Mike’s role as headteacher at Ysgol Bae Baglan puts him at the centre of a local community, not just a school.
He tells us more about what that entails and the impact Bae Baglan has had on people.
Mike, as the headteacher, what does Ysgol Bae Baglan mean to you?
We are not just a school, we are an amalgamation of four communities. We are the community of Ysgol Bae Baglan.
We do everything from sports, youth clubs, adult education classes, a cafe, dance classes, Welsh adult learning classes and art classes. We also host conferences, award evenings, choirs and music events. We’ve become the one stop shop for the local community; it’s all about how they use it.
Has Bae Baglan impacted the community?
I think it’s something to be proud of and raises aspirations. It is a very deprived community and before this school, a lot of the facilities here were either run down or closed. We wanted to make sure this school provides more than just a learning environment for children. Now, when visitors arrive and see everything we’ve got, it’s a ‘wow’ moment.
Since opening, we’ve noticed high levels of engagement at parents’ evenings, because a lot of them have already been through the doors to do extracurricular activity. And, in terms aspirations of the pupils, they feel they have the very best and that has a positive effect their learning.
What else have you noticed since the school opened its doors?
We employ a lot of the local community here. Many of our support systems, admin staff, catering teams, caretakers and facilities teams live nearby. We’ve got 224 staff and about 100 of those are local residents, so we’re really giving something back.
Equally, lots of the local business have the opportunity to use our facilities for good rates.
Even though we’ve only been open two years, we’ve got a reputation as the go-to facility. National teams and county squads use it as their training base and that has a huge impact in the way pupils feel about their building. It really does instil a sense of pride.
Interestingly, the local authority run a youth club here three times a week and it’s the most attended youth club in the area. When the youth club was in a different location, very few people attended it.
What’s more, it’s a group that has over 100 people coming together, getting people off the streets and involved in a positive way around the community. It’s a hugely diverse group. This youth club takes place at the same time the rest of the facility is being used, so you get that real cross over between different people.
As headteacher, how do you perceive your role?
I think it’s important I’m seen as more than a headteacher. I often do local sporting events and it’s great to run alongside parents and hear children shout “come on Mr Tate”.
I run a facility now, not just a school, so I feel like the head of a great community. We’re one of three 3-16 schools in Wales, so we’re pioneering in terms of that approach. I can’t wait to develop it further.
Has the community changed at all?
What we serve here is a post-industrial society, where many of our parents and their parents worked in manufacturing, steel works and mines. Now a lot of that is gone and as a school we need to support this transition.
We are already a global innovation school and the only 3-16 Microsoft school in the whole of Britain. Our pupils use tablet devices in the classroom, gaining skills that will prepare them for the next round of employment opportunities in this area. But, equally, we also have, mechanics, construction suites, car bays and engineering suites, because we are preparing pupils for all types of employment in this area.
And finally, can you sum up Ysgol Bae Baglan in one sentence?
A community focused hub of learning, championing aspiration and opportunity.