Albion Primary School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Albion 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 Albion 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

Head teacher, Penny White
A modern facility
Albion Primary School, in Rotherhithe, Southwark, is a
school that prides itself on, above all, emphasising the
personal, social and emotional development of its pupils.
A culturally and linguistically diverse school, it is located in an
area with a remarkably high deprivation index. Albion, in spite
of its challenges and situation, however, managed to achieve
an overwhelmingly positive Ofsted rating in 2011. Head teacher
Penny White explains the school’s provisions, programmes and
values, all of which have made this possible.
The value of expectation
The Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index categorises its deprivation
through bands. It ranges from Band 1 to 5, with Band 1 being the most deprived,
and Band 5 the least. 75 per cent of children in our community are from Band 1,
and 95 per cent sit in Band 1 or 2. While many predict this could lead to swathes
of challenging behaviour across the school and foster a difficult or unsuccessful
environment, the opposite is actually true, our Ofsted rating in 2011 indicated the
school was “outstanding”. Indeed, our pupils are included in the top 10 per cent of
students in reading and writing nationally for their age groups. While these are not
overwhelmingly high attainment rates, consideration of children’s starting points
indicates a spectacular amount of progress during their time with us.
First and foremost, key to this success is one unifying, straightforward principle –
have high expectations. Staff need to continually challenge themselves in schools;
there needs to be a constant dialogue up and down every tier of the teaching staff.
»Head teacher: Penny White
»Founded in 1874, rebuilt in
the 1960s and then rebuilt
again on November 1, 2017
»Based in Rotherhithe,
»Type of school: Community
primary school
»No. of pupils: 400
Albion Primary School
Highlighting best practice
Directing and coaching newer staff to
provide experience is something we
focus on.
Expectation is not simply limited to the
teaching staff, however; it is something
we exercise with every member of
our student body. We try to instil
Albion values in all our pupils. These
include fundamental British values of
democracy, the rule of law, individual
liberty and mutual respect and
tolerance. Our education is not limited
to this, and we also try to embed
personal values which are broader in
scope – respect, honesty, friendship,
harmony and courage. We believe that
equipping each child with the capacity
to internalise these key concepts is our
responsibility, and that in doing so, we
ensure children become valuable, well-
rounded members of society.
Positive and rewarding
To ensure a naturally positive
environment for learning, we prioritise
the formation of solid and respectful
personal relationships between
pupils and staff. Pupils are taught to
understand there are consequences for
each of their actions, but the respect
is two-way, they call teachers by their
first names.
Beyond the personal relationships, we
also exercise a rigorous assessment of
progress. Five times a year an individual
pupil’s academic development is
examined. We have an intervention
system in place to help those children
who aren’t progressing in the ways
or to the levels they feel they should
be. If this process does not have the
desired effect, we instead redesign the
specialised, pupil-centric programme
and look towards other options. We
are, above all else, tenacious in finding
the right way to help a child learn.
Exciting resources
We have designed a tailored
curriculum that we have endeavoured
to make exciting. We are challenging
the preconception that male pupils
often do not engage with literature in
early years and have introduced units
of work which they want to read,
A proud history
Key to this
success is one
principle – have
rather than a preset provision. We also
enrich our curriculum through creative
arts; every week, we have a dance and
drama teacher for one day, a music
teacher for a day and a half and half a
day of steel pan music.
The school’s provision for Forest
School is something we are especially
proud of. Outdoor learning is a regular
occurrence for children in nursery
and reception; they build dens in a
corner of the playground where we
are fortunate enough to have trees.
Additionally, our family day teaching
methodology utilises “family groups”
for a collaborative learning process
that transcends typical age-defined
year groups. Each teacher, in this
case, works with a range of children
of different ages. Ten or 11-year-olds
work together with six or seven-
year-olds to practise and learn about
science, art and numerous other
interesting areas.
Our curriculum extends beyond
traditional school working hours.
Over half-term, pupils have previously
worked with the dance teacher and
artist in residence. We make the most
of the school’s geographical situation,
and take pupils to galleries, museums
and other places of interest.
Community and cultural
Our influence as a school extends
far beyond just pupils and teachers.
We are active in the Rotherhithe
community; we are working towards
the celebration of the 400th
anniversary of the Mayflower’s voyage
in 2020; our choir sings for residents
at residential homes for the elderly;
and we have a Christmas appeal for
Crisis, the national charity for homeless
people. The Albion Mile is a school
initiative which has pupils walk a mile
around the playground in support
Beyond that, we consider ourselves
as having many diverse cultural
influences from the surrounding area.
For example, we have a scholastic
resonance with Scandinavian
culture – the market in Rotherhithe
naturally plays a part, and our pupils
occasionally sing there.
We are proud of our academic
attainment, and our expectation-
centred methodology has shown to
be ultimately successful time and time
again. Our Ofsted inspections have
been historically positive, and children
undoubtedly achieve positive results at
Albion Primary. Our mission statement,
however, is about so much more
than that. We are not just a school,
a factory for results and grades; we
are a community, and we have a role
that goes far beyond the bricks and
mortar of our building. Pupils’ progress
is overwhelming when the deprivation
of the locality is considered, but above
all else, we want to ensure that our
children leave the school not just
ready for secondary education, but to
join the real world, and that they are
equipped to do that socially as well as
We have a
role that goes
far beyond the
bricks and
mortar of our
Learning outside the

This article was sponsored by Albion 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