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 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