I'm pleased to report that the Big Move is complete and the school is pretty much settled in. The summer break was far from relaxing for those of us on site who spent hours and wore out a great deal of shoe leather trying to get the building right. The premature departure of two people from the Local Education Partnership who should have been very involved in the move was extremely unfortunate to say the least, and yet again too much responsibility fell on school staff to get things right. The summer also brought into sharp relief the problems with the BSF programme's drive to fix things that aren't broken (or are just slightly frayed around the edges). This was exacerbated, I believe, by resourcing issues due to so many areas of the country going live with BSF at once. Some key aspects of provision are still not right, and some areas of the curriculum are being significantly affected by that.
The first paragraph sounds a bit sulky and negative, and it would of course be naive to expect a big move to go ahead without any problems at all. People are working hard to address the problems and things seem to get a little better each day.
There are also many positives. The building has been really well received by staff and students alike. The rooms are spacious, the colours look great and you really can't see where old and new join. Even the core-ten cladding's mellowing rapidly. Some of the staff teams are absolutely chuffed to bits with what they've got, and everyone's better off than they were. Ironically most of the teams who are now in temporary accommodation also have better facilities than they had last year as the unrefurbished part of the school grew more and more dingy and depressing as each month went by last year. The new areas seem to have had a really positive affect on students and the atmosphere seems a lot more calm than it did previously.
Over the past few weeks I have shown round students plus parties from Essex, Newham and Hertfordshire schools who are about to enter BSF (many of whom apparently read this blog, so "hello and thank-you" to them). Even when I'm having a rotten day, as soon as I start showing people around I realise how proud of the whole thing I am, and what a great job's been done on the building. I hope seeing the building and hearing about our experience has been helpful for them too.
We're well over the half way stage now. In May '10 we have our next and final Big Move, and then the school will be landscaped for full handover in September '10. A lot of the planning for the works that are currently taking place has happened so things should get a lot easier from here on in. I won't know what to do with myself.
On October 20th we will be having an Open Evening for anyone who wants to come and have a look around. I'll put more details up here once we've fine tuned the programme, but if you're interested in seeing the school put a note in your diary now. You might even get a free glass of wine and a cheesy football or two.