‘We have a lot of be proud of this school year in Nottingham’

John Dexter, Director of Education at Nottingham City Council, has this end-of-term message for schools, parents and pupils in the city:

Once again the end of year approaches and, as is ever the case, change is in the air. Exams and SATs over, teaching staff have been turning their minds to summer festivals, arts weeks, carnivals, contributions to community activities, trips off-site, school camps and residentials, music, dance, drama, exhibitions, sports days and competitions.   Thank you to everyone who gets involved in that very rich tapestry, which we all know is so vital for children in Nottingham.

There has also been positive change in many of our recently-inspected schools. Over the past year we have seen a steady increase in the numbers of children attending good or outstanding schools from 83 per cent to almost 90 per cent. I’d like to say a big thank you to all the school leaders, heads, teachers, governors, support staff and, of course, pupils for making that happen. Like most things, it’s always a team effort and it’s been good to sense partnership working effectively in schools and between everyone.

Social media locally continues to highlight many exciting activities and events that our children are involved in and succeeding with too. I am pleased the Education Improvement Board will be looking in future to see how this can be built on by developing a cultural offer using the resources, traditions and history of Nottingham to best effect. This feels like a good direction for more partnership work – from the Dolly Parton Imagination Library for early years, to the recent Big Read campaign, highlighting the message ‘Listen, Read, Talk To Your Children” on Light Night.

Also, the role of the Young City Of Literature ambassadors and then, of course, all the important work done in schools to help children learn to read and to foster a love of books. Let’s hope the Summer Reading Challenge for 2019 is equally successful on the space theme and the #storyparks fun too – do encourage involvement.

I also wanted to mention that around 350 year eight pupils from eight local secondary schools came to a Spring Into Science lecture at the University – many, of course, experiencing a university for the first time. The content delivered by two committed professors showed such an opportunity at its best. They saw a number of things at first-hand to enhance their understanding of the subject, while the question-and-answer session which followed showed how we can use such opportunity to teach the basics and raise ambition and aspiration. Thank you to the schools, Council and the University.

This time of year also brings farewells to those teachers and staff moving on or taking their retirement. I try not to mention individual schools or people, but I make an exception for David Stewart who has been in the City working in special education for more than four decades. Few people have been through six school inspections, all judged ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted, and been a headteacher since 1992.

David has run a wonderful special school at Oak Field but he has always advocated for, and trumpeted, the cause of every child in a polite, generous, determined and highly-effective manner. His departure leaves us a great legacy, much wider than his own school and very special to many City families and children, some with the most complex of needs. His is a great role model of kindness, passion, determination, and effective teaching. Thank you David and long may that be our collective mantra.

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