Firstly, I hope everyone is settling back into the hustle-bustle of school life and successfully adjusting to the inevitable new routines and structures of the 2020-21 academic year. I am looking forward to visiting schools over the coming weeks to hear how things are going – socially distanced of course!
The spread of coronavirus is again at the top of every news-run. Our schools have carefully considered the health and safety of everyone as they planned for our full return and appropriate measures put in place. Our primary schools saw on average a near 96% attendance rate last week. This is testament to our children wanting to return to school and our parents having confidence in the systems we were establishing. As we see infection rates rise across the UK it is essential that we avoid complacency and all play our part in reducing the spread of coronavirus.
It is now crystal clear that we will, in one way or another, be faced with difficult situations and, despite the thoroughness of our planning, will have to deal with unforeseen circumstances.
Daunting and unsettling this may be, but we should draw confidence from our recent experiences and achievements. We also know this time will pass and that new horizons will emerge. We must hold on to the human characteristic of hope. I share the fable below as a suitable example:
“Two men are in prison. The gaze of one is drawn to the shiny, twinkling stars that bejewel the velvety firmament. As he takes in the beauty of this scene, he is filled with optimism and hope: There is something better beyond the bars! The other person focuses on the muddy ground surrounding the prison cells; nothing there encourages him and he becomes less and less optimistic. He is robbed of hope because of the direction of his gaze.”
In a similar vein I am also delighted to share WeST’s Strategic Plan 2020-25 and ask that you take a moment to read it when you get the chance. Whilst celebrating our values and beliefs it also outlines the ambition we hold for our collective children and identifies our five key themes of activity for improvement.
Rob Haring – CEO
Update from the Estates Team:
Estates teams have had an unusual summer (as have we all), however for us it has had a unprecedented impact on the delivery of our summer projects for our schools. Many contractors furloughed their staff, meaning even answering the phone or reading an email was not allowed. Even when we thought a project could proceed as contractors were back in work, we were thwarted by a shortage of materials or the contractors having a massive backlog of work. Over the next couple of weeks I will share with you some of the projects we have delivered.
This weeks' update is from Oreston School where we delivered two significant projects. The Studio has been transformed with new kitchen and toilet facilities for before and after school clubs. This will strengthen the school's position in terms of their Ofsted inspection.
Further works included changing the enclosed boy/girl toilets for KS1 to open plan, unisex toilets and increasing the number of cubicles. Our teams were faced with many challenges during the works. In particular, in completing works to the toilet blocks, materials turned up less than 48 hours before children were due to return to school as a result of a factory being closed for business. We also had an underground drain fail. Consequently, our teams had to dismantle the concrete floor and undertake a repair in the last week of the holidays.
Even though we have not delivered as many projects as we had originally anticipated, we have still managed to deliver £1,000,000 worth of improvements across our schools, including £270,000 of roof upgrade and replacements which is a great achievement and thank you to all those involved. We look forward to updating you further on other projects being delivered across WeST's schools.
Updates from the HR team:
We are pleased to confirm that the Trust have approved the adoption of the National Joint Council (NJC) agreement of 2.75 per cent on all points of the national pay spine which applies from 1 April 2020. The HR Team are working directly with our payroll providers to implement the award in September pay (back-dated) for Devon and Plymouth schools, but we believe this may drift to October for those colleagues in Cornwall. Cornwall payroll are implementing a new payroll platform this month which renders September implementation impossible for them.
The Trust has also approved the recommendations for incremental progression for all teaching and leadership staff from 1September 2020 in accordance with the STPCD/Trust Pay Policy entitlements and our interim arrangements for appraisal this year. For most schools it will be possible to implement for September pay, but for some this may take place in October and be back-dated.
The teachers’ annual pay award remains the subject of consultation until 14 September 2020; the Trust is committed to adopting the national recommendations once agreed and published. Depending on the speed of the conclusion of the national process, implementation will likely occur in October or November pay (back-dated to 1 September).
The pay award applicable to academic staff working within the Teaching and Learning Institute remains subject to national negotiations.
Please do contact the HR Team if you have any specific queries related to incremental progression or the annual pay awards.
WeST partners with BlueSky Education to provide online software to support you in managing the whole of your continuing professional development. The evidence you add to BlueSky builds your online portfolio and supports you to monitor your strengths and development needs in preparation for appraisal conversations. This allows you to take responsibility of your personal performance and contribution. In addition, understand how this supports the Trust’s and your school’s or business unit’s improvement strategies and plans.
All schools/business units are either full users, in the process of on-boarding, or have a planned date for implementation. Once you have a user account, you will be able to access a comprehensive set of user guides and training videos via ‘FAQ’s. Please do take the time to refresh your knowledge of the platform to ensure the best use of this resource in supporting your CPD.
Note for BlueSky administrators; adding new starters to BlueSky:
Please be aware that when adding new starters to your schools’ BlueSky account, if they have come from a WeST school they will not need to be added as a new user. New starters will need their accounts transferred from their previous school to their new/current school.
When cases like these arise, please contact Bridget Barton on firstname.lastname@example.org who will be able to transfer the accounts for you.
Payroll Systems – Plymouth
As you may be aware, WeST works with three payroll providers. The following schools are supported by DELT Shared Services payroll system:
Ashburton Primary School
Boringdon Primary School
Buckfastleigh Primary School
Chaddlewood Primary School
Dunstone Primary School
Glen Park Primary School
Oreston Community Academy
Plympton St Maurice Primary School
South Dartmoor Community College
Woodford Primary School
DELT Payroll is preparing to move to a new platform, known as Core HR and this will roll out in October 2020. In preparation, colleagues within these schools will start to receive information on log-in access along with information on accessing training / user guides.
The key difference will be how colleagues access their payslips. This will require authentication codes issued by text message – please ensure your personal details are updated with your school’s administrator to ensure we hold your current personal mobile number.
WeST HR are working closely with our colleagues at DELT to assist with a smooth transition to the new system and more information will follow in the coming weeks. If you have any specific questions please contact WeST HR team on email@example.com.
MediGold (formerly IMASS) Occupational Health – New System
WeST supports employees with access to an independent occupational health provider, known as MediGold (formally known as IMASS). The service includes a range of wellbeing specialist support. The provider has recently changed to a new online system and we are working with them on a smooth transition. The new system will include a text alert for employees to confirm consent and appointment arrangements.
WeST HR are working with representatives of HR Matters to share information and user guides on the system arrangements. The provider has also contacted school leaders / school business managers / senior administrators directly with account access information.
More information on employee access and consent will follow in due course.
In the meantime, if you have any questions or queries please contact WeST HR on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cycle to Work:
As you are aware from our previous article back in July, WeST have been exploring the possibility of working with the provider Cyclescheme to offer Trust employees the opportunity to benefit from a Cycle to Work scheme. Please click on this link for some FAQs that tell you a little bit more about the scheme.
If you think you may be interested in taking part in this scheme please read the FAQ document and complete the short form available here or via the QR code below. The form will be available for you to complete until 30th September 2020. This does not commit you to participating in the scheme but it will help us to gauge interest and take the right steps to make this scheme a success for you should you ultimately decide to take part.
Further information about the scheme is available on the Cyclescheme website. The HR Team is also available at email@example.com if you have any questions.