“Supporting Leadership Roles”
Peter is helping Headteacher Rachel Tomlinson bring to life her innovative, inspirational education vision at Barrowford Primary School in Lancashire. Hearing Peter speak at a conference was a turning point for Rachel; inspired by Peter’s honest, often radical observations, she enlisted his support as mentor and change-maker for her school. Supporting Leadership Roles.
From the outset, it was clear that Rachel and I shared many values and views: respect for children as learners and citizens; a passion for children’s rights; and sadness that so many schools are unhappy, misdirected places.
Our philosophical conversations – always evidence based and founded on restorative justice and the best of child-centred learning – led on to motivational workshops and the development of a coaching and mentoring relationship. My aim was to help Rachel fulfil her vision for Barrowford Primary as a world-leading place that would inspire and motivate others.
Rachel and her talented staff have a wonderful commitment to inclusion, emotional and social wellbeing, and to high standards academically. We looked at ways to secure this for children against the sometimes threatening backdrop of the current curriculum, assessment and testing regime, with its seeming enthusiasm for exclusion and rejection of children not compliant with teacher-focused, exam-orientated doctrines and so-called pedagogies.
The school became a global presence when a tweet by Rachel about what is important for children went viral.
I introduced her to a number of leading educationalists and authors, connecting her to like-minded people around the world who were able to further develop her thinking. In turn, the children were exposed to a wide range of experiences and developed a relationship with others globally. Rachel wrote articles, contributed to books and, as change gathered momentum, staff and parental confidence in Barrowford grew further. Pupil numbers increased by 50%.
In the midst of this, the school community was shaken by an unannounced Ofsted visit – following a national television appearance by Rachel – and an extraordinary inadequate Ofsted judgement.
Lessons were learnt about the need to systemise and articulate the philosophy and vision better and it is a reflection of the brilliance and resilience of staff, and the thorough ‘buy-in’ of families and the Barrowford community, that the school was able to turn this Ofsted judgement around within a year.
Today the school is as brave, bold and innovative as ever. It is a truly remarkable place and I feel privileged to continue supporting Rachel and her team as they help the children of Barrowford Primary to fly. Supporting Leadership Roles!