Belmont Primary School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Belmont 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 Belmont 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
Chris Gibson, head teacher
The school has extensive grounds
looking out across the Cleveland Hills
Chris Gibson joined Belmont Primary as deputy head in
September 2011, shortly after the school had received
a “satisfactory” inspection by Ofsted. His task was to
continue to build capacity, take charge of assessment and to
identify key areas of weakness. Chris explains that the major
issue facing the school centred around progress between
year 2 and year 6. Robust progress meetings were established
as part of the assessment monitoring cycle to recognise the
challenges faced by students, their barriers to learning and,
most importantly, how to ensure these are addressed.
A special educational needs and disability co-ordinator (SENDCo) was appointed at
the same time as me. Working closely alongside, the information gathered during
the progress meetings enabled us to recognise support mechanisms required for
individuals and smaller groups. Support staff had previously worked alongside
children to help in class, which had been proven to be high cost but low impact.
We replaced this with clearly targeted specific support to either individuals or
smaller groups of children. We knew that our support staff possessed impressive
skills and these were largely wasted with the protocol being used. Instead, clearly
targeted support was devised with specific programmes for individuals and smaller
groups to be undertaken beyond the classroom. Within a half-term, the results
were evident. Children became increasingly confident, attempting challenging tasks
and engaging in a far more positive manner. Assessments showed us that children
who had been stuck were making progress academically and socially due to their
higher confidence.
»Head teacher: Mr Chris Gibson
»Location: Guisborough
»No. of pupils: 324 reception to
year 6 and 70 in nursery
Belmont Primary
In September 2014, I took over as head
teacher and the climate continued to
develop at pace. There was increased
emphasis on the standard of teaching
and learning, but with empathy for
the workload of teachers. Planning
expectations were winnowed, allowing
teachers to prioritise more important
tasks. We found, however, some
staff found teaching observations
invasive, and it took a while to show
that the purpose of these was to help
identify strengths and developmental
areas within the staff. From the
observations, teachers were paired up
with colleagues to share such strengths
within context. Most teachers
embraced this while some required a
bit more reassurance. During this time,
we also saw a slightly increased staff
turnover. This provided the opportunity
to build strength and capacity within
younger members of staff, eager to
develop and learn alongside more
experienced colleagues. Existing
ambitious staff members were
afforded the opportunity to develop
professionally, undertaking training to
enable them to address the challenges
exhibited by some children which
acted as learningbarriers.
Working with the Landmark Teaching
School Alliance, we commissioned
a two-day teaching and learning
review. It identified the weaknesses
which needed to be addressed and
the strengths. Consistency in the
quality of teaching and learning
throughout the school was a noted
weakness and discussions were held.
We therefore built more systematically
on the peer-to-peer support both
within school andalongside partner
schools to share and experience
good practice. The majority of staff
embraced the opportunities offered
by this initiative and we continued
to monitor consistency within
school through observations and
book audits whereupon it was clear
that the majority of teachers were
prepared to adapt how they worked.
Additional, more targeted support
was offered to these individuals;
where this was successful, the
teachers showed development in their
By the time we had reached the middle
of the academic year 2015-16, we felt
we had made significant inroads by
raising standards, achievement, levels
of expectation and progress. We were
dealt a blow, however, following the
end of the Key Stage 2 tests in 2016.
Combined scores were only in line with
national expectations and progress was Children, staff and
parents enjoying the
“Maths Breakfast”
showed us that
children who
had been stuck
were making
and socially due
to their higher
Highlighting best practice
particularly low. This was unexpected
as clear tracking, targeted support
and precision teaching had been
undertaken throughout the year and
the results went against all predictions.
Examination of the tests showed
us that there were issues with the
children’s arithmetic and weaknesses
in reading, which obviously impacted
on their attainment. It was at this point
we made more significant changes. It
was decided that we would adapt the
timetable, introducing a 20-minute
pure arithmetic session into the
beginning of the day across the whole
school. The head teacher and deputy
head teacher also taught targeted
groups across each year group for
pre-teach, introducing less confident
children to the concepts to be covered
in maths the following week. We also
invested in the Accelerated Reader
programme across Key Stage 2 while
maintaining the daily phonics sessions
in Early Years and Key Stage 1. Parents
from across the school were invited to
one of two Reading Breakfasts which
were held at the school, encouraging
families to enjoy reading together.
Additional support for year 6 students
who find comprehension skills
challenging was provided with weekly
hour-long sessions working on skills
required to respond appropriately to
more challenging texts.
Based on recent surveys, parents
appeared to be pleased with the
majority of aspects of school provision.
One area which showed room for
improvement was communication
between home and school. With
this in mind, we introduced Free
Flow Info, an online package which
allows teachers to upload work which
nominated supporters of the child can
view. This also allows supporters to
share successes at home with school.
Although in its infancy, the impact of
this as a communication tool, based
on feedback, is considerable. We also
now provide interim reports in autumn
and spring with a full school report
in the summer. This allows targets
to be identified throughout the year,
allowing children to act upon them.
It always seemed odd to provide
targets at the end of the summer term
whereupon a five to six week break
was about to be taken.
During our journey over the past four
years, we’ve encountered challenges.
We’ve developed into a strong team
where both teaching and non-teaching
staff buy into our philosophy based
on a learning community rooted in
high expectation, support and mutual
respect. Although we do not feel that
Ofsted and test data is everything, it
is very much what schools are judged
on. In 2017, just one year on from
the large dip in standards, Key Stage
2 results improved from a combined
score of 53 per cent in 2016 to 84 per
cent, with progress also considerably
improved. In our November 2017
Ofsted inspection the school was
judged as “good” in all areas.
The school continues to move forward
with challenging and aspirational
targets, the next of which is to
further raise expectation to develop
attainment and progress beyond that
which would be an expectation. We
certainly have the staff to facilitate this.
The head
teacher and
team set a
clear vision for
the school,
nurturing staff
and pupils to
Staff morale is
high. Strong
teamwork is
central to the
Ofsted, November 2017
The school uses
children as anti-bullying
ambassadors to support
peers against and raise
awareness of any form
of bullying

This article was sponsored by Belmont 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