Three local schools win awards for work with disadvantaged pupils

Lynne Featherstone MP with Hornsey School for Girls studentsAlexandra Park School, Highgate Wood Secondary School, and Hornsey School for Girls have been recognised as going the extra mile to help disadvantaged students.

The schools have received a £5,000 award for the work they have done to boost the achievements of pupils from less privileged backgrounds, by putting the Pupil Premium to effective use.

The Pupil Premium is £2.5bn of extra money that is targeted towards helping disadvantaged students in school. It is a key Liberal Democrat policy, now delivered in Government.

All three schools are now eligible to apply for a prize of up to £250,000 – the winner of which will be announced by Nick Clegg in March.

Lynne Featherstone MP said:

“It is great that three schools in Hornsey and Wood Green have received this award for excellent use of the Pupil Premium funding. I have visited all three of these schools over the past few years and have seen this good work for myself.

“The Pupil Premium funding helps make sure that everyone has the best chance to get on in life. That’s why the Lib Dems fought so hard to implement the policy, and why we’re rewarding those schools that have put it to best use.”

Liberal Democrat Schools Minister David Laws said:

“Alexandra Park, Highgate Wood, and Hornsey Girls can rightly be proud of their work to improve the life chances of children in Haringey.

“I would encourage all of the secondary schools which have received a prize to share their successful approach with other schools so they can learn from their experience.”

New tennis courts come to Highgate

Lynne Featherstone, Lyn Weber and Jo Durie at the opening of new tennis courts in HighgateStarted gorgeous Sunday at 6am – too much to do – too little time to do it. Highlight of the day was the opening of the new tennis courts at Highgate Tennis and Cricket Club.

After years of neglect to courts belonging to Highgate Wood School, the club – with the help of Cllr Lyn Weber – finally persuaded the school and Haringey Council that renovating the courts would be good for all. Now these sparkling courts will be used by the school, the tennis club etc and they will all play happily ever after.

Steve Reynolds, club leader, has been the driving force behind this ten year campaign. Many obstacles and barriers had to be overcome – but yesterday it was clearly all worth it – as Jo Durie helped open the courts and then went on to play an exhibition match.

The sun shone. Someone put a glass of wine in my hand. I sat and watched the tennis match – my favourite sport. I related my tennis history to the assembled ranks – ball boy at Queen’s, pass to Wimbledon and players’ box and lounge. Tennis was my passion – long gone – alas.

So well done to all those who made this possible.

Highgate Wood School

Having just returned from visiting Highgate Wood School – I am happy. And I am happy because the young people I met are great – and whilst there are loads of issues around knife crime and behaviour and so on and so on – the truth is that most of these young people are raring to go. It’s us who have to make their road ahead interesting, safe, full of opportunity and happy!

I addressed the Year 7 Assembly (around 200) and then did an hour Q & A with the Year 11 Sociology Class. There was a coterie of about five of them who are really, really interested in politics and having a voice – and I always enjoy talking over the issues. We were discussing the issue of having nowhere to go – and £58 million for new youth clubs across London coming on stream.

I was saying that what facilities are provided is key – as just a table tennis table won’t do it. It seems pretty clear to me that what is needed is a place to gather and socialise – that’s the main function. I know a couple of years ago a commercial company, for example, started a ‘pub’ – but a non-alcoholic ‘pub’ so young people could hang out, have coffee, juice etc. I haven’t heard how it fared – but it was that imaginative thinking that we need to try – along with sports facilities and all the usual.

I had tea with members of the school council – all bright and enthusiastic about civics and engagement. And then I toured many classrooms to see students in action. The School Council members showed me round – led by Adam Jogee – who is standing for Haringey’s Youth Parliament Rep. He had stickers for everyone and posters up around the whole school – clearly working as everyone we passed said ‘Hi Jogee’!

Highgate Wood is going through a real up period. There is an atmosphere of genuine enthusiasm amongst both pupils and staff.

Open Door and Highgate Wood School

I met with Open Door yesterday – which literally opens its doors to young people in trouble. It is a charity and has to scrabble for funding grants and pots and donations – but delivers the most incredible service to young people who need talking therapies to hold them safe as life’s challenges destabilise them on their passage to adulthood.

This is a centre of excellence in terms of the quality of the staff and a truly professional organisation in an area where there is a need for real professionalism. With so many quasi-professionals offering a variety of counselling in a variety of circumstances with very little oversight or supervision, there has to be a concern about standards, training and outcome.

So when you have an excellent local organisation working in a key area, you would have thought that Haringey Council would welcome Open Door with open arms. And yet, my understanding is that they won’t even agree to meet with them to see how Open Door can be involved and engaged in this area.

Lord knows, I get so much traffic on issues around young people and behaviour – I can only assume that the Council is so big that it doesn’t truly understand how to involve and engage organisations like Open Door. I will write to Sharon Shoesmith – Director of Childrens’ Services – to try and orchestrate a meeting between the Council and Open Door. I have no doubt that this could be a very beneficial engagement – particularly if they can be involved with schools and the well-being of young people. Early intervention in terms of support for those who without such support may go on to a lifetime of troubles seems like a good idea to me!

Then it was straight on to meet the new Headmaster of Highgate Wood School. Patrick Cozier seems a very good thing to me and in the end, it is the enthusiasm and vision of the Head that plays such a large role in inspiring the staff and the pupils and the school. He seemed very clued up as to relations with the local community. Take the recent hoo-haa over flood-lighting for example – where the local papers describe it as a sort of war. In reality he and staff are meeting and working with local residents and local residents’ associations. Schools always bring hazards for those living close by – but a Head who understands and wants to work with the community is half the battle. And the other half is his ambition to inspire the school to improving results in line with other schools in the borough. So – I hope to help wherever I can and look forward to working with Mr Cozier, the staff and the pupils.

And finally – I had an American shadow me the other day and she blogged me! You can read about here experience at http://myfairladybug.livejournal.com/51887.html.

Highgate Wood School

Went to meet the Head of Highgate Wood school to discuss an idea I have about engaging with the local community.

Heads have a difficult time as ‘their’ pupils are often accused of – and sometimes do – behave badly in the local community. But of course outside of school hours are not truly the school’s responsibility.

I want to find a way to bring community and schools together on this. Highgate Wood was my first port of call just because I wanted to see whether a school head would be interested in my idea.

The Head responded really well (I had been nervous because other schools generally in the past have been fairly unreceptive to outside do-gooders) but she was very open and forward thinking. We both have to go back to our ‘groups’ to float the idea and then we will meet again in a month’s time.