- The story of how a school in a challenged community moved from padded cells to a school of loved individuals.
- Chris tells about how the schools brought the community onside, sharing how the roots of love inspired bringing everyone together.
- Each chapter concludes with a series of 'Parklands Fundamentals', highlighting key steps needed to build such an ethos.
- Beyond Love, the book focuses on Leadership, Learning, Achievement, along with taking care of business - among others all sharing how to develop such a positive community in action.
- This book is perfect for primary (or aspiring) primary headteachers, who want to focus on improving a school especially when based in communities where challenges are a daily part of survival.
When children are at Parklands Primary School in Leeds, it feels like an oasis in the desert. It’s a different world from the Seacroft estate on which it is located. It is full of smiles, full of hugs and full of music.
Parklands is larger than the average primary school, with 55% of its pupils being eligible for support through the pupil premium, which is more than twice the national average. In 2015, 85% were eligible. The proportion of pupils who have special needs and/or disabilities is well above average. Half of all boys in the school are receiving additional support for special educational needs and/or disabilities. The school has a 21-place resource providing help for pupils with severe learning difficulties, whose attainment and progress are included in the overall outcomes for the school. Finally, mobility is above average, with up to a third of pupils joining or leaving the school during Key Stage 1.
If one was trying to prove that there was another way of doing things, there would be easier places to start. But Chris Dyson has never been a fan of the easy path. “When I took over as headteacher there had already been five headteachers in the previous year (myself included). The school was using restraint, isolation booths, a padded cell, heavy sanctions and exclusions in a desperate attempt to wrestle control over behaviour. The community and school were at odds, the curriculum was limited and trust was hard to find. Parklands looked like it would be in a perpetual struggle to raise achievement. The school needed me and, as we will discover, I needed the school.”
The stars aligned when Chris was made headteacher of Parklands, but the dream would take time and hard work to achieve. The remarkable story of the Parklands team is one that must be heard. A team that was lost and then found itself is the beating heart of the story.
Now, in his aptly named new book Parklands: A school built on love, Chris shares the story of how he has steered the school towards the seemingly impossible educational dream of high achievement, personalised support and complete inclusion. He explains how the school setting can be a place where there is love but also hope and relentless ambition for children and reflects on the steps that he and his staff have put in place to make this a reality for Parklands’ pupils.
Chris examines how this culture and climate of love drives behaviour and decision-making throughout the school – and, as a result, how this creates a safe, loving environment in which all of its learners can thrive.
“I will show you how we brought the community onside, why we give children helicopter rides and how music works to drive connection. We will look at building relationships with food, using what you have got to get families what they need and collaborating with businesses to fully resource your school. I will walk you through Christmas at Parklands and show you the remarkable effect of positive competition in driving achievement.”
Chris also provides insights into how the leadership team goes about raising funds for the school, and how they choose to spend it on both curricular and extracurricular projects. And, furthermore, how the school broadens its pupils’ experiences and cultural capital by means of residential trips, in-school productions, and sports and arts provision.
“I hope that you learn something to take into your own setting – that the Parklands experience makes it off the estate and into the national conversation. I hope your school can be a place where there is love but also hope and relentless ambition for our children.”