A distributed approach to leadership has enabled staff at Batley Girls’ High School to develop their strengths and transform the school into a community hub for sustainability.

Key learning

  • Batley Girls’ High School has established a distributed leadership culture that supports education for sustainability.
  • The school’s last Ofsted report described the leadership of the school as, “high quality, allowing staff to develop their strengths”.
  • The school has achieved the Eco-Schools bronze and silver awards, as well as a Green Flag.
  • The sustainability initiative has been recognised with awards from Yorkshire in Bloom, the Healthy Schools programme and Kirklees Council.
  • The school has become a hub for the community, with thriving outreach programmes and green spaces for local people to enjoy.

Background

Batley Girls’ High School faced a number of challenges, including a poor environment and a low regard for the school amongst the local community. In 2004 a new leadership team joined Batley Girls’ High School, with a commitment to principle-centred leadership and empowering staff. The school achieved visual arts status and adopted the acronym ‘ART’ to reflect its goals of pursuing achievement, respect and transformation.

The deputy head responsible for transformation began the process of introducing environmental programmes to improve the appearance of the school and to demonstrate the importance of sustainable living to students, staff and the wider community.

Key challenges

Changing leadership culture

The transition from top-down to bottom-up decision making has not always been easy. The leadership team has learnt that staff must be supported to become self-directing.

Establishing accountability

The leadership team needed to establish clear accountability to allow staff to grow in confidence and make decisions that support the overall direction and mission of the school.

Solution

Empowering leaders

The sustainable schools programme has been led by the deputy head for transformation but the process has involved the entire staff, the local community and external agencies. The process has empowered individuals as agents for change.

Joined-up thinking

The extended schools and extended learning groups and the eco committee work together on sustainable themes such as travel plans, energy conservation and citizenship. All of these groups are led by teaching and associate staff rather than senior managers and their work feeds into a range of student groups.

Improving the school grounds

As part of ongoing improvements to its grounds, the school has created an organic allotment, fruit orchard and herb garden which provide fresh produce for the school kitchen. The school has also developed a community garden to offer local residents a safe, green space.

Horticultural facilities

The school’s greenhouse and polytunnels enable NVQ horticulture students to grow plants from seed, ensuring a new harvest each year. All of the school’s growing areas feature water butts and compost bins.

Outdoor classrooms

Batley Girls’ High School uses outdoor areas as classrooms and social spaces. Seating areas in the allotments and the amphitheatre provide spaces for outdoor events.

Further information

For further information contact Batley Girls High School.