The speed with which our new school building is being constructed is truly inspiring and gives me cause to reflect on my own journey in South Leeds.
I was born and grew up in Hunslet, just down the road from where the new Elements is being built.
I stayed at school for an extra year to retake O Level subjects and left school aged 17. I later returned to my old Primary School as a teaching assistant and then studied hard to become a teacher. I taught at St Mary’s in Hunslet, South Leeds, for 4 years, furthered my career in other parts of Leeds and then returned as a senior teacher to the school I’d attended as a child.
Having lived and worked in South Leeds most of my life, it saddens me when I hear young people show little regard for where they live. Regardless of location, there appears a disconnect between many young people and where they live. South Leeds is bursting with energy, life, development, opportunities and potential. I feel privileged to be the founding Principal of a brand new school in the area that has the future at the core of its mission and message.
Whilst working as an Executive Headteacher in Bradford, I developed a learning project called “Proud to be from Bradford” which now forms part of the curriculum in both schools and which neighbouring schools have also adopted. The aim of the project is to help children discover the most interesting and important aspects of the place in which they live. I wanted them to be able to stand tall when asked where they were from and also to share their pride in their home and heritage.
I was drawn to Wellspring Academy Trust, sponsor of Elements and partner with Leeds City Council, because of its outstanding record of inclusion. I am passionate about all children having equal opportunities… ensuring that they have the very best of access, provision and resources from the outset of their school life.
The pupils at Elements School will be reminded throughout their time with us that we have high expectations of them and will learn to have high expectations of themselves. We want our children to feel pride in each other, pride in their work, pride in their school and pride in themselves.
It takes a community to educate a child and we will encourage parents to be ever present in the learning process with our children at Elements. We aim to heighten ambition for what is possible for everyone and to galvanise our school community with this message. Elements will be a key element in the building, development and future prospects of a vibrant and ambitious South Leeds.
My overriding goal is to create a step change in outcomes for children in the area… in a brand new, future-facing school that communicates a message of energy, optimism and confidence. I believe that a school environment is key to enabling an ethos of excellence and respect for all. What a brilliant opportunity we have to create a school environment fit for the twenty first century in our new school.
The building of the new school is the next chapter in a truly exciting and extraordinary journey.