Posted 12th February 2021
And we say goodbye to another half term!
We have reached the end of half term and what a half term it has been! We have all spent an inordinate amount of time on computers/laptops/screens, all of which has been valued, respected and appreciated. Therefore, it is important that we rest and recharge over half term.
I know that this really has been the hardest of half terms - for students, their families and for school staff - we have had to get to grips with teaching and learning in a completely new way in a very short space of time. I would like to thank our students and parents for their resilience and patience and their support of our school. I would also like to thank the colleagues who have been in school to support our most vulnerable students and the children of critical workers. Some colleagues have been doing different roles on an interim basis and have rapidly adapted to these new demands. We've had the additional challenges of dark mornings, snow and ice!
We approach this break knowing the Prime Minister will be announcing his roadmap to end lockdown on the first Monday back. There is a lot of speculation about what that means for schools - we can't second guess so there remains uncertainty. As soon as I have any detail, I will communicate it with you.
Yesterday we launched our new website. You will still be able to find us at Beckfoot Upper Heaton - Home. New and exciting interactive content is on it's way. We hope you find it filled with all the information you need about our school and how we are preparing our young people to be Ready - Respectful - Safe. Our new website, in turn, marks the start of our Communications Strategy review. We will be looking at our internal and external communications and will be making huge improvements over the coming weeks and months. A short survey will be sent out to families and to staff over the half term break. It is hugely important that we hear your opinions and your suggestions on how we can improve and develop connection with our families. We are undertaking a review of our communication strategy and need as much feedback as is possible to make it truly remarkable.
We have had successful Year 11 and 10 Parent Consultation Days online through our new School Cloud platform and have had some very positive feedback from families.
I am very excited to tell you that we appointed a teacher of Science and a Premises Manager this week. We have had a lot of applicants for both positions, a sure sign that our school and Trust are becoming 'the employer of choice'.
A forest school group will be coming to school and offering some of our pupils the opportunity to participate in a mixture of activities, using the resources of the natural environment within our school grounds (to develop teamwork, problem solving, social and communication skills.) Sessions will include activities like nature exploration, den building, tool work, wild art and perhaps a campfire. Sessions are led by a qualified and experienced forest school practitioners, working with a member of school staff (teacher or TA). Sessions will run in most weather conditions, so long as the site is deemed safe by project staff. These sessions will develop social and team building skills and will enhance their confidence to enhance their classroom work in school.
Enjoy the half term break and stay safe.
Motivation, Mindset & Microsoft Teams
As we complete the first working week in February 2021, it is an appropriate time to reflect, take stock and consider where we find ourselves as a community. It is no overstatement to suggest we continue to endure a challenging time. The life balance for everyone has been skewed since March 2020 and education continues to be taught, facilitated and led in ways few had considered a year ago. It is therefore essential at the outset to thank all of our families for their fantastic support; feedback from you is always welcomed and I have to say it is a great lift to the staff body to have received so many well wishes and positive correspondence. Live lessons on Microsoft Teams and assignments set are essential in enabling teaching staff to continue to deliver and implement our curriculum – which has been a key feature of our school improvement agenda over the last year or two. Please continue to encourage your children to engage with this form of learning – it will no doubt enable a smoother transition into face-to-face lessons when the government make the decision to allow more young people to access the school building.
We take mental health and well-being incredibly seriously and as a result have upped the provision of Frank Makula our highly skilled Resilience Mentor from one day a week to two so that we double the students accessing support needed. Similarly, we have continued our association with Cameron Parker one of the leading motivational speakers in the country. Cameron was working with Year 11 this week in a group session which I was privileged to attend. Cameron exudes positivity and it was clear to see the impact he has had. Our students were talking about their ambitions and aspirations and an eclectic mix they were - musical therapist, architect, lawyer and everything in between was mentioned. It was fantastic to see their motivated mindsets. We will continue to support them in achieving these goals and in the next few weeks and months also give Year 10 access to Cameron.
Mindful of the nature of ‘remote’ learning we have taken the decision to provide one afternoon per week for students and staff to switch their computer screens off and engage in a series of creative and healthy lifestyle activities. These activities are designed to enhance the additional learning opportunities that are provided when school is fully open to create a wholesome education. As my letter earlier in the week indicated, Friday 5th February was our first of these afternoons and Tuesday 9th February is our second. It was great getting involved in the ‘Afternoon with the birds’ planned by our Design Technology team. We are glad your children enjoyed this, some pictures below of their creative results.
Our staff are continuing to develop their approaches to blended learning – we have provided opportunities for staff to receive expert tuition in the form of padlets and clinics – to ensure that we continue to provide continuity of education. With the idea of continuity in mind, I’d like to thank Year 11 families for supporting our recent parent consultation day and look forward to our Year 10 consultation day on Thursday 11th February – if you have any queries or need support in accessing this then please let us know.
To conclude, I’d like to tell you about two brilliant things I had the fortune to see and hear about. Firstly, our Green Energy Challenge that took place on Monday where all of Year 8 were learning creatively about sustainable and environmentally friendly initiatives. The other is our continued collaboration with Beckfoot Heaton Primary. You may remember that we won a Bradford Manufacturing competition in the autumn term for designing a hand sanitiser station – this week it was fantastic to see the work of the primary children who have also undertaken this work.
Be safe, Graeme
Posted 11th September 2020
New Year; New Beginnings
As I return to my desk to write this blog from completing gate duty there is a buzz of excitement in the building; our school community is back together and quite frankly it is marvellous. To see happy, smiling young people eager to enjoy, learn and succeed in our building is ultimately why our deeply committed staff do the jobs that they do.
A rundown of the week - Monday was our final INSET Day, Tuesday we inducted Years 7 and 11, Wednesday we welcomed Year 10, yesterday was Year 9 and today was Year 8. Everyone; in it together to create a truly remarkable, truly inclusive school community where expert staff enable our young people to be future-ready.
We are pleased that our systems are giving students a safe way to access high quality Teaching & Learning. The staggered start and end times seem to be working; please check the website for this and may I remind you that it is compulsory for your child to wear a face covering – please ensure that these are appropriate for school. It is also important that you access the ClassCharts website, link to this can be found on our school website under Students > My Progress > Useful Links. This will inform you of the homework set and will enhance your understanding of the learning taking place. We also have three new community principles; Ready – Respectful – Safe.
We have had a successful summer – all of the students who left in the summer were able to pursue the next stages of their lives with a strong academic base to spring from. We are very privileged to have been a part of their lives and know that they will develop into fantastic citizens and achieve much in their lives. We celebrate their achievements and recognise the unbelievable amounts of expertise and care that our staff have shown.
We have had a few changes to the Leadership Team of the school since I last corresponded with you. We have said goodbye to Ms Armitage – a much valued colleague for many years standing who really dug the foundations for our Personal Development programme. Ms. Armitage was successful in her application to a school nearer to her home and it goes without saying that we wish her all the best. As one chapter closes another begins and I am delighted to announce that Mrs. Louise Morgan was appointed to the position of Assistant Headteacher (Personal Development). Many of you will know Mrs. Morgan from her first class English teaching. I am delighted with the start she has made bringing in TFTF Behaviour & Resilience Mentoring: On-boarding to complement the great work started by Cameron Parker. These initiatives will help motivate our students and ensure they are confident communicators.
We have also added capacity to the Leadership Team and the appointment of Mrs. Alison Smith. Mrs. Smith joins us Assistant Headteacher for Access & Inclusion and epitomises our mantra that no child is left behind. Mrs Smith is a vastly experienced colleague having led various teams in a number of settings most recently in Beckfoot Thornton. Again we are so excited about her arrival.
Finally, may I wish everyone a great year and in due course very much looking forward to seeing you. I will be in touch next week with the families of Year 11 to share GCSE target setting information. We have always done this by inviting you into school in the past, but that will not be possible this year.
My Twitter: @GraemeWrightson
School Twitter: @B_UpperHeaton
We are delighted to announce that we have recruited the services of Cameron Parker in our commitment to ensure all of our young people are:
- Confident communicators
- Knowledgeable and expert learners
- Committed community contributors
- Future-ready young people
Cameron is a World Class Youth Coach and Speaker, impacting on over 350,000 14-18 year olds to date. Cameron has spoken on stages both big and small across the UK and Europe, educating and inspiring thousands of young people to level up their lives and upgrade their mindsets.
Miss Barton and I first came across Cameron at the Leadership Matters Conference in January 2020 and were struck by his humility, enthusiasm and passion for motivating young people. We felt he’d be an ideal fit to work alongside our brilliant students.
In these uncertain times we want to make sure that our students, families and staff feel supported every step of the way. We will be posting motivational material on the school website and Cameron on Twitter, and after the Easter Holiday he will be leading a 12-week motivational programme to ensure students enjoy, learn and succeed whilst working at home.
We look forward to this exciting opportunity for our entire school community.
Recommendations for Cameron’s work include:
Cameron did not disappoint, handling the whole session with dexterity humour and insightfulness that belies his years! I highly recommend Cameron for anything that involves building rapport and building the sense of the possible.
- Andy Buck, Leadership Matters
And the winner is...
We recently had the most brilliant morning in school. All of Year 9 had their First Give Finals Day; an event where each tutor group had the opportunity to pitch for £1000 for their chosen charitable organisation. Over the course of the academic year students have worked closely with Cancer Support Yorkshire, The Samaritans, Bradford Curry Project, The Cellar Project and Bradford Nightstop.
Finals Day saw a culmination of this work in a presentation by each tutor group to a panel of prominent judges from public and private sectors. The quality of presenting and relationships established with the charities was absolutely fantastic. But there could only be one winner… and that was 9MAL who had been working with Bradford Nightstop.
We were delighted to host Cambridge University last Friday (28/02/20) so our students could find out a little bit more about University life. It was another great opportunity to reinforce the aspiration and ambition that runs through everything we do.
Year 11 Mocks started last week and continue until Friday. It is crucial to continue the revision – it is a great opportunity for students to test themselves ahead of the GCSE exam season. Follow up work to this will be crucial in maximising their chances to do great things in the summer. We will have some parents’ evenings and coffee mornings to offer guidance to families so that they can revise with their children.
Finally, it is an absolute privilege to share with you that we have been shortlisted for ‘School of The Year’ in the upcoming Telegraph and Argus Education Awards. Regardless of the outcome on the night, it is huge recognition for everyone who has been involved in the success of the school over the last four years. Ultimately, it is a testament to the young people who come here – past and present. I also hope it is of great excitement to the children joining us in September.
I look forward to seeing you soon.
Happy New Year!
I hope you have had a restful and refreshing holiday season and that those of you celebrating Christmas had an enjoyable time. As a school community we enjoyed tremendous success in 2019 and as we enter 2020 we remain as committed as ever to ensuring that every child has the very best educational experience.
I am delighted to be able to inform you that Ms. Barton joins us as Deputy Headteacher; we are thrilled to have her and look forward to her taking Teaching & Learning to the next stage of its upward trajectory.
Last term ended on a spectacular note; in the last week we had five reward assemblies led by Student Managers in which hundreds of students were recognised for everything from community engagement, excellent Attitude to Learning and improved Reading Ages with a whole raft of rewards – from pin badges to book vouchers. These are really special times and a real privilege to be part of.
On top of the reward assemblies we had Christmas Rock – a fantastic talent show that involved sublime music, drama, comedy and poetry. It takes enormous courage to stand up on the stage to perform and it is a real ‘goose-bump moment’ to see the talent we have. Soloists, choir, samba, piano and poetry recitals as well as lots of laughs. It was fabulous and these students wouldn’t have had the opportunity had it not been organised, created and led by Ms. Dickson, Mrs. Morgan and Mrs. Ragan. Photographs below.
We start the new year in full flow; there are Year 11 examinations this week (10th January) for two subjects OCR Engineering and BTEC Travel & Tourism. We also have an Enterprise examination early next month (3rd February). These are a key component of these courses and count considerably towards final grades.
Finally, we have a parents’ forum meeting arranged on Monday 20th January from 4pm – 5pm. This is an opportunity for families to come in and talk with myself and other senior leaders in school. I hope to see as many of you as possible.
Posted 18th November 2019
Lords, Ladies & Leadership Consultants
As I write this blog on the evening of Sunday 17th November, Mrs. Evans has just emailed to say that our contingent visiting the World War 1 battlefields have arrived in France. We look forward to hearing about their adventures when they return to us on Wednesday.
As a school we are making trips across the English Channel rather frequently at the moment - Ms. Knight, Mrs. Ragan and Mrs. Wilber spent time in Paris at the beginning of the half term break. The students had a life changing experience and the staff spoke about how brilliant the students went about the trip with fantastic attitudes. It is one thing the school providing opportunities; it is another thing when staff spend time preparing and giving up holiday time to make foreign trips happen. It is something I shall never take for granted - and to have 8 students descend on my office first thing on the Monday we got back after half term to tell me about it was wonderful. Furthermore, to see the album that Mrs. Ragan has put together suggests this is a trip that nobody will ever forget. Thank you to Ms. Knight and to everyone who made the trip the success that it was!
In my last blog before half term I wrote about the number of visitors we had coming up. Firstly, we had two Trust Board Members who toured the school talking to students and staff. They were very complementary about the school and thought that the young people they spoke with were fantastic. In a similar vein we had our first visit from our leadership consultant from our involvement with Leading Edge - in short this is a network of the highest performing schools in the country. Alan Yellup OBE loved the school and talked about exemplary young people and expert teaching. He said some great things that help evidence we are on the right track in making this school the truly remarkable place we all want it to be.
We have also had three unbelievable events in school. Ms. Moran organised a fabulous Solutions Not Sides visit whereby young Palestinian and Israeli people came in to present to our Year 10 and 11 students and answer questions. This thought provoking event was special and students asked some remarkably mature questions. Another experience that the young people involved will never forget.
Ms. Alleyne organised an Interfaith Day for Year 9. This included a raft of representatives from different faiths. The students were involved in a series of workshops that included a ‘Question Time’ style panel with questions and answers, presentations on forgiveness, debating and many other things. The feedback Ms Alleyne got from staff, students and visitors was first class. On the same day we welcomed Lord Nazir Ahmed to present our world champions with their certificates for successfully competing in the Genius Cup and Vocab Express. I’ve mentioned before that Mr Hussain coached, guided and provided opportunities for the students to claim two international honours. It was fitting that a distinguished visitor such as Lord Nazir presented the awards. He toured the school and was able to see the interfaith day live in action. He said it was a terrific event and passed on his congratulations to all involved. This coming from a life peer who has spent a lot of his time in the House of Lords establishing interfaith work was high praise indeed.
When you look at the amount of things happening - alongside Year 11 mocks - it really is quite staggering. I have a number of praise meetings with parents lined up for this week for excelling students.
I look forward to seeing you soon and if you would like to see our school - please get in touch.
Celebration to Excitement...
As I write this blog on the last Friday of the first half term of the year, I wonder where the last eight weeks have gone. In the blink of an eye we have had excellent motivational speakers including Kajal Odedra, the Executive Director for Change.Org UK division; launched our Social Action Group along with a tutor group competition for First Give who seek to work with schools to empower young people to become more engaged in community related initiatives.
During the last week of half term we have had celebration assemblies, these have quite frankly been brilliant. The premise is to celebrate the achievements of our young people and there have been lots to celebrate. So many students are getting it right day in day out the competition to win prizes was intense!
Last week our students were crowned World Champions in the Challenge Cup for Vocab Express. Our fantastic Urdu teacher Mr. R. Hussain expertly coached and encouraged our students to a double success. That said, it was the dedication, commitment and desire to succeed by the students themselves to achieve their incredible accolades. To present the awards to the students, Lord Nazir Ahmed, Baron Ahmed has been invited into school. He is a member of the House of Lords and was created a life peer in 1998.
Staying with Modern Foreign Languages our equally fantastic French teacher Ms. Knight has organised the inaugural Beckfoot Upper Heaton French Trip and her Year 10 cohort set off for Paris at 6am this morning. I can’t wait to hear how the trip goes! Thank you to Mrs. Ragan and Mrs. Wilber for supporting with the trip.
We move forward with excitement; the first week back our Year 11 students are undertaking ‘mock preparation week’, this is a week where they will be taught revision techniques. We want our students to be self-managers, so equipping them with subject specific revision tools and ideas will help when students revise for the mocks that they will do later in November, February and the examinations next summer.
Our first week back is a busy one when we welcome Trust Board members for a visit day and our Leading Edge Consultant. Leading Edge is a network for high performing schools that we successfully applied to join following our national award for the progress our students made in the summer examination outcomes of 2018.
Finally, it has been a great privilege to welcome so many families and carers into school. I have shown a number around the building and it is great to hear the positive things they say about our students and staff. I hope to be able to meet more of you in the coming weeks and months.
I hope you enjoy the break!
Posted 24th September 2019
What a first few weeks...
It is a real privilege to introduce myself as the Headteacher of Beckfoot Upper Heaton. I have served the school since it opened in September 2015; first as Assistant Headteacher and most recently Deputy Headteacher. It is an honour now to be in a position to lead this community of incredibly talented students and staff.
We have had an amazing couple of weeks; on our Open Evening for prospective Year 6 parents we had 400 visitors and some very favourable feedback. We are constantly looking to improve and are committed to become a truly remarkable school; if you have not offered any feedback as yet we would love to hear it. The GEO television channel covered the event and their report is on our school Twitter feed and YouTube.
In addition, our staff have organised exciting experiences for our students that include trips to Flamborough Head, Drax Power Station, Madhyamaka Kadampa Meditation Centre and a reward trip to The Light Cinema for students who carried out successful work with SUSOMAD an organisation we partner with on Diversity and Cohesion projects.
We are currently one of four Trust Schools to sign up with the Voice 21 organisation to help develop oracy across our curriculum. This work complements the literacy work that is embedded within our curriculum and is helping to accelerate the progress made by all of our young people. Ms. Alleyne our Teacher of RE has been appointed to lead the work with Voice 21 and I am genuinely excited to see where this takes our school. She will work very closely with Mrs. Morgan our literacy lead and the pair of them hosted an oracy audit with Voice 21 this week.
Finally, I would like to pay tribute to the work of my predecessor Mr. Wade who did some incredible things in his time as Headteacher. He led the school with great aplomb and enabled the students to have ‘open door’ futures due to the success they achieved in their time with us. We wish Mr. Wade all the best as he embarks on his new post as Headteacher of Beckfoot School and look forward to collaborating with him in a different way as the leader of a Trust school. We will now work hard to build upon the journey undertaken to date to ensure that we achieve our unashamed ambition for all of our students.
I look forward to meeting with you soon.