Damian Green MP meets TST leadership at Homewood
Local MP Damian Green made a socially-distanced visit to Homewood School and Sixth Form Centre on Friday (2 October 2020) where he spent the afternoon with Principal Jeremy Single, TST Chief Executive Officer Sally Lees and TST Chief Operating Officer Mark Seymour, to learn about how Homewood and the other schools in the Trust have adapted to new ways of working in the current COVID crisis.
They were also able to update Mr Green on recent developments in the Trust, including the £2.6m investment being made in school buildings, following successful funding bids. They explained how the effort of bringing all five schools together to successfully create and operate the TST Small School for the children of key workers, on the Homewood site between March and July, had strengthened the Trust.
In addition, the team expressed their gratitude for the Government’s furlough scheme which helped the Trust sustain its Home Farm Nursery through the period of lockdown.
There was, however, concern over a number of other issues for which they sought his support.
Whilst the new funding to cover some of the additional costs of COVID, such as the National Tutoring Scheme catch-up funding, was very welcome, Mr Seymour told Damian Green that significantly more would be needed, particularly with the burden of introducing and maintaining COVID-safe regimes, such as heightened cleaning, which are not currently covered by the funding.
Mr Single and Mrs Lees highlighted real concern about the delay to announcements about what is happening with GCSEs and A Levels next Summer. They also expressed their disquiet about the additional strain that proposed Autumn Ofsted visits will place on schools like Homewood, given the pressure teachers are under to both deliver new learning and ensure students can catch up. As it seems the visits are to go ahead, they suggested that a professional dialogue, with a joint letter sent to parents from HMI and the Headteacher, would be the most appropriate approach.
TST CEO Sally Lees said that Mr Green was interested in everything that the team had to say, describing their discussions as “honest and helpful”.
She continued: “We are grateful to Damian for taking the time to meet with us and find out for himself the work that is going on in our schools to provide high quality learning safely to all our pupils during the COVID pandemic. He clearly recognises the huge logistical task of managing schools in the current situation. We were pleased to have had the opportunity to share with him our successes but also our concerns about some of the challenges schools are facing currently and to seek his support in addressing some of these issues.”