Leeds: Parklands Girls goes out on a high

Casey Varley with her poster.
Casey Varley with her poster.
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A school facing imminent closure is determined to go out on a high.

Staff at Parklands Girls High, in Seacroft, the last single-sex school in Leeds, are saying goodbye to a 50-year history.

Now they are hoping their swan song will be record levels of attendance.

A bid to improve attendance rates, until recently below the 90 per cent average at about 85 per cent, was launched by the school’s head of art and technology Becky Patchesa.

She said: “Levels of attendance relate directly to students’ achievement and they have been lower than we‘d like.

We wanted to get back on track before we close and push students into getting their best attendance and results for the last time!”

Launched in February, the attendance drive has had an impact with steady improvement in the numbers of students coming to school.

Parents were persuaded to support the initiative with a poster campaign raising awareness of the link between under-attendance and under-achievement.

Year 11 pupil Casey Varley drafted a winning design and her work went on display at the local Crossgates shopping centre.

Since February, all pupils with a 100 per cent attendance record have been entered into a weekly prize draw with gifts donated by local businesses.

High-flyers from leading companies have also been drafted in to stress the importance of regular attendance once students leave school and find jobs.

Parklands was once declared a National Challenge school and the number of pupils with five GCSEs results was about 25 per cent.

Thanks to the efforts of staff led by headteacher Helen Lane, who will stay on when the school becomes part of East Leeds EACT Academy in September, that figure is now 32 per cent and its OFSTED rating is “satisfactory”.

Community campaigners led a concerted bid to keep the school open.

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