Blackburn with Darwen Education department

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Case Studies


Case Studies


1. Making a difference

  • Finance and administrative staff have a vital role in a schools success
  • Highly skilled bursars and business managers can take on many financial and operational responsibilities
  • Quality training can ensure schools are managed effectively
  • Headteachers and senior teaching staff released to focus on teaching and Iearning

Hilary Fenton, school business manager at Newfield School, was one of the first 150 school administrators from across the country to have completed an innovative training and development programme piloted by the National College for School Leadership.

Hilary who graduated with a certificate in School Business Management felt “that the role of manager will become more important in schools, especially with the implementation of initiatives to reduce teacher workload and with the delegation of more funding directly to schools”.

Headteacher at Newfield, Jane Barrie believed 'Hilary's attendance on this course has helped us as a school to concentrate on the core function of the Workforce Remodelling agenda i.e. separating out and streamlining the administration of the school to enable teachers to focus on improving standards of teaching and learning'

For more information about the Certificate or Diploma courses in School Business Management have a look at the National College website at


2. Excellence in School Self Review/Planning & Continuous Self Improvement

Wensley Fold Primary was in special measures in 1996. A new Headteacher and new LEA gave the school the opportunity to take real ownership of its journey to becoming a Beacon school. Self review clearly identified that key issues facing the school were all intrinsically linked to the school workforce.

The school self-review and planning process, facilitated and supported by various LEA teams, focused on developing the workforce at all levels; leaders and managers, effective teachers, support staff, governors and parents. The results are clear to see. Wensley Fold now has an Advanced Skills Teacher, four Leading Literacy and Maths Teachers, and one member of staff who plays a key role in the authority’s Early Years Working Party.

Comprehensive staff development programmes are on offer to all staff, from international links to action learning. A raft of family learning programmes build capacity within the wider workforce and significant investment in recruiting and retaining governors means there are more candidates for governor vacancies than there are places!


3. Parents as Workforce (Intack)

Family Learning opportunities have increased significantly in Blackburn with Darwen since 2000. Most programmes aim to support parents to become more effective at supporting their child’s learning. This support is a key part of building capacity for improvement. For some parents however poverty combined with their own low level literacy, numeracy and social skills provide significant barriers to participation in their child’s education. Blackburn with Darwen has developed Family Financial Literacy Programmes that target these most socially excluded families and by focusing in on key family activities (cooking, money management etc) has aimed to improve basic skills as well as model good parenting.


4. Share Family Learning

When Zainab Gideir’s daughter, Summer started school three years ago Zainab felt she just didn’t know how to support her. The school’s participation in family learning courses, such as Share, enabled Zainab opportunities to gain confidence and move forward. Share brings parents and teachers together to form a learning community focusing on providing support for children’s learning.

As well as learning how to support Summer with her learning Zainab has also gained a qualification in use of IT and is now a parent governor as well as a regular volunteer in school. In September 2004 she began training as a Teaching Assistant and long terms sees this as a route back into employment.


5. Building Capacity for Improvement

Building capacity for improvement by focusing on recruiting, developing and retaining the very best school workforce, including Governors.

Over the last three years Asian Heritage Governors have gone from 31 to 250, and the number of women and young people taking up governor roles is also rising. This linking of school improvement with community cohesion is a major innovation.


6. From Governance to Diversity in the Classroom

Promoting diversity of governing bodies also forms part of a longer term strategy for increasing the diversity of the teaching profession itself in Blackburn with Darwen.

Over four years ago Rokaiya Foolat was encouraged to become a parent governor. She then became a non-political LEA governor and is now vice-chair. During this time Rokaiya, who has three children in full time education, became so passionate about education she wanted to play a more active role and completed an Open University degree. Rokaiya has since successfully completed her teacher training and is now working as a qualified teacher in a local primary school.

7. Teaching Assistants – driving up improvement

A new life in Blackburn with Darwen for Jeanette Brown proved the starting point of a journey to becoming North West Teaching Assistant of the Year 2004.

Initially encouraged by the Headteacher to become a parent volunteer, Jeanette then took part in two LEA Parents as Educators programmes. These lead to employment as a Teaching Assistant at her children’s school and with further support by the school and the LEA Jeanette went onto take a BTEC qualification for Nursery Nurses. In 2003 she completed a Foundation Degree in Teaching and Learning Support and is about to embark on a full blown BA Honours Degree. The Headteacher at Jeanette’s school, Lower Darwen Primary, is eager to see Jeanette become a fully qualified teacher.

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The learning platform itself will always be "a work in progress" and as such content should not be taken as definitive statements of Blackburn with Darwen Education Department policy.