Beech House School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Beech House 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 Beech House 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

The school were fortunate to
have an exciting visit from a
Tibetan Buddhist monk, Geshe
Lama Ahbay Tulku Rinpoche.
Lama Ahbay is a high-ranking
monk, and third in line behind
the Dalai Lama
Senior pupils in Rome
Founded in 1850, Beech House School is an independent co-
educational school for students aged two to 16. An upper
preparatory department for children aged eight to 11 and
a senior department for those aged 11 to 16 have been based
at the Manchester Road site in Rochdale for the school’s entire
history. The lower preparatory department for children aged
two to seven has been based at Broadfield Stile for the last 14
years. Principal Kevin Sartain tells
The Parliamentary Review
more about the unique provision on offer.
Beech House School is truly a leading school and we have received a lot of external
accreditation as a result. We are currently ranked as the 39th best school in the UK
and have been runners-up in the Education Business Awards four times in the last
five years. This year we have been awarded “Recognised Leaders in Independent
Primary and Secondary Education – North West England”, an award that highlights
the dedication, commitment, valuable work and innovation across the education
and training industry today.
The reasons for this are clear, with 40 per cent of our leavers going on to study law
or medicine at university and our average class size of 12 students. In the last eight
years we have had seven international representatives in six different sports, while
we have a 96 per cent pass rate at 4 or above in English at year 11. Despite this
success, we are not selective during our admissions process and 26 per cent of our
students have SEND.
»Principal: Kevin Sartain
»Founded in 1850
»Based in Rochdale
»Type of school: Independent
»No. of students: 194
»No. of staff: 49
Beech House School
Highlighting best practice
An established ethos
I started at Beech House School in
1996 and now, 23 year later, I am
one of the longest-established heads
in the UK. I consider this quite an
achievement and believe that such
stability has been an important
foundation for the students, parents
and staff. In my time here, we have
thoroughly embedded a clear ethos,
which has now been bought into by
the whole school community. This has
led to steady improvement in multiple
areas over a long period of time.
There is a real family atmosphere in
the school, and this was reflected
in our recent Independent School
Inspectorate report. I think that
continuity plays a large role in
nurturing such an environment, and
the fact that a number of students
will spend 14 years with us means the
bonds we create are lasting. There
is a close and personal relationship
between the staff and students, while
parents are invested in the school
and our activities, with many families
having sent children to the school for
generations. Sadly, the state sector
no longer guarantees that children
can attend the same school as their
siblings, but we appreciate the
importance of family.
Specialisation and focus
We limit our class sizes to 16 because
we recognise how vital it is to provide
personal assistance to all our students,
whatever their level of ability. You
cannot offer the service we do with
larger numbers, and our small size
ensures that our students never miss
out on opportunities. Our school trips
and excursions always have sufficient
space for everyone who wishes to
take part and students are able to
build a close bond with teachers
because of the dedicated contact time
All of our teachers are specialists in
their subjects, ensuring that every
lesson is delivered to the highest level.
Our level of specialisation is a key
reason why we have so many students
going on to study law, medicine and
sport and why we are also able to
compete with selective schools based
in more affluent areas. When our
students start with us in nursery, there
is no prior knowledge or judgment of
their attainment. On leaving nursery,
however, 38 per cent of students
are exceeding expectations, the
The Hara perform at the
school, giving a talk on
online safety
leaders in
primary and
result of specialist tuition at the vital
foundation stage. Much of our early
years education is funded through
the government scheme for deprived
students, and pupils with working
parents can receive 30 free hours.
Those with high ability are allowed
to move at their own pace and every
interest and question is engaged with.
Some teachers will take class groups
from reception through to year 11 and
develop a detailed understanding of
each student’s attainment, strengths,
weaknesses and rate of improvement.
Specialisation has also allowed
students to go on to a vast array of
careers when they leave us, while we
invest in our extracurricular provision to
offer as broad a range of opportunities
to students as we can.
Adapting and retaining
The financial climate dictates how
many students can afford to send their
children to a private school and this
is especially pronounced in Rochdale,
which is a deprived area. This is hard
to adapt to for an independent school,
but we are careful to keep our fees as
one of the lowest in the UK, to ensure
we can welcome a diverse cohort of
Education is constantly changing and
we have taken steps to benefit from
this while also retaining our tradition.
This blend of trusted methods and
modernity delivers the best results and
it is a balance we deliberately retain.
For example, we have invested in new
IT suites, 3D printers and interactive
whiteboards, but we also use old
school desks and pupils require a pen
licence to move on from using a pencil.
We are proud to have embraced
technology while thinking carefully
about its impact.
Looking forward, it is of paramount
importance that we retain our safe,
welcoming and friendly environment.
Students come to school safe and
confident and are allowed to grow up
at their own pace, with older students
acting as mentors. Continuing to
foster such an environment will remain
central to our goals, and we have no
plans to change how we do things.
There is a real
atmosphere in
the school
The lower prep
gymnastics team,
representing Rochdale
at the Manchester
school games with Beth

This article was sponsored by Beech House 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 Elizabeth Truss.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss

Even by the standards of the day –this has been one of the most exciting and unpredictable years in British politics.

The leadership election we’ve just seen marks a huge moment in our country’s history. This government is taking a decisive new direction, embracing the opportunities of Brexit and preparing our country to flourish outside the EU.

As international trade secretary, I’ll be driving forward work on the free trade agreements that are going to be a priority for the government. Free trade isn’t just an abstract concept bandied around by technocrats. It is crucial for a strong economy and for the ability of families to make ends meet. Free trade benefits people in every part of our country, as British firms export to new markets and people doing the weekly shop have access to a wider choice of goods at lower prices.

The essence of free trade is in the title: freedom. It’s about giving people the power to exchange their goods without heavy government taxation or interference. Commerce and free exchange are the engine room of prosperity and social mobility. I’m determined to tackle the forces who want to hold that back.

One of my priorities is agreeing an exciting new free trade deal with the US, building on the great relationship between our two countries and the Prime Minister and US President. But I’ll also be talking to other partners including New Zealand, Australia and fast-growing Asian markets.

And with the EU too, we want a friendly and constructive relationship, as constitutional equals, and as friends and partners in facing the challenges that lie ahead – a relationship based on a deep free trade agreement. Our country produces some of the world’s most successful exports, and the opportunity to bring these to the rest of the world should make us all excited about the future. It is this excitement, optimism and ambition which I believe will come to define this government.

For too long now, we have been told Britain isn’t big or important enough to survive outside the EU – that we have to accept a deal that reflects our reduced circumstances. I say that’s rubbish. With the right policies in place, we can be the most competitive, free-thinking, prosperous nation on Earth exporting to the world and leading in new developments like AI. To do that, we’ll give the brilliant next generation of entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed. Since 2015, there has been a staggering 85 per cent rise in the number of businesses set up by 18 to 24 year olds – twice the level set up by the same age group in France and Germany. We’ll help them flourish by championing enterprise, cutting taxes and making regulation flexible and responsive to their needs.

As we do that, we’ll level up and unite all parts of the UK with great transport links, fibre broadband in every home and proper school funding, so everyone shares in our country’s success.

2019 has been the year of brewing economic and political revolution. 2020 will be the year when a revitalised Conservative government turbo charges the economy, boosts prospects for people across the country, and catapults Britain back to the forefront of the world stage.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss
Secretary of State for International Development