An Extraordinary Half Term, with Exceptional Colleagues

It has been a very busy time for the White Rose Academies Trust with colleagues striving more than ever to ensure that the right educational provision is in place for our young people at this strange time. As a trust with values sitting firmly at the heart of all decision making, the reality is that now, a fortiori, we have worked hard to keep the people first – our inspiring students, our fantastic colleagues and our wonderful wider communities. 

Despite these unprecedented times, we have been determined to embrace the opportunity to explore how we can look at staff development in a fresh and new way; we figure that if we change the way in which we look at things, we can be different. As such we have grasped the chance to redesign our new normal and are unwavering in our aim to provide a full suite of training experiences which suit the individual in terms of content, aspiration, but perhaps most importantly in terms of method. The key thing is that each member of our staff body remains motivated at a time like this and we have urged staff to remain proactive and engage with the activities which they know will make the most difference.  

The use of technology has been key in keeping momentum, nurturing those all-important relationships and allowing colleagues to work in a way that suits them best. We feel strongly that if we empower our staff body, listen empathetically, give more room for autonomy in professional learning and facilitate training experiences which suit individuals in a better way, that they will be more engaged and genuine learners. They will be more inspired and committed, and as such the impact on student and staff welfare, progress and outcomes will be massive.  

It is in embracing this new way of working that we have navigated the first half term and strived to provide professional development opportunities as needed, and in a way that people can engage with, without addition of duty or extra responsibility during such an unprecedented and demanding start to an academic year.

Click here for further insight into the CPD sessions that took place in the first half term. 


In closing, it has been a ‘one of a kind’ start to the academic year, but one to be so very proud of.

Colleagues have accessed a wealth of online training sessions, remote team check-ins, external development opportunities, professional coaching and much, much more over recent months. Consequently, despite such busy and potentially anxious times, they have been inspired to read and research into the best possible ways we can improve the learning and school experience of our precious cargo – behind the scenes discussions about all things pedagogy and how best to use that gap between stimulus and response are rife; we find ourselves experiencing a wave of growth and optimism (despite all the many, many challenges) through exploration of new ways to learn as professionals, understanding our workforce in greater detail and building leadership from within. Our job now is to fuel that trajectory of motivation and autonomy to achieve our desired goals – providing the best possible experience for the young people in our charge. 

Wishing you all a very restful, calm and safe half term break and I look forward to updating about our progress during the latter half of this first term.

Nicola Widnall – Vice Principal for the White Rose Academies Trust

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The White Rose Academies Trust is a member of Luminate Education Group

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