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Two becomes one - the diary of a school merger: January 2020

Pieces of the puzzle are beginning to come together to provide a bright picture of  our new school 

Over Christmas I succumbed, like many others, to a winter virus. Feeling miserable, not wanting to go anywhere and running out of things to read, a jigsaw puzzle seemed like the perfect antidote. One thousand pieces of water, sky, field and trees have since taken shape as a restful English country scene, although I have to confess it remains on my dining room table still unfinished. It is fiendishly repetitive and overly detailed and I manage a small section at a time, carefully checking the picture, the shape of the piece, the colour and the slither of image available. The thing about jigsaw puzzles though is you can't stop half way through, take it apart and put it back in the box, you have to keep going and only when every single piece is in its rightful place can you sit back and claim a moment of satisfaction.

And so it is with a major project like the merger of our two schools. I feel like we have a picture to work from and we are now busy putting the pieces together. After talking with a variety of stakeholder groups, we have agreed a new logo for the school  and a strap line to hang everything from.

Our vision is to be the best we can possibly be - a school of choice for parents and staff where all are inspired to be a source of inspiration to others. Our values of respect, aspiration, uniqueness and positivity will continue to guide us and I guess, taken all together, this is what forms our picture of our new school. All of the elements we are currently putting into place will eventually form The Cippenham School and it is up to all of us to work together to create the brightest picture we can.

Consultations with staff continue, putting the structures in place to serve our community. The consultation with teachers and our lead learning support assistants (LSAs) is complete. We have taken the opportunity to create a new post of deputy year team leader; teachers with experience to support and complement the key role of year team leader, both pivotal roles in ensuring our school continues to offer the benefits of smaller, pupil led year teams. A new philosophy of leadership will ensure a consistent approach, aligned with our vision and values. Seven teachers, across the two schools, have been appointed to these new leadership posts with a  further four to other leadership posts. We have also given teachers working towards qualified status a greater sense of permanency, embedding a commitment to career development into our practice. A full list of all our staff for Sep 2020 will be available in due course.

Mr Howarth has been busy pulling a vision and intent for our curriculum together and is now ready to share this with staff groups before publishing more widely. It is a clear and compelling vision based on how we wish our pupils to see themselves as a result of being educated at Cippenham - an enquirer, a mathematician, a reader, an author, a creator and performer and a healthy citizen. The curriculum is a major part of our jigsaw - if we are to be inspired and inspire others then the content and nature of our daily experiences must lead us to this. 

Plans for the site are well underway. Our aim is for our site to support the vision of the school, with a flow and feel to inspire as well as be practical and safe. A new multi use games area is planned for the youngest children where some of the infant school fences will come down. A tenth classroom on this area of the site will be developed with the aid of some clever internal reconfiguration and toilets here will be refurbished with better use made of space. We will also take the opportunity to replace the canopy roof and create a very purposeful and inspiring early years space. 

We are increasingly aware of the impact of change, stress and overload on our physical and mental health and are conscious that we don't put the puzzle pieces together so quickly that they become a blur but not so slowly that the bigger picture fails to emerge. We need to be able to recognise stress in ourselves and others and I am pleased that Mrs Lodge has taken on the role of personal development and well being lead and is in the process of leading workshops, training and resources to support this part of the overall puzzle.

A more coherent approach to behaviour and attitudes is developing and will include  all of our activities that support and promote good behaviour. To be healthy citizens our pupils and staff need to have space to be still, to think and reflect and to find strategies that support themselves and each other in our busy, connected world. Mindful or reflection spaces will form part of our environment and I am delighted that Year 5 have offered to pilot an inside mindful space and that The Friends of Cippenham  have offered to support the creation of an outside quiet area.

As the picture emerges we will be sharing, discussing and evolving the puzzle pieces. On the 20th April, an INSET day, staff and governors will come together to experience working in their September teams and using joint ways of working. On transition day in July, parents and pupils will have an opportunity to be in their September spaces and gain an insight into the Autumn term before we break up on Friday 17th July to complete the picture before welcoming everybody back to The Cippenham School in September.

An exciting and dynamic year ahead then as we bring the pieces of the puzzle together. I look forward to working with our whole community to make our vision a reality.