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New year ahead

As we leave 2023 behind, we look ahead to some of the great opportunities for pupils and staff coming up at the start of 2024.

After watching 170 pupils take to the stage for our annual Shakespeare Festival in November, we’re looking forward to the next rehearsals of our cross-Trust choir and orchestra. Lead by music specialists from across our schools, and our partners at Voices Foundation, this is a fantastic opportunity for secondary students to experience collaborative music making.

Our Sixth-Form Essay and Public Speaking Prizes, with their final event each December, ask our eldest students to share their thoughts and opinions, and are a fantastic indication of what are the burning issues of the day. In 2023, we read essays on subjects as wide-ranging as intersectional feminism, the rise of MAGA, and sanitation problems in Ghana, and our winner of the public speaking prize addressed race from the perspective of 'the Black girl at the back of the classroom’.

This term, we’re putting the spotlight on the thoughts of our primary students. Our first annual Primary Art Prize asks year 3 and 4 to consider ‘what’s important to me?’, before depicting it as a painting or drawing, and the Day of Change will once again challenge year 5 pupils to identify the problems of now and propose solutions for the future.

For Trust colleagues, Autumn term 2023 saw two exciting professional conferences. The second-annual Behaviour Conference in October gathered colleagues from across our schools, together with a number of specialists in the field, to share effective practice. A new addition to the calendar, the Safeguarding conference drew 50 Deputy Safeguarding Leads from CET schools, and welcomed more than 20 external guests, to reflect on best practice to fortify safeguarding in our Trust. Still to come this year, we have our Attendance Conference in May, and our National Conference and SEND Conference in July.

Confirming our commitment to Trust-wide CPD, a series of interactive online conversations were launched. The first episode of In Discussion saw our Curriculum and Research Lead, Nimish Lad, discussing the challenges of keeping the children in our care safe with Louis Donald, CET Director of Safeguarding. The next In Discussion is coming up in March ’24 and is open to all employees of the Trust.

With so many fantastic opportunities ahead for pupils and staff alike, it looks like 2024 is going to be an exciting year!