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

A new year is in sight and our pathway to becoming one school becomes clearer.

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

The two schools continue to operate as separate entities. Christmas celebrations will follow formats parents and staff are familiar with and day to day organisation seems little changed. Behind the scenes, however, much is happening to bring practice, provision and practicalities together. The 2020 senior team meet regularly and have an ambitious programme of standardisation mapped out, details of which will be published shortly. Staff consultations continue to define new structures and ways of working and relevant professional development will be woven into the ongoing training programme after Christmas.

Prospective parents have been visiting us and more tours are planned this month. We have been working with the admissions team at Slough Borough Council to clarify the arrangements for admission in 2020. Rather than confuse the process with updating our admissions policy for 2020-21, we are advising parents to put Cippenham Infant and Cippenham Primary in their top two choices if they wish to secure a place at The Cippenham School.

A wider leadership team, consisting of year team leaders, lead practitioners and safeguarding lead has now been established. All current permanent postholders have been retained from both schools and, in addition, Miss Mash (Y3), has been appointed as a permanent year team leader.  Mrs Bishop (YR) will return from maternity leave in February, keen to lead the development of a combined reception year in September. Many key leadership roles have been rationalised so there is now one lead person for  English, maths, phonics, inclusion and personal development and well being. Finance, premises and HR are also now managed by a central team. I feel blessed to have so many talented and dedicated professionals to support  the merger of two great schools into one truly awesome place to study, learn and work.

Mr Howarth is using all his considerable skill and knowledge to lead a new curriculum vision to bring the best of both schools and latest research into a single vision for our learners. This is currently in draft stages but will be ready to share with all stakeholders in the next blog. The focus will be on the types of learners we want to develop - enquirers, readers, authors, mathematicians, creator/performers, healthy citizens. This will combine with an overarching vision for the school leading to some fresh and exciting work on dynamic and responsive teaching,  keeping the well being of our pupils and staff at the heart of our daily work. Mrs Lodge is already engaged in some insightful training with all staff to consider stress in modern life and will be working with pupils and parents to confirm our approach to personal, social and health education, including relationships.

A site plan will be ready to share in the new year. Mrs Mainwaring (premises manager) and I are working with an architect to ensure the site offers purposeful and inspiring spaces for all year groups. There will be some work to the current infant school to create a tenth classroom, upgrade toilet facilities,  install a multi use games area and revitalise the outdoor space for reception children. The outdoor canopy will be refreshed to provide useful outdoor classroom areas and across the school site we are planning to introduce quiet, reflective spaces where children and staff can escape the bustle and find a peaceful spot. The flow and signage of the site will also be carefully reconfigured to provide a uniting walkway linking all the areas.

If this is all sounding a bit like a manifesto then don't worry. All our capital plans are carefully costed against the proceeds from the sale of the school house and, as all the political parties are promising more investment in education and our running costs are becoming more efficient as a result of the merger, we feel we are in a good position to build on what we have already to create one inclusive , inspiring and high performing community school. We also have the knowledge, expertise and will of a fabulous staff and governor team. With the support of parents, carers and the wider community we can all look forward to a bright new year.