PARENT power has been moved right up the agenda at Colne Valley Specialist Arts School.
After what leaders admit was a lack of communication between the old regime and the families of the 1,288 pupils, they are making big strides towards involving them in the school’s future.
Recently school leaders emailed a random group of 50 parents asking them to take part in a small focus group.
Around 20 responded and from this group, a smaller one met for lengthy discussions with the school’s new leaders, acting headteacher Maggie Dunn, head of strategy Lorraine Barker, Suzanne Hamilton and Abigail Lear.
Earlier this month, several parents visited Colne Valley’s mentor school Mirfield Free Grammar to see what it takes to become outstanding.
Feedback from the parents on MFG and how this might impact on Colne Valley was extremely positive.
Vicki Knight-Swallow said: "The staff and pupils were all smiling and this appeared natural and not just for our benefit.
"From start to finish I felt we saw the school running things in an organised and professional manner.
"The children were all smart – the teachers too!"
Camilla Govan said that she was impressed with how staff "challenged each pupil in each lesson to think, regardless of how easy or difficult they find the material.
"I am excited to hear about this in action from our kids, whether stronger, weaker, more disaffected or highly motivated."
After the visit, parent Steve Smith said: "I would suggest that the first step in terms of parent/community engagement is to develop a more strategic whole school plan.
"This would mean that any engagement is resource efficient and has a clear purpose."
Assistant headteacher Suzanne Hamilton said: "There is a strong feeling that communications between school and home were lacking.
"It is now about getting parents involved again and moving forward together."
The Linthwaite school is currently redesigning its website.
In future it will include an online forum and Topic of the Week section which will actively encourage parents to get involved in school decisions.
Suzanne added: "I feel this has been lacking in the past.
"Yet the parents and community have so much to offer, they are an amazing resource which we can tap into.
"We don’t just want to pay lip service to the idea, we want to really involve them.
"We have children whose parents came to this school, and their children will come here, so we want to get it right," she added.