Wednesday, 24 March 2010

I received this e-mail from my colleague Cath Hindmarch, Headteacher at Parklands Primary School...

"Dear Chris, I spoke at the CPPS seminar in London yesterday. The seminar addressed the question 'How can we most effectively tackle child poverty, health and well-being?' Firstly, I can highly recommend these seminars as they get people from the public sector, from all over the country, talking, but also sharing good practice. I do feel that this approach is something that we could tap into in Leeds and CPPS (based in Hebden Bridge) could maybe support us??

Dawn Primarolo (Minster for children, young people and families) spoke at the end and told us that:
  • closeer partnership working is the way forward;
  • local authorities and partners should work together to tackle child poverty and produce a child poverty strategy;
  • we should direct services according to need;
  • we must support and enhance a sustainable community strategy;
  • there is a moral imperative on private sector too and we should be looking increasingly to them as partners;
  • we need data about poverty to inform strategy and target action.

I spoke about my leadership of extended schools and how I view lack of opportunity as one of the biggest outcomes of the poverty our children and young people face and the one that people rarely discuss and of the consequent need for a culture of ambition and aspiration to follow. I made specific mention to the fabulous work Viv and Catherine are the many partners we work with. Of how we will evaluate the impact of the opportunities presented to children and young people by CU and FYT programmes and how significant these are to raising attainment and achievement.

I met many people who were understandably impressed with our work and it felt a real honour to be speaking and sharing this great work. It also struck me how important it is to celebrate such work and effort-it was actually refreshing to be able to share and not to be made to feel that there is 'some other initiative that we could/should try next'. I feel very strongly that schools like ours need more positive recognition for our effort, vision and sheer determination to make a difference!! People CAN learn from schools like ours.

There were various speakers, including two MPs, but the most inspiring was Marie Hanson, the founder of STORM. I still feel tearful today thinking about her experience as a mum living on an estate in Battersea. We MUST get Marie up to Leeds. The work she and her charity are doing is the same as that we are trying to do at cluster level!!! Marie was/is parent of the year and outstanding practitioner at London Child Poverty Awards 2009. We certainly need to learn more from voluntary organsiations. Cath."

Cath is right wedo need to engage with partners, wherever they are, who share our passion, commitment, determination and are prepared to put in the work. The CPPS seminars are great and we should do more in Leeds to share, network and learn. Cath is right that lack of opportunity is one of the biggest outcomes of the poverty our children and young people face.
So much of the work we have been doing in so many areas is driven by the need for us to help families and communities build a culture of ambition and aspiration. It’s great to have Cath's work at Parklands Primary School showcased like this. I know that schools like Parklands Primary School are releasing an extra-ordinary magic in their communities and are beacons of real excellence if only we look beyond the simplistic data based approach to what makes a great school. Cath and her colleagues effort, vision and sheer determination to make a difference is inspiring and people ARE learning from schools like Parklands Primary School that we be the change we want to see in the world.


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