Blakesley Hall Primary School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Blakesley Hall 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 Blakesley Hall 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

Headteacher Heather Phillips
Deepening learning through
Headteacher Heather Phillips told her governing body in
2006 that her aim for Birmingham-based Blakesley Hall
Primary School was to make it an oasis of learning and
development. It’s an ethos that underpins and characterises the
school and that Heather attempts to make visible in everything
they do. From many corners, she has been told that her aim has
succeeded – the journey to which, she says, “hasn’t always been
easy, but has been long and rewarding”. Working against the
social and economic issues facing the Yardley ward, Heather says
that the community is caring, harmonious, vibrant andoptimistic.
Inspection reports have highlighted that this is a caring school. That care extends
from the adults to the children in a tangible way. Staff enjoy working here, and
that enjoyment cascades to the children. It translates into wanting to provide the
very best learning environment for the children, who often come from diverse
backgrounds. Diversity, after all, must be made a strength. The school has an
ever-changing demographic, something that is understood by all and celebrated as
such. As was noted in our inspection, “the school provides good care and support
Aspiration, celebration and assessment
Sometimes it takes courage to do what is right for our pupils, and as headteacher,
you regularly have to be guided by the courage of your convictions. The pressure
to focus solely on reading, writing and maths at the expense of a wider, richer
curriculum is real, particularly when you have a year of poor end-of-key-stage
»Headteacher: Heather Phillips
»Founded in 1959
»Located in Stechford,
»Type of school: Local authority
community school
»No. of students: 630
»Newly commissioned Resource
Base for pupils with ASD
Blakesley Hall Primary
Highlighting best practice
national tests results. Taking time to
get to know each child as a whole
person is a risk in this environment.
We struggle with high turnover, and,
during any one year, 25 to 30 per cent
of our year 6 pupils who sit the test
have not started with us in reception.
Despite that, standards are rising, and
pupils make good progress across the
curriculum. Self-evaluation must be
both accurate and meaningful. We
start the success stories at the very
beginning: our “youngest children
make good progress from standards
well below those expected for their
age” (Ofsted). Sixty per cent of pupils
now enter year 1 with the appropriate
level of learning and knowledge to
start KS1 strongly. We want to see
their test performance improve so that
they are ready and able to compete
and, more importantly, to contribute
when they transition to the next stage
of their education.
Teachers are given permission to be
creative in their teaching; they must
both meet the learning needs of the
pupils and know what makes a child
tick and what their talents are. It is
important we keep this as a feature of
our provision, with regular aspiration
days and enrichment weeks.
Individualised CPD provision enables
all teachers to develop. Research,
collaboration, coaching and formal
training all feature as part of the
provision for staff. The budget for this
is small, but not a penny is wasted,
and we have been creative in how
we support our staff to continuously
improve. The school is a learning
environment for everybody. Children
are given opportunities to have
hands-on experience in a wide range
of activities, from theatre and drama
workshops to cooking and gardening,
as well as horse riding and team sports.
All KS2 children learn a musical
instrument and have opportunities for
performance. Our curriculum is written
by our senior leaders and supports our
children in being confident citizens
in their community. It’s well planned,
stimulating and active. It’s important
that our children acquire skills through
the curriculum, after all. I am relentless
in trying to provide memorable
moments that make the learning real
for those children who may have limited
access to experiences outside school.
As leaders, we have sought to be
innovative in the way we assess pupil
outcomes and are confident that
we are putting in building blocks to
continue to grow success, as accuracy
is vital and is the key to sustainable
future success.
I have the highest of aspirations for
every child, and we now have a growing
number of parents who know this too
and are working in partnership with
us to realise those aspirations. Regular
pupil voice activities allow us to gauge
whether we are getting it right for the
children. Pupils have a wide variety of
councils through which they can take
responsibility for the improvement
of their school. Our School Inclusion
Council speaks on behalf of our pupils
with additionalneeds.
Our Learning
Ambassadors have a
strong voice about their
Inclusion and SEN
continues to be our
coaching and
formal training
all feature as
part of the
provision for
Pride in partnership
We’ve always been outward-looking,
choosing partners to learn from and
welcoming external reviews. One
success for us has been the peer review
group that we’ve been a part of for over
five years. We have gained a lot from
collaborative working. Additionally, the
awards we have worked towards have
helped to secure external validation of
our effectiveness and ensured that we
keep raisingstandards.
It’s crucial that leaders grow their
expertise by working with others
outside the school. For example, I was
an Ofsted inspector for six years and
have had secondment opportunities
to work with and learn from
schools across Birmingham – these
opportunities are afforded to all staff.
We are happy to have forged a formal
partnership with six other local schools,
known as the Kingfisher Collaboration
of Schools. We’re excited to see what
improvements this can bring to all
Leadership – strong vision
One highlight of my tenure is having
Ofsted acknowledge outstanding
leadership, recognising the focus
of school leaders, including
governors, in creating a successful
Coaching is perhaps the strongest
feature of development for staff
– coaching for performance and
Coaching has enabled me
to teach with confidence to
ahigher level. Coaching has
enhanced my skills and given
me new ones to help me to
improve my teaching.” – HLTA
Teamwork is central to all our work,
and time is taken to get to know
the strengths and skills of every staff
member. It is also wonderful to have
former pupils now sending their
children to be educated here, and to
have a number of staff who themselves
were pupils here. Many of our leaders
are homegrown and have invested
their whole careers here. For them, the
school is a special place.
Against all odds
Despite leading a school that is often
described as being in “challenging
circumstances”, I remain as passionate
about this community as the day
I started here. I see that passion
reflected in the hard work and high
standards of the adults. Teachers have
to work even harder to inspire some
of our learners, many of whom are
disengaged from learning and have to
be inspired before they start. I see our
teachers’ passion reflected, in turn, in
the faces of our pupils, who develop
as confident, curious individuals. They
don’t know that their disadvantage is
supposed to be a disadvantage – they
feel “Safe, Secure and Successful”,
which must hold true every day that
they’re here.
We are happy to
have forged a
partnership with
six other local
schools, known
as the Kingfisher
Collaboration of
Promoting wider
opportunities through
Artsmark recognition

This article was sponsored by Blakesley Hall 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 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