I seem to have agreed – not just that, but been willing – to become involved with another school thing. I stood down as a school governor a year and a half ago, but carried on as a member of the academy trust. That successful schools should be stand-alone academies was a ‘thing’ a few years ago and local authorities were out of favour, so that only the small but successful schools found it best to stick with them. Then there were free schools, an increase in commercial academy trusts etc – all rather unfocussed. In the last few years, it’s also been all about Multi-Academy Trusts, where successful schools would band together and take on responsibility for managing other schools, spreading expertise and sharing administrative costs, so that there would be overall improvement.
I say all this with a poker face. There have been enough initiatives in the last 30 years, since I first became a school governor, and I’ve worked with all of them and tried to get the best out of them. Some were plain daft, others weren’t. But anyway, the school I still think of as “mine” is still a stand-alone, independent, state funded academy, but the way capital funding, as distinct from pupil allowance, is meted out makes it more sensible now to band together. The school has been in no hurry, but finally has agreed to apply, with a couple of other schools, to become a multi-academy trust. This was in the papers a few weeks ago and consultation has taken place and so on – it needs a board of directors. Unexpectedly, I was asked to be one and, just as unexpectedly, I felt enthused.
I went to the AGM of the existing trust a couple of weeks ago, had quite a few questions to ask and came away feeling that I’d put my mind to work, in a way that was interesting rather than worrying, and that I hadn’t felt for quite some time. I still didn’t expect anything more than signing off papers, some time next year. But here I am, back to meetings and paperwork and negotiations and planning, and feeling interested rather than pressured about it. The thing is, it’s all about the planning and detail, and maybe interviewing and evaluation, and that’s what I’m good at. I used also to be good at the joining in, hands on part, but I don’t want to do that any more.
Tim was very lovely about it and said he could see that I wanted to do it. I’ve entered into things before, that I later felt would have been better avoided, but I’m fairly sure that this won’t be one of those things. It’ll be a fair bit of commitment for the next few months, maybe up to a year, but after that it’ll be very little work and just as much interest as I want it to be. It’s not a sure thing yet, of course, there is still a lot of planning and then an application for the project to go through. And the matter of the best way to run schools is another matter. Whatever current brainchild of the government is what goes, and all we can do is make the best of it.