New book tells story of Leeds primary school that helped bring community together after 7/7

Hannah Darley and Narinder Gill.
Hannah Darley and Narinder Gill.

A new book has turned the spotlight on the transformation of a Leeds school and the part it played in unifying the city’s different communities following one of the most difficult periods in its recent past.

Narinder Gill was appointed as headteacher of Hunslet Moor Primary School in September 2005, just two months after the July 7 terror attacks in London.

Two of the men who carried out the bombings grew up near the school, leading to depictions of its catchment area as a “grim northern neighbourhood” beset by division.

Narinder and her staff set about changing that narrative, galvanising members of the community to co-operate and work together while also driving up academic standards at Hunslet Moor.

And now a book written by Narinder with her successor as headteacher, Hannah Darley, has told the story of the journey that followed at a school that is today regarded as one of the shining lights of Leeds’s education sector.

Released by Singular Publishing and launched at an event in Leeds, Creating Change In Urban Settings has also been written to pay tribute to the people across the city who rejected negativity and instead forged a spirit of togetherness following 7/7.

It has won praise from civic leaders and academic experts alike, with Leeds City Council chief executive Tom Riordan calling it an “insightful and inspiring read about how connected and compassionate leadership can bring communities together in the face of adversity”.

Narinder, who left Hunslet Moor in 2013 to set up a company called Inspiring Generations, told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “Our intention in this book is to share and celebrate the innovations in relationships, in the school’s approach to the curriculum, and in the way that all members of the school community worked together to deliver a transformation in the lives of the children and their parents and carers.

“It is also our intention to pay tribute to those who could see the potential of Hunslet Moor and who have been unfaltering in their belief, support and commitment in achieving this vision.

“We believe these voices should be heard and listened to. These are the adults and children who have enabled Hunslet Moor to become a school to be proud of.”

Measures taken by Hunslet Moor to promote unity included the staging of a charity dinner with a theme of ‘East meets West’.

A Faith Trail was also established to try to open the doors of different places of worship in the area to parents and children.

The book also looks at how Hunslet Moor reversed a decline in its academic performance, with an Ofsted inspection in 2014 recognising a decade of improvements that had helped pupils to make “sustained and rapid progress”.

Subjects covered in its pages include developing a curriculum with “moral purpose” and working to get parents more involved in their children’s learning.