A bbc Interview with Chris Dyson

Chris Dyson is the award-winning Head Teacher at Parklands Primary School, Leeds. When he started at Parklands things were about as bad as it can get, exclusions were rocketing and behaviour was poor. He turned the school around with his own brand of leadership and initiatives.
You can hear Chris speak at Lead Learn Lancs on 30th September on how he turned his school around.

What made you become a teacher?
         - To change people´s lives. I loved school, wasn´t the brightest but I loved most of my teachers and just picked the best bits of these guys to create my own teaching style. Some children have it tough out there... as a teacher we can understand them and enrich them so that one day they can become inspirers in their own field. 

What is your favourite part of the job?

         - Literally - Friday afternoon #bestseatsinthehouse assembly. Pizza, smiles, Times Tables and love... seeing the children´s faces with smiles that show that they are happy and enjoying learning. The way in which they clap, cheer and high five every child shows they have respect for each other. Christmas Eve when we open the school to all the community is also very special- 800 Christmas dinners and presents shared- all funded by businesses. 

What has been best thing you have done at work this year?

         - Wow where do I start? Xmas Eve opening? Getting some children a helicopter ride over Leeds? Hosting the Xtable Rock Wrangle? Having the school live on BBC Breakfast for 5 hours? Being showcased as the quickest at XTables on a variety of news channels? Getting the school to win a National TES Award? Getting 65% Greater Depth in the KS2 Maths Tests? Being named Radio Aire´s Hero of the Year´ and taking 80 of our most vulnerable children to an exclusive 3 course meal at an amazing restaurant- Goucho´s in Leeds. As well as helping a family get a full house make over, Selling out the West Yorkshire Playhouse with our Community Musical- ´Oh I Do Like To Be Beside the Sea(Croft). Or getting a totally free re-decoration of the school and 65k worth of free lighting. Also, the school appearing on Ant and Dec´s Saturday Night Takeaway. 

I will let you decide! Simply, every week has had something special parklandsprimary.org.uk/special-events

So a quiet year then.

What is the most frustrating thing about teaching at the moment?
         - Negativity over workload with the lack of money in schools. Seeing brilliant staff getting 1% pay rises with MPs getting increased makes everyone feel devalued. Having Government policy on Grammar Schools and insisting we never had so much money brings a tear to my eye. The mess with Assessments and the lack of listening to teachers on the shop floor makes it a real challenge to keep morals high. We are lucky at Parklands that our Wellbeing makes staff smile. 

What songs would be on your driving to work playlist?
         - Sadly, I´m a strictly Talk Sport avid listener- gives me all my sporting updates first thing. The playlists begin when I arrive at school, then it´s music all day. Blur, Lumineers, Backstreet Boys, 5ive, Madonna, McFly, Wonderstuff - the works. 

What is the funniest thing a child has ever said/written in your class?
         - I got a lovely Christmas card this year which said ´Happy Xmas Grandad´ Grandad, and the original senders name, was crossed out and they had inserted theirs. Very original and brilliant recycling. I´ll pass it on to my wife this Christmas. 

I bet you´ll be popular in your house.

What is your guilty pleasure?
         - Watching ´Dance Moms´ on Channel 5 Star with the daughter every night. Plus there is nothing I don´t know about Jo Jo Bows or Abby Lee Miller.

Your guess is as good as mine, reader.

If you weren´t a teacher, what would you be and why?
         - I would have been part of a world-wide successful Boy Band. I would have used the world as my stage, rather than school. I am still not ruling out joining a successful band before I get too old. 

Gary Barlow is running out of members of Take That... opportunity there?

What are you passionate about (teaching-related or not)?
         - Staff and child wellbeing. Quite simply a happy child is a child who is learning. Happy, learning children means happy teachers. Happy teachers means children can progress. Learning and achieving is taking place, which means parents are happy. If the parents, teachers and children are happy then the SLT, Governors etc. are happy. 

Having SLT listen to staff voice and allowing time for deadline; having worthwhile staff meetings instead of just ´for the sake of it´ ones; having a marking and feedback policy that is teacher-friendly... these are further examples of developing Wellbeing. 

If you had to pick one subject/topic to teach on a loop forever, what would it be?
         - Times Tables all day long- get this right and maths becomes fun, engaging and everyone´s favourite lesson. It also gets you 65% GLD as arithmetic becomes a real Mental Maths success. All maths becomes more straightforward. The impact of a bit of competition is important, especially on Boys. parklandsprimary.org.uk/tt-rock-stars-northern-wrangle-live-bbc-breakfast

What is the most effective resource/technology/app you use in the classroom?
         - Inspiring writing using Tim Rylands´ Myst lessons- the fireball scene makes for exciting, engaging writing. timrylands.com/more-on-myst/ I love the man as he changed my teaching more than any other inspirer. 

What is the most effective routine/method/system you use in the classroom?
         - Early Bird Maths, 15 minutes every morning. ´Bums on seats´ tackling 10/20 Maths Qs. Same style Questions all week, just slightly different numbers. This sees an extra 40 hours maths a year. I may still take the idea on Dragons Den, but I´m not a business man. 

If you had to pick 4 people (Twitter or otherwise) to invite to a dinner party who
would it be and why?
         - How do you go to 4 from a thousand? I will ahve to go for 4 inspirational women teachers who inspire me and my staff, and the children every day. @robertsNiomi, @MissMaj_ , @JennaLucas81 and @kiranS29 . I could have gone for HTs or Readers or Inspirers or Maths bods or SLT stars or On Line Providers.. but I had to go with tweeters who just share brilliant things and lead CPD. Apologies to those not mentioned, it´s a small table paid for by bbc.

What can I say, I´m a cheapskate. Plus I´m not funded by Licence fee payers.

What is the best and worst advice you have been given as a teacher?
         - Best Advice: my Head Teacher on my second ITT placement- ¨You will be a Head before you are 30, such is your impact- keep doing what you are doing.¨ I had an action-packed 20s and 30s but he sowed the seends. 
Worst Advice was the joker who gave me my feedback after my first Head Teacher interview. ¨Your top button was undone and you came across a bit of a ¨Jack the Lad¨. Thanks for that... put me off applying for Headship for the next 6 years. A teacher/HT/TA should be right for the job, not dressed to impress the Governors. 

I guess it wasn´t a Wednesday.

Final Question: What drives you as a teacher?
         - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4V3Mo61fJM
     Being the best I possinly can for each and every child, TA, Office staff, Cleaner, Learning Mentor, Dinner Supervisor, Teacher and parent in the school. Making dreams come true for people who ahve their dreams cut short or think that things don´t happen to people like us. To show that I came from an estate, I had no dad, FSM, free clothes and even though I was arrested twice growing up- when you have a dream - dreams can come true. You listen, you learn and you can change the world. Any child from anywhere can be the next ´big thing´ if people show love, respect, understanding and set high expectations. I promised the children back in September when they said they wanted to be on the ANt and Dec Saturday Night Take Away, that I would get them on. Don´t even ask how I did it, but I had the drive to try and it worked. #Livethedream. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1SHK4J392rI 

Ben, thanks for the platform to share the greatest job in the world. Have a great summer, big love and respect to all Tweeters. 

If you could choose one person who you´d love to have the bbc interview treatment, who would it be and why?
- Next interview has to be my ´mini me´, my Y6 pupil when I won Teacher of the Year- @MissNolan91 - a real diamond.


  1. Chris is a legend already. I wish he'd been my headteacher when I was at school. The only problem with that is we're of similar age (in fact, I'll be older) so that could have been a bit weird. Keep up the great work, Chris.


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