Beechwood Primary School

Highlighting best practice as a representative in The Parliamentary Review

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 Beechwood Primary School is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Highlighting best practice
Mark Sherwin, head teacher
Beechwood Primary School
Beechwood Primary School is a four-form entry primary
school in Luton. Mark Sherwin, head teacher, has been
at Beechwood for 14 years and has been the head for
the past five years. During his time at Beechwood, the school
has grown from a three-form entry school to a four-form entry
school and the challenge of ensuring consistency has increased.
The vast majority of its pupils have English as an additional language and many
of the pupils are also from an ethnic minority background. The school is currently
working hard to raise attainment and 2017 Key Stage 2 SATs results saw a 20
per cent rise in the number of pupils achieving the expected standard in reading,
writing and maths.
Targeting key areas of learning
We have worked hard to improve our use of data both from day-to-day teaching
and more formal testing.
Like most other schools, we learned from the 2016 SATs and adjusted our teaching
accordingly. We made much better use of error analysis and ensured that we
addressed the needs of individual learners more.
We clearly identify the key aspects of reading, writing and maths that our pupils
are struggling with and have ensured that we provide them with the necessary
opportunities to improve in these areas.
One of the areas that we have had particular success in is reading. Through careful
question-level analysis, we identified the key areas of reading that our pupils were
»Head teacher: Mark Sherwin
»Established as a primary school
in 2004 (had previously been
two separate schools – infant
and junior – which were
established in 1938)
»Based in the Leagrave area
ofLuton, Bedfordshire
»Type of school: Primary with
nursery class
»No. of pupils: 874 on roll
(maximum of 892)
»Awarded the Families First
Quality Mark for our work
with families
Beechwood Primary
struggling with most. We also noted
that our pupils were struggling with
completing tests in the required time.
As a result of these findings, we
overhauled our guided reading lessons
and introduced a two-week cycle
which enabled us to teach specific skills
and also develop our pupils’ abilities
to understand and answer test-style
questions. We also made effective use
of strategies suggested by our local
authority consultants.
The whole child
For us, while outcomes are important
and form a large part of how the
school is judged, it is vital to look at
the whole child. We want to ensure
that our pupils get a broad and rich
curriculum and experience a wide
range of activities.
We have successfully developed our
PE provision and are now achieving
success in sporting competitions,
which has boosted the confidence
of our pupils. Our work has been
recognised by achieving the School
Games GoldAward.
We place importance on developing
the leadership skills of our pupils
through positions such as house
captains, sports captains and
We work with organisations such as
Enabling Enterprise to run projects,
challenge days and visits to develop
our pupils’ enterprise education skills
which will, hopefully, help to prepare
them for later life. We have seen a real
impact of this work.
We have a number of children who
are facing challenges and we strive to
ensure that we help them to overcome
these challenges.
We have put in place a number of
things to help our pupils to cope with
everyday life and enable them to
focus more on their learning. This also
involves supporting families.
Supporting families
We have a team of two family workers
and an assistant family worker. Their
work is crucial to improving outcomes
for some of our most vulnerable pupils.
They work in a variety of ways which
»Running parenting workshops
»Drop-in sessions
»Social skills groups
»Regular one-to-one sessions for
some of our most vulnerable pupils
Through these types of activities we
have been able to engage with parents
and help them to understand their role Family workers delivering
an online safety
We want to
ensure that our
pupils get a
broad and rich
curriculum and
experience a
wide range of
Highlighting best practice
in supporting their children’s learning.
This work has sometimes started as
simply as inviting them in to cook with
their child in our food technology room,
thus helping them to overcome their
initial fear of being in school (often
based on their experiences as achild).
From often informal initial engagement,
we have seen parents open up to us
about the challenges that they are facing
and we have been able to support them
directly or signpost them to support that
has brought about sometimes dramatic
changes in their lives.
The work of the school in supporting
families has been recognised by
our receipt of the Families First
Emotional wellbeing of pupils
We know that a pupil’s emotional
wellbeing has a huge impact on their
ability to learn. While we can access
support through local authority and
other services, we strongly believe in
providing as much in-school support as
we possibly can. Some of the ways in
which we do this are:
»Social skills groups delivered by our
family workers or pastoral teaching
»Employing the services of a play
therapist two and half days a week
to work with pupils on an individual
and group basis
»Working with organisations such
as Skillforce via the Prince William
Award to bring about improved
confidence and skills in targeted
»Ensuring key staff are trained in ways
to support the mental health and
emotional wellbeing of our pupils
We also ensure that we use our
assemblies, values work and PSCHE
lessons to talk about emotions and
how to respond to and deal withthem.
Making effective use of experts
We value the impact that expert advice
and work has on improved outcomes
for pupils. Our work with experts
»Buy-in of two days a week of speech
and language therapy. A large
number of our pupils arrive at school
with delays in their acquisition of
speech and the work of the therapist
with groups and on a one-to-one
basis has been invaluable. She has
also been able to train up our staff in
a variety of strategies and techniques
and also how to make effective use
of technology to support learning
»Working with the Bell Foundation
to improve our knowledge and
understanding of our EAL learners
– including how best to cater for
their needs and how to accurately
assess them. We have adjusted
our teaching strategies and use of
resources and are seeing the impact
of this. We know that it will take
time to see the full impact of our
work with the Bell Foundation but
the initial signs are encouraging.
We know that we have a journey
ahead of us but we are encouraged by
the progress that we are making and
are driven by the desire to bring about
real improvements for our pupils in a
wide range of areas.
Driven by the
desire to bring
about real
for our pupils
House captains and
play leaders help to run
sports day

This article was sponsored by Beechwood Primary School. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.