What Visitors Say About Our Brilliant School
“Impossible is nothing”
On Thursday I was lucky to be invited to have a nosey around Parklands Primary School in Leeds. I was well prepared for what I was going to see, having already watched video clips of the kids doing times tables stupidly quickly. I also had previously met the main man: Chris Dyson, at primary rocks and I was intrigued as to what sort of school he had created. When we arrived BBC breakfast were busy filming in the hall (around 60 kids and loads of the staff had slept at school the night before) you can find the video here: TT Rock Stars
Parklands is full of love. It’s a warm welcoming place. The kids are great – they may look a bit rough around the edges, but you cannot fail to be impressed by their behaviour around school and their politeness towards everyone. It’s a hugging school. The love the kids have for that place, their teachers and Chris, is immense. It shows – every child wanted to talk to Chris and he bothered to stop and listen to them, he values them and they value him. And understandably so, Chris explained the situation when he took over: police in every day, kids climbing on the roof, colouring all afternoon because the kids couldn’t manage anything else without wanting to kill each other, numerous exclusions, staff restraining children daily, all kind of stuff. Now three years down the line: no exclusions, no shouting, great behaviour, awesome.
I mentioned I was prepared to see the kids doing crazily fast calculations, but actually witnessing it was something else. I assumed Chris always wheeled out the top dogs for the cameras and was certain it wouldn’t be everyone. But it was. Year 3. Insanely good. Then Chris says: “come and see my year 4’s, they are the stars.” It was totally overwhelming. Decimal times tables, done instantaneously. When the question was 12 x 0.12 and there was a disagreement over the answer (some said 14.4 others 1.44) the kids sorted it out, had a discussion and agreed on the correct answer. It went on, decimal times tables with number bonds to 10. 6 x 0.6 = 6.4, done in seconds. My colleague said to be walking out of year 4 – “if they can do that, what can the year 6’s do?” I tried to compete: I failed. In every classroom I looked around to try to find the person who wasn’t doing it – there weren’t any. Year ones working out the 12 times table (correctly). Endless. I was literally gobsmacked. I honestly felt like bursting into tears because I couldn’t believe what I was watching. Walking through KS2 was possibly the most incredible experience I have had in a school ever. And I’m not a person easily impressed. I hate TED talks and Ken Robinson books and ‘inspirational’ quotes and teacher facebook posts about ‘teaching being a vocation’ blah blah blah.
Parklands has 72% pupil premium children. In schools with this close to 40% you feel achievement is impossible, so 72% is mind-blowing. It makes the job that is being done even more incredible. The 63% who passed maths at greater depth: a leafy school in grammar-school authorities where the parents teach the kids, would struggle to get even half of that %. But listening to Chris is isn’t rocket science. Ultimately it comes down to three things: 1. high expectations 2. amazing staff and 3. kids who want to be there. If you have high enough expectations of the children, they can reach them. The message I gleaned for my practice was to forget about children being behind, expect them to do better. Set targets. Reach them. Set more. Reach them. It’s not difficult to do, its hard work, but we all work hard anyway. It’s about knowing where to set the ceiling for achievement.
Can I finish by saying thanks to Chris and all at Parklands for having us.
When a small primary school is able to rally the support of over 1,000 volunteers from their local community to support children’s learning, it is surely a sign that there is something special going on.
Parklands Primary School is based in an area of Leeds where 84 per cent of pupils receive free school meals. Yet despite the deprivation that the school faces, staff have worked tirelessly to secure many successful partnerships, including reading volunteers for the most vulnerable, solicitors offering weekly maths support, and the local bank supporting the teaching of mental arithmetic.
Many pupils come from workless households and have benefitted greatly from this exposure to the world of industry. Mentors work with pupils on enterprise and the fundamentals of business and children are regularly taken off site to work in companies in order to raise aspirations.
The collaborative spirit of staff never rests. When they learnt that just six families out of 304 students had ever visited a Christmas grotto, the staff pooled their resources to open the school on Christmas Eve, bringing together several hundred families within the community. A total of 796 presents and Christmas lunches were given; one company even donated a team of real reindeers to welcome the children.
The judges said: “Collaboration is in the DNA of Parklands Primary School. Their innovative partnership stems from resourceful leaders working collaboratively for the benefit of the school and the local community. So much of what this outstanding school does will endure for years to come.”TES National Awards
I am writing to congratulate Parklands Primary School on your outstanding success at the Tes Schools Awards and the award of Collaboration.
We know that schools are known for their inclusive, family-like environments and their place at the heart of the communities they serve. Therefore this award is indeed a happy and proud moment for the whole school and the community it serves. The hard work of you and your staff has certainly prevailed and I hope you continue.
Vicky Beer CBE
Thank you so so much for the lovely feedback Chris. I have passed on to Adam and Beth. Once again a pleasure and the best school I have ever been to without doubt. The kids and staff were a joy to perform to. When teachers are enjoying themselves that impacts on the kids and that was evident. Congrats on all your hard work.Gavin
My name is Natasha and I am currently a first year student studying at the University of Leeds. I also happen to be a member of Leeds Student Television (LSTV), which is a television station that was created and is run by students of the university. I recently came across the incredible story of your Headteacher, Mr Chris Dyson. All I can say is that I was really inspired and would like to produce a short television feature/documentary on his life and impact on Parklands Primary.
Just to let you know a bit more about LSTV, we are a student-run television station that currently create live shows and variety content that air on Made In Leeds. with around 50,000 viewers on a weekly basis. All of our content is made in and around Leeds, and as a station we’ve won multiple student television awards.
Thank you so much for your time and I look forward to hearing from you soon.Natasha
I really hope you and the team are recognised by Ofsted and the authority for the amazing work you are doing.
Please pass on my thanks to the whole team and I look forward to visiting again sometime in the future.
I just wanted to say how ‘blown away’ I was with Parklands School – it is very rare I am speechless but just didn’t know what to say to you after the assembly.
I have worked and visited a great number of schools and never seen or felt the buzz of positivity, happiness, support and fun exuded by the staff, students and parents at Parklands.
I really look forward to working with the School in a creative and meaningful way and will arrange to visit again with some more solid ideas, plans and timescales before Christmas with Jo Buck if that is Ok with you?
Again many thanks for my visit – I left your school, not with that Friday feeling, but energised by the Parklands induced ‘high’!Sarah Hopkinson
I am genuinely delighted that we are able to help make a difference to some of the more deprived children in the area. I know that all of the guys who support Parklands, either through the reading project, activities on-site or simply through donations of some kind get a huge amount out of being able to help in some way and I am very grateful to you for acknowledging this. As you rightly say, we have a wonderful partnership and I am sure it will continue long into the future.
Carole and Sarah
Well done to you and everyone who has been involved here – it is great to see the difference we can make in our local communities; keep it up. Perhaps when I am next in Leeds (after the school holidays I guess), I could visit the school on one of our activity days? It would be great to see how we support…I will even brush up on my reading skills – just in case!Jamie Long
We had a lovely day at Parklands and were made to feel very welcome.
Please can you pass on our thanks to all the pupils who took part in the workshops – they were so well behaved and polite throughout the sessions. They all worked really hard and worked well together, coming up with some great creative ideas.
All of the pupils that we met during the course of the day were polite and helpful, and we loved having lunch with some of them and getting to know more about your wonderful school.
We have appointed our former Apprentice, Keisha, into the role of Dance Education Officer (she delivered the first workshop) which is great for the team and so you may well see her again for the START workshops in the autumn!
Thanks again for making us so welcome, we hope that you all have a wonderful summer and we look forward to working with you again in September.
Jo, Leanne and Sophie
It’s really important that young people develop their strength to lead active and enjoyable lives. I was delighted that Parklands Primary School has embraced that approach and sees being strong so important in everyone’s lives. At British Weight Lifting, we were delighted to share Rebekah’s experience with the pupils and encourage them into sport in general.Ashley Metcalfe
“Where do I start? The atmosphere in school was unbelievable, I honestly thought there was a dance class on when I first arrived but no the music being played was just a tool to create a happy peaceful atmosphere which encourages children and staff to shine. I didn’t see anyone in 4 hours at the ‘Fun Palace’ who didn’t have the biggest smile on their faces… staff and children. The welcome I had was inspiring, I was touched by the DVD and the ‘Wall of Fame’ that the children had done for me. I have worked with both Ronaldo’s, Wayne Rooney, Ronaldinho, Zinidine Zidane but none of them have left an impact on me like the children at Parklands. The workshop saw real potential and the way the 400 children responded to my skill show was humbling. I will ensure that when I return I will bring my brother in law Mo Farah to see what you can achieve when you believe in children. Enjoy my new Aldi advert (I am the grandma). Check all the action @colinnell and @parklandsleeds twitter accounts. Keep believing and keep making a difference.”Colin Nell
What an outstanding days learning we had at Parklands today working with the brilliant Y5 children. Seriously we didn’t want to leave. You have such polite, intelligent, brilliant children who excel with their ideas. They speak so confidently and will make a real difference to any work place in later years. We can’t speak highly enough of this wonderful school. The music played puts smiles on faces, the atmosphere is sensational, the assembly was an added bonus as too the delicious lunch. We can’t wait to return.
The Ahead Partnership and Calbee UK
Can you please pass on our thanks to Mr Dyson and all of the children at Parklands Primary School for a wonderful day at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, we had a fantastic time, you were the best company and given us some special memories, everyone was a credit to their families/school and Theatre Company.
We were particularly impressed by the Seniors who displayed a tremendous level of maturity
Thank you, we hope we were of some use, would love to be invited again
John and Ann Hughes
You would be so proud (again) of the Parklands children. They have been a delight to have in work today. I am sure that you will hear all about their time in the office when they arrive back. Looking forward to seeing the next group. Keep up the great work!!
Well what can I say – what a fantastic few hours we got to spend at Parklands today. The reception and welcome you put on for me (Louis Smith) was amazing, a real credit to the amazing kids you have at the school! The hard work they put into the questions, Wall of Fame and routine was second to none and felt by the whole team. We event got a proper school lunch (which I must add was delicious) and enjoyed greatly by everyone!
You are doing fantastic work at the school and we are so happy we were able to contribute to inspiring the children and raising their aspirations. Your passion and dedication to the kids in the school can be seen throughout and long may it last.
Louis Smith MBE
Sarah Neild and I spent two remarkable days at Parklands school in Leeds and found both the staff and children up for all the challenges offered to them. The staff were open and perceptive. They shared and discussed with the learning of the children always at the heart of what they developed and took on. Extending the remarkable things they already do for their charges.
The children were a really special bunch. Up for challenges and open to ideas with alacrity and style. They showed themselves to have humour (but kept well in check where needed) They were remarkably polite and helpful, naturally and readily, making both of us instantly comfortable and were open for new challenges. Their ideas were remarkable, their confidence and love for writing shone.
Our time at Parklands was unique and truly special. Thank you to Chris, his staff and children and well done all.Tim Rylands
This was the best grilling I have ever experienced. Wow the school council at Parklands put me under pressure wanting answers on topics such as Syria and Trident ….. you should all feel really proud of East Leeds, people try to put us down, but today you spoke as professionals. It makes me proud, you proud, your parents proud, your community proud. Brilliant. You have an outstanding caring staff team that develops you each and everyday. I would like to take this opportunity to invite the whole school council down to London to visit the Houses of Parliament…. I can’t wait to return to this place.Richard Burgon
It is a fact that it is your school which is the inspiration. I have never left a school,with such a buzz and sense of real,achievement. Every member of staff, every child lifted me and I am sure the the other judges felt similarly proud to have been part of it..
Well done to all.
Harry Gration said live on Look North 20.11.15 @ 6.52pm
” I have had a great day, I have been at Parklands Primary School in Leeds and have been inspired by a wonderful staff and incredible children today, I have to say that it is a credit to the City of Leeds, they are a wonderful school and made me feel so welcome as well……”
Harry Grations twitter account said…..
I have just visited a remarkable school.Parkland Primary school in Seacroft Leeds..Inspirational staff and wonderful children.MarvellousHarry Gration
What a fantastic school you have created Chris. You are truly inspiring, as are the children and your staff, you can feel your enthusiasm and passion really has rubbed off and totally changed the ethos and atmosphere of the school. I have had such an inspiring morning, and working with people like you really makes me realise what an amazing job I have and why we do this – so thank you!Chelsie
Thank you for submitting your EYFS Profile data. Early Year’s practitioners should be warmly congratulated for all their hard work.
The data for Parklands shows a significant rise in the GLD this year; this is an immense achievement for your EY team given the children’s low starting points. We know how hard everyone must have worked to achieve this outcome and a big well done to all.Sarah Coltman
Thank you so much for your wonderful hospitality during my visit to your lovely school yesterday (1st October). It was a real privilege to meet so many fantastic children and staff. I was enormously lifted by my visit because of the tremendous culture that has been created. High support and high challenge…… There is clear evidence of a rich broad and balanced curriculum, a powerful drive to raise standards and a determination to improve the quality of Teaching and Learning. The standards achieved this year along with the dramatic improved behaviour are tribute to these changes and improvements…… In addition you are developing a truly inclusive learning community that values all members equally as individuals.
Parklands Primary school is a special learning place and I will be recommending other schools to visit. Please pass on my special thanks to the School Council for their time and providing such erudite insight into the school…. a special thanks to Owen in Y2 for the owl that he made and gave to me. I will keep it in my office to remind me of the wonderful children of Parklands.
The children were incredibly smart, polite, friendly and clearly hard working and talented.Paul Brennan
Dear Chris and all at Parklands
Many thanks for allowing me to visit your fantastic school. It was great to see what you give to your children and your community.
Everyone in education knows how hard it is to get to outstanding, particularly when you are in an area where many families struggle financially. The thing that struck me most as soon as I arrived is that you are not your typical outstanding school- you don’t have a new fancy building and you do it your way!! You have achieved so much but completely prioritised the children’s needs and not just learning needs. You take care of their emotional needs and you nurture them, ensuring all are well fed, well clothed and ensuring all children access all aspects of life- enriching through fantastic opportunities outside the curriculum, whether that is visiting a grotto, taking part in competitions, meeting famous people or going to the sea side. All of these things clearly make the children feel very special and valued.
The learning for children is obviously very engaging alongside the highest expectations and a can do attitude. There is obviously a total belief that ALL children CAN and WILL be successful.
The children showing us around were a delight (I was honoured to have Jessica and Alex as guides. The classrooms were calm, purposeful and filled with learning. Children were keen to explain the learning they were doing and why they love Parklands. Every single person I met seemed to have Parklands at their heart.
The teachers and leaders are clearly driven and share the load in striving for excellence. The children’s books, your improvement plans etc all showed me that.
The children were a pleasure to be around and are an absolute credit to you all and the hard work you do. A real team effort.
And then there is you Chris- Parklands are very lucky to have you- not least because of the additional funding you bring in but because of your obvious commitment to the families and the positivity and creativity you bring to the role. You are a big figure in the life of the school but it is completely obvious that you use your big personality not to benefit you but to benefit the school.
So thanks again- I have taken much away with me to help me within my own school and already my children and staff are now listening to some great music in our corridors with a new sound system.
Keep on being brilliant and keep on having fun doing it
Just to thank you ALL for what has been a truly OUTSTANDING
Parkland is a real example to the city & nationwide,a real success story
for the area, but more so for our Pupils Parents and wider community.
YOU the Head ,SLT, and Staff together have achieved what was considered
unachievable by some, YOU have changed the game plan! More importantly
your outstanding work has changed the life choices for our Pupils, YOU have
effected that change in mindset for Pupils,Families,Community! its all Positive!
WE can now see that hard work pays off! PARKLANDS is the proof!!!!!!
Many thanks to the Whole TEAM! PUPILS! & PARENTS.
May I take this opportunity to wish you and your families a Merry Christmas
and a Great new year!
I am writing to thank you for your input at the ‘Diminishing Differences’ training on Thursday 16th November 2017. Your contribution to the morning was extremely well received and generated great interest amongst the group. Your passion and dedication to your pupils and staff shone through and what you delivered was perfect for the occasion.
Some feedback comments from the delegates included:
“Speaker from Parklands was inspirational.”
“Very inspired by what they are doing at Parklands.”
“Inspirational real life issues dealt with by Chris”
“Chris Dyson was excellent”
Once again, thank you very much for your support.
Hi Chris – thank you for today. Battling man flu and hosting our visit was a mean feat. We’ve come away with so many ideas we want to steal. The school, the children and the staff were inspirational – and a great credit to your leadership. Thank you again – we are indebted to you for your generosity.Ruth Robinson
Mathematical fluency, a school filled with love, and an enormous radish
Twitter is a fantastic place. In March 2016 my university housemate and friend @ChrisDyson got in touch after he read a tweet that @PieCorbett had tagged me into. Over the last 18 months, we have rekindled our friendship and met up at the excellent #ReadingRocks and #PrimaryRocks.
Since I got back in touch with Chris, the Twittersphere has been full of testimonials about the quality of mathematical learning and teaching at Parklands Leeds. Today, Chris invited three colleagues and me for a road trip up north.
Chris’s open invitations to the UK’s best educators is an opportunity for him to showcase the work he does with the young people and families at Parklands. In many schools inviting a conveyer belt of teachers into school each week would fill staff with fear and apprehension, but this is no vanity project, and in my view, the open door policy fulfills two purposes:
• it makes the children and staff at Parklands feel immensely proud of their school
• Chris and his team get the opportunity to learn from others.
Our day started at 10:30 am with Chris sharing his leadership journey. Here he generously credited support from colleague Headteachers, a supportive LA and an HMI Maths inspector who invested a large amount of time post inspection to shape an improvement plan with the aim of making the teaching of mathematics outstanding.
Chris then took us on a tour of all the classrooms. Our pre-visit brief was to see high-quality mathematics learning and the school generously flipped their morning timetable to facilitate this.
As a long-serving school improvement advisor and serving Headteacher, I have been privileged to see some brilliant teachers, inspiring classroom environments, and many wonderful motivated children. However, the level of mathematical engagement and understanding I observed this morning took my breath away. The numerical fluency at Parklands was simply the best I have ever seen. Young children fired back number bonds, a KS1 child, with complex needs, knew all their tables and children in KS2 could recite multiplication facts and calculate the number bond to 100 quicker than my University educated maths brain could compute. This was not just an example of children robotically regurgitating multiplication facts; there was clear evidence that the children’s secure knowledge of multiplication facts and number bonds were applied to real-life problem solving and mastery mathematics.
In addition to the outstanding mathematicians, we observed the highest standards behaviour and kindness. Three children were chosen to eat lunch with us; they helped us navigate the routines of an unfamiliar dinner hall, and demonstrated wonderful manners and conversational skills over our meal.
Walking through the lunchtime corridors, the children smiled and politely waved to us as we toured their school. I observed a year two child patiently teaching one of their peers how to tie a shoelace.
In summary, the standards of arithmetic at Parklands Leeds are the highest I have seen in any Primary School and I do not doubt that the determined team at Parklands will reach the same standards in reading and writing.
Parklands serve a community with the highest rates of deprivation in Leeds. Chris, and his team is proving that if you have a relentless focus on what children can do and build on these achievements you can build a magical palace of learning.Simon Kidwell
I hope you are well, I have been meaning to call or pop in but time has flown. The seaside pictures were amazing and I loved looking through them and seeing the smiles on the children’s faces. What a wonderful school, filled with amazing staff and leadership!!
I wanted to let you know that I am moving on to pastures new. I leave the business next Friday after 18 happy years but feel it’s a good time to move on and try something new. It’s been an absolute pleasure and delight working with you and the children and I look forward to hearing more about your successes. I don’t think that the company are replacing my role so I don’t have a new contact name for you. If I hear different, I will be in touch with the details.
Thanks for being so easy to work with and for all the laughs along the wayAlison Ritchie
I am the Head of School at Thackley Primary School in Idle, Bradford. I have been following you on twitter for some time and am constantly amazed and inspired by the exciting things you get up to to make your school a brilliant place to be.
I imagine you get many requests like this, especially since you won your TES award, but I was wondering if there was any chance I could come and visit and see your school in ‘real life’?
I know you are all in Bridlington for the day tomorrow and that there is not much of the term left so would be happy to arrange a visit in September if that is more suitable for you?
Hope to hear from you soon
Fingers crossed for sunshine in Bridlington!
I am emailing, really to make contact and say hello after your appearance on BBC breakfast! I’m sure you probably don’t remember me, after having taught so many pupils, but I was one of group that took extra maths classes with you at Ravensmead primary school in Audley.
I just wanted to say how great it is to see that the kids are loving their timetables (although I bet they don’t get to listen to oasis and blur whilst doing them), and that you are still inspiring young people to enjoy maths. I’m currently a lecturer at the University of Exeter, one of the modules I teach is statistics, and find it extremely difficult to encourage the student to embrace the topic. Anyway, mainly I wanted to say thank you, it was great to have such an inspiring and patient teacher, and I hope the children at your current school continue to enjoy and benefit from your unique teaching style.Lisa Price, PhD, FHEA
Rock on Chris.
Lovely piece on BBC News today! Those children are amazing!!! And I should know!
Tell them I said so.
But you won’t get me challenging them! It was tough enough at Poppy Road!
I’ll try and get my daughter to make contact with you. At age twenty six and with a first class maths degree and MA under her belt she is already 2nd in the maths department in a secondary school near Nottingham. I don’t think though that many are onto her wave length of singing maths rhymes to her GCSE students. But you’d get it straight away!
And, of course, all requests for support and now coming your way!!
Keep waving the flag!John
We’ve had this passed to our team in recognition of the award which the school has been given, and just wanted to say it brought a tear to my eye! What a lovely lovely thing to do at Christmas. I won’t go on, but wanted to say you must be so proud.
Thanks for sharing. Very emotional. Congratulations to you and all the team for their hard work. Well deserved. School of the Year next year! Well done also on your SATs success. It continues to be a great good news story nd is great testimony to your leadership.
Good luck to you and the team in today’s rock wrangle. Don’t let me down!
Finally Pearson Education are going to send you a present. Myself and some of the team have been working on some materials to go alongside the scheme. I was asked who I wanted to receive a copy and I wanted you to get one as a reward to all the brilliant work your children do.
Well done and good luck.Tony S
Dear Children of Parklands Primary School,
I am the head teacher of a one form entry primary school in Sunderland. At this point I have to add that I actually live in Newcastle and do not support Sunderland! As a young girl I use to passionately follow Leeds United, I lived in Hull and for many years Leeds was THE team to support. With my dad, I travelled through to Elland Road for as many home matches as we could fit in. I actually had the privilege of meeting Don Revie, Billy Bremner and the rest of the first team way back in the 1970s. Ask your grandparents about Don Revie and his team! Yes I’m that old.
I am writing to you to say how amazing you all are. I watched the clip from Look North and saw how hard you have worked to learn your times tables. During a staff meeting I showed my teachers the video clip too. Their jaws practically dropped to their knees when they saw how fast you could recall number / multiplication facts. The speed of your recall is fantastic. Your parents and teachers must be so proud of you.
I spoke to Mr Dyson on the phone last week. I asked him how the times table work started. Mr Dyson was really helpful and told me how you do things in Parklands. His voice was full of pride, delight and enthusiasm as he described your assemblies and the fun you have learning your tables. I have been inspired to introduce something similar in my school. The staff are busy working on our times table strategy as I write.
Thank you for being inspirational.Bernie Doherty
I am a former pupil from Poppleton Road, York (Year 6 in 2000). I keep seeing you pop-up on various TV clips with pupils and awards. I just wanted to send you a message of thanks and good luck with everything which you are doing. You always showed a great deal of care and respect to all pupils regardless of ability and inspired myself to work hard and get better grades. Other teachers were not as easy to relate to. Seeing the enthusiasm which you had for hard work and sports with 8am Cricket matches in the playground meant a lot to all those involved. Even hearing about the trip you had for the 2002 World Cup via Singapore while you were teaching my brother is still remembered. I ended up with a degree and a Regional Director position for a football coaching company in America for 6 years so it must have had some influence.
I am very pleased to see that you are having continued success and inspiring pupils like myself to achieve great things as well as self-belief. Though the suit has replaced the Le Coq Sportif polo and the baggy tracksuit bottoms I am sure that all the pupils still hold you in the same regard. Remind them about our time on Look North in 1999 and the Strategy song. Currently I am working in smoking cessation in York and North Yorkshire and have taught PE as PPA cover in York primary schools. I hope that one day our paths shall cross again.Christopher Pratt
What can I say, thank you so so much for all of your kind words, praise and support last night. Many of the businesses there said it was the greatest speech they had ever heard. Your enthusiasm and passion was infectious, without Head Teachers such as yourself we couldn’t continue to engage and re-engage all of our business partners. Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to come and speak on our behalf last night – you lit up the room with your stories! You are the most inspirational person I and the team have ever met. Everyone wants to be in your wonderful school, you bring tears to peoples eyes with your love.
I think Georgie might have mentioned this already but I’m keen to pop across in the New Year to get a bit of advice from you on how to ensure all of our primary partnerships are as successful as yours. We work with lots of primaries on different levels and I’d like to pick your brains on how to get the most out of our work. Could we schedule a catch up in the New Year?
It was lovely to meet you this morning- i’d heard so much about you and your school from Gerry.
I was inspired by your presentation on improving maths attainment and it sounds like it is just what we need this year! I would love to get in at the front of the queue and come and see you as soon as possible!Kate McNulty
Thankyou for your hospitality yesterday, and your kind words about our team and their support work in Parklands, which I will of course feed back.
As a visitor, the standout things for me were the energy and vitality in the school and the sense of everyone being an individual. The staff team all looked happy and engaged, and the children were unfailingly polite, motivated and confident- it was lovely to see. As for the mental maths- brilliant- and so much additional evidence of making a difference to these children’s lives and aspirations.
We’re looking forward to continuing to work with you. Have a great summer.Peter Thurlow
WOW WOW WOW!!!!!! What a morning! Can’t thank you enough for the efforts you went to and for sending me to such an inspiring school Parklands Primary School – Seacroft!!. I think Caroline felt the same way. I’ve never seen a school so passionate and determined to support and improve the lives of everyone in a community. Completely bowled me over.
It was amazing to see maths in action using your Long Term plan. The ‘conceptual, pictorial, abstract’ process was clearly evident across the school and the children absolutely loved maths. The teaching was also incredible – my ears are still echoing with, “Why / Show me how / Explain how you know that / Prove it.”
I’m now going to go back to school and revisit the White Rose resources again. I’m now convinced it’s the right way forward to try and teach in this way.
Please pass on a massive thank you to your transformative team and for being so open and willing to share everything you’re doing. I hope other areas of education take a leaf out of your hub’s book.
Thank you so much for inviting me to come into school this afternoon and see the celebration assembly for myself. It was so wonderful to see how excited the children were about all the awards, how involved they were in every part of the assembly and just how many different ways you have of celebrating their achievements! It was great to see so much parental support too. Sitting amongst them at the back of the room, it was clear that they were all loving it as much as the children and they clearly hold you in very high regard.
I do hope to be back at Parklands soon – I need to see the singing in action and must see the completed gate once it is fully painted!Emily Shaw
I want to say a HUGE thank you to you and everyone at Parklands Primary school for being so welcoming to the business volunteers and for helping to make Give & Gain Day 2016 so successful. The staff and children where incredible and particular thanks to Anthony for helping organise everyone. People left the premises on Friday enriched, the volunteers were amazed with the children and their friendliness and their drive and enthusiasm. 140 volunteers know what a special place Parklands is.
What a day!!!Michael Harvey
Thanks again to you and TJ for being willing to be guests with Georgey on BBC Radio York this morning. Georgey loved chatting to you both.
I also wanted to let you know that we had a couple of phone calls after you were on from listeners saying how much they had enjoyed hearing TJ tell his joke.
These include a message from a lady called Jean who said this:
“TJ’s joke made her morning! She also remembers Mr Dyson teaching her grandchildren at Poppleton Road Primary and says he was a great teacher too.
Gold stars all round – says Jean.”Adam
A massive thank you for all of the support in today’s visit. Both Calbee and Louis were absolutely thrilled at the engagement and attitudes of your students. You should be so so proud of all of your students and staff.
Thank you for organising lunch and for your patience around the press and pr. We’ll let you know where we get to with news stories and the video with your students. Keep an eye out on Made in Leeds tonight for your students!
Thanks once again for inviting us into your amazing school to speak to your fabulous children!
The children were an absolute delight and a real credit to the school. It’s very clear that it’s a happy, lovely environment for the kids to grow in, and I think the volunteers were extremely impressed with their behaviour and intelligence. I was taken aback at the end of the day by their posters, the pupils are so creative and talented.Sami
I don’t remember ever having such a knowledgeable group of children to visit our centre. They knew a lot and they were willing and enthusiastic to learn more. I look forward to hosting more pupils from Parklands Primary School in the future.Ruth Bell
I just wanted to say a massive thank you for looking after us so well yesterday and making us feel like very special guests. All of the staff and pupils were incredibly friendly and helpful and the day couldn’t have run more smoothly. Please could you pass on our thanks to the classes who took part in the workshops. All of the pupils were polite and impeccably behaved, listening well to instructions and working together really well. Everyone got involved in the activities and were enthusiastic, creative and a credit to the school.Jo Dean
Great day at Parklands on Monday. An enthusiastic bunch, some really determined riding and lots of smiles! The children showed great potential, listening carefully and demonstrating lots of new skills. Despite fierce competition, especially in the sprints, the children were very supportive of one another, always polite and keen to cheer each other on all the way to the finish. Look out Sir Bradley, Parkland’s on your heals!Phil Bateman
It was a real pleasure for Hannah and I to visit Parklands Primary School to do an assembly. What amazing children! They sang beautifully, listened really well and I hope they had as much fun as we did. We’d love to come again!James Barnett
Thank you for asking me to attend your Friday assembly on 5 January. I really enjoyed seeing the school and meeting the young people and your fantastic staff.
The achievements of the children are clear to see – they are confident, talented individuals and it was my pleasure to meet them.
Please do pass on my thanks to all of the staff and children for making my visit such a pleasure.
Councillor Jane Dowson
Parklands is a school with quite a high twitter profile, due largely to the extremely large as life head and recent outstanding ofsted. The opportunity to visit schools as part of CPD came along in my own school so this was were I went.
I have come to think of the advice Alix Ferguson gives to young managers is very apt for teacher. Choose the right chairman is basically choose the right Headteacher. As a teacher you manage a squad (read class) and the results reflect your performance. Realism and support are what teachers need as do football managers. So is Chris Dyson a Simon Jordan (perma-tanned regular on Sky Sports) or Elton John (well… You know Elton John) of chairmen?
First thing that hit me wasn’t the Bear-like hug welcome or the blaring music in the hall that plays all day, it was the ‘fridge’. Most heads offices look the same and can be picked up and placed in most other work places. Not this one, covered with work, letter and pictures that the children have brought in. Imagine the fridge of a nursery child which is covered with paintings multiplied by 1000. That’s the office the head ‘works’ in.
The tour begins and it is basically lots of smiles, praise and of course times table questions. Each class we walk in Mr Dyson throws out a question that children must multiply then subtract from 100. In. An. Instant. This passion for maths bleeds through the day with a great example being later a Y2 busting to share his 4 x’s knowledge with me. This isn’t for show, this is a key part of Parklands. Practice for a purpose. Each coach (read teacher) knows the goal of their team: become times tables masters.
Then the first BIG event of the day, Funday Friday assembly number 1. Wow. In an age were heads can tend to delegate assembly duties to staff, Chris Dyson leads it with input of the kids. Not just any assembly, but a pure and utter celebration of joy. Prizes for great attendance in the form of dodgeball, cakes and lessons with the Head! Handshakes replaced by double hi-5s and hugs, awkward walks to the front with celebrations with the crowd, movement and music – all these aspects are part of what is basically a kids game show in a school hall. No wonder the kids buzz and love school. There is even a catch-phrase like a chant at a football match.
Time in a class was spent watching a rising star in Miss Nolan teach maths. The way AFL is applied in a same day intervention, in fact about 20 mins later due to the use of an assembly or PHSCE oral lesson led by a TA, means that reteaching can occur and improve learning. This same day intervention, burning passion for instant tables recall from the head and the use of TTrockstars means that the children make fabulous progress.
There are no high-stakes tests at Parklands, instead the system of assessment means that teacher collect data based on the learning they see and a team of leaders select a sample of children to assess. Again, the chairman placing trust in the coaches to know what their team can do and what they need to work on to improve.
This picture may appear in every office up and down the country. At some point in the hyper-active day I had to ask Chris if he found time to actually do his job, you know the boring stuff. Turns out he does. In his own words the kids graft Monday to Thursday, making it easy for him to crack on. When Funday Friday comes, well it is non-stop.
- Assembly with array of awards which impact on attendance and behaviour
- Breakfast with the head – sausage butties
- Assembly number 2 (more on that soon)
Times Tables Champs is the final assembly of the day (I have to point out that while writing this that I feel I’m not doing it justice). Starting like a circus by a child announcer and filled with parents who want to come along, the stars of the week find out why they have been selected. It quickly moves into a times table battle in which class champs compete for the right to be the best. All of this is watched by some children who have earned the right to have the best seats in the house (pizza and drinks on sofas at the front). Every child is greeted with sheer love by the head as they go to the front with their achievements held up as the best thing ever… Until the next child. This passion is quite a sight to witness.
It’s clear what type of chairman Chris Dyson is… The Rocket Man he is.
Things I learnt:
- Cash is key – beg, borrow and steal to ensure the best. Small class sizes make a difference.
- Work hard, play hard – if kids love school they will will love learning.
- Work hard, play hard – make the systems work for you staff to reduce workloads
- Passion – enough said.
A huge thanks to all the staff who. Made me feel very welcome as well.
Disclaimer: I’m part of a fantasy football league with @chrisdysonHT hence shoehorned football references!
Paul does Parklands Primary
Thank you so much for the invitation to Parklands School last Friday.
There is so much to admire and celebrate. The energy, involvement and engagement showed by the children are truly impressive. The whole experience was invigorating and uplifting.
It was a nice and a welcomed touch to get Bradley and Riley to greet me at the approach to the school. Their manner and interest set the whole tone for a positive visit. As a visitor this is so valued but I can honestly say it so rarely happens. Well done to Parklands – putting people as a positive priority. It immediately made me think – what I can do for Parklands in return? Creating this atmosphere set the positive tone for the whole visit.
Many thanks to Daisy, Lucy and Ella for guiding me through the (potentially terrifying for an adult) routine of getting a school meal without falling foul of the school rules, and for the polite way in which everyone in the dining room greeted me (with respect and interest).
I can’t end this note without mentioning the humour that I encountered in Mr Cunliffe’s class where I was entertained by a rendition of “Don’t stick your knife in the toaster” – showing that health, safety and humour are all valued at Parklands!
And I showed great strength in not taking up the offer to play the guitar to the class – I really am so disruptive that I have imposed a self-styled ban (and I was impressed that I stuck to my resolution!). When I was a very young teacher I was fortunate enough to have a Year 4 child in my class (Julie Jones) who taught me all the “two-ball”, hand clapping and skipping rhymes that were being sung in the playground – a lost past era that expanded my song singing repertoire that drew upon the research undertaken by Peter and Iona Opie (songs and rhymes which children love but some parents not so!).
And thank you Mr Cunliffe for your rendition of Clapton’s ‘Tears in Heaven’ – beautifully played and sung.
There is so much more that I can recount but I had better stop here. But just to say, thank you for allowing me to meet you, the staff and all the children, some of whom I recognise from the BBC TV programme, including the irrepressible Tyler.
So please thank everyone (and I do mean everyone) who made me so welcome and gave me such a memorable visit.
I wish all of you a well-earned and relaxing summer break.John
I enjoyed eating my breakfast to your times tables challenge this morning! Well done mate, prime time national exposure!
Hope you and the family enjoy the summer.Jonathan Feeley
I have just watched Breakfast TV and am amazed by the children’s ability and wonder if there are any schools near Brighton and Hove that use the technique to teach times tables and number bonds?
If not I wonder if there is anyway staff involved could train/share their expertise and set up sessions particularly for some homes school groups that could come together.Heather
It was a pleasure to see the report on how amazing your children are at their timetables. Seeing the clip of you fab inspired me to write to you. I wondered if you could give me a little information about the set up for getting the children so excited by timetables. Last term we bought in to TT RockStars. We haven’t got to grips, as yet, with using it to its full potential. I think I saw a photo of you somewhere with Mr TT Rockstar! How do you organise to competitive side of the times table learning? Any ideas to kick start out TT campaign will be gratefully received.
Just wanted to say how much we enjoyed the TV spot about how you are not only teaching your children the ‘ times’ tables but taking it one step further by adding/subtracting from 100 etc. The children obviously loved doing this and all seemed eager to give their answers, fantastic.
We learned the times tables at junior school too by reciting/chanting different tables every day before home time and I have to say I still remember them and use them regularly in day to day life. Sadly, my Grandchildren (14 and 17) were never taught them in their school in Halifax ( or so I am told!)
Anyway, all the best to your lovely school and pupils, just felt I had to let you know how refreshing it was to see so many happy, enthusiastic children wanting to learn and take part and how clever and quick they were with their answers.
Thank you for your letter regarding your Christmas appeal. From the Twitter activity it looked like the day was a hit with all involved and it’s a wonderful thing for a school to do for its local community. Well done to you and all involved in giving up their time to make it happen.Steven Hutton
Thank you once again! 20 Managing Directors of some of the UK’s biggest companies attended your school today. I can honestly say that all of those business people left Parklands feeling inspired … Several shed tears as you shared the journey of Parklands and It was great to relive all the great work the businesses have done over the last 18 month. I’m sure we’ll have many more volunteering days to come.
Your school is one of a kind!
Just thought I’d quickly get in touch to say how well Year 4s visit to White Quarry Farm went last week, Tom and all of the other members of staff were really supportive and helped keep everyone engaged.
The children were so excited and got stuck into everything that was on offer to them, they were also very polite and considerate and I saw lots of evidence of them looking out for each other.
Children and staff alike are a credit to your school! Looking forward to this week’s visit too.
Great to meet you and see around your school. We left with big smiles on our faces.
You’ve given me a flavour of the kind of headteacher I want to be and the kind of atmosphere in school I want to develop.Mark Trudgill
I am writing to thank you and Laura for delivering a very informative session at the Leeds mathematics subject leader meeting on 14th September 2016.
Fifty seven delegates including head teachers, deputy head teachers and mathematics subject leaders attended the day and really appreciated your honest and open approach to sharing how you have improved the outcomes in mathematics at Parklands Primary School. Below are comments from delegates:
‘Very inspirational talk from Chris and Laura at Parklands, what a fabulous start to the day. Lots of great ideas were shared and a realistic view of school life and how to improve maths.’
‘Inspirational listening to such a passionate head that has had such a focus (and impact) on the delivery of maths.’
‘Really useful to listen to staff from Parklands, lots of brilliant ideas that we can ‘magpie.’
Many thanks for making the day a great success. I look forward to working with you again in the future and many thanks for your time.Karen Knepper
Such an inspirational visit today! Your children and teaching team were wonderful. I’ll get in touch in September to arrange for teachers to visit if that’s ok. You’ve created a wonderful school, Chris.Jo Geary
Well what a morning we have just spent in Parklands Leeds. We came from Trinity Academy in Halifax, home to the White Rose Maths Hub, to see for ourselves the amazing job that you are doing adding depth and reasoning to your Maths development. We can honestly say that every class we visited had an amazing buzz around maths. The resources were plentiful and the children really could explain the depth of their thinking. The times tables from Y1 to Y6 simply was breathtaking. How on earth is it possible to answer a times table and giving the answer as a number bond to 100 in a fraction of a second? 6×8 = 52 (6×8 = 48 so its 52 to 100) Seeing is believing. It was a pleasure meeting the amazing Mr Dyson who quite simply is inspiring a whole community. Thank you for showcasing your brilliant maths (and school) and being an excellent partner to us at the White Rose Maths Hub.Caroline Hamilton
As a GB Weightlifter, it is rare I get to visit schools, so it was great to see such enthusiasm from everyone towards physical activity and receive such a fantastic welcome! It really is a great place to learn with lots of fun activities going on and I hope to see some of them in the future succeeding in their chosen paths. Thank you again!Rebekah Tiler
Who said we couldn’t keep a secret! You so deserved recognition and your success will no doubt rub off on our lovely children in the school. I couldn’t be more proud of our relationship. Its just the beginning! I have been working on apprenticeships this week and one day it would be great to employee one from Parklands school. Its on my list of things to do. Thanks for the job offer, I might just take you up on that one day!Alison Ritchie
What a fantastic assembly – loved it. As a maths teacher, I was really impressed with the tables challenge. I also thought ‘the best seats in the house’ was an excellent idea. I plan to talk to our head of maths to see if we can do a similar tables challenge with Y7/Y8 and then maybe have a grand final with your guys?Jeremy Richardson
Thank you so much for todays invite. Lucy and I loved visiting your school today – Lucy feels very privileged that she is able to share her story with other people. She absolutely loved talking to your staff and children, and found the whole atmosphere in your assembly fantastic. I remember feeling exactly the same when I came in to do supply at Parklands in the Autumn term, the children all seemed very engaged in an energetic and warm learning environment.
Another amazing morning Mr Dyson here at Parklands. I love and look forward to coming here all the time. The kids were so responsive and I saw some real talent out there, they express themselves so well and put 100% into everything. You have an amazing school… see you soon.Leanne
I also wanted to thank you for letting me come along and spend time with the children as I cannot remember when I had a more enjoyable and rewarding few hours.Tracey Banks
I would just like to thank yourselves, Miss Wetherby and the students at Parklands for allowing myself and Alex to come and visit you on Friday for Takeover.
Firstly, we would just like to say ‘WOW’! We were really impressed with the takeover, and I was blown away by the response you had from students (applications) and also the commitment from the staff at your school. It really is incredible that 15 of your students got to experience undertaking jobs within the schools. Myself and Alex both left on such a high, and there was a real buzz within the school. So congratulations to all involved.
We obviously want to promote the work you have done as a ‘good example’ to other schools, and also include this in our report that will be distributed locally and send to Children’s Commissioner. Miss Wetherby mentioned that the students involved would be giving their feedback at the end of the day, would it be possible to have a copy of this along with some ‘action’ photos for the day that we can use this to show the great work you have done at Parkland’s as part of Takeover.
Secondly, I would also just like to say how impressed I was to hear about the work the School Council are doing. I think this is fantastic. And a real credit to your school.
Thanks again for allowing us to visit on Friday, and I look forward to receiving the children’s feedback and photos.Kayleigh Thompson
Just wanted to say ‘thank you’ for giving up your time yesterday to meet with me. I was really struck by your ‘can do’ attitude to putting the child at the heart of everything you do, your warmth and your infectious good humour! It was a real privilege to walk round the school with Brooke – a brilliant start to the week.Shelagh
It was a real pleasure working with the HT and the Senior Leaders today at Parklands looking at the impact of Pupil Premium spending, they certainly had all the information to hand. The school should feel really proud of the school. There is such a happy atmosphere on every corridor you walk down. I had every door opened for me with a smile and the children showed wonderful manners.Mrs. Jill O’Connell
My daughter has been doing absolutely great with her reading and writing and I couldn’t be more happy with her progress. She shocks me more and more each day and the best thing is she is enjoying doing it. Even at home she’s reading more books and practices her sentences. Sometimes I do it wring on purpose and she goes through them pretending to be the teacher and corrects my mistakes, this gives her more confidence.Parent
The children of Parklands showed excellent listening skills; an eagerness to learn and modelled excellent behaviour. It was brilliant to see how they worked together during the workshop developing some wonderful interpretations of movement to Romeo and Juliet. In addition it was wonderful to see how much the children respected each other when watching each group. It was an excellent day spent with children who want to learn. We can’t wait to see you all at the Grand Theatre on Tuesday to watch the ballet Romeo and Juliet.Leanne
The pupils from Parklands really were fantastic on the last programme!Literacy Day, Headingley
The session with year 5 was supposed to last an hour, however they were so attentive and so full of enthusiasm we had no choice but to extend our session; we had to stop the discussion after 1hr 30mins because we had to do a session after school at another school in Leeds. They concentrated, listened and remained on task throughout. As did the year 6s.
The staff were great as well. Not scared of the issues and attentive and caring.
We really did have a great time.
Year 6 worked brilliantly in their Romeo & Juliet workshop. All of the students tried their best and created some excellent trios which they shared to the rest of the group with confidence. They had an excellent understanding of Friar Laurence and managed to portray his emotions through their choreography and quality of movement with maturity and insight. The students also created some lovely classical lines in the arabesque exercise and asked and answered lots of questions about ballet and the theatre. I thoroughly enjoyed working with them and I hope to return to Parklands Primary School to work with more students. Many thanks to all of the pupils and staff for such a pleasant day.Leanne Kirkham
On Monday I attended the Leeds Law Education Day at your school. I just wanted
to say thank you to all the staff and pupils for making it such a great
experience. I would especially like to thank Alex, Robert and Alyssa for being
so very well behaved and working together to produce a really good magazine
cover. I live locally in Crossgates and work as a HR Manager if I can help your
school or the Academy in any other way please let me know.
The children from Parklands were great fun, superbly behaved and asked brilliant questions. It was a pleasure to have them and we would LOVE to have them back.Patsy Lyttle
Theatre In Education with Years 5 and 6 yesterday (February12th 2015) and they were brilliant! They all contributed, talking about very difficult issues, they were insightful and mature, showing respect and empathy and excellent listening skills. They were an absolute pleasure to work with, a credit to themselves and the school.Paul
Parklands School children were a pleasure to work with on their recent residential trip to Nell Bank.Their enthusiasm and readiness to learn about the outdoors reflects great credit to the school staff.Nell Bank Staff
What a great set of pupils, they were so full of confidence and enthusiasm. They gave it 100%. The staff were so happy as well.Jeff Rich
I had a ball working with your children and I hope the children enjoyed it too.Jason Beresford