Bridgewater Primary School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Bridgewater 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 Bridgewater 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 EmmaHenderson
Bridgewater’s senior leaders
Bridgewater Primary School have undergone a dramatic
transformation since 2011. They have progressed from being
placed in “special measures” to become “outstanding”,
confirmed by their 2017 Ofsted inspection. Key to this has been
a central focus on the quality of their early years provision,
specifically targeting the development of language and
communication skills. They also work closely with schools in their
local area, and across the country, to develop and share best
practice. Headteacher Emma Henderson joined the school in 2011
and explains how they have achieved this remarkable turnaround.
When I joined the school in 2011, it had been placed under “special measures”
and was assessed as inadequate in all areas. Originally working as a deputy, I
became head in October 2013 as we progressed to become a “good” school. The
school faced incredibly challenging circumstances, with a high proportion of free
school meals, a high number of staff changes and inadequate academic results.
It was essential to support the school through this changing agenda. Gradually,
we were able to implement a programme of change that led us to be rated
“outstanding” by Ofsted in our 2017inspection.
We have successfully created a culture within Bridgewater where all staff are
committed to reaching exceptional standards; there is real enthusiasm for
teamwork and developing excellence throughout the school, which hasmade
teaching and learning so enjoyable, successful and rewarding.
»Headteacher: EmmaHenderson
»Established in 1954
»Based in Salford
»Type: Primary
»No. of pupils: 460
Bridgewater Primary
Highlighting best practice
Key to this change was putting the
right people in the right places: we
sought to recruit high-quality staff
and instigated a specially designed
continuing professional development
programme. We have used our
resources and pupil premium funding
to study the needs of the children
and provide early intervention where
appropriate. The changed curriculum
led to a standard of teaching that
was at least “good” in all areas, and
we further developed our provision
to ensure that it met the individual
needs of our children. This included
a significant focus on our early years
provision, placing highly trained staff
in these roles, as it is our belief that
these foundational years are crucial
for later development. As many of
our pupils begin their education with
speaking and listening difficulties, we
have employed a speech and language
therapist. This therapist also helps
to upskill our staff. Responding to
this need, we have also introduced
a “Letters and Sounds” programme,
aiding teaching of the phonics system,
which has become a real flagship
of our early curriculum. We also
appointed a full-time reading recovery
teacher, providing one-to-one support
to any students at risk of falling behind
in year 1.
These changes took several years to
embed successfully; following this,
our focus shifted to ensuring that
new staff were inducted into our
teaching practices and philosophy.
This involves developing a culture of
high expectations of our children,
providing quality first teaching and
engendering high aspirations for all.
Our environment and the surrounding
deprivation have also made us adapt.
We have a learning mentor who works
with families to overcome any barriers
to learning, signposting parents to the
services that they may require, allowing
our teachers to focus on teaching.
Engaging our students
beyond the classroom
Developing an engaging curriculum
is crucial to ensure positive pupil
outcomes. To support this, we have
joined the Children’s University,
meaning that children receive credit
for learning outside the curriculum.
We offer a wide range of afterschool
clubs, including Mandarin, lacrosse and
ukulele lessons, alongside the more-
traditional offerings. This has improved
the children’s desire to achieve in
other areas, such as the debate club,
and we ensure that each pupil has
a voice in deciding which additional
learning opportunities they would like
to receive.
We are currently working with the
Globe Theatre, delivering a programme
centred around Shakespeare for
KS1. This encourages children to
become storytellers and develops their
expressive arts and communication
skills. We are one of only two schools
in Manchester to do this. Alongside
making quality texts accessible, this
helps to increase literacy and emotional
We have also worked with the Lowry
Theatre, on an arts project based on
the book
The Snowman.
Graduating Children’s
University at the
University of Salford
This involves
of our
quality first
teaching and
Working closely with other
We work closely with other schools in
the locality in a supportive partnership
for improving standards. Rather
than standing still, we are constantly
looking for ways to improve our
provision. Through links with our
school improvement consultant, we
have worked with schools beyond the
Salford local authority to learn from
other settings with similar catchments
and demographics. We have also got
involved with online initiatives in which
our pupils compete against other
schools in spelling and times tables. The
sight of our school on the leaderboard
acts as a significant motivator for our
students. For our staff, we ensure that
we provide the highest level of training
and draft in specialists to upskill our
practice. We have a resident artist who
works with all of our children, and we
strive to offer these opportunities and
ensure that our quality of teaching
Although we never dwell on the
negatives and always seek to overcome
them, one of the main challenges we
face is retaining high-quality staff. One
of the main ways we have been able
to achieve this has been instigating
a performance-related pay structure,
ensuring that teachers are rewarded
for the work they do. We have also
undertaken a concerted campaign to
restore confidence in some parents
who had felt let down when the
school entered “special measures”.
We have invited them into the school
and given them a voice, through the
parent forum, so that they are both
involved and kept up to date with
general policy and procedures. We
have also welcomed a new governing
body who required support and
training to broker links with the local
authority and promote engagement
with thecommunity.
As we look ahead, we want to
continue to promote high aspirations
among our pupils, something that was
lacking when I first arrived. We want
to open their eyes and show them
the opportunities available to them.
By continuing to self-assess and move
forward, we are confident that we can
maintain a high standard of teaching
in a school where children feel they
can, and want to, achieve.
We are
looking for
ways to
improve our
Enriching experiences
– gorge walking in
Children as storytellers –
acting out The Tempest

This article was sponsored by Bridgewater 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