Wishing colleagues a happy new year is a long held tradition, but I can honestly say I have never meant it more than this year!
The challenges you confronted in 2020 and those you experienced this week would have overwhelmed many. I am in awe at the way you have stepped up again, with virtually no notice, to deliver a mixture of home learning and classroom teaching. None of you have forgotten the importance of serving your communities first and doing all you can to keep them safe and well. I have never felt more proud of being in the teaching profession. You are all amazing.
I was informed a few days ago that Diane Booth was retiring from her role as Director of Children’s Services. Diane has been a joy to work with and has always been pragmatic, straightforward and encouraging. It is with a deep sense of sadness that she is departing but as someone who made a similar departure from a high profile role a few years ago, I think it is best for individuals to decide when the right time to leave is. I know we will all miss her greatly, but attention now turns to appointing her successor.
I am pleased to inform you that I have been asked to join one of the appointment panels for Diane’s successor. It is an honour to be invited and I will do my utmost to ensure we appoint a colleague who can capitalise on Blackpool’s many recent achievements. It is clear we will face some similar and some new challenges when we are gently released from the clutches of the epidemic. We will need to maintain the strength of cooperation and collaboration that was always there but has shone very brightly since last March. The new Director will commence their duties from a strong base and I know we will all do our utmost to help, support and where necessary challenge to ensure even better outcomes.
One final thing. I would like to give you a heads up about a virtual Digital and Computing Summit I am jointly hosting on 4 February between 2.30pm and 4pm. There are some brilliant digital and computing opportunities in the town, but they are not always well known. An email will arrive shortly. Please share it with the most appropriate colleague.
I look forward to working with you and the new DCS for the benefit of all children and young people and their families.
Independent Chair of Blackpool Education Improvement Board