Abingdon Primary School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Abingdon Primary School's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Abingdon Primary School is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


Highlighting best practice
Mr Adam Cooper, head teacher
Meet the children of
Abingdon School
Abingdon Primary School and Children’s Centre, based in
central Middlesbrough, is much larger than the average
two-form-entry primary school. The area is comprised
of a largely Asian population, mostly of Mirpur Punjabi
heritage. The region is one of considerable social and economic
disadvantage, with an average Income Deprivation Affecting
Children Index (IDACI) of 0.47 per cent. The catchment area
is one of the lowest super output areas (SOA), being the 81st
poorest in the country. The school is on an upward trajectory in
terms of outcomes across the three key stages and was recently
awarded a ”good” outcome by Ofsted, February 2018.
School readiness
The school is part of the Co-operative Trust and works collaboratively with four
other Middlesbrough schools. The attached Children’s Centre is managed and led
by the school.
Since taking over the Children’s Centre in 2016, we now have autonomy to tailor
and provide a range of bespoke courses, training and sessions for our young people
and their families, unique to the community of Abingdon. School readiness has
been a key focus area of the Children’s Centre and we are already seeing an impact,
with children entering school able and ready to move on and with a stronger
support network. At Abingdon, we are firm believers that the parent is the child’s
first educator and we want to work in partnership to ensure parents have the
»Head teacher: Mr Adam Cooper
»Founded in 1998
»Based in central
»Type of school: Co-operative
»No. of pupils: 571
»The school has a 176-place
Abingdon Primary
appropriate and necessary tools to
support their children. Through the
Children’s Centre, we offer parenting
classes and workshops that target
specific areas and key skills, dependent
on the age of their child. All of the
sessions are enthusiastically attended.
School of sanctuary
Of the pupils attending Abingdon,
89 per cent are of minority ethnic
heritage, with 38 languages spoken
at the school. The proportion of
pupils known to be entitled to free
school meals (FSM) is around twice
the national average of 37 per cent. A
much greater number of pupils than
usual also join the school at various
times throughout the school year, with
an increasing proportion speaking
little or no English when they arrive
– 118 arrivals in 2016/17. A large
proportion of these children have had
no experience of formal education in
their home country. Many are fleeing
violence and political unrest. Several
year groups are at their full pupil
capacity, some with waiting lists for
pupil admission; we are currently the
ninth most oversubscribed primary
school in the Tees Valley.
Abingdon has a special ethos that is
recognised and acknowledged by all
visitors. Staff work extremely hard
and always go the extra mile. Staff
are passionate and committed to
their own career development, and
the school supports them, ensuring
they have the knowledge and skills to
impact upon teaching and learning.
Children, regardless of nationality or
religion, work and play in harmony.
This does not happen by chance
and a large emphasis is placed on
developing and shaping our pupils
into tolerant, respectful, kind, truthful
and considerate neighbours. These
principles have been reflected in
Abingdon being named a “school of
sanctuary” by the local authority.
Stacey Carlisle, Middlesbrough
council’s ethnic minority achievement
team leader, said “The assessment
framework is quite rigorous and we
were bowled over with the amount
of work and effort put into gaining
this status by the whole school. The
evidence provided included lots of
group activity, artwork, film making,
and writing. There was a lot of
innovative and exciting work taking
place, which is testament to the real
importance the school places on being
a place of sanctuary: they fully deserve
this recognition.”
Every child matters
The constantly changing landscape
of the area and community that
surrounds the school and Children’s
Centre has seen an influx of Romany
children join the school in the past 12
months, resulting in nine per cent of
the school now speaking Romany as
their first language. Over the last six
years, 654 children have been taught
in 360 spaces, years 1 to 6 indicating
that mobility during this period is at 55
per cent for the school; for every one
space that is available, two children
have beentaught.
The school offers excellent care and
support and provides extremely well
Hands-on learning
At Abingdon
Primary, no child
is left behind
and as a
pupils are
confident and
members of the
Ofsted, February 2018
Highlighting best practice
for pupils’ spiritual, moral, social
and cultural development. There
is a real purpose for learning and,
consequently, children are highly
motivated and engaged. Attendance is
above the national average, while our
curriculum is modern, challenging and
fun. We use an innovative approach
during the afternoon, whereby
children use floor books to record their
knowledge of and skills gained in the
creative curriculum. Children work
in mixed-ability groups to promote
oracy, collaboration and enquiry-
based learning. The school uses a
large proportion of the pupil premium
to subsidise trips, events and visitors.
It is important that the children are
inspired and excited about their topic
as well as develop an understanding
and knowledge of their community
We use a “learning without limits”
approach, which allows our children
to challenge themselves and develop
their own learning opportunities.
We have worked hard to build a
learning environment that is inclusive
and enabling for every child and our
school motto is “Believe in Achieving”
– a pertinent mantra that drives our
classroom learning.
Children use the Power of Reading
initiative to rapidly raise standards in
reading, and five of our teachers have
been trained by the Centre for Literacy
in Primary Education, in order to lead
the Power of Reading approach across
The Power of Reading approach
emphasises the importance of
books and literature, thereby
enabling children to become
confident, happy and enthusiastic
readers and writers with a strong
degree of literary competency.
Theprojectisunderpinned by and
based on extensive research and
experience. It has been delivered
nationally and internationally for
The school was awarded National
Foundation for Educational Research
(NFER) status in 2015. As a school,
we invest and believe in the medical
model: we want to build on the
shoulders of others and ensure
an initiative, strategy or invention
has been proven to work while
having a tangible impact. This has
now evolved and we are currently
working on a two-year action
research project with Challenging
Learning, looking at how to develop
a growth mindset in our children.
By using dialogue and questioning
skills with each other, children
are taking greater ownership and
developing a deeper understanding
of their learning journeys. We are
monitoring and tracking the impact
this is having on both attainment and
Developing the
whole child
and being
responsive to
pupils’ wider
needs is
central to your
success and is
ensuring that
pupils are well
prepared for
their next
steps and life
in modern
Ofsted, February 2018
Working together in
complete harmony


This article was sponsored by Abingdon Primary School. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister