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Blackburn headteacher: Respect for each other is the key
A PHILOSOPHY of ‘respecting each other and trying to understand one another’ has helped one headteacher transform his predominately Asian school into a community hub for pupils and parents.
Adrian Woods took over Audley Junior School in Blackburn in April 2004 and has worked hard with staff, pupils and their parents to ensure they get the best education.
And after six years’ hard work, pupils are now reaching national average scores in compulsory government SATS tests where before they were below minimum target levels.
Mr Woods said regular meeting with community leaders such as members of the local Al-Islah mosque, adult learning classes and curriculum workshops for parents had paid off.
He also cited after-school clubs and a tougher stance on term time extended holidays in helping him gain respect and transform the school.
Audley Junior’s pupil roll is almost 100 per cent Asian.
Mr Woods said: “We respect each other and try to understand one another. But that has to work on both sides.
“It is important I understand what makes the local community tick, their faith and mosques for example.
“There are issues around language and the quality of spoken English at home.
"We don’t just help children with their vocabulary and language structure.”
Mr Woods, who has also been in charge of St Barnabus and St Paul's Primary School, Blackburn, and Sudell Primary School, Darwen, said when his pupils have mosque exams the school reduced homework and vice versa.
He said pupils practiced speaking English at home through oral homework, where children must speak to their parents in English.
And parents are willing to come into school to learn how to help their children with homework.
Mr Woods said: “We have developed strong links with the community.
“But like any other school it is not just about the headteacher. Heads are there to inspire people.”
He added: “I love my time at this school. It is a wonderful community to work with. Our parents really want the best for their children.
"Sometimes they need help to help their children, they are extremely keen and enthusiastic and the children are lovely.”
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