Berrywood Primary School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Berrywood 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 Berrywood 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 Reilly, head teacher
View from our stunning
meadowland – parents enjoying
a project celebration
As head teacher of Berrywood, Chris Reilly is proud to
lead a large primary school that is rated by Ofsted as
“good” with “outstanding features”. In recent years a
stunning outdoor environment bursting with first-hand learning
opportunities has been created. Sport and physical development
is an impressive feature that the school offers, with the visual
and performing arts gaining prominence and academic standards
rising. The school is determined to Make Learning Irresistible –
an ambition driven by the desire to enhance learning behaviours
in which pupils demonstrate profound critical analysis.
The journey – changing the culture
When I joined in the summer of 2013, I knew from the interview process that
the culture at Berrywood was damaged. Senior leaders had been weakened by
the orchestrated actions of some disaffected members of staff who avoided
initiatives and openly challenged their authority. There were stark differences in
professional values between teachers, and the success of pupils was not the lens
through which enough members of staff evaluated the impact of their work.
With the support of the local authority and governing body, self-evaluation was
downgraded to reflect a realistic understanding of the position.
From day one, I felt a strong imperative to fight for the integrity and purpose of the
organisation. The speed of engagement surprised the principle dissenters, enabling
some clarity about the authority of leadership to be restored. Most members of
staff were good people who welcomed the hope of a fairer organisation with
»Head teacher: Chris Reilly
»Founded in 1992
»Based in Hedge End,
»Type of school: Community
primary school
»No. of pupils: 639
Berrywood Primary
a brighter outlook for its pupils. I
remain incredibly grateful to many
colleagues for the support I received
during challenging times. When Ofsted
visited in February 2014, “special
measures” were avoided. Instead,
we were granted the opportunity to
continue building momentum through
a “requires improvement” judgment.
Key improvement areas
After Ofsted, improvement work
gathered pace and accountability
increased. Many grasping the
improvement nettle did so with greater
success than I had thought possible.
Coaching, mentoring, encouragement
and care were heaped upon six NQTs
who successfully completed their
induction during academic year 2014-
2015, and a further two the year after.
Everyone was benefiting from a fresher
and happier atmosphere: parents
regained trust and supported the
improvement drive.
Recruiting senior leaders and
reshaping the existing team resulted
in a revitalised structure with clear
responsibilities. Leaders at all levels
engaged in the rebuilding process,
seeing opportunities to develop
professionally and to take ownership
of improvement planning. Inclusive
principles began to underpin practice
as colleagues systematically addressed
the specific needs of vulnerable
groups and disadvantaged pupils.
Video coaching encouraged crucial
peer development and enabled a
learning community to establish.
We grew a culture of success
in tackling the huge changes
underway nationally in assessment
In mathematics, we abolished ability
setting, it being at odds with our
embrace of the growth mindset
principles advocated by Carol Dweck.
We worked intensively with the
Hampshire Maths team to establish
the use of concrete, pictorial and
abstract representations to develop
the reasoning of our pupils. Deeper
learning approaches encouraged by
the architects of the new national
curriculum were taken on board and
standards in every year group began
to rise.
In English, we were determined
to create a long-term English plan
based on rich texts and a curriculum
map aligned to the Hampshire
Assessment Model. We invested in
the development of two members
of staff who trained for two years
in the powerful Let’s Think English
programme. They have now led
school-wide implementation by
supporting colleagues to boost
writing composition through
inspiring children’s imaginative and
Project learning
I was passionate about establishing
project learning as the basis for
improving teaching and learning in
foundation subjects. A consistent and
uncomplicated planning structure was
Making damper bread
by the fire in the unique
splendour of our
head teacher has
created a highly
skilled team of
leaders at all
Together, their
leadership has
brought about
Ofsted May 2016
Highlighting best practice
Hook – Imaginative activity to engage
pupils in the subject matter and project
structure ahead
Body of Learning – Six to eight weeks
of well-planned project lessons
bringing rigour into learning across
Celebration – Exciting and varied
events to which parents are invited; an
experience aimed at deepening pupils’
Having embedded project learning
fundamentals, we’ve created capacity
to embark on larger scale projects. In
2014, we appointed an environmental
learning leader who transformed
our nine-acre site. To explain our
journey towards “a school within
a garden”, we’ve produced a film,
greenheroes.berrywood-pri.hants., that celebrates the beauty of
our environment while exploring the
children’s critical thinking on climate
change. In establishing the Green
Heroes brand and Forest School
approaches, our aim is to encourage
pupils and staff to take this venture to
even greater heights.
Challenges ahead and future
Like many public-sector organisations,
our greatest challenge is meeting
growing need during a sustained
period of funding constraint.
Educationalists, child psychologists
and others with a professional stake
cite a decline in children’s social,
emotional and academic functioning,
alongside increases in mental health
diagnoses. Thus, doing more with less
is straining capacity in even the best
placed schools and adversely affecting
recruitment and retention.
Another challenge is steering a
pathway through SATs in the better
interest of pupils. While welcoming
accountability and not denying the
imperative of a strong grounding in
English and maths, the effectiveness
of these tests, with their impact on
pupils’ wellbeing and a narrowing
curriculum, are of increasing concern
to parents and professionals.
The ambition at Berrywood is
founded on a belief that primary-
age children benefit from a buoyant
education aligned to their actual lives
and the exciting spirit of childhood.
It is encouraging that unease is
being voiced over, seemingly, the
acceleration of a predominantly
utilitarian direction in state education
and the possibility that by subtle
design this mainly serves to preserve
vested interests. Likewise, the political
consensus in neoclassical economics
that during recent decades has
provided the overarching context for
public policy, including education,
may now be ending. If this is
the case, a significant number of
educationalists may well welcome the
prospect of redefining the purpose of
their work through better imagining
a future less restricted by a naïve
benefit from a
aligned to
their actual
lives and the
exciting spirit
of childhood
Forest School – creative
experiences in the spirit
of childhood


This article was sponsored by Berrywood 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