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 Brownlow Fold Primary School is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.
Brownlow Fold Primary School
Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles
1BROWNLOW FOLD PRIMARY SCHOOL |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE
Children feel less physically and
mentally inhibited in outdoor
lessons and can apply their
learning in real-world contexts
Headteacher Julie Hignett
and the children enjoying
the outdoor classroom
When Julie Hignett took over as headteacher at
Brownlow Fold, progress was significantly below
average and attendance was low for all pupil
groups. It was clear from the get-go that new, more ambitious
standards for all aspects of school life had to be put in place.
Brownlow Fold is an inner urban school, situated in an area of
deprivation in the Halliwell ward of Bolton. Over three quarters
of their pupils are from minority ethnic backgrounds, and the
proportion of pupils who do not speak English as their first
language is significant. The overwhelming majority of pupils
there start school significantly below age-related expectations.
Working through these challenges forms the basis of the
following article, written by the Brownlow Fold team.
Forging a new ethos
As a team, we created a new mission statement, a core purpose: to ensure that we
improve educational outcomes for all our pupils and equally make sure that pupils
leave the school well prepared academically, socially and emotionally for the next
stage of their education.
To do this, we first had to develop a “Mindset for Success” in our school, which
required many adjustments. We were of the view that each of the small things
we did, when combined, led to significant changes. Adopting a growth-mindset
approach offered an optimistic view about what was achievable for each and every
one of us. Proceeding along these lines was therefore important.
BROWNLOW FOLD PRIMARY
»Headteacher: Julie Hignett
»Founded in 1972
»Based in Bolton
»Type of school: Community
»One-form entry aged 2 to 11
»No. of pupils: Nursery 76,
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
2| BROWNLOW FOLD PRIMARY SCHOOL
Empowering students and
We introduced the “Empowered
Learner” award, which focuses on
six areas of personal development.
Throughout their time at Brownlow
Fold, all children are supported
to become self-evaluative of their
strengths and areas for development.
We recognise the impact that personal
skills can have on the academic
success and well-being of our children.
They play a vital role in developing
the ability of learners to enjoy and
reflect on their learning across the
curriculum. The more we developed
this, the more able we were to tackle
daily challenges with confidence,
optimism and success.
There have been significant changes to
the way we approach school life during
my time here. My role has been to
oversee and lead these changes across
the school. Throughout this important
time of change, I motivated, guided
and advised staff, ensuring they were
well supported and positive in carrying
out their roles. Clear succession
planning through systematically
identifying leadership talent within
school drove school improvement and
attracted and retained the highest-
performing teachers, resulting in better
outcomes for our pupils. The sharing
of best practice between colleagues
both within school and with local
schools has been how we have truly
embedded a collaborative system and
ethos, with all stakeholders working
towards the common purpose of
improving pupil outcomes.
The crucial skill required in all senior
leaders is that of delegation, since
it is the process of defining tasks
and roles which lays the basis for
effective teamwork. Responsibility
means making decisions for which one
accepts the consequences. Devolving
responsibility allowed the full creativity
of all the staff to be used in the best
Key workers link
curriculum activities to
boys’ interests, ensuring
An engaging and
inspiring art and design
Wider Opportunities, a
and a music specialist
We were of
the view that
each of the
we did, when
3BROWNLOW FOLD PRIMARY SCHOOL |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE
interests of the school, as everyone
has a share in decision-making. I
believe that leadership in a school is
far from being the sole province of
the headteacher. The success of our
school has been a direct consequence
of developing leadership qualities in
all, empowering staff through the
practices of distributed leadership. It
was therefore imperative that all staff
had distinct roles and responsibilities
and held each other to account for
Going beyond the curriculum
We offer our children a lot more
than just the national curriculum and
focus on more than just doing well in
tests. Skills such as honesty, integrity,
resilience, empathy and being a good
friend are life skills that are necessary
for society and every workplace.
Our curriculum helps our children to
develop their interests and abilities,
providing valuable learning experiences
both inside and outside the classroom
and promoting their independence and
Our ethos is characterised by high
expectations and aspirations for all
pupils. All staff are committed to
achieving high standards for all pupils
in order that they can attain the
highest levels of achievement and
personal development. Myself and
leaders at all levels base our actions
on an accurate understanding of our
performance data. As a result, the
quality of teaching and pupils’ progress
is an improving trend.
“ Leaders have an accurate and
detailed understanding of the
areas they lead. They have a
clear vision and passionate
commitment to ensuring that
pupils get the best education
possible. Their actions are
appropriate and have a positive
Ofsted, November 2016
We work with a range of agencies
to support our pupils, and staff
have a good understanding of the
potential sources of support for
pupils and parents. We believe
integrated working is about ensuring
that children and families receive
appropriate and coordinated services
where practitioners work together
effectively at the earliest point to deal
with the impact of difficulties and to
prevent these from becoming more
serious. We regularly host a variety
of workshops, such as the Triple P
parenting class or Talk English (ESOL)
classes, that enable us to engage
with parents and agencies to support
Over the last three years, we have
improved pupil outcomes and no
longer sit at the bottom end of the
league tables. More importantly, we
have raised aspirations not only for our
pupils but for the whole Brownlow
Fold community. Our focus has been
to truly embed a growth mindset
and encourage our pupils to believe
that with hard work and dedication,
anything is possible.
the impact that
can have on the
Role play is an
important part of child
development, as it builds
creativity and confidence
The Rt Hon Professor The Lord Blunkett's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review
A new Prime Minister, a new Education Secretary and, as we're all painfully aware, a deeply uncertain future. It is in this context that the education service continues to deliver for individuals, communities and of course for our nation.
There is no doubt whatsoever that the education service as a whole, schools, post 16/Further Education, and yes, lifelong learning, needs the most enormous injection of cash. Independent analysis shows that there has been at least an 8% average reduction in the amount of spend per pupil in our schools. Those damaged most by this have been pupils with special educational needs, whose voices are sadly rarely heard. The necessity of urgent action was underlined in July by the report of the all-party House of Commons Select Committee on Education. They could not have been clearer about the need for substantial funding and a long-term 10-year commitment.
At the same time, there are a number of reviews taking place. One of them, in relation to post-16 qualifications, is in danger of a classic mistake by politicians and officials who have little or no understanding of the complex territory they're dealing with. Namely, the ridiculous proposition that BTEC National Diplomas might be set aside because 'T Levels are the gold standard'!
I'm in favour of T Levels, but in the right context and for the right outcome. They are intended to be extremely focused specialist qualifications in defined areas of employment. When and if they eventually take off – there is predicted to be just a thousand students in 2021-22 taking up the qualification – they will not replace the BTEC, which has been the workhorse providing a general and high-quality education for decades. The BTEC has equipped young people for a variety of opportunities in a very changing employment market where the development of artificial intelligence, robotics, and changed working practices makes confining the choice of vocational pathways to one narrow focus, frankly ridiculous.
Meanwhile, her Majesty's Opposition continue to throw out titbits which do not give, as yet, a very clear idea of what, if elected, Labour would do in office. What is needed is positive proposals. Abolishing this, that or the other – assessments/tests for those leaving primary school, for instance – is not the same thing as a very forward-looking agenda for radical improvement in standards and equity between those who can and cannot afford additional help for their children.
There are a handful of Labour Party members, supported by some people who ought to know better, who have decided that a full-frontal assault on private education would be a good idea. For those worried about this, stop worrying. A party that put this in its manifesto wouldn't get elected, and if by some fluke it did, it would be challenged in the courts to the point where all the contradictions would be exposed for everyone to see.
Just contemplate one simple fact. 20% of secondary schoolchildren in the borough of Hackney attend private schools! Yes, Hackney. This is because a large number of parents, some of whom scrape the money together, are sending their children to private education in London which happens to be the area of England with the best academic outcomes from state education. What's more, very large numbers (again, particularly in London) pay for private tutors. At the last estimate 40% of parents in London had at some point over the last year paid for a tutor for their child!
Perhaps therefore an opposition party, hoping to provide unity rather than division, opportunity for all rather than a futile class battle against educational privilege, would seek ways of ensuring that those who can't afford tutors have the kind of support outside school that would put them on equal terms.
One thing is very certain, no government would be able to stop parents buying additional tutoring for their children.
So, a practical agenda for equalising opportunity, for investing where it's needed most, for transforming the pipeline from school through college, apprenticeships, or university, is a goal worth fighting for. A positive way of linking business and education through political decision-making, with the delivery by excellent professionals in the education service, to the children of today and the economy of tomorrow. Surely that is a much more progressive and less negative way forward for both government and opposition.