Happy New Year! I hope you had a good Christmas break, and welcome back to the new term.

We moved into our new build just before the October half term, and our students are really enjoying the new resources. The Christmas Fair went very well this year in the new build, raising just over £1400, our most successful yet! Thank you to everybody who supported the event.

Our pupil roll number is steadily increasing. As you know, part of the new build was to free up space for two new classes and to increase our potential pupil roll number. We continue to have paperwork requesting placements with us on a regular basis. I am being very careful in managing this growth so that the provision of pupils already on roll is protected. Our suggested maximum was 106 previously and can now potentially take 126, with 111 on roll currently.

Due to our growth, we are finding it difficult to be in the hall together for assemblies, productions and so on. This term we are trialling having Primary, Secondary and whole school assemblies on rotation. I will let you know dates as soon as this is organised.

The new build is a fantastic development in resources for our young people but we continue to have resources that fall below other area special schools. I am liaising with the Local Authority on this and will report back on any developments.

We continue to move forward with plans for opening a social enterprise in Ely and, at the opening celebration of our new build, Lis Every laid out clearly in her speech that she is fully supporting us in this venture. She called the other Councillors there to support us in whatever way they can. Our aim behind this venture is to have a supportive environment in which our students can learn workplace skills that are transferrable into work placements and actual jobs. We are currently looking at premises in Ely and building a business plan. This is a really exciting development for our students and something that is very new for a special school in Cambridgeshire.

Later this term we will begin the budget build for the coming financial year. This has proven an increasingly difficult task over the past few years due to Cambridgeshire Local Authority being very poorly funded compared to other Local Authorities per pupil. The overall funding given to Local Authorities from the government has not been increased for several years whilst staff, premises and other costs have continued to rise. This coming year we will have no increase in funding per pupil again, however there will be a fairer funding formula implemented to (hopefully!) increase funding across the board for Cambridgeshire schools.

At the start of last academic year, schools were expected to implement a new curriculum. This involved many changes within the subjects we teach. We implemented these changes fully at the time and bought the new B Squared assessment package that also reflected these changes. B Squared is the assessment package we use in classes from Early Years to the end of Key Stage Three. CASPA, which is the data management program that we upload the data from B Squared into, however did not change to reflect the new curriculum at all. Therefore we are left with two systems that are not compatible and currently the data that we can use is not an accurate reflection of pupil progress. We are looking at ways of working this through but, at the current time, we are not able to use the CAPSA graphs in annual reviews.

On the same subject, I have had a request from a parent that I send home some explanatory information about attainment levels, how P Levels fit in with this and what wold be age related expectations in mainstream schools. I will work on this and send home soon.

I look forward to seeing you at some point soon,

Simon Bainbridge