Elle UK editor Farrah Storr offers work experience for college students

B&FC students with FarrahImage credit: Nadine Ellis

Talented students are competing to swap Blackpool’s bright lights for city skyscrapers – and work alongside one of the UK’s biggest names in journalism.

Farrah Storr, editor-in-chief of Elle UK, revealed this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity while visiting Blackpool and The Fylde College’s University Centre this week. Students now have to write a report for a competition to win the London trip.

Salford-born Farrah was in Blackpool to share her career experiences with a masterclass for students on telling their story.

Her visit was part of a north west tour with the Social Mobility Commission to look at improving opportunities for young people living in some of the most deprived areas of the country.

Blackpool is one of 12 Opportunity Areas identified by the Department for Education to improve education standards and help youngsters achieve their potential. 

Farrah’s inspirational talk provided the students with an opportunity to learn about the world of journalism and what it takes to succeed.

She explained: “Growing up in Salford, I never thought a career in journalism was a possibility.

“The creative industries have always been so heavily weighted in London that coming from the north west felt like an enormous disadvantage.

“While it’s true that I had to move away to become a journalist I don’t believe geography is still the enormous barrier it once was.

“To get a break today you need super sharp ideas as well as the knowledge of where to look for true opportunity.”

Cllr Kath Benson, Blackpool Council Cabinet Member for Schools, Education and Aspiration, said: “Farrah’s visit is a great example of how important ambition and aspiration are and what it takes to be successful in the workplace.

“Alongside the Blackpool Opportunity Area, we work very hard to challenge the expectations about the town and raise aspirations of children, young people and families.

“Improving the life chances of the town’s children and young people is fundamental to the future of Blackpool.”

Holiday activities summer success

During the summer holidays, Blackpool families had access to activities and healthy food at five areas in the town.

As school holidays can be a challenging time for families, especially for those who rely on free school meals, the Blackpool Opportunity Area funded free activities and food for local children and young people.

Evidence suggests that attending extracurricular activities can have a positive impact on children’s educational, health and wellbeing outcomes. Co-ordinated by the Public Health team at Blackpool Council, the pilot scheme aimed to help families access these opportunities during the summer holidays.

The summer programme was on offer at Claremont, Revoe, Mereside and Talbot and Brunswick children’s centres, as well as the community hub for Grange Park, @theGrange.

Working with partners ranging from Sport Blackpool, Blackpool FC Community Trust and the youth facility, the Magic Club, and many more, children and their families had the opportunity to socialise, get active together, and learn new skills as well as having access to healthy and nutritious food.

The project was aimed at five of the most deprived areas in Blackpool in a bid to target children and young people that are disadvantaged, and vulnerable to exclusion and absence.

The sessions were well attended and feedback suggests that families enjoyed taking part in the range of activities which included sport, dance, arts, crafts and drama.

Collage of summer images_page-0001

Building confidence   

The five areas offered the same programme of activities, whereas the Boat House provided a bespoke programme which consisted of residential experiences.

A group of 30 youngsters from the Boat House took part in a street dance project during the summer, which focused on some of the issues facing young people in Blackpool.  These included homelessness, child exploitation, crime and gang culture

Through dance, song and visual theatre, the young people (some of whom were funded from the OA) were able to experience the consequences of these issues as well as learn how to recognise the signs and find alternatives.

Another group of young people from the Boathouse enjoyed a series of day trips and activities throughout the summer. Part funded by the OA, the group visited Sandcastle Waterpark, the Blackpool Tower Circus and the Adventure Dock in Liverpool.

The youngsters faced their fears of water and heights. One of the young participants, Josh, has a phobia of water. Whilst at the Adventure Dock he fell in and panicked. After being helped out by staff, he carried on enjoying himself – so much so that he decided to jump in from the 15ft diving platform into the water.

He said: “When I first fell in I was really scared but the leaders helped me realise that there was nothing to be frightened of because I had my buoyancy aid on. I fell in a few more times before I did the jump and that boosted my confidence.

“Then, there I was at the top of the diving platform with all my friends jumping in and egging me on to do the same. I just did it and loved it.”

Primary aspirations

Schoolchildren from Anchorsholme Academy have been telling us about their experience of school and what they want to be when they are older.

The year six pupils talked about their hopes for the future and why school is important.

We want children to dream big, have ambition and go as far as their talents will take them.

Watch the video below!  

Transition Week success

And that’s a wrap!

After spending the week at different high schools across Blackpool, it was easy to see how much hard work and effort had gone into organising the five days of introductory lessons and activities for year 6 pupils.

From poetry sessions, history lessons and creative arts to circus skills, flame tests and water rockets, the pupils sampled a range of taster activities at their prospective secondary schools.


Initial feedback from both pupils and teachers suggests that the taster week has been a big success.

Pupils enjoyed the opportunity to familiarise themselves with daily life at their new school, make new friends and start to learn their way around the building. After feeling nervous and overwhelmed at the start of the week, many pupils grew in confidence once they had met their teachers and explored their new surroundings.

The well-planned visits, events and activities will help primary school pupils transition confidently to high school. The coordination between the primary and high schools has been key to the smooth running of events this week, ensuring that the year six pupils can prepare for their new milestone.

Well done to everyone involved!

Transition Week continues

High schools across Blackpool are continuing their timetable of activities and introductory lessons for year 6 pupils today.

Over the course of this week, pupils have been taking part in a selection of taster lessons to enable them to familiarise themselves with daily life at their prospective secondary school.

Transition week is designed for all students to get to know their new classmates and explore their new environment. The induction process enables the year 6 pupils to feel confident about the new routines and ready to start their journey at high school.

As secondary schools can be a daunting experience for some, earlier this week we asked a couple of students for their thoughts on the week ahead at Highfield Leadership Academy.

Urooj - Highfield

Urooj, 11, from Revoe Learning Academy, said: “I felt a bit scared when I got up this morning and was nervous as I didn’t know what to expect.

“I feel more relaxed now that I’m here. I am enjoying moving around the classrooms and exploring the school. I am looking forward to making friends this week.”

Levi - Highfield

Levi, 11, from Baines’ Endowed said: “I don’t really feel nervous about the move to high school. I am ready for it.

“There’s a big difference in size from my school to this one so I’m looking forward to finding my way around.

“I am most excited about doing PE and making friends as I’m the only one from my school coming here.”

Transition Week 2019

Today marks the start of transition week.

Primary schoolchildren have kickstarted their week with a range of activities today at Highfield Leadership Academy including a poetry class, history taster and an anti-bullying ambassador session run by pupils.

The year 6 pupils were also taken on a tour of the school to help familiarise themselves with their surroundings and give them a taste of life at high school.

Keep checking back here for updates throughout the week.

Transition Week Highfield 2019

Highfurlong School Shortlisted for a TES Award 2019

Pupils at Highfurlong School are benefitting greatly from the amazing and innovative work by Mr. Birtles. Each student has an iPad, making it easy to share and connect their education milestones with their classmates.

Parents can also log on to the safe, secure and private ‘social network’ to see their child’s progress and daily achievements. With over 80 children successfully using ‘Seesaw’ – (the programme that has helped in the quest of creating this movement), but also a total of 91 parents regularly logging on to see dedicated content of the school day.


Mr. Birtles and a few pupils from his class; the tree and planting project is just one example of the activities his class have completed and shared with their network. 

Over 24,000 pieces of data were manually inputted personally by Mr. Birtles, and additional to the front-facing social network side – teachers can map progress data in line with the curriculum. Parents can see their own child’s information, as well as ask questions, see progress and have an insight into the school day at a level they ordinarily may not have had an opportunity to understand prior to this being implemented. 

The hard work and dedication hasn’t gone unmissed – Highfurlong School has been shortlisted for a TES Award under the category – Innovative use of technology to influence outcomes.

The award ceremony takes place in London on the 21 June 2019.

Everyone here at Blackpool OA wish you the best of luck. Fingers crossed!

Teach Blackpool leadership coaching programme

The Prince’s Teaching Institute (PTI) is partnering with Alliance for Learning to deliver the Teach Blackpool Leadership Coaching Programme.

This programme offers free leadership coaching and training for Heads of schools in Blackpool, together with selected members of their senior and middle leadership teams.

The aim is to support school leaders in raising attainment and progress in Blackpool’s schools and to aid the recruitment and retention of quality teachers within the town.

It will give school leaders a forum, frameworks and training for them to focus their thinking on what is most important in their schools, how they can use an enriched curriculum to deliver improvement, and how through effective coaching they will nurture their staff to be better teachers.

The programme consists of three elements:

Element 1:  Setting your school’s objectives – PTI Leadership Residential course

At these national school leadership two-day residentials, the Head and a member of SLT will have the opportunity to hear from top speakers and reflect with peers from across the country on what counts most in their schools.

Element 2: Enhancing your coaching skills to work towards your objectives – 6 days of coaching training by Alliance for Learning/Independent Coaching

During these six days of coaching, participants will develop their leadership potential and those of others through enhancing their coaching skills. They will learn through tutor modelling and observation, gaining first-hand experience of working with a coach, and through guided skills development in small groups and online tutor support.

Element 3: Reviewing and celebrating progress – PTI National Schools Leadership Programme Day

At this cross-phase leadership forum, as well as sharing the successes and challenges from other school leaders from across the country, participants benefit from a one-to-one consultation with a PTI Leadership Development Partner.

Getting your school involved

Places on the Leadership Coaching Programme are free of charge for Blackpool Schools, but must be booked in advance. Please visit www.ptieducation.org/events to secure your school’s involvement in this project.

Contact the PTI office by email: ptioffice@ptieducation.org or telephone: 020 3174 1235 to discuss any element of the programme.