to employment and the County Council is once again hosting the Interactive Futures conference next week, albeit virtually. Further details can be found in this issue of Heads Up. Please get information out where you can to parents and older pupils that this is happening. It will provide an activity over half term – which many parents and young people will be grateful for – but also may just be the source of inspiration to prompt our young people to consider this most rewarding career.
Speaking of technology, laptops have continued to be rolled out at a tremendous pace over the last couple of weeks with infant, primary and secondary age school cohorts receiving their allocations. It really has been a tremendous effort by all concerned. This has not gone unnoticed, most gratifyingly by yourselves. The team have been really lifted by the kind words that you have been sending through and my own nomination for a ‘Kindness Award’ sent in by one delighted – and delightful – youngster will be one of the happy memories that will keep me going over the next few months. Thanks to all who have sent us notes of thanks.
A ‘save the date’ in the diary for you – the programme is being finalised for the afternoon of Thursday 4 March for the next head teachers’ conference, which has a theme of staff wellbeing - including headteacher wellbeing. More details will follow in coming weeks.
That’s it from me for a fortnight. There will be no issue of Heads Up next week as we are determined that you should get a break. And you may have noticed I haven’t mentioned COVID-19 throughout this introduction. That hasn’t been deliberate because we have a lot of COVID-related work to do in the coming weeks, but it is an encouraging sign that there have been such uplifting developments and foundations for our children’s future. We continue to be so determined to reach a watershed landmark in the fight against the virus. We are so resourceful and resilient in Warwickshire as a family of schools. We work with the challenges of the present and build positively for the future.
Enjoy your break. Stay safe.