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Mark Hall Academy: Governors empowered to play part in transforming school.

Education: Secondary / Tue 13th Apr 2021 at 11:12am

MARK Hall Academy joined the BMAT family of schools in January with a mission to improve outcomes for young people in the town.

As part of the plan, the team of governors are being given greater insight to help the school on its journey of improvement.

Ian Beckett took up his role as chair of governors in September 2019 when, he said, the school had identified its weaknesses and made plans to improve, but not quickly enough for Ofsted – with the school being graded Inadequate by the authority.

As a former local councillor, he was keen to take on this role to further help the community.

He said: “I know I can make a difference to people’s lives and I am determined to do that, one way or another.

“Students are the future citizens who will make a difference to the town. I want to make sure everything we do as an academy ensures they make a positive difference and that students can evidence that during their time at Mark Hall.

“I want us to be able to say ‘this is what we are doing to help these young people, so they are the best Harlow citizens they can be’.”

Since joining BMAT, Mr Beckett has been pleased to learn more about the Trust and how it has achieved success across the town.

He said: “For me, it has been good to mythbust. Even before the transfer to BMAT had completed, the communication levels went up significantly. There was immediately a feeling of security, of you being handed over to a Trust that not only understood the educational remit, but had invested a huge amount of time understanding where Mark Hall was at and the critical areas needing attention.

“BMAT hit the ground running and lifted the school. There was a palpable sense of being lifted up. Despite all the challenges, they said we are going to do it together.

“It has been absolutely phenomenal at every single level.”

Mr Beckett said he has been given additional information and training to carry out his role, including a deeper understanding of the relevance of the curriculum and learning more about SEND and safeguarding.

He said: “My new focus is on understanding the detail behind the reports we receive, being able to communicate them and get straight to the point of what needs doing. I am looking to upskill to have that working knowledge and understanding, not only of what is happening at Mark Hall, but the layers underneath it, the basics of the curriculum. I want to do structured visits to find out from staff what they are doing and why they are doing it and the impact it is having, so I can understand our strengths and weaknesses. I need to hear that from our young people, as well.

“That is the difference I am already seeing with BMAT. It is about having strong foundations to build on.

“As governors, we are being looked at as key resource in terms of managing, directing and moving the school to where we want it to be. We are all here to achieve the same thing, which is the best possible education for our young people and looking out for them at all levels.”

Jemma Mindham, chief executive of Rainbow Services, recently jointed the school’s board of governors.

She said: “I was interested in becoming a governor at Mark Hall Academy because it was clear it was a school servicing a community of students which was becoming more and more diverse and that it had to rise to the challenge of providing the right support to students with a range of needs. It was not always getting it right.

“My impression since joining the board a few weeks ago is that being part of BMAT has provided Mark Hall with an experienced network of schools from which it can learn, develop solutions and build partnerships to help it enhance its offer to its own student family.  

“The training and learning opportunities which have been offered to me as a new governor are robust. There is definitely a feeling that all of us are part of the BMAT family – learning from each other and with each other.”

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