Pillar of community who embraced technology honoured

An innovative and dedicated former headteacher has seen his good work in the community recognised with a special honour from the University of Bradford.

Peter Steele was headteacher at Princeville Primary School, Bradford, from 1982 to 2006, with embracing new technology and bringing everyone together at the heart of what he achieved during his time there.

He always had a child-centred approach to his time as headteacher and his hard work paid off. In 1982 the school was described as “one of the most under-resourced ever visited.”

However, that changed as by the early 2000s, Princeville Primary School in Lidget Green was transformed thanks to Peter’s tireless efforts. This led to the schools inspectorate Ofsted describing Princeville as “a school in and urban setting with the feel of a village community.”

Peter made sure everyone at his school was represented and Princeville Primary was one of the first schools in Bradford to close for festivals such as Eid and Diwali.

He offered classes in subjects including English, Maths and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to immigrant parents who were new to Bradford.

He has been awarded an Outstanding Contribution Award at the University of Bradford – ‘In recognition of their significant contribution to excellence and inclusion within education and the community.’

New technology was also a key factor in Peter’s time at Princeville. He gained national recognition for the implementation of ICT, receiving a number of awards.

The technology included ICT as well as CCTV which became a major strand in enabling child protection and safeguarding, used by staff to self-review teaching and mentoring pupil behaviour. The use of CCTV also made sure that the school was a safe place for the community to use on evenings and weekends. The school also made extensive use of IT to enhance teaching and learning.

The early adoption of technology by Peter and the school was not done at the expense of the wider curriculum, it helped challenge the learning possibilities and ensured the whole school community became learners.

During his ceremony in the University’s Great Hall, Peter was described as the ‘pillar of Princeville Primary School’ and a ‘legend’, who created a family out of the BD7 community. Peter was also compared to a former CEO of Apple for his approach to technology, when he was dubbed as the ‘Steve Jobs of primary education’.

Speaking as he received his award at the University of Bradford, Peter said: “It was totally unexpected. I’m ever so grateful that you think I should be worthy.

“I left school at 16 with no plan. I started an engineering apprenticeship before training as an early years teacher. If you would have said to me at 21 that I would become a headteacher and a headteacher, that would not have entered my head.

“I have embraced technology to open up fresh new learning opportunities for the whole school community.”

Peter paid tribute to his family, friends, past and present staff and students of Princeville Primary School after picking up the honour.

He also had advice for University of Bradford graduates, adding: “You can become a catalyst for change. Don’t forget to have fun and never stop learning because it matters.”