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Alumni Profiles

Staff profile

Daniel Copley

Executive Headteacher of St Francis Catholic Primary School and St Cuthbert




It is the kind of pastoral approach that continues to make LTU unique. 

We are very proud of the impact our teachers make all around the world and the relationship we maintain with them after they complete their courses. Headteacher Daniel Copley, a 2002 Leeds Trinity graduate returned to campus for the Diocese of Leeds annual Headteacher conference in September 2016. Little did he know at this time one of his next talks to an adult audience would be at a special 50th Anniversary Celebration Reception at the House of Commons!

Daniel spoke as a proud alumnus about the ethos that made Leeds Trinity a special place to study for him and how it still exists today, making it a very special place to study at.​

We loved his speech and have shared some extracts below.

Having done my GCSE’s and A-levels at St Bede’s Catholic Grammar School in Bradford I began looking at becoming a primary school teacher… I also really wanted to work in Catholic schools as it was all I had known. I chose Leeds Trinity and I loved every minute of my time there. But why did I enjoy it so much? 

I feel that I had a little bit of a reminder as to why last month…

In September 2016 I sat in the Auditorium at Leeds Trinity University for the Diocese of Leeds annual Headteacher conference. It brought back memories. Incidentally one of the last times I had been in the Auditorium or it may have been the Mary Holloway Lecture Theatre I was actually being hypnotised by an act during a Fresher’s week event.  Anyway I’m not here to talk about that although I will say that it didn’t work on me!

At the headteacher conference I was sat there with a group of fellow headteachers, some of whom are here today. We heard James Arthur speaking in the morning… not the successful singer from X-Factor but Professor James Arthur.  For those who don’t know Professor Arthur, he is Director of the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues at the University of Birmingham. He was talking to us all about leadership and virtues in Catholic identity and it was all very thought provoking.

However, in the afternoon something was said that really struck a chord with me. We were addressed by Professor Margaret House, the Vice Chancellor of Leeds Trinity University. Professor House was talking about the growth of the university and the huge number of courses now on offer at LTU. She also talked about Leeds Trinity being more interested in knowing a student by their name and students not simply being a number. 

This really is something special. It is the kind of pastoral approach that continues to make LTU unique. It helps the university to continue to grow and be successful. LTU is distinct by its Catholic nature and maybe this drives the focus and aim of knowing each individual student, by their name. It is also possibly a fantastic virtue…building positive relationships with each other and with God and certainly an excellent focus and approach for leadership in a Catholic community.

It was this simple ‘approach’ that made my time at Leeds Trinity so memorable. 

The lecturers and staff I had were obviously very experienced, knowledgeable and skilled teachers but also fantastic people and passionate about ensuring children got the best education.  

It is this approach to building positive relationships which I have taken into my career, an underlying way of working, it has stuck with me since. Maybe subconsciously.  It is always important to build positive relationships with children, parents, staff… to know people as individuals, remember their names and not see them as simply a number.

I have only been a head teacher for eight years and an Executive head for a year and a half. When I became a Headteacher I was 29… by the end of that first week I was 30! I was young, ambitious and driven. However I was helped by the fact that I looked about 50 as I lost my hair shortly after leaving LTU and shortly after becoming a teacher! So why am I here talking about education and what LTU did for me?  As an Exec head I lead over 500 children and their families, over 80 staff , two governing bodies and two huge parishes in Bradford. Children speak twenty three different languages at St Cuthbert & the First Martyrs’. But with all this the one thing that makes both school communities successful is the fact that we all know every single child by their name, we treat them all as individuals and the pastoral care is outstanding. The children are not a number… we want the children in our care to thrive not simply survive.

Continuing links with Leeds Trinity

Over the years I have continued to work closely with LTU. I have always recruited early in Spring to ensure my schools get the best quality NQT’s. Through the Catholic Schools Partnership a group of 20 schools in Bradford and Keighley we also work with LTU on the Schools Direct programme. Two weeks ago we opened the doors of St Francis to 30 undergraduates from LTU to help with recruitment and to show them where they could continue their training and induction as a teacher and to inspire them. With the help of Liz McGuire we have facilitated RE and Catholic Life learning walks and collective worship observations to help all student teachers see what Catholic schools and faith communities are about.

For an organisation like Leeds Trinity University to continue to be successful the organisation has stayed true to its foundations in teacher training. Leeds Trinity has maintained the reputation for excellence in teacher training. It is one of the most respected training providers in the UK, working in close partnership with over 600 schools to offer students a variety of pathways into teaching.

Students benefit from high quality teaching and research–informed practice, delivered by experts that are fully committed to improving the lives of children. In recognition of the diversity of settings where good teachers are needed, student teachers are also given the chance to complete professional work placements in alternative contexts such as museums and schools abroad.

Inspiring futures since 1966… I am proud to be described as a ‘successful’ alumni of LTU! I am sure that LTU will continue to thrive for many years to come.