Thursday, 4 October 2012

Speakers announced for head teachers’ GCSE summit

The education leaders who will be speaking at a Leeds summit next week to keep the GCSE grading issue live have been announced today.

Alongside some top names in education are local leaders who have been speaking out on the issue, and are passionate about the challenge to ensure fair treatment for all young people whose GCSEs were unfairly graded. The summit will be opened by Councillor Judith Blake, deputy leader of Leeds City Council and executive member for children’s services who has been a leading voice on this issue since it came to light in August.

So far, speakers at the summit include:
Russell Hobby – General Secretary - National Association of Head Teachers
Kevin Courtney – Deputy General Secretary - NUT
John Townsley – Executive Principal – Morley Academy
Bill Watkin – Operational Director - SSAT (The Schools Network)
Paul Brennan – Deputy director for learning at Leeds City Council
Mike Gibbons – Principal and Chief Executive - The Grammar School at Leeds
Lucie Lakin – Vice Principal - Standards & Performance - Carr Manor Community School

Being held at Leeds Town Hall on Tuesday 9 October, the not-for-profit summit will allow head teachers, subject leaders and other education professionals to raise their own issues, gain understanding of the national picture and discuss how they can work together to bring about change.

The focus of the summit will be on the unprecedented change in grade boundaries of the English GCSE between January and June this year. This resulted in many young people across the country being awarded a grade D when, if their papers had been marked in January, they would have received a C. Other issues which some schools are having with the grading of different subjects and other GCSE English grades will also be discussed.

The summit is an opportunity for head teachers to keep the issue live and help to shape a co-ordinated response to the DfE consultation on the proposed English Baccalaureate. There will also be an update on the current status of the legal challenge against OFQUAL, AQA and EdExcel.

Councillor Judith Blake, Leeds City Council’s executive member for children’s services said:
“We are really pleased that we have been able to secure some excellent speakers at such short notice. This summit promises to provoke some passionate debate and discussions not only about the unfair grading of GCSEs but also the wider issues affecting the future of secondary qualifications.

“It is so important we do not forget about the young people mixed up in this, who, through not fault of their own, had their work devalued. This summit will help us keep the issue live.”

Leeds City Council was one of the first organisations to raise concerns into the grading of GCSE English, and has been actively campaigning for the fair treatment of all students who sat the exam. Leeds has been leading a consortium involving other local authorities, schools and professional organisations calling for a judicial review on the issue.

The national consortium which includes many Leeds schools as well as individual pupils has submitted a formal letter to the examination regulator Ofqual and exam boards AQA and Edexcel, and are currently awaiting their response.

People who wish to attend the summit, which is being supported by Leeds City Council and sponsors SSAT, NUT, NAHT and ASCL, should contact or call 0113 395 1050.. A fee of £45 plus VAT is payable, to enable the organisers to cover costs.

Members of the media are welcome to attend the summit - please contact the press office on the details below if you wish to attend.

For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713

Young people on target with Leeds United player

Young people who have been taking part in a football skills project with Leeds City Council’s youth service will be visited by a surprise special guest tomorrow.

A Leeds United first team player will drop in to the Old Cockburn Sports Hall to meet youngsters who have been taking part in the ‘On-Target’ project in south Leeds.

Media opportunity:
When: Friday 5 October 2012 at 6pm
Where: Old Cockburn Sports Hall, Primrose Lane, Leeds, LS11 5EW
Members of the media are welcome to come along to photograph and interview the LUFC player, youngsters and youth service staff.

The player will meet around 30 of the youngsters who have been learning football skills, to reward them for their commitment to the project.

The On-Target project has been running across the Beeston Hill and Holbeck and City and Hunselt wards, over the past five months, in partnership with the Leeds United Foundation. The project encourages young people who are at risk of becoming involved with anti-social behaviour to engage in positive activities.

As well as learning football skills, the youngsters learn about team work and are all working towards a Youth Services Youth Award to give them lasting recognition of their achievements.

Funding for the project is from the council’s inner-south area committee Well Being fund. Local ward councillors have also been invited to attend.

For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713

Bin done for ignoring warnings

A Leeds resident has been fined for continuing to leave their bins out on the street for five months.

Yasmine Rushfirth of Nowell Grove, Burmantofts, ignored six reminders and warnings to remove two wheeled bins from the street outside her property.

A first reminder to put bins out on time and put them away after they’d been collected was issued to Rushfirth back in October 2011.

Another 125 other residents received the same letter as rubbish and litter are a particular problem in the Nowells area. This is often caused by bins being left out or overflowing and the council is working hard with residents to change this.

Despite these efforts, nearly two and half months and several complaints from local residents later, the offending bins were still on the street.

Numerous attempts to contact Rushfirth were made to offer assistance and legal notices were issued to encourage her to put the bins away. Her failure to act on these warnings resulted in a fixed penalty notice being issued in March 2012.

The penalty wasn’t paid and Rushforth was prosecuted. The case was heard at Leeds Magistrates court last week.

Rushforth was order to pay a £100 fine, £851.13 in costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

Councillor Mark Dobson, executive member for the environment, said:

“Leaving bins out for this length of time just isn’t an option. They cause an obstruction, it can encourage people to misuse them and contributes to litter. We will take action when needed and indeed it’s residents themselves who are demanding that we take a tougher line.

“We’ve made a commitment to provide a waste and recycling service that’s right for our residents and to work with residents to keep their neighbourhoods clean. For these commitments to produce results we need residents to work with us to put their bins out in time for collection and to put them away as soon as is practical once they’re emptied.”

For media enquiries please contact:
Amanda Burns, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1577


Leeds International Film Festival is ‘Argo’ for launch

Caption: Ben Affleck (left) directs and stars in the Oscar-tipped 'Argo'

Ben Affleck’s new comic thriller ‘Argo’ has been announced as the opening gala screening at this year’s Leeds International Film Festival.

The film based on the remarkable true story of a CIA expert posing as a fake film director in order to infiltrate Iran and rescue of a group of Americans stranded there in 1979 is a strong contender for the Oscars and will open the annual festival by being shown at Leeds Town Hall on Thursday 1 November.

Now in its 26th year, the biggest film festival in England to be held outside London runs until Sunday 18 November and will boast more than 150 feature films, over 130 short films and nearly 250 screening events.

To coincide with the full programme being released on and tickets going on sale tomorrow (Friday 5 October), a special preview of the festival will be held on Friday night from 7pm in Leeds Town Hall as part of Light Night. Preview trailers of some of the films to be shown will be screened followed by a free showing of musical crime comedy ‘Sound of Noise’ from 8:30pm which was a big hit with audiences at last year’s festival. Entry is free on the night and no tickets are required.

Among the other highlights of this year’s festival organised by Leeds City Council will be a retrospective of Stanley Kubrick with new digital print screenings of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, ‘Barry Lyndon’ and the classic chiller ‘The Shining’ all in the Victoria Hall.

A star appearance at the festival will be made by leading Russian and filmmaker Andrei Konchalovsky, who will attend a retrospective of his early work at Hyde Park Picture House on Saturday 17th November. Best known for cult favourite ‘Runaway Train’, the retrospective will show five of his works from his directorial debut ‘The First Teacher’ in 1965 to ‘Asya’s Happiness’, ‘A Nest of Gentlefolk’, ’Uncle Vanya’, and his Cannes prize-winning ‘Siberiade’.

The work of legendary Japanese actress and filmmaker Kinuyo Tanaka (1909-77) will also be honoured at the festival by showing a selection of her finest performances in a retrospective curated by Michael Smith and supported by the Japan Foundation and the Mixed Cinema Network/Centre for World Cinemas at the University of Leeds.

With further details about the other elements of the festival being available at following the preview on Friday, the closing gala film has also now been announced. Michael Haneke’s new film ‘Amour’ will bring the curtain down on the festival in style in Leeds Town Hall on Thursday 15 November. The film, which tells the story of an elderly couple and how they deal with ageing and the onset of dementia, won the Palme d’Or at Cannes this year where it was hailed as a masterpiece.

Leeds City Council executive member for leisure Councillor and skills Adam Ogilvie said:

“The Leeds International Film Festival continues to go from strength to strength attracting leading films and industry experts from all over the world. It has become one of the must-attend events of the year in Leeds as there really is something for everyone to enjoy.”

Director of Leeds International Film Festival Chris Fell said:

“After launching with The King’s Speech in 2010 and closing with The Artist in 2011, both winners of Best Film Oscars, Leeds International Film Festival headlines with another major awards contender this year in its opening film Argo.

“Our audiences are used to being among the first in the world to see the most talked-about films, and Argo leads an exceptional programme of new delights, discoveries and unforgettable film experiences.”

Tickets and film festival passes will be available from Friday 5 October in person at City Centre Box Office (The Carriageworks, Millennium Square, Leeds, LS2 3AD), over the telephone (0113 224 3801) and online (

Presented by Leeds City Council, Leeds International Film Festival is supported by the MEDIA Programme of the European Union and the National Lottery through the British Film Institute and Creative England.


For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, senior communications officer,
Leeds City Council, Tel: 0113 247 5472