F O R E W O R D S The Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP The Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP
N O R T H O F E N G L A N D & N O R T H E R N I R E L A N D R E P R E S E N T A T I V E S Red Hall Primary School Corpus Christi Catholic Primary School St Mary’s RC Primary School Settle College St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, Moorthorpe Waverley Primary School Phoenix Primary School Prospect Vale Primary School Victoria School Drumrane Primary School
F E A T U R E S Review of the Year Review of Parliament
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Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19. In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy. We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity. Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions. With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4 per cent of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering
FOREWORD | our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe. And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world. As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us. writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us “ “ I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now
More than any other event in our time, Covid-19 has laid bare the inequalities in our education system. The pandemic has exposed how many children lack basic digital access – standard fare these days for a chance to climb the ladder of opportunity and secure high-quality jobs, as the world marches headlong into the fourth industrial revolution. As they spent more time cocooned at home, we learned about the other ills that damaged children’s learning. Plenty did their best to study in unsuitable work environments and, despite the remarkable efforts of teachers and support staff, some discarded their learning altogether. Others grappled with their mental wellbeing, increasingly eroded by the rigid tedium of the same recycled days. According to the NHS, one in six children aged 5-16 had a probable mental disorder as of July 2020. In 2017, that figure was one in nine. Looking forward, we all have a role to play - politicians, parents, teachers, employers, civil society - to ensure the life chances of ‘Generation Covid’ are not blighted for years to come. This starts with the efficient rollout of the Government’s academic catch-up plan over the course of this Parliament. First, assessing every pupil as to how much learning they have lost, and what extra tuition is needed, particularly for those disadvantaged pupils who have been left-behind furthest by school closures. Perhaps, it will require extending the school day - bringing charities and community organisations into schools to provide sports and mental health support. The Holiday Activities and Food programme will be an important opportunity to allow children (and their parents) to recuperate. They can socialise with friends, e Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP Chair of the House of Commons Education Select Committee
improve their physical health through sports, and receive a nutritious free meal. In the longer-term, a real plan to address social injustice in education would recognise the need for early intervention and support for early-years providers. It should promote family hubs across the country - offering everything from childcare, healthcare and social services, skills training and careers advice for parents. The impact of Covid-19 on education has sparked a much-needed debate around whether our education system and assessment is currently fit for purpose. It is time the Government reevaluates the future of A Levels, possibly replacing them with a wider baccalaureate that blends vocational, technical and academic education, as more than 146 countries currently offer. In the past, the mantra has been: “education, education, education” and “university, university, university”. Now, our focus must be on: “catch-up, catch-up, catch-up” and “skills, skills, skills”. That way, we can ensure that the ‘Corona cohort’ will have the opportunities in life that they have every right to have. teachers, employers, civil society – to ensure the life chances of ‘Generation Covid’ are not blighted for years to come “ “ We all have a role to play – politicians, parents,
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EDUCATION Review of the Year
Covid restrictions and home schooling
The Guardian quoted Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union: “Courtney said: ‘The fact that secretary of state Gavin Williamson and the prime minister refuse to see sense and allow the professional judgment of headteachers and local authorities to take precedent is shameful and yet another grave error of judgment in a long line of such errors’.” The announcement of a further lockdown did not apply to vulnerable children and children of critical workers, but almost all other children were being home-schooled again. Many parents found this very stressful and gained an insight into parts of the curriculum that seemed archaic to them, for example “fronted adverbials”. But for many, home-schooling was not just stressful; it was virtually impossible. In January, Child Poverty Action Group Project Lead Kaye Anstey told the BBC: “We spoke to thousands of parents, carers and children and the thing we heard was that up to 40 per cent of them did not only not have access to a laptop or the internet, but also to other things like printers, even stationery and craft materials.” Mr Williamson, the education secretary, said: “It is this country’s priority to get all children and young people back into face-to-face education and apprenticeship training, but it is crucial we do this at the right time and I want to assure parents, teachers, children and young people that schools, colleges and universities will be the first to fully return as soon as the public health picture allows it.”
Schools in England opened on March 8 as part of the prime minister’s cautious four-part plan to lift lockdown measures
In January, Boris Johnson, the prime minister, confirmed schools and colleges would not return to full face- to-face learning until after the February half-term, at the earliest.
This had followed a week of embarrassing U-turns from the government on when schools could return.
On Sunday, Mr Johnson had appeared on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show telling parents to send their children in the next day. The following evening, after a day’s schooling for the nation’s children, he gave a live press conference to announce schools would be shut from the following day. Two weeks earlier, the government had threatened legal action against two local councils who had wanted to end their school terms early amid concerns about the raised infection rates in their boroughs. Islington and Greenwich local authorities in London joined Waltham Forest in being forced to abandon their plans under pressure from the government.
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been “an unqualified success”. He praised teachers who had transferred the curriculum into remote lessons and staff in his department for the “massive logistical project” of buying and delivering hundreds of thousands of extra devices for children without one in “one of the world’s largest hardware shopping expeditions”. In February, charity Business2Schools, which distributes refurbished technology to children, said a “high volume of need” remained.
After the most disrupted year for education ever outside of wartime, the education system faced a mammoth effort to catch up. In February, headteachers’ leaders warned against “gimmicks” to try to make good the lost time. The BBC quoted Geoff Barton, Association of School and College Leaders general secretary, saying speculation about shorter holidays and longer school days were a bad idea and would be end up “grind(ing) out more hours from tired children”. He said if extra classes were made compulsory, it was unrealistic to expect to fine the parents of children who did not attend. Nick Gibb, the schools minister, told the Commons education select committee, he was “open to all ideas” on catching up and would “leave no stone unturned”. Earlier in February, Sir Kevan Collins had been appointed education recovery commissioner. His appointment came alongside an announcement of an extra £300 million to help with catching up, on top of the £1 billion Covid catch-up fund announced in June 2020. In January, Mr Williamson said in a speech to the Education Policy Institute: “Unprecedented problems require unprecedented solutions – and schools, teachers, and leaders have all pulled together to bring about one of the biggest shifts the education sector has ever seen. Our increasing dependence on technology has changed our entire approach to teaching with a switch to remote education.” He said while some aspects of remote learning were challenging, others had Catching up
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson
Sir Kevan has worked in the education sector for more than three decades as a teacher, a children’s services director and as the chief executive of the Education Endowment Foundation. Mr Williamson, the education secretary, said: “He will be a tremendous asset to those young people, their families, and everyone working in education who have my lasting gratitude for their efforts to support young people throughout the pandemic.” The June fund was announced before schools returned to full running in September and saw £650 million shared between state primary and secondary schools over the 2020–21 academic year.
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It said 97 per cent of schools and colleges are now ready to deliver tests and the regular checks “will provide further reassurance to parents, students and staff that schools are safe, and where Covid cases do occur they can be identified quickly.” The lateral flow tests are to accompany other measures like mask-wearing in communal areas outside classrooms, The Education Endowment Foundation welcomed the move. Chair Sir Peter Lampl, who also founded and chairs the Sutton Trust, said: “Despite the heroic efforts of schools, many pupils’ learning has suffered as a result of school closures. These children are drawn disproportionately from disadvantaged communities and need extensive support.” “Extensive trials show that high- quality tuition is a cost-effective way to enable pupils to catch up. Through a collaboration of organisations across the country, our aim is to make this tuition available to tens of thousands of primary and secondary school pupils. Our hope is that it becomes a powerful tool for teachers in the years to come.” In December, a package of “exceptional measures” was announced to help students taking exams in the summer of 2021. The education department said in recognition of the challenges faced by young people this year “grades will be more generous, students will be given advance notice of some topic areas, and steps will be taken to ensure every student receives a grade, even if they miss a paper due to self-isolation or illness.”
Schools have received approximately £650m in funding to catch up on learning lost
The focus on testing in schools was ramped up ahead of efforts to ensure educational facilities could reopen in the spring. On February 12, the education department said universities and primary and secondary schools had carried out more than three million rapid coronavirus tests on staff and students since January 4. The government said in its announcement: “Whilst head teachers will decide how the money is spent, the government expects this to be spent on small group tuition for whoever needs it.” The fund covers the National Tutoring Programme that is already up and running. This was the other £350 million of the £1 billion pot. Mr Johnson, the prime minister, said: “I want to once again thank teachers, childcare workers and support staff for the brilliant work they have been doing throughout the pandemic. “This includes providing remote education for those not in school, as well as face- to-face education for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers.”
Testing and making classrooms Covid-secure
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social distancing between staff and students and keeping buildings well ventilated. Mr Williamson, the education secretary, said: “At any other time, it would have been unimaginable to suggest that a testing programme of this scale and impact could be delivered at the speed we have seen. “I am grateful and humbled by the actions that everyone working in education has taken to pull together and deliver this programme. Alongside the wider protective measures in place that we must all continue following, this asymptomatic testing helps break chains of transmission by taking people who are infectious but don’t know it out of circulation.” Staff at secondary schools are tested twice weekly and 1.7 million of the three million tests were carried out in these settings and colleges. A further 1.7 million were of the staff, twice weekly since late January where they are working on site. The remaining 600,000 were at university, and was more of staff as most students are receiving tuition remotely. The government had initially promised a “staggered” roll-out of testing when students were due to return after Christmas. It had planned a daily testing for close contacts of those with confirmed cases of the virus so as to keep more pupils in school. Face-covering rules children in year 7 or above were issued in August following a new statement on their efficacy from the World Health Organization. It advised: “children aged 12 and over should wear a mask under the same conditions as adults, in particular when they cannot guarantee at least a
Covid-19 lateral flow testing kits have been used by schools to reduce transmission
1-metre distance from others and there is widespread transmission in the area.” The National Education Union said a rise in cases after the first return was a “direct result of government negligence on school safety”. Joint General Secretary Dr Mary Bousted said in an article in FE Week : “Unions, school leaders, teachers and staff are tired of last-minute guidance and u-turns. “Government must now initiate structured talks with education unions, based upon all available evidence, about how a phased return is best managed. The NEU would enter such talks with a determination to make our recovery plan a reality, benefiting staff and pupils alike. “Simply declaring schools and colleges Covid-secure does not make them so.” The Daily Mail carried a piece saying the union had showed “breath- taking cynicism”, adding that “The unprecedented health crisis should be a moment for professionals of all stripes to show dedication and self-sacrifice.”
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It said universities had been “put in an impossible position by a government that has promoted entrepreneurial expansion but has yet to show them the sort of crisis support it tried to extend, for example, to the hospitality industry.” Sky News said the past year had “marked the largest student rebellion in years. Left frustrated by their universities’ handling of the pandemic, thousands of young people nationwide have been striking and campaigning to have their voices heard.” In February, Imperial College London researchers said they had found a rise in cheating at universities since the start of the pandemic. The Guardian reported the findings showing that the number of requests to a large “homework help” website had tripled and a growth in online “essay mills”. It came as an ex-universities minister cautioned that essay buying risked “damage(ing) academic integrity beyond repair”. Chris Skidmore called for the practice to be outlawed and said: “As students have been forced to study remotely from home, away from on-campus welfare and support, taking their studies and exams online, they are increasingly becoming prey to essay mills, whose number has increased dramatically as they seek to take advantage of the desperate situation many students face.” Universities UK, which represents higher education institutions, and the Russell Group backed the push for legislation pointing to the lead set by New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.
Many students feel they are not getting value for money from universities according to numerous national surveys
In January, The Guardian posed the question: “Has Covid broken UK universities?” The paper said the pandemic had exposed the impact of the growing marketisation of the higher education sector over the past two decades, turning “students into increasingly dissatisfied customers”. Other news outlets carried footage of first-year students forced to stay in their halls of residence and attend lectures via their computers. They often complained that this experience was not worth the £9,250 a year they were paying in tuition fees. In November, Manchester students were filmed tearing down a metal fence that had been put up around their halls of residence without warning. Protests have taken the form of rent strikes and calls for reductions in fees. The paper quoted a third-year student in Manchester saying, “If you’re selling a commodity, we have consumers’ rights. It should have been very apparent they were promising something they couldn’t deliver.”
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staff working hard to prioritise their health, wellbeing and learning during this pandemic.” In a speech to Universities UK members, made remotely, at the start of the academic year in September she praised the innovation shown by the sector in working around restrictions. Ms Donelan cited St George’s medical school’s virtual ward round for junior doctors, Imperial College’s virtual field trip to the Pyrenees, using high-res photos, Google Earth and drone footage plus performing arts students at Northampton rehearsing Shakespeare plays on video conferencing programmes.
In late January 2021, thought started to turn to avoiding another summer exams fiasco like the nation’s children faced in 2020. ITV reported that GCSE and A-level students in England would not be sitting exams, because of the disruption caused by the third coronavirus lockdown. Mr Williamson, the education secretary, said in a briefing: “The government position is that we will not be asking students to sit GCSE and A-levels.” In August, the education department admitted its planned moderation system for that September was unfair, having previously said students would simply be awarded their predicted grades. ITV reported Mr Williamson’s comments that he was “constantly asked for reassurance about the fairness of the system. “Fairness to make sure that children from the most disadvantaged The same month, the government pledged a further £50 million to help students hit by the effects of coronavirus. Universities minister Michelle Donelan’s announcement took the total to £70 million for the financial year, following an earlier pledge in December. The sum is intended to cover students facing extra outlays for alternative accommodation or extra costs to access teaching online. The minister said: “This continues to be an incredibly difficult and challenging time for our students, and I am hugely grateful to all the university Exams debacle
An algorithm to predict exam grades caused chaos when predicted results came out lower than expected
minority backgrounds are not in a situation where they were unfairly downgraded.” Instead it was announced that grades would be based on assessments from teachers rather than the algorithm produced by regulator Ofqual. Crowds of A-level students had staged demonstrations chanting “F*** the algorithm”. LSE research fellow Dr Daan Kolkman said: “This incident has shone the media spotlight on the question of Artificial Intelligence bias.”
backgrounds didn’t suffer, make sure that children from ethnic
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He said: “The algorithm looked at the historical grade distribution of a school and then decided a student’s grade on the basis of their ranking. For instance, if a student was halfway down the ranking list, then her grade would be roughly equal to what the person in the same ranking obtained in previous years.” Some of the public outrage was because if no one from your school had received the top grade in the past three years, it was virtually impossible to get that grade in 2020. Roger Taylor, who was chair of Ofqual at the time, gave an apology for the “uncertainty and anxiety” caused to teenagers and their parents. He added: “What changed was seeing the experience of young people receiving grades and being distressed at the need to then go and appeal grades where they felt they were wrong.”
has finally made this U-turn but you can’t mask the frustration and anger and distress that this has caused thousands of young people and their families.” In December, Mr Taylor announced he was standing down. He had been an Ofqual board member from 2012 and chair from December 2016. He was replaced by Ian Bauckham. In January, the government launched a consultation on proposals to give students who had been due to sit exams this summer grades based on their teachers’ observations. Teachers will get guidance and training from exam boards. Mr Williamson said: “These proposals should give young people confidence that despite exams being cancelled, they will still receive a grade that reflects their ability. This is quite rightly an issue of great public interest and concern and it’s important that those working in education alongside students, parents and employers are able to have their say.”
Legal action was also threatened.
Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, said: “It’s right that the government
In January, the Manchester United player and top chefs called on the prime minister to fix the free school meal system that saw repeated controversies over whether the government should
pay for free school meals while students were kept at home.
Mr Rashford, Jamie Oliver, Tom Kerridge and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall said to Mr Johnson: “We are writing to you to express our concern that the issue of Free School Meals risks once again becoming divisive, and to encourage the government to undertake an urgent comprehensive review of Free School Meal policy to reform the system for the longer term.”
Footballer Marcus Rashford has helped drive education policy over school meals
The past year saw footballer Marcus Rashford unexpectedly become a significant figure in educational policy.
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Children having lunch at Loreto High School in south Manchester
“I do not believe in nationalising children. Instead, we need to get back to the idea of taking responsibility, and this means less celebrity virtue- signalling on Twitter by proxy and more action to tackle the real causes of child poverty.” Anna Taylor, executive director of charity the Food Foundation, told the BBC recent months had seen “crisis after crisis with the provision of free school meals. The result of that is disadvantaged children have often paid the price.” Vulnerable families were due to continue to get meals and other essentials as part of the £170 million Covid Winter Grant Scheme, as they did in the Christmas holidays, delivered through local authorities.
They said a review should be debated in parliament and published before the 2021 summer holidays, and the eligibility thresholds looked at (noting that some studies had shown 40 per cent of children below the poverty line were missing out on the current entitlement). After another public dispute about free school meals during the February half- term, the government said food will be provided to children by councils as part of the Covid Winter Grant Scheme. An earlier dispute in October saw one MP say paying for children whose parents could not afford to feed them in the holidays to eat could amount to “nationalising children”. Bassetlaw MP Brendan Clarke-Smith asked the House of Commons: “Where is the slick PR campaign encouraging absent parents to take some responsibility for their children?
Another £16 million will go to food distribution charities, the government announced.
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In January, the BBC had examined the education implications of Northern Ireland’s “New Decade, New Approach” project. The document acknowledged the need for a transformation agenda and said the way the education sector was currently run was “not sustainable”. The Ulster University research said: “It is not inconceivable that the proposal in the NDNA document to place a duty on the Department of Education to ‘encourage and facilitate’ education through Ulster-Scots could lead to demands for the creation of Ulster-Scots schools and, ultimately, on the grounds of ensuring parity of investment with the Irish language, a further support body.” It added: “History, politics and ecclesiastical interventions in educational policy have contributed to the development of a system in Northern Ireland that can largely be defined as being divided between state schools that reflect a British outlook Chartwells, the government contractor responsible, said the image circulated on social media had been for five school days not ten and was not £30 of food but £10.50, but nevertheless it apologised. A spokesperson said: “However, in our efforts to provide thousands of food parcels a week at extremely short notice we are very sorry the quantity has fallen short in this instance. “Chartwells is committed to continuing to work with all stakeholders to ensure the best possible provision for children in schools.”
The January Rashford letter came after Mr Williamson told a committee of MPs he was “absolutely disgusted” after the meagre food parcel received by a disabled mother-of-two became widely known. The Metro reported his pledge to “name and shame” companies which provide low-quality food parcels to families in need. Mr Williamson told the Commons education select committee: “As a dad myself, I thought ‘how could a family in receipt of that really be expected to deliver five nutritious meals as is required?’ It’s just not acceptable.”
Northern Ireland, the north, Covid and the weight of history
Research from the University of Ulster claims Northern Ireland’s education system has numerous fundamental issues
In February, the BBC reported on research from the University of Ulster that said Northern Ireland’s education system was “divided, splintered and overly expensive”. The research paper said “vested interests of the churches and the traditional political blocs” had to be tackled to sort out a system that is “confusing and socially divisive”.
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and are underpinned by Protestant values, and faith-orientated Catholic schools that sustain a particular version of Gaelic-Irish identity. “Appeasing and balancing the demands of these opposing denominational, cultural and national vested interests has contributed significantly to the creation of a system that is divided, splintered and consequently overly expensive.” In October, outstanding school leaders and students from the northeast of England won prestigious awards for their contributions to education. Baroness Berridge, the schools minister, oversaw the virtual prize- giving ceremony, which saw Durham schoolboy Tom Smith win the Pupil Academic Lord Glenamara Memorial Prize for his academic achievements while being a carer to his mother and a 14-year-old family friend with learning difficulties. Teachers awarded included Sedgefield Community College Principal Dave Davies for most inspiring leader and Louise Ripley from River Tyne Academy, Gateshead, who won New North East Teacher of the Year. In December, the education department withdrew funding for a Redcar secondary school after the trust that ran it failed to make improvements. Rye Hills Academy had been warned earlier in the year, and the Teesside Live website reported a letter to the Nunthorpe Multi Academy Trust from the regional schools commissioner for the north, Katherine Cowell, which said: “The trust was appointed to sponsor Rye Hills Academy in March 2017 to bring about rapid and sustained improvement following the Ofsted judgement of “requires improvement” in March 2016.
Baroness Berridge is the Parliamentary Under- Secretary of State for Women
“The trust has failed to make these improvements in almost three years and the academy is now judged by Ofsted to be in a worse position than it was when it joined the trust.” The academy has been rated “inadequate” by schools inspector Ofsted in May. The school trust said the pandemic had made things difficult and that it “continues to dispute the rationale for the RSC’s decision”. Writing to parents, it said: “The trust wishes to confirm that it recognises the seriousness of the Ofsted judgement, however had it not been for the national lockdown, the trust is confident the positive impact of the swift and comprehensive actions put in place would be already evident to external assessors.”
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Red Hall Primary School
Believing every child can achieve
A t Red Hall Primary School in Darlington, children thrive and achieve outcomes that vastly exceed expectations, despite 83 per cent of the school’s population coming from areas ranked in the top five per cent of the most deprived in England. Since Julie Davidson joined the school as headteacher in September 2013, Red Hall Primary School has been taken on an improvement journey that bucks the trend in terms of pupil outcomes both nationally and locally. Julie explains how forward- thinking and risk-taking leadership from dedicated and talented leaders has transformed the school over the last five years. Our school uses the acronym CARING – Community, Aspirational, Respectful, Inclusive, Nurturing, Growing together. This vision was designed by the school community, including our governing body, parents and children, and sums up the whole school community’s views about what makes us special. Community Our school is embedded in the community, and the partnerships we have formed have put us at the heart of an initiative to improve the neighbourhood beyond all recognition; creating a warm and calm environment that makes staff, parents and pupils feel more welcome is something we are immensely proud of. The parents who responded to Ofsted’s survey commented that teachers “always make time to help”, “assist every child to achieve the best they can” and support children to “thrive”. They describe us as a “fantastic, caring school completely focused on children and their families”.
REPORT CARD Red Hall Primary School » Headteacher: Julie Davidson » Established in 2000 » Located in Darlington, County Durham » Type of school: Local authority maintained primary » No. of pupils: 220 » 65 per cent Pupil Premium 30 per cent SEN needs with seven children with EHCs and seven children on the EHC pathway » Ofsted: “good” with two areas “outstanding” – April 2019 » www.redhallprimary- darlington.co.uk
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Darlington to pilot provision for two- year-olds. This potential risk in terms of funding and staffing has quickly become one of our most significant strengths. It has had a demonstrable impact, improving outcomes within the early years and throughout the school. It has also increased pupil numbers and consequently helped to secure our school’s future. Career days are held annually for years 5 and 6, which have professionals from a range of employment backgrounds – finance, construction, ICT and universities, among others. Children in our EYFS setting have a similar experience annually, when they teach their topic “People who help us”. A range of expertise is brought in, which, in some children, ignites their passion for learning and their determination to work hard to become something they have learnt about. Respectful Finding the balance between clear boundaries linked to our school code of conduct and flexibility is important to us. This can be challenging for some people, but staff are encouraged to step back and look at the bigger picture each time. Our school behaviour systems have been developed with our children at the heart and are unique to our school. We talk about choices and teach our children to emotionally regulate. Inclusive Inclusive education is about the full participation and achievement of all learners. We pride ourselves on being a fully inclusive mainstream school, where children and young people with special educational needs are engaged and achieve. Our school prides itself on its ability to adapt to the child or young person rather than making them adapt to fit the school. Children come to our school with a vast spectrum of needs. We make it our job to understand
We invest in a strong pupil wellbeing team, which includes: » all staff being trained in ACEs (adverse childhood experiences) » an emotional literacy support assistant (ELSA) » learning mentors trained in drawing and talking therapies and sand play » weekly wellbeing meetings, which are used to discuss every child in the school who may be causing us a concern – through this immediate action, we are proactive in dealing with children’s and families’ emotional needs, rather than reactive » a family support worker » a counsellor – we recognise that some of our children carry a significant amount of emotional distress and memories that have not been addressed; therefore, as a school, we have invested in a counsellor to work with these children.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, our true community spirit became more evident, as on top of normal school duties while the school remained open for our key worker and vulnerable children, staff prepared weekly breakfast hampers for our families, and provided and delivered meals and shopping essentials, three times weekly, to the elderly and vulnerable who were isolating on the estate. It was during this time that the school began to work with volunteers and a charity called The Bread and Butter Thing to support our families during this difficult time with food distribution. Aspirational We have extremely high expectations for all pupils and do not put a cap on learning. Outcomes for pupils have increased significantly over the years. In 2014, we were the first primary school in
We have extremely high expectations for all pupils and do not put a cap on learning
A curriculum that is inspired by the interests of the child
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those needs and offer a provision that may need to change to meet them. In the last three years, we have taken in seven children who are at risk of permanent exclusion or had been permanently excluded previously. All of those children have left our school as a success or are thriving in our school. Nurturing We ensure we foster a caring, safe and respectful whole-school environment where our children feel safe and nurtured and share this with the wider school community. We recognise the huge impact the school environment can have on all its learners and follow the Reggio Emilia belief that the environment is the third teacher. We’ve adopted a neutral and calming working environment across the whole school. Our environment is based on nature – the complete opposite to most environments our children come from. Neutral colours in our classrooms allow children’s work to stand out. It is very important for both adults and children to learn in an organised space. This doesn’t mean perfect or pristine but rather involves having a purposeful, functional and clutter-free working environment. We encourage independence by making sure children have access to whatever they need so they can lead their own learning. We recognise that it is not only the children who need nurturing, but also their families and our staff. The headteacher and deputy headteacher are aware of periods which are difficult for staff and ensure support is put in place and offered at these times. Growing together Our early years provision is outstanding and establishes firm roots in child- centred learning which are built on throughout the subsequent years in school, developing children who are able to play, explore, create and
Nurturing our children and watching them grow
investigate. These principles are the foundation for all our learning. In September 2018, the school was awarded the Well-Being Award in recognition of how we promote positive social and emotional wellbeing, mental health and wellness for pupils and staff. This is what sits at the core of the service we provide at Red Hall Primary School. Many of our children return to speak to their teachers many years after their time at Red Hall has ended. This shows their relationships with staff are deeply rooted. Our future We hope to have a future that lives up to our past, and we will endeavour to raise the profile of Red Hall on a local and national level. In order to ensure all our children leave the school looking to the future, we support them beyond their education with us, and will continue to do so. Due to our successes in working with vulnerable children, we are working with the local authority to open, at our school, the first primary resource provision in Darlington for children with social, emotional and mental health needs. This provision will be designed with the voice of the children and their parents at its heart.
Staff are encouraged to step back and look at the bigger picture each time
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THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW Highlighting best practice
Corpus Christi Catholic Primary School
Working together; staff, governors, parents and community members collaborate for mutual support and enriched opportunities C orpus Christi Catholic Primary School is an average-sized, inner-urban school, with the community among the one per cent most deprived nationally and Pupil Premium eligibility is almost three times the national average. Attainment on entry to school is very low both in communication, language and literacy and in personal, social and emotional development. In November 2015, the school became part of St Hilda’s, a multi-academy trust of 11 schools, before merging with a larger multi-academy trust of 26 schools, Nicholas Postgate Catholic Academy Trust, in September 2018. Headteacher Carolyn Baker explains more. The phrase “It takes a village to raise a child” is very important to us, especially as we operate in an area of very high social and economic deprivation. A strong social commitment is evident within the culture of our school, and we have a vision and belief that we can make a difference. This requires our school to be at the heart of the community and to focus on nurturing and caring for our children and their families. We recognise parents as first educators of their children, and their partnership is actively sought. We work with parents and whole families on innovative programmes to improve lives, opportunities and prospects. Our range of educational, vocational and supportive projects have a long-term impact and reflect the hearts and minds of our very dedicated and supportive staff.
Pupils learn in real-life contexts and are eager to support and initiate philanthropic projects
REPORT CARD CORPUS CHRISTI CATHOLIC PRIMARY SCHOOL » Headteacher: Carolyn Baker » Founded in 1954 » Location: Middlesborough » Type of school: Catholic primary voluntary academy » No. of pupils: 267 » corpuschristiprimaryschool.co.uk
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Parental engagement All staff support the work of our pastoral team, including a parental engagement coordinator and a child and family welfare lead. There are many opportunities for parents to come into school. We used the Families and Schools Together project for three consecutive years. During the project, families were invited to the school once a week. It required whole staff involvement and we learnt a lot from the experience. The apparent loneliness of some parents was addressed, as they were able to form friendships and networks of support. Data from the project also highlighted significant improvements in pupil self-esteem and behaviour. Parent and child relationships were developed, and families became more involved in school life generally. We have regular stay-and-play sessions for the early years and Key Stage 1, which involve almost all parents coming into school and engaging in a range of creative activities with their children. For nursery and pre- nursery pupils, we have courses such as Early Words Together, where parents engage in storytelling, nursery rhymes and games to enhance language acquisition. We also have workshops throughout school, in all key stages, so that parents can come and learn how to help their children with maths, reading and phonics. This happens every Wednesday morning in the early years and Key Stage 1. We assist parents with CV writing, job opportunity searches and interview preparation. As a result, parents have increased their self-efficacy, and many have transitioned to further education and employment. A school-run credit union helps parents to save up for birthdays and Christmas and prevents
them needing to go to providers of high-interest loans.
Research projects We carried out a research project in the summer of 2018 to strengthen number sense in nursery and reception. This has continued, with parents engaging in workshops and, through helping their children at home, embedding the foundations for early maths. Pupils enter year 1 feeling more confident and are less likely to fall behind. We also took inspiration from our collaboration with the University of Chicago Parent Academy, which we accessed through an Education Endowment Foundation bid with some other Middlesbrough schools. As a result, we launched our own Corpus Christi Family Academy in the summer of 2019. Children present a maths lesson to their parents to launch the event, and then parents attend a six- week course alongside their children and take homework away to complete. We have targeted a different year group each term. The project has had a positive impact on pupils’ confidence and has secured their knowledge in the maths topic studied. Parents feel happy to come into school, and this has improved the sustainability
A strong social commitment is evident within the culture of our school, and we have a vision and belief that we can make a difference
Gaining confidence, empowering relationships and developing children’s maths skills at Corpus Christi Family Academy
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THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW Highlighting best practice
One of our many educational opportunities for parents
Removing barriers to learning All members of staff are responsible for the physical and emotional wellbeing of our children and are well supported in this role by our strong pastoral team. We provide counselling as well as play therapy, drama therapy, music therapy and occupational therapy. This has a significant impact on the children’s resilience, independence and capacity to achieve. Behaviour in school is excellent. We encourage our young people to grow into conscientious, active members of the local and global community, who value and understand their location and the impact they can have on the environment. We help them to develop language and expressive skills, and we broaden their horizons through access to educational visits and through an exciting range of learning enrichment opportunities and enterprise and extracurricular activities. We want our children to understand self-worth and tolerance through their experience of belonging to a caring, nurturing and inspiring community.
of our suite of NVQ courses and activities. Collaborating with a local college, Prior Pursglove, and other agencies, some of the courses we provide include: Functional Skills Maths; Functional Skills English; Skills for Life Maths; Skills for Life English; Health and Social Care Levels 1, 2 and 3; Child Development Levels 1 and 2; Award in Counselling Levels 1 and 2; Award in Mental Health Awareness Levels 1 and 2; Autism Awareness; Dementia Awareness; Joinery Level 1 and 2; British Sign Language; Food Hygiene; Supporting Teaching and Learning in School; Slow Cooking; Grow it, Cook it, Share it; Music for Parents and Toddlers; Arts and Crafts; and Family Links Parenting Support. We manage to sustain this work through the hard work and tenacity of our school personnel, the goodwill of our local partners, a supportive multi- academy trust and the attainment of bids and funding at different times from organisations such as the Child Poverty Unit, Save the Children and the Middlesbrough Achievement Partnership. There will be an ongoing challenge to secure funding in order to continue and to build on our achievements.
We encourage our young people to grow into conscientious, active members of the local and global community
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St Mary’s RC Primary School
St Mary’s RC Primary School B ased in the parish of St Ambrose Barlow, St Mary’s Roman Catholic Primary is a one-form entry school, including a full time nursery, with over 230 pupils on roll. Since its last Ofsted Inspection, in 2008, the school has been judged as “outstanding” and in its last RE inspection, in 2018, it was also judged as “outstanding”. Headteacher Dee Raynor explains more. At the heart of our school is our mission statement, the writing of which involved our staff, governors, parents and children. We decided to include five core values: Love, Respect, Faith, Inspire and Achieve. We have our own school motto, as St Mary tells us: “God is love and He loves us as we are.” Our behaviour policy is based on these values, and every day our children recognise these core values in themselves and each other. Ethos and core values We are particularly proud of St Mary’s Catholic ethos and our core values that are at the heart of our teaching and learning. Our curriculum is engaging and innovating, which embraces the community in which we live. To ensure all our pupils have access to a wide range of learning experiences we have a school pledge. This includes all the exciting experiences our pupils will enjoy while they attend St Mary’s RC Primary School. We enhance our curriculum by visiting local establishments such as museums, art galleries and sports events and welcoming visitors to our school. Our pupils enjoy working alongside artists, musicians, historians, scientists, poets and authors.
Headteacher Dee Raynor
REPORT CARD St Mary’s RC Primary School » Headteacher: Dee Raynor » Founded in 1975 » Location: Greater Manchester » Type of school: One form entry Roman Catholic primary school » No. of students: 237 » www.stmarys-swinton.co.uk
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THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW Highlighting best practice
A focus on wellbeing To ensure a successful curriculum, we have knowledgeable and passionate subject leaders. We have created clear systems which allow my staff to lead their subjects confidently and therefore provide the highest quality of teaching. All of our teachers have their own subject-specific action plans, and I actively encourage them to pursue awards and recognition for their efforts and improvements. We are proud of the awards and accreditation our subject leaders establish for their subjects. We always allocate time outside of the classroom to lead their subject within school time to ensure they have a healthy work–life balance. After all, productivity is directly linked to happiness and wellbeing, and so by giving our staff all the resources they need, we can guarantee our continued standard of teaching. This focus on wellbeing also extends to the children and is directed by our pastoral lead, who we have given a more central role in the last 12 months. To ensure wellbeing is addressed, we offer a Time to Talk programme which invites students to speak to our pastoral lead if they have any concerns or worries. This makes sure the children are listened to and are in the right frame of mind for learning. Many interventions are offered, such as art therapy, resilience building, managing my emotions and circle of friends to ensure all pupils are happy in school. Our pastoral lead also completes Early Help assessments with parents to help parent wellbeing also. We have also adapted our systems to improve our communication channels with parents. We have upgraded our website and email service and have established a school app and up-to- date social media channels. As well as keeping parents informed on all school developments, this really helps to strengthen the bond between the staff and the stakeholders, strengthening the school community.
We also organise a number of residential trips, with our year 6 and year 3 classes both going away for a weekend, promoting teambuilding and a sense of community. We organise a host of activities outside of the classroom, including our weekly forest schools programme. We are fortunate to have such fantastic grounds surrounding our school. Over the years we have created two large playgrounds, an outdoor chapel, a field, an outdoor gym, a football pitch, a climbing wall, a ball wall, areas for forest school and den building, an Eco- Club veg garden and a reading area, which help to support a wide range of learners and learning styles, ensuring our curriculum caters for all. Alongside embedding creativity and out-of-classroom activities into the curriculum itself, we also organise a wide range of extracurricular activities. Whether this be sport, for which we have achieved the Platinum Schools Games award, or our wide range of after-school clubs, these activities support the full range of interests that our students have. We listen to our School Council for ideas of which extracurricular activities they would like to see running during and after school.
Our curriculum is engaging and innovating, which embraces the community in which we live