Bristol Metropolitan Academy

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Bristol Metropolitan Academy'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 Bristol Metropolitan Academy 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
Sally Apps, executive principal
Improvements have been rapid
and sustained
Bristol Metropolitan Academy is a highly successful inner-
city comprehensive. It is part of the Cabot Learning
Federation (CLF), a multi-academy trust (MAT), and works
with children aged year 7 to year 11. Bristol Met joined the
academy trust in 2009 and has seen impressive progress since.
Executive principal Sally Apps explains how students continue
to perform to a high standard as a result of a distinctive set of
values that staff and students have embraced.
If your child attends Bristol Metropolitan Academy, they are likely to do better than
if they attended any number of other schools locally and nationally. We consistently
ensure exceptional progress for students, in particular those who belong to groups that
underperform nationally. The school has enjoyed significant success since becoming
an academy and joining the CLF in 2009, leaving behind the weak reputation of its
predecessor and enabling the community to feel proud of its localschool.
Working as part of a MAT is a significant feature of what makes us successful. In
deep collaboration with others, Bristol Met shapes a holistic educational experience.
Each child’s leaders and teachers are required to be reflective practitioners
and to embrace new ideas, while seeking to improve on the best of the most
established practice. Collaboration can be challenging and requires a high degree
of professionalism, but it creates the environment and habits that avoid hubris and
encourage innovation where it is useful so that your child gets the best deal.
Children at heart
The culture of the wider organisation is a critical feature of the MAT. The CLF’s
core HEART values are espoused and embedded in all work undertaken by the
»Executive principal: Sally Apps
»Founded in 2009
»Based in Bristol
»Type of school:
Comprehensive academy
»No. of students: 800
»Part of the Cabot Learning
Federation MAT
Bristol Metropolitan
trust and they recognise the centrality
of your child to our organisation,
irrespective of scale. The culture of
robust professional feedback and
recognition of excellence throughout
the organisation uses the concept
of radical candour to ensure that
feedback is encouraged and expected
in order for individuals and groups
to grow. The yearly HEART awards
are peer-led and enable anyone
in the organisation to nominate a
colleague for work that consistently
demonstrates one of the HEART values.
The HEART values are outworked
at Bristol Met in a number of ways,
not least the concept that no child
should be left behind. Every child must
enjoy educational success: your child
should enjoy educational success. As
an inclusive school with outstanding
provision for personal development
and welfare, decision making is
student-led, from curriculum design
to the organisation of the school day;
structural and systemic factors enhance
each student’s experience. The simplest
example: working on the principles of
human scale, students are welcomed
at the school gate and then again at
the door to the building with staff on
hand to ensure readiness for learning.
This enables the leaders of the school
to be satisfied that every child has
had a personal interaction with an
involved adult prior to joining lessons.
All structures and systems are similarly
designed to ensure that there are no
“invisible children” and that pastoral
concerns, child protection issues and
matters relating to mental health are
not allowed to hide in plain sight.
There is a strong focus on using
language to model respect in
discussions with and about pupils,
creating an environment of trust. A
high degree of emotional intelligence
is coupled with clear boundaries
and high standards for behaviour
and attitude. There is a recognition
that academic success and personal
development are inextricably linked
and that insisting on excellence in both
areas is critical: your child will be more
successful when they are personally
fulfilled, and personal fulfilment often
results from professional and academic
success. This is also true of staff.
Weathering the storm
This approach occurs within the
context of significant challenges across
the sector in relation to funding,
where schools have seen real-terms
cuts in funding year-on-year. The MAT
structure has helped individual schools
to manage their finances according
to agreed boundaries with regular
checks and balances, benchmarking
information to enable principals to take
ownership of their resources and to be
accountable for finance and pooled
reserves to enable targeted resource to
meet need: schools and students with
the most need get access to funds first.
School funding is a huge concern
across the sector: working within a
MAT has enabled vulnerable schools
to remain financially sound when
otherwise they may have lacked
the rigour and expertise to ensure
sustainability. Your child would, as far
as possible, be shielded from the worst
effects of cuts in funding.
The community is proud
of its school
success and
Highlighting best practice
Sustainable collaboration
The MAT focuses strongly on the
concept of earned autonomy and
reviewing regularly which aspects of
work are autonomous, standardised
This model allows the best schools
in any given area to continue to
exercise the freedoms that afforded
them the opportunity for excellence.
It allows creativity and innovation,
which is critical for talented leaders
and teachers who want and need the
opportunity to operate with a level
of professional autonomy. It also
recognises that the role of a MAT is
to be a platform to perform. Equally,
where performance is less strong or
it is clear that better practice exists,
schools and leaders are directed
more closely with less autonomy:
more of the work of the school is
standardised until such point as the
school or leader has earned, through
performance, the opportunity to act
with moreautonomy.
This enables the MAT to add value
to all schools within the trust,
enabling high-performing schools
such as Bristol Met to be challenged
and supported to improve further.
It enables the same school to
be challenged on any area of
performance that appears to drop,
or where improvements in the sector
are not evident to the same degree in
the school. This prevents any school
from becoming isolated or suffering
the hubris of success, so that your
child would be guaranteed the best
possible educational experience.
Leading the system
As part of the CLF, Bristol Met
continues to develop in order to
ensure excellence. This includes the
curation of the Key Stage 3 curriculum
(ages 11-14) and ever stronger
outcomes for students that enable
them broad and varied choices later
in life, enhanced by exceptional
opportunities working with employers
and charities, for example the Airbus
Foundation. The MAT has provided
the platform for this school to increase
the pace at which it is becoming truly
exceptional, leading the sector in
fully understanding the potential of
collaborative working and as a result
enabling individual children – your
child – to succeed.
The role of a
MAT is to be a
platform to
High standards are key

This article was sponsored by Bristol Metropolitan Academy. 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