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Two becomes one - the diary of a school merger: September 2019

A busy year ahead

This is the second in a series of blogs aimed at updating stakeholders on progress towards a smooth transition, as Cippenham Infant and Primary Schools look forward to coming together as one school in September 2020.

Our detailed timeline of actions and milestones is now well underway. The regional schools commissioner has now given consent for the merger and we expect the department of education to complete the sign off in the next few weeks. This means we can now progress with confidence.

The secretary of state has given consent to sell the school house on Elmshott Lane, which forms an important aspect of funding for the capital aspects of opening up our site and ensuring our pupils can be accommodated in purposeful and enabling environments. Many of you will be pleased to know that the veterinary practice across the road are buying the property to secure their future aspirations. We are delighted to work with such a community minded business and look forward to a long association with the owners.

I'm not sure I could have fully grasped the extent of scrutiny involved in either of these milestones but I am pleased to say that we have met all the requirements placed on us and I am grateful to our trust team for their support,  diligence and perseverance.

The senior leadership team is now in place. While I will be leading the team, the team members are all strong, experienced leaders in their own right and will be working with high levels of autonomy in their designated areas. Our aim is to build a high performing team based on shared vision and values,  trust and mutual accountability. The current principal of the primary school, Nina Greenstone, will lead on pupil progress,  supporting every child to be the best they can possibly be. The current principal of the infant school, Clare Lodge, will lead on personal development and well being, a  role to reflect the importance of happy, healthy and resilient children and staff. The current deputy principal in the primary school, Isaac Howarth, will lead on creating a rich and exciting curriculum  supported by irresistible and connected learning experiences. Three assistant headteachers, Emily Sandilands, Hayley Lomax, plus a vacancy, will complete the team, supporting staff to inspire mathematical wizards and literary marvels  as well as ensuring we can  support and challenge all our pupils in an inclusive environment.

The new leadership team will be guided by a set of four shared values: respect, uniqueness, aspiration and positivity as we move through this transitional year and towards a new vision for education in Cippenham.  I am grateful to the parents, governors, staff and children who have been helping us crystallise our vision for the new school, encompassing those aspects that are currently cherished.  We have an interim prospectus to support parents making choices about their child's school next year and will be happy to welcome prospective parents to both schools over the coming weeks.

We continue to work with an architect to design a single school site fit for purpose and able to support our vision and ambition. Following feedback from parents and staff, we have made the decision to accommodate reception year and year one in the current infant school building. Year one will spend regular and quality time in areas right across the site, for activities like assembly, sport and dance, ensuring there is no sense of separation. Fences will come down and the flow between all buildings  will lead to a sense of a single school.

This quote from Kristin Armstrong, the most decorated US cyclist of all time, resonated with me recently:

'Times of transition are strenuous but I love them. They are an opportunity to purge, rethink priorities, and be intentional about new habits. We can make our new normal any way we want'

There is hard work ahead but, if at the end of it, we are more inspired, more focussed and more united then it will be worth the effort.