Beeston Primary to leave Learning Trust?

Governors at Beeston Primary School are formally consulting on plans to leave the South Leeds Learning Trust, which links a number local primary schools with Cockburn School.

In the consultation document, available on the school website, they say:

“The aim of the Trust was to help children achieve more, providing the best education possible for all the children and young people in the communities served by the Trust by working together more effectively,as well as promoting community cohesion.

“For Beeston Primary School, being part of the Trust has not resulted in the achievement of all these aims therefore the Governing Body has, after lengthy discussions, considered what impact being a member of a Trust has had on the outcomes for children in our School and consider that these outcomes will improve by leaving the Trust.”

The document goes on to say that the advantages of leaving would be a clearer focus on the needs of pupils in the school, greater control of resources and better use of management time.

Responding to the document, Dave Westwell, Chair of Governors of Cockburn School and Trustee of The Learning Trust South Leeds, said

“I do not understand why Cockburn’s main feeder primary would want to break up a partnership that is focused on the pupils of our community and their education. The work of this partnership is essential in this ever-changing educational landscape. Currently, teachers from primary and secondary work together to share best practice, develop teaching and learning strategies and ensure that our children make the very best progress across all years of their school life.

“Nearly all of Beeston Primary’s children come to Cockburn and we value our partnership with them as one of our main feeder primaries. I hope that the parents and carers of Beeston Primary see the benefits of our partnership for their children and urge their school to remain part of The Learning Trust South Leeds as part of the consultation process.”

The closing date for responses to the consultation is 4pm on Friday 7 July.


12 Replies to “Beeston Primary to leave Learning Trust?”

  1. This seems to be an extraordinarily short sighted decision by Beeston governors. Most of the pupils at Beeston primary go, as the article states, to Cockburn School, which is incredibly oversubscribed. It stands to reason that in future years Cockburn will prioritise the pupils of those schools that are still in the Trust, probably meaning that Beeston children will have to attend different schools in the area, most of which are mediocre to say the least. Not to mention the fact that Cockburn has already taken over South Leeds, is building a free school etc and all of this activity and improvement will be taking place within the Trust – but without Beeston. Pure studidty!!

  2. I would like to inform Mr.Purcell that this partnership has been in place since 2010.I must congratulate the governors who are supporting their headteacher to prioritise the needs of children first.As we are aware that Cockburn are empire building and the partnership has always been one -sided.

    Education is too important to stay in an unequal partnership .Beeston Primary has always been child centred and this will give children the resilience/empathy/independence skills to become more able adults.They will also be able to stand up to large organisations who have a different view on Education

    1. My apologies for the length of this response, but I really cannot allow Peter’s comments to go unchallenged.

      Why would children need to stand up to organisations that have a different view on education? A different view from what? That of the staff at Beeston, who as Peter points out have been working in partnership with The Learning Trust ( and its partner schools, not just Cockburn) since 2011?

      Hardly – only last year at a meeting the Beeston deputy announced that the staff were very happy to be working with staff from other schools across the Trust and south Leeds, and how positive and constructive their meetings were.

      Why would a governing body want to disadvantage the life chances of children. We must remember that compulsory schooling continues until the age of 16, not 11. This is an example of a very short sighted governing body going against all the recent research proving that the only way we can make a difference in children’s attainment is by working in partnership. I wonder when Beeston will put children, instead of the whim of a governing body, first?

      Peter would do well to remember that Cockburn is not the only school within the trust – but Beeston without the trust will be an outsider, and all the joint working in partnership with trust schools which has resulted in improvement in all the schools across the trust (and can be evidenced) will come to an end, definitely disadvantaging the pupils of Beeston Primary. I should repeat, for Peter’s benefit, that it must be remembered that most of the pupils from Beeston move on to Cockburn. This would seem to put the lie to his assertion that the partnership has always been one sided.

      Finally I would hardly say that the Cockburn Multi Academy Trust is empire building. The school was approached by the local authority to become involved with South Leeds Academy and it was the local authority that also approached Cockburn to apply to open a free school, in response to the local demand for secondary places – places without which children would probably have had to travel much further to school.

  3. Thank you Mr. Purcell for your comments,i will expand on my statements.My view of Education is that it is an holistic approach,research has proven that there are 7 intelligence’s ie Kinestetic,creative.That is why the curriculum needs to develope skills for life .Cockburn focus mainly on the one intelligence of memory.
    I will follow your point of improving attainment.In 2007 when Mr. Richardson was the Headteacher the school pass rate for 5 A-C G.C.S.E including English/Maths was 50%.
    Mr. Gurney started his vision of Transformation to Excellance in 2008.In 2016 Cockburn achieved 57%.
    This means that over 8 years the progress has been less than 1% per year.
    You are correct that there is a shortage of school place’s.This year there are 7,500 places,we will need 10,300 in the next 5 years.The children do not have a choice.At present all the school’s are Academies except Royd’s.
    I believe the school’s have lost trust in the Leadership and it’s direction.If you believe less than 1% per year is good enough it is the governers who you need to question.

    I would also question any school that implements the Positive Disciple For Learning as this is not evidence based .Research states that behaviour can be changed depending on individual needs.With developing relationships as the key strategy.

    You are correct that partnerships when working collectively raise attainment.I would encourage the other school’s to work together and let Cockburn stand alone because you have to work on principle’s not systems.

  4. Tried to send this last week from my other email address but it has not been published?

    Both my kids attended Cockburn since Mr Gurney has been headmaster and I have been extremely impressed with the school and how it has been run. It was not my first choice school because 10 years ago it had a poor reputation and poor exam results. I am sure that in Mr Richardson’s final year which was 2008 the exam results for 5 A* – C including English and Maths was 31% not 50% as stated.

    I know there has been an improvement over many years to 57% last year which seems incredible.

    My youngest son has never been part of this crude statistic of A* – Cs as he left primary school with low levels but I know he made great progress getting some grades at C’s in some of his subjects. He also improved his confidence while at Cockburn as he was always a quiet boy.

    The messages I got from the school and what I have read is that they have always had high levels of progress. They have shown us that Value Added scores are in the top 5% of schools nationally and this new measure Progress 8 seems quite high at 0.38. I have looked on the website and seen that Cockburn has one of the highest Progress scores in Leeds. Surprised to see schools like Roundhay where my nephew currently goes with a Progress score of 0.09 and Pudsey Grangefield has -0.29

    I am aware that Cockburn is now the highest oversubscribed school in Leeds, probably a result of Transformation to Excellence’

    1. Dear Parent

      I obtained the 2007 exam results from the official website.If you can give us evidence of your figure i will public ally apologise.

      On the question of progress made i support how Cockburn have made this over the years.They have given their children an opportunity to achieve success by offering B/Tec sports and other qualifications which include course-work or I.T qualifications that can be achieved in one week.The results are not in the formal exams ie English/Maths.

      As the above qualifications are now not valid.The School will have to revert back to taking children off role.You may also be approached to move school or encouraged to educate at home.

      1. Enough of this nonsense. I don’t have a clue where this fellow finds his information but really…..

        Regardless of out of date figures, such as BTEC which don’t count anymore (and certainly couldn’t be completed in one week)the fact remains that the government website demonstrates that Cockburn’s Progress 8 results are above the national average, and this in a school that has a free school meals percentage of 51% compared to a national average of 29%. These figures speak for themselves, and Peter can dredge all the out of date and invalid statistics into the open air that he wants – the fact remains that Cockburn is an extremely successful school and Beeston Primary must be mad to want to cut their links with it.

  5. Dear Parent

    Thank you for your comments.I wish to confirm my comments.
    E.D.C.l -This is an I.T qualification which can be achieved in one week.It is equivalent to a C grade.
    B/Tec -This will take a year.
    You are right the B/Tec is not included now but it was for many years when Cockburn were able to use it in their progress 8.

    Our group Free School? are apposing Mr. Gurney opening a new Free School because it is his value’s/principle’s that we believe are wrong.
    If you want to know the reason please look at Office of the schools adjudicator (LAN 66).This was a 2 year investigation by Leeds City Council.Mr. Gurney was renting out a council house to a private tenant.
    It is for this reason Beeston Pimary do not want to be associated with Cockburn.I hope you can now understand our concerns as children are our future and need to respect our leaders.

    thank you for sharing your opinions

  6. Dear Peter,

    The Schools’ Adjudicator is an independent officer who was approached jointly by the Trust (not the school) and Leeds Council to arbitrate over the ownership of a property – did it belong to the council or the Trust. Your statement rather unsubtly suggests that something underhand and dishonest was taking place You are treading on dangerous ground. I myself would be wary of making such inflammatory (and untrue) statements.

    I have asked this question previously, and never received a reply – who are the officers and members of your group and how many of them live in south Leeds and send children to schools in south Leeds? I think you should let the readers of this paper know, don’t you?

    I suggest that you look at the Beeston Primary School’s web site and read the governing body’s letter to parents regarding the reasons why the school wishes to leave the Trust – it has nothing to do with the reason you have given above. Do I have to remind you that the majority of parents at Beeston Primary send their children to Cockburn School. Why would they do that if it is so awful – are you suggesting that they are total idiots?

    1. As a trustee of The Learning Trust I have been following the above posts with some interest.

      I would be interested to know what the “official web site” is that Peter refers to in his post above. A simple internet search reveals the official 2007/8 results taken from, for instance, The Guardian. These show that for that year Cockburn achieved 31% A* – C including Maths and English. As a trustee of The Learning Trust I can confirm this. This therefore shows an increase of 26% since 2007/8, a laudable result.

      I quote from his post “You are right the B/Tec is not included now but it was for many years when Cockburn were able to use it in their progress 8.”

      Progress 8 is a very recent introduction and so Cockburn could not have been using it for many years. None of the qualifications that Peter mentions are included in Cockburn’s Progress 8 results, which according to the website are, for 2016, above the national average

      I also quote “If you can give us evidence of your figure i will public ally apologise.” (sic)

      As I have done so above I await Peter’s public apology with some interest.

      1. Dear Trustee

        I have just checked my information on the G.C.S.E exam results for August 2007.The information is from your Ofsted inspection report on the 21st/22nd November 2007.It states “In 2007 the proportion of students achieving five or more G.C.S.Es at grade A-C rose by 12% to 50%”.

        The issue with the house 215,Belle Isle Road is that Cockburn school were receiving payment from a private tenant for a property that did not belong to them.Can you confirm if the rent received has been given back to the local authority.

        Thank You

  7. I see that you have changed your stance on the GCSE results. The figure you quote of 50% does not include Maths and English, as you erroneously stated in a previous post. I quote from that report “In 2007 the proportion of students achieving five or more GCSEs at grades A* to C rose by 12% to 50%.” Not including Maths and English.

    I still await your promised public apology for your previous misleading statement.

    In response to the final paragraph in your post of July 16th I would quote from the 2014 OfSTED inspection ( 7 yearslater than the report you quoted from) “……examination results for 2014 indicate that students’ attainment on GCSE courses is rising. The school prepares students for life in modern Britain effectively.”

    Similarly I am still awaiting the name of your supposed action group, the names of its officers and the number of members who have children that attend schools in south Leeds. This is now the third time of asking – you are becoming more like St. Peter every week! What have you got to hide?

    If I don’t receive answers to my questions – which are of course of interest to the people of south Leeds – I will consider that you have nothing of further consequence to say.

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