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  • Writer's pictureAdrian Bethune

Vlog with Ben Levinson OBE

Updated: May 11, 2022

Adrian Bethune interviews headteacher of Kensington Primary, Ben Levinson.


Ben Levinson

Ben is the headteacher of Kensington Primary School in Newham, East London. In 2020, Kensington Primary won the Pearson School of the Year Award, they also won the TES Wellbeing and Mental Health Award and they achieved the Gold Award from the Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools.


He is also on the Board of the Well Schools movement and was part of the DfE Advisory panel for Teacher Wellbeing, feeding into the Education and Staff Wellbeing Charter.


Why did you feel the need to do things differently at Kensington?


About six years ago, Ben's school decided to take a look at what they were teaching. They began a long process at questioning why they were doing the things they were and what knowledge and skills their children needed now and in the future. This led them to creating 'Curriculum K' - an evidence-based curriculum designed for the 21st century. Find out why Ben felt the need to go against the grain and do things differently.


How did you have the courage to do things differently?

The UK operates in an education system of high-stakes accountability. One poor Ofsted grade could mean a headteacher loses their job. So, how did Ben and his team have the courage to do things differently when it's safer to play the game and not change much? The answer was simple - when they asked what it was their children needed to thrive now and in the future, they had no choice but to change what they were doing.


How do you fit everything in to your curriculum?

Ever since I retrained to teach in 2010, something I've always believed is there simply isn't

enough time to teach everything you're meant to teach. The interesting thing about Kensington Primary is they teach less English and Maths in order to teach more about physical and emotional health. My question to Ben was, if that's the case, how does his school teach everything it's meant to be teach? The answer: they don't!


How do you know staff are doing a good job?

Another unique thing about Kensington Primary is that they don't have any formal monitoring of teaching and learning. They scrapped it all in order to reduce workload and stress and to increase staff wellbeing and retention. Instead they rely on something quite novel in education - trust.


What is the Well Schools Movement and why should all schools be part of it?


Both Ben and I are on the strategic board for the Well Schools Movement. I asked Ben to sum up what Well Schools is all about and why he thinks more schools should join this powerful movement of schools. You can join the movement here - https://www.well-school.org/

 

Thanks for watching the interview clips brought to you as part of #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek2022 . Please share with your colleagues and fellow educators!



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