In our school (AGCTS), Sixth Form Centre (AG6) and inclusion centre (AG+) you will find an outstanding educational community dedicated to the successful development of the whole child and young person. Naturally, academic progress and attainment are extremely important to us, and you will find our results reflect this. This is due to a total commitment to excellent teaching and learning by a highly skilled and dedicated staff, constantly reflecting upon and developing their own practice.
It is also due to a genuine care for and partnership with our pupils, student and their families.
But this is only one aspect of the right our young people have to achieve all round personal excellence. So we are not an “examination factory”. We place considerable emphasis on developing the foundations of personal achievement; their emotional and physical health and well-being, their social, moral, spiritual and cultural development, creativity and individuality. Our intention is to help our young people grow to become outstanding, independent, resilient and effective citizens in an uncertain, global 21st Century world.
Our success has been recognized in many ways. We have been recognized by Ofsted as “Outstanding” since 2004 and this was further reflected in the school receiving the North West regional and then the UK Headteacher of the Year award (2004-5). Our award of High Performing Specialist School status (2007) led to our third specialism (Applied Learning) being added to Technology and Leading Edge, which in turn helped secure our state-of-the-art and purpose designed £8 million Sixth Form Centre.
With our success comes responsibility and our role as a National Support School (with mine as a National Leader of Education), together with our leading role in the national Leading Edge Partnership Programme are only three of many ways in which we contribute to local, regional, national and international educational developments.
For a century, now, Alder Grange, in its various forms, has been rooted in and served our local community in a wide variety of ways. I hope we may do the same for you. We look forward to doing so.
I am delighted to add my welcome to that of Mr Hampson, whom I am proud to see as my successor as Headteacher. The leadership arrangements in our school are ground-breaking but becoming increasingly common, so we thought you may appreciate a brief picture of how we work.
Since I joined Alder Grange as a Deputy Headteacher in 1990, and after taking up the Headship in 1997, I have been privileged to have built and led a team or terrific professionals. Between us we have established Alder Grange as an outstanding school which places a premium on high expectations, excellent academic results and a deep-routed care for the development of all our pupils, students and staff as “whole people”.
This has led directly to Alder Grange being asked to take on a whole series of additional responsibilities locally, regionally and, above all, nationally. Perhaps most significantly of all, we have been privileged to have established a wonderful Alliance of around 40 like-minded schools and Early Years educational settings (the Pennine Lancashire Alliance), all dedicated to fulfilling the crucial role of Teaching Schools in securing world-class educational provision for all the children and young people in the historic Pennine Lancashire region.
All of these involve us in sharing what we have learned over many years for the benefit of children and young people across the country – and learning a great deal ourselves in the process. The government refers to these as the “Big 6”.
Firstly, we take a leading role in Initial Teacher Training and Education (ITTE) through our Pennine Lancashire School Centred ITTE partnership. We are involved in recruiting, selecting, training and awarding Qualified Teacher Status to a new generation of outstanding teachers.
Secondly, we play a prominent role in the Continuing Professional Development of teachers and other education professionals, to ensure that their skills and knowledge remain honed to meet the constantly changing challenges facing them. A central part of this is moving our profession to a place where Master’s degree qualifications are the norm.
Thirdly, we are leading high level Research and Development into all aspects of effective teaching and learning. Some of our professional knowledge will never change but our understanding of what works best for particular groups of pupils in a range of today’s circumstances can always be better and part of our role is to help the education system to create the right responses.
Fourthly, we play a significant part in identifying and further developing and deploying the best talent in our profession so that their influence and skills can be shared to enrich the quality in all schools.
Fifthly, it is well known now that the success of any organization or team relies heavily on the quality of its leadership. A crucially important aspect of our role is to develop the leadership capacities of school-based professionals through our Pennine Lancashire Education Leadership Academy.
Sixthly, circumstances sometimes lead schools into substantial difficulty. Part of our role is to assist them if they are in danger of doing so, and to help them recover and become solidly good and outstanding schools when this is necessary. School-to-school support is one of our most valuable roles.
The huge investment of time needed to accomplish and maintain all these roles make it impossible for me to take forward Alder Grange’s “system leadership” work and fulfil my duties as Headteacher effectively. So by having a tried, tested and powerful partnership between me as Executive Head and Mr Hampson as Headteacher we keep the best of both worlds. We each apply our expertise and perspectives to further developing the school and making Alder Grange ever stronger and ever more able to contribute to educational excellence in every way we can.
If you are interested in learning more about what this aspect of Alder Grange’s work entails, please get in touch with me. I will be delighted to talk to you.
M.Ed., B.Ed., N.L.E., F.R.S.A.