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 to secure your school’s involvement in this project.

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

Project Updates

The Blackpool Opportunity Area Programme is delighted to announce that two new initiatives are underway within Blackpool.

Team around the School project will provide additional capacity within schools and the Early Help Hubs, offering targeted support to a group of young people who are at significant risk of disengaging with their secondary school. Read more


The Careers Journey is co-ordinated action from a range of partners to help all our young people here in Blackpool prepare for work. Learn more about the project

Teach Blackpool

We will shortly be launching Blackpool’s very own Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy, ‘Teach Blackpool’, which will focus on supporting teachers across the town. The emphasis is providing support for newly and recently qualified teachers, in addition to in-school coaching available to all teachers.


This will align to the national DfE Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy whose overarching aims are to:

  • Create the right climate for leaders to establish supportive school cultures that allow teachers to focus on teaching
  • Transform support for early career teachers
  • Build a career offer that remains attractive to teachers as their careers and lives develop

Elements including

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Changing Horizons

Building on from the events in 2017 and 2018, Civil Service Local North West successfully delivered the ‘Changing Horizons’ event in Blackpool on 7 February 2019 at the Winter Gardens to school years 5,6 and 7 pupils.

A fast paced event, it was designed to raise the aspirations of young people in areas of low social mobility, allowing them to discuss and practice the skills required for life and work.  You can view a video of last year’s Blackpool highlights here:

Department for Education colleagues designed and hosted an activity table to show pupils how the skills they have translate to the world of work – focusing on the Department’s current strategy to recruit, develop and retain the next generation of inspirational teachers.

The strategy sets out the Department’s plans to champion the profession and will build on the 30,000 classroom teachers the government aims to recruit each year, support the 450,000 teachers already working in schools in England and commit £130 million a year to boost development for new teachers.

Pupils were asked to think about the teacher who has had the most impact on them, and to think about the skills that teacher demonstrated. The pupils gave some fantastic responses on what makes a great teacher, including – ‘challenge you to be better!’

Lots of the children said they’d like to be teachers in future, which was great to hear!


Boundary awarded Silver Quality Mark in Geography

Boundary Primary School have been awarded the Silver Quality Mark in Geography, from the National Geography Association.

One of only 21 schools in the country to be given the award – what an achievement! At Boundary, they have made foundation subjects a priority over the last few years, teaching them through a topic based approach to provide an in depth, creative and challenging curriculum to facilitate curious, inquisitive learners.

Geography has flourished through this approach and the profile has been raised throughout school. Amongst other things, children enjoy going on fieldwork trips, learning through Digi-maps online, making use of the floor to ceiling interactive world map corridor display and exploring questions and problems which need to be solved. Creating an in depth, exciting, geographically rich curriculum, which the children strive from enabling them to reach their maximum potential.


English Hub Phonic Showcases

A number of funded phonic showcases will be held at Blackpool’s very own St John Vianney English Hub during 2019.

We are delighted to announce that we will be running a series of funded showcases to show elements of best practice in the teaching of systematic synthetic phonics whilst promoting a love of reading.

Cute African American schoolgirl reading a book in the library

Help every child to become a reader

The event will include:

  • Introductory talk by the Headteacher explaining the key leadership decisions that have enabled success
  • A learning walk to see and discuss best practice in the teaching of systematic synthetic phonics and early reading
  • Research-based evidence woven throughout the sessions
  • Practical activities and ideas to take away action planning
  • How to choose and use resources effectively in the teaching of systematic synthetic phonics
  • Follow up email / telephone conversations / materials for further support after the showcase (potential access to funding for resources and training

Who should attend?

  • Headteachers and Senior Leaders to accompany Reception / KS1 teachers with an interest in improving the teaching of systematic synthetic phonics, practising phonics through decodable books and implementing the teaching of phonics into reading sessions (up to 2 participants per school).
  • Funding is available for supply cover and travel which will be reimbursed once action plans have been shared with the English Hub.

Where and when will they take place?

All showcases will run from 9am until 12pm at St John Vianney English Hub. Dates for 2019 are

9 April

22 May

12 June

15 July

To book your places, please email



OA: Celebrating one year on

Just yesterday the ‘Opportunity Areas: building the foundations for success’ event took place in Parliament.

The event allowed a moment for all to celebrate the impact this programme is having to help more children and young people to achieve their full potential in life.

To mark the occasion two separate reports have been published.

The first of these is an independent evaluation of the implementation phase of the Opportunity Area programme. This found a number of successes in the approach being taken, and identified it is ‘starting to develop a lasting legacy’ of positive collaboration.

The second provides a snapshot of activity happening in each area to transform lives. From boosting access to mental health services in Hastings, increasing provision of extra-curricular activities in Doncaster for children in care and our very own Transition Week case study, showcasing the importance of curriculum focus during the move from primary to secondary school. 

At the event guest speakers thanked those involved for their hard work and commitment over the last twelve months, and attendees heard directly from young people benefitting from initiatives put in place.

Improving social mobility is a complex, intergenerational issue, and nobody involved in this programme thinks that change will come easily, however everyone is surely determined to make a difference.

BTSA Event with Dame Alison Peacock and Sir Kevan Collins

Blackpool Teaching School Alliance (BTSA) supported by Randstad have secured Sir Kevan Collins, Chief Executive of the Education Endowment Foundation, to share his knowledge with us. It’s an event not to be missed!

He’ll also be supported by two speakers. Speaking first will be Andrew Mellor, Headteacher at St Nicholas C of E Primary School and National Leader of Education, who will be explaining the outcome of the NAHT Accountability Commission.

Speaking second will be Dame Alison Peacock, Chief Executive of the Chartered College of Teaching. She will be discussing the school led system, the need to shape our own accountability futures and the role of NAHT and the Chartered College.

When and where?
Friday 2nd November, De-Vere, Blackpool

: arrival
12:00 – 12:30: a delicious lunch, free of charge
12:30 – 12:50: Andrew Mellor presents
12:50 – 13:30: Dame Alison Peacock presents
13:30 – 14:30: Sir Kevan Collins presents
14:30 – 15:00: questions then departure

Register your interest here