For this, my final, blog of 2017/18 I would like to do two things: update readers about the progress we’ve made as a Trust this academic year, and share with you my thoughts as we move into the summer break.

This year has seen the Trust grow, both in terms of its breath and its depth. We have seen four primary schools join the Trust this academic year: Rykneld Primary (in November 2017), Shobnall Primary (June 2018), Winshill Village Primary and The Mosley Academy (both July 2018). In addition, we’ve seen the development of John Taylor Free School from a shell of a site at the start of the academic year into an over-subscribed, fully-staffed school with a character and ethos that belies its youthful status.

2018/19 promises further growth – with three local primaries set to join us before the end of the calendar year, and the development of a further free school, this time a primary school with a nursery, at Fradley Park.

But beyond breadth, our Trust grows deeper – as collaborations and networks develop. We’ve seen our safeguarding leads meet regularly, our business managers, our clerks to governing bodies, our SENCOs. I’m privileged to chair our Executive Group of Heads and other senior colleagues, and was so proud to see over 70 governor colleagues attend our annual governance conference only last week.

Our Trust is built on quality, and generosity. In times when resources can be in scarce supply, knowing that there are great teachers, leaders, support and administrative staff, governors and Trust directors, who work hard, work well, and work together – within and across our schools – is hugely rewarding and deeply humbling. As we move into the summer break, I want to thank them all for their support. It is they who move our Trust ever-closer to our vision of providing the absolute best for the children, families and communities we serve.

My final note is to those children. I was stirred during the recent World Cup, amidst all the excitement and enthusiasm, by this image:


The photograph (above) is of Kylian Mbappe, one of the great stars of the cup-winning French team and winner of the award for the best young player of the tournament, aged 14 in his bedroom. As you can see, it is adorned with posters of his idol – Cristiano Ronaldo.

Five years later, Mbappe is a World Cup winner, and the first teenager to score a goal in a World Cup Final since Pele (see below).


Back in his home district of Bondy, just 10km from the Stade de France, but a world away in terms of its levels of disadvantage, Mbappe has donated his World Cup winnings to a charity that develops sporting opportunities for young and disabled people in the area. There is a French mountaineering expression (that I hadn’t heard until recently) of the “premiers de cordee” – the one in front of us who brings us all to the top. This is a role that Mbappe has seen fit to undertake – much to his credit.

It’s a great message to close the year on for our children: First, dreams really can come true for those with the talent, ability to learn, attitude and support. Second, that our responsibility to help others achieve their dreams should come as an unquestionable consequence of the fulfilment of our own. It chimes with our own vision: “We believe in the power of education to improve lives – and the world.”

Have a great summer.

Thank you for reading.