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Thank you to everyone who attended our cycle track opening event.
16 October 2015 - One of the best things about my job is getting out and about visiting schools.
It always brings to life the impact we have in local education and the difference we make to children, young people and their families – not just a difference in the ‘here and now’ but also many years into the future.
I was lucky enough to get another reminder when I went to Ashbrow School, who invited me along to help the children with their honey harvest. Ashbrow is a primary school in Huddersfield and they make wonderful use of their facilities to ensure the children’s learning is creative, exciting and engaging.
Of course not every school is blessed with lots of space, but Ashbrow really do utilise the outdoor resources available to them. They keep chickens to provide eggs and they grow their own herbs and vegetables, with the produce heading straight into the kitchens to be cooked up for lunch. This, of course, helps the children to appreciate the provenance of food and understand that it doesn’t appear magically in supermarket packaging!
There are lots of schools doing similar great work, which I know is hugely appreciated. There aren’t many, however, who can say their pupils are experts in beekeeping.
As I discovered on my visit, it isn’t unusual for a child at Ashbrow to be nine years old and the holder of a junior beekeeping award. The school has all the protective equipment which allows children to be hands on and, if you’ll forgive the pun, the pupils get a real buzz out of the experience.
How does this contribute to curriculum and wider education? Well, when it came to the honey harvest, pupils were applying literacy and numeracy skills in a way they found more exciting than classroom-based learning. They were weighing combs of honey, dealing with problem solving and being encouraged by staff to use teamwork in everything they did.
As they also sell the honey, including at country shows, pupils gain an understanding of market forces and what it takes to operate a business. This is real learning based on real-life experiences and it will be incredibly useful for those children as they move through our education system and into the adult world.
Everyone’s enthusiasm was highly infectious and I felt privileged to be part of it. Well done to Ashbrow School, to its pupils, staff, governors and parents. But it’s absolutely the case that other schools in Kirklees are doing fantastic work to enhance their pupils’ life chances. I’ll be seeing more of them in the coming weeks - these visits are a true source of pride and inspiration.
Many of you will have heard about a piece of work which has seen a few local schools trial new approaches and ideas around developing schools as community hubs. These pilot schemes are helping us understand how schools can move even closer to the heart of their communities and become leaders, deliverers and commissioners of local services.
One such school is High Bank Junior, Infant and Nursery, in Liversedge, and we’ve been working with the school, the children’s centre, playgroup and community centre to help them make the best use of their resources. This has led them to rethink their assets, including staff, and meet the needs of the local community even more effectively.
Community hubs aren’t about buildings or structures, they are about reconfiguring services to achieve the maximum outcomes for local people. Myself and Adrian Lythgo (chief executive) were pleased to visit Windy Bank and see, first hand, some excellent examples of collaboration and partnership working.
I’ll go into more detail about community hubs in my next blog. They are closely linked to the council’s work around early intervention and prevention and, we believe, they are an excellent model for futures ways of operating.
We entered the Yorkshire honey show on 18th October in Harrogate - we came 2nd in the Photograph Category.
Is your child in Early Years eligible for Early Years Pupil Premium funding?
Click here to read our letter to parents - please ask the office for more information and a form to fill in if your child is eligible.
Ashbrow School recently discovered it owns a piece of land on the north side of the school grounds (uphill from the KS2/ Juniors building).
The site is over 2.5 acres and is mainly overgrown land, much of it on steep banking, with lots of mature and young trees. We have formed a group to turn this land into something special for our children, families and community.
Visit our new Growing Ashbrow Project page!
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During the October half term, some of our Year 6 pupils took part in a cooking school in Halifax where they learned lots of new cooking skills. Who knows, maybe we have a budding Jamie Oliver in Year 6....they all certainly did the school proud!
Children in years 5 and 6 attended a Remembrance service at Greenhead Park. We made our own wreath to show respect to those who have fallen and laid it at the cenotaph. We met veterans, serving officers, emergency services, Councillors and members of our community on our visit. The image below shows Ashbrow pupils with the Mayor of Kirklees, Councillor Ken Smith, and the Mayoress, Councillor Christine Smith.
The children of Ashbrow wanted to share how important the school breakfast club is to them. Four children became film makers and created a short video to share with you. The children spent time deciding who to interview, the questions they would like to ask, shooting short videos, taking photographs and then using the app iMovie to put it all together. The children then checked and edited the film and below is their final piece.
We hope you enjoy the film!
Click the link here to find out what has been happening!