Athelstan Primary School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Athelstan 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 Athelstan 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
Proud head teacher of a richly
diverse school
Inspirational staff are
the key to success
Athelstan Primary School is a three-form entry school
situated in Sheffield. Known for its relentless pursuit
of excellence to achieve high standards, it provides
high-quality education for children from three to 11 years
old. Head teacher Deb Halliday explains key elements of the
school, the importance of leadership and how the school is
The school has a wealth of numerous accreditations that we are especially proud
of. Quality marks are driven by a range of middle and senior leaders through theme
team organisation. We are both an RWI badge school and a Families First school.
In addition to these awards, we are also recipients of the Gold Sports Mark – going
from bronze to gold in three years. We are also working towards being recipients
of the coveted Gold Science Mark 2018. Work is currently underway towards the
Artsmark this year, too. In addition to these, we were featured in Top of the Class
for results in 2016 and again in 2017 – identified as one of the highest performing
schools in Yorkshire for progress.
Our ethos and vision
Integral to the staff–student relationship, staff members are deeply perceptive
of the children at our school. There is a tailored response to our pupils in both
celebrating their talents and providing support and care for their needs, including
drama therapy, art therapy, Lego days, bereavement support, the Growing
Mindful project and our key worker system – all designed to equip the children
with life-coping and life-thriving skills. Being very much a champion of personal
»Head teacher: Deb Halliday
»Founded in 1953
»Based in Sheffield
»Type of school: Foundation
school as part of the Crucible
Co-operative Learning Trust
»No. of pupils: 588
»Specialises in creating extra-
curricular opportunities so that
100 per cent of pupils attend
at least one club each year
Athelstan Primary
development, a great deal of emphasis
is placed on achievements across
the curriculum at our school, both
educational and personal. We have
also appointed a safeguarding liaison
officer whose primary focus centres on
the emotional well-being of pupils.
Our vision for our school is largely
exemplary. Our extremely diverse
catchments show how socially and
culturally different communities can
effectively co-exist in harmony – an
example for all pockets of diverse
cultures to follow. Although we are
aware that “British values” are a
stand-alone part of many schools, in
our school it is ubiquitously embedded
and highlighted by our outcome-based
education system. This is also the case
for spiritual, moral, social and cultural
Our provision/curriculum
Our school places a very strong
emphasis on fostering healthy
lifestyles, with considerable changes
in the food offered at the school,
the mile-a-day campaign and the
aim of 100 per cent extra-curricular
uptake. We also have a quirky library,
early bird reading mornings, parents/
carers attending the Read Write Inc.
demonstration lessons, Dads’ Reading
Afternoon and book clubs.
The PiXL (Partners in Excellence)
method of teaching is wall-to-wall
in our school. Utilising personalised
learning checklists (PLC), elements
that students have struggled with
over a sequence of lessons are easily
recognised. We then deliver our PiXL
classroom therapies to ensure that all
students have made progress within
that single aspect of learning. The
tool allows us to monitor the work
of students before, during and after
the classroom sessions. A strength of
the PiXL method is that it allows us to
effectively track and reflect on progress
with every single element of learning.
Woven into our curriculum is our
outstanding behaviour expectations
(OBE), where the emphasis is on
nurturing a child’s intrinsic motivation
to succeed and thrive. This is designed
to make all our children better learners
and positive members of school and
the wider community.
Our leadership
Our school is known in the area for its
large leadership team and its coaching
approach to continuous professional
development. I have worked
meticulously to embed a collegiate
team approach whose deployment has
cushioned the impact of staff turnover
and absence. Even long-term absence
in key year groups due to serious
illness has been effectively managed to
mitigate the impact on pupils.
While a commitment to leadership
certainly exists at the staff level, there is
also an investment in valuing leadership
The quirky library fosters
a love of reading
Our vision for
our school is
Highlighting best practice
among our students. Our students
are given opportunities to be leaders:
Google geeks (computer champions),
eco-warriors (making our students
conscientious of, and committed
to, helping environmentalism), tuck
shop managers, school councillors,
Change4Life Champions (aiming
to encourage less active children to
take part in more physical activity),
playground friends, junior librarians
and lunchtime servers. Developing the
leaders of tomorrow is a very important
practice at our school.
The attendance of a third of our
pupils out of catchment has been a
long-standing issue at our school.
Notwithstanding the complexities of
this obstacle, we have taken innovative
steps to address this with a dedicated
Attendance Strategy Group, hiring
daily transport, operating a daily
drop-off service to ease congestion
around the school and introducing
wide-ranging incentives and a
comprehensive rewards system. This
has doubtless improved attendance
and, consequently, ensured that
students are getting the education
they rightly deserve.
An increasing pressure on budgets
has squeezed the school’s resources.
We have done more with less money,
particularly around the provision
for pupils with special educational
needs and disabilities (SEND), but the
targeted support for pupils has been
inordinately successful in aiding all
pupils, including those with SEND.
Increasingly lower attainment on entry
to school has resulted in foundation
stage provision being totally
redesigned over the last few years.
This has included significant changes
to the outdoor provision and the
creation of a secret garden to inspire
Despite all these challenges, the
outcomes of our students have
continued to climb over the last
few years to see most of the key
milestones having been exceeded,
irrespective of the starting points
of our students. The challenge is to
continue to maintain and exceed
these outcomes. This is reflected in
our school’s central ethos: no barrier
is insurmountable in the relentless
pursuit of excellence to achieve the
highest standards.
the leaders of
tomorrow is a
very important
practice at our
Extensive extra-curricular
opportunities enhance
the school’s provision
Independent enquiry-
based learning

This article was sponsored by Athelstan 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 Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

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% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering 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.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy