National Middle Schools’ Forum Newsletter

Minutes of the Steering Committee Meeting held on 9th March 2010

National Middle Schools’ Forum


Minutes of the Steering Committee Meeting held on 9th March, 2010

1 Present

Barbara Reseigh (Northants), Sue Kennedy (Herts), Terry Holland (Worcs), Gary Booth (I.o.W), Phil Hill(Somerset), Michael Clark (Cambs), Iain Clarke (Dorset), Paul Hugall (Newcastle), Ann Payne (Central Beds), Nigel Wyatt (Associate Officer).

2. Apologies

Apologies were received from John Kime (Staffs),

3. Minutes

The minutes of the meeting on 17th November 2009 were accepted.

4. Matters Arising


Item 7 – It would be possible to use a web based survey service, such as Survey Monkey, to conduct a survey of middle school hours, curriculum and extended schools provision. Proposed to trial a survey using Steering Committee members and then undertake a full survey for discussion at the National Conference.

5. Treasurer’s Report

The Treasurer reported that the accounts stood as follows:

Income for the period November to March £6200 which includes £4900 in subs for the year 2010.

Expenditure for the same period £4072

This brings the balance to £13,430.38

The deficit for the 2009 conference has now been reduced to £831. A number of those cancelling at short notice have now paid.

The clear reports presented by the Treasurer were appreciated by members of the committee.

It was unanimously agreed by the committee that the signatories for the account should be changed to be Michael Clark and Sue Kennedy.


Nigel Wyatt to liaise with Sue Kennedy to send out reminders to those areas and schools which not yet paid their subscriptions

6. Executive Officer's report

Professor Robin Alexander has complained about the portrayal of the Cambridge Primary Review in the Schools Adjudicator report on the reorganisation of Suffolk middle schools. As yet there is no news of the outcome.

Nigel Wyatt reported on the progress in the project with Alan Howe of the National Strategies has on the use of APP and transitions. 12 middle schools in four authorities are taking part:

·         Staffordshire

·         Northumberland

·         Central Bedfordshire

·         Kirklees

The work of the schools will be disseminated at a national conference for middle schools on October 1st in London.

Nigel Wyatt shared research on the outcomes of middle school inspections since September 2009. This showed, for what is a very small sample at this stage, that middle schools are achieving very similar outcomes to those from the first round of inspections.

Nigel Wyatt was thanked for his worked – in particular the organisation of a very successful day conference in London in February.


·         Nigel Wyatt to organise a survey of middle school hours, curriculum provision and extended curriculum provision with a report for discussion at Conference.

·         Nigel Wyatt to investigate the publicity for conferences specifically for middle schools on trust and specialist schools status.



7. Membership

It was agreed after discussion that membership would be open to schools and individuals in the following categories:

1) School, or full membership, at the current rate of £75. This would entitle all school members to attend NMSF events at the member’s rate.

2) Associate membership open to those not attached to a middle school in this country, at the rate of £25.  This would be open, for example, to retired staff, Local Authority officers, those working in international schools and entitle associate members to attend NMSF events at member’s rates.

In order to encourage Local Authority areas to pay subscriptions collectively there will be a 10% discount when this happens from 2011.

Some of the administration for subscriptions will be handled more cost effectively though the admin staff at Greneway Middle School – subject to discussion with the school.

8. Review of one day conference on the SEF

The day conference was very successful, drawing a range of members from across the country. The low cost of attending enabled a number of schools to send tow representative which was very successful. One school included the chair of governors, who had found the day very beneficial and this is a model worth building on in the future.

The relationship the Forum has developed with Ceri Morgan was valued by members who feel that Ofsted has been responsive to the needs of middle schools, raised with Ofsted in 2008, and that the personal link with senior middle school staff that has developed can only be a good thing.

This is clearly a successful model following the very successful day on APP the year before and one that could be continued with the right issue. Further work with Ofsted might focus on community cohesion as one possible topic.


Nigel Wyatt to write to Ceri Morgan, and to Christine Gilbert, thanking Ceri for his contribution to the day.


9. Conference 2010

A sub-committee met in January to consider plans for the National Conference in October. The committee welcomed the proposed three proposed elements:

a) Futures thinking – looking ahead at what we can tell about developments to come and how middle schools might position themselves to be able to respond

b) Reconnecting and strengthening aspects of our values and vision that are fundamental to middle schools

c) Celebrating 40 years of middle school education in this country – reconnecting with the founding vision of the middle school movement.

Suggestions for activities and speakers

a) Futures thinking

Russell Prue – future directions for technology – learning in the age of Google Brent Davies – Futures thinking - Future directions in school leadership Coaching and school leadership – Ronnie Woods Future developments in systems and structures – trust status, federation and academy status.

b) Reconnecting and strengthening aspects of our values and vision

John West Burnham – Spirituality and leadership Benjamin Zephania – creativity and literacy David Crystal John Yates

c) Celebrating 40 years of middle school education in this country

Suggest for Monday late afternoon/evening

a) From 4.00 - Display – back of main auditorium – historical material – and showing of film about first middle school in Bradford Delf Hill

Schools to be invited to contribute and bring display boards with them – such as old newsletters – specific items will be suggested.

Also to consider – Poetry display – a poem from each school about some aspect of being a middle school student. Art work – a piece of art work related to the celebration of 40 years of middle schools.

Two schools offered to bring school choirs – costs to be met by the Forum.

b) 6.00  Brains trust – led by questions from floor – curriculum practice, team teaching, open plan designs…..

c) 6.30 Reception – in atrium (or with display)

d) 7.30 Dinner

It is likely that retired heads and others joining us for this part of the conference would be charged simply the cost of the dinner approx £25 – and would need to find local accommodation (from a list supplied to them).

Brains Trust Panel Suggestions

Chris Tipple – former CEO Northumberland Vince Davis – Former Head of Roysia Middle and Executive Officer Martin Thomas – Head of Temple Cowley and leading role on commissioning Keele research

Phil Hill volunteered to coordinate relations with the press.

Iain Clark was volunteered to be responsible for developing bags for the delegates.


Nigel Wyatt to liaise with the planning sub-committee, finalise plans and send out booking information.


10. Area News

·         Somerset – Dulverton middle school has suffered from declining numbers and was already very small. It is proposed that it federated to form a 5 to 13 school. The threat to South Somerset middle schools as receded.

·         Northants – There continue to be two middle schools. With The King John School currently being led by an acting head.

·         Cambs – Gamlingay School Choir will be performing in the Festival Hall shortly and in the Barbican later in the year.

·         Bedfordshire – The reorganisation plans in Bedford Borough depend on BSF funding. Woodside Middle has failed its Ofsted inspection and is to be reorganised more quickly. In Central Bedfordshire the future of the middle schools appears to be secure and the Transformation Board is being led by a middle school head teacher – where the central focus has been on developing approaches to learning for the 21st century.

·         Northumberland – The middle schools in South East Northumberland are considering trust status as the prospect of reorganisation has returned to the agenda.

·         Dorset – Dorset has not been successful in its BSF bid. The middle school reorganisation has been put back a year which would imply that the 4 middle schools in the Purbeck area would close in 2013.

§         Herts – Surplus places in the Royston area have led to discussions about models in which to retain the three tier organisation.

§         Worcs – Simon de Montfort Middle School has federated with the High School – a model which has benefits for the school and appears to be working well.


11. AOB

There some discussion regarding the position of individual heads in the light of the proposed boycott of the Year SATs this summer.

It was agreed that Sue Kennedy present Mark Knowles with a gift from the Forum recognition of his work for the Forum over a number of years at his retirement party.

12. Future meetings

Steering Committee Meetings arranged for the coming year:

o        Tuesday 8th June 2010

At 10.30 am – St Saviour’s Church, St George’s Square, Pimlico, SW1V 9AL

The meeting closed at 1.05 p.m.