Northern Education Trust

Working to fulfil the potential of young people

Abbey Park is Alive with the Sound of Music

31st Jan 2014

Abbey Park is Alive with the Sound of Music

The arrival of Eileen Bleasdale OBE as executive headteacher at Abbey Park Primary Academy in Illingworth, Halifax, has marked the start of a bright new chapter in its development and a much bigger focus on the performing arts at the school.

Mrs Bleasdale is a highly experienced educationist who received official recognition for her services to education in the January 2013 New Year Honours. Her appointment has been made by the Northern Education Trust, a multi academy trust, based in northeast England, which took over the running of Abbey Park as its sponsor on 1 December 2013.

The decision was reached to convert to an academy following an Ofsted inspection in December 2012 when Abbey Park was placed in special measures, but there are now definite signs that the school is improving.

Mrs Bleasdale's two-year contract as executive headteacher at Abbey Park will combine continued responsibility for Laneshaw Bridge Primary School in Colne where she has been headteacher since 1988, steering the school through many changes. Laneshaw Bridge is a highly popular and successful school and has been judged outstanding by Ofsted on three separate occasions.

An accomplished musician outside of school, playing the violin in a local orchestra, Mrs Bleasdale has brought a renewed focus on singing and music to Abbey Park which is already making a difference to the climate for learning.

At Christmas the school staged a musical production for the first time in recent years which was very well received by parents and thoroughly enjoyed by the school's 207 pupils and she has started a guitar club. These activities are bringing a new dimension to the school.

Commenting on her new role, she said: 'I arrived at Abbey Park in September 2013 as an interim headteacher, but since the start of this year I have been awarded a two-year contract as executive headteacher so I am now ideally placed to make a real impact on the standards of teaching and learning at the school, which is wonderful.

'I am a firm believer in the contribution made to a child's development by music and the arts and I am committed to introducing a much broader arts curriculum to Abbey Park. I would like to think that in the future it becomes regarded as a specialist school for the performing arts.

-The arts and music agenda is giving the children confidence - and confidence in one field gives them confidence to tackle challenges more readily in another.

-Immediately on the horizon however is the choir's trip to the MEN Arena in Manchester, where they will be performing for the first time on 5th February along with hundreds of other school children, in Young Voices, which is a charitable organisation that arranges concerts for school choirs.

-We are all very excited about the potential of this trip to broaden the children's horizons, taking them outside of their immediate environment to explore the world around them.

Roger Alston, chief executive of Northern Education Trust, added: 'We are very pleased to have appointed a headteacher of Eileen's calibre to run Abbey Park. Her record of school improvement is exceptional and we are confident that she will take Abbey Park to a new level.'