Tucked away at the junction of Weetwood Lane and Hollin Road is Weetwood Primary School. With 258 pupils, the school is popular and has a well-deserved reputation for its work. It prides itself on having a friendly, welcoming and happy atmosphere and successfully promoting positive attitudes to learning amongst its pupils.
With three years as Head under his belt, Jon Iglesias is determined that the values of responsibility, inclusivity and mutual respect are embedded in everything that happens in the school. “We have fantastic staff and a key to delivering these values are the Junior Leadership Scheme and School Council. Pupil representatives hold class discussions to give voice to ideas and experiences which then contribute to the school’s own development. For example, our latest action is to respond to our pupil’s desire to learn more about climate change.”
Whilst all schools need to have a broad, balanced and relevant curriculum, Jon sees a particularly important role for the arts in primary education. The school works with the charity Made with Music on live music. He believes the performance of music and drama builds confidence and self esteem, and that expanding vocabulary through reading literature and creative writing is key to a pupil’s future success. “We need to grow the diverse talents and celebrate the achievements of all our pupils.”
He is proud that the school is outward facing and embraces partnerships with the local community. “For example, at the moment we have six children designated as Community Cheerleaders who are visiting older people in St Chad’s Court on an inter-generational friendship project. We are looking to build closer relationships with the universities and already two Leeds Beckett University students run our school choir.”
The school building itself has an interesting history. It was built in 1894, largely funded by Ernest Beckett MP, as St Chad’s Home for Waifs and Strays. The Home initially housed 30 girls aged 10-15 from the most deprived backgrounds, who had often been found wandering the streets. In the new building, it grew to take in 78 children. Instead of training them for domestic service, the girls were put to factory-based work making highly sought after knitted stockings.
Work expanded to include a large and successful laundry, but then the building was commandeered in 1939 at the start of the war, and the Home closed. The property was later taken over by Leeds Education Authority as student accommodation, and then became Weetwood Primary School in 1995. The Beckett Coat of Arms carved in stone can still be seen over the main entrance.