The headteacher Raising the Game for black pupils in Lambeth

Andrea Parker heads up three Lambeth schools. She's leading on improving education for black Caribbean children.

On average, black Caribbean children are achieving less in school than most of their peers. And that gap in achievement has been widening.

Andrea Parker is on a mission to change the trend.

As head of Bonneville Primary School, Jessop Primary School and Stockwell Primary School, she fully understands the issues contributing to underachievement.

She's been leading a programme called Raising the Game. Due to its interventions – and the fantastic work of schools across Lambeth – there have been fewer permanent exclusions, stronger connections with parents, and more emphasis on a diverse curriculum.

Thanks to Andrea, the programme has been extended – and schools are grasping the opportunity to include it in their curricula.

The headteacher raising achievement for black Caribbean pupils in Lambeth

1. What do you like most about your job?

"Breaking cycles of disadvantage – by providing the best education to children that they may not otherwise receive without our intervention, is a privilege. 

Being a Headteacher gives me the scope to impact on the lives of many children and families – supporting them to be prepared for the next stage of their lives. 

Education is the best armour for future prosperity, health, success and happiness. I am humbled to be able to make a difference to that."

2. What is your proudest moment?

"My proudest moment is celebrating the achievements of the children in my care. 

Watching their progress from one point to the next, and sharing that with my team. Knowing that what we are doing is actually making a difference.

I have watched children join our school from having a really difficult time elsewhere. Our focus on developing relationships – and building trust with the child and their family – enables us to give them the support and provide the intervention they need. 

When you witness a young person come out the other side, realising what they are capable of is the best feeling ever."

3. What inspired you to the top of your career?

"I have benefitted from being surrounded by people who valued education enough to want it for me. 

I watched my hard-working mother, single handedly raise us, accepting no excuses for not attending school or not concentrating when we were there. 

Education, working hard and achieving is all I have been grown to know. Who inspired me with all that? Of course my mother and my grandmother. 

I was also lucky enough to have the most inspiring and engaging primary school teacher in year 5 and 6. The experience of school that was given to me by her, is what I am dedicated to be providing for others. 

She taught us to have a love of learning – and set high expectations for us – all delivered through a passion that made us know we were cared for. 

I am keen to give this back by developing, supporting and, if I can, inspiring others to believe there is no ceiling to what you can achieve. Understanding, that it is possible to have a profound life changing positive impact on others."

4. What challenges did you have to overcome?

"The usual distractions in life are a challenge for everyone.

It becomes harder when you are working towards a goal that your associates are not a part of. Maintaining that dedication, commitment and focus on your journey – whilst not leaving your friends – behind becomes even harder.

University was also not easy. Being a minority in my cohort at the time, meant I did not meet people who were like me. Looking back I see these experiences have taught me how to be focused and resilient.

Being the only person like me in the room is something I no longer notice. Breaking these barriers have become part of my goal."

5. How can we give young children a better start in life?

"Children need us to be prepared and not reactive. 

Our communities need us to understand the context of the communities we serve. 

Sharing that knowledge – and creating a culture within our schools – to reflect that knowledge, understanding and high expectations that we have for the BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) community. 

Once we value the experience of living in England as a BAME member of the community, we can provide appropriate educational experiences and settings."

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