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 Brudenell Primary School is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.
Brudenell Primary School
Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett, MP
Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles, MP
1BRUDENELL PRIMARY SCHOOL |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE
Headteacher Jill Harland
enhance the learning
Leeds-based Brudenell Primary School have a strong focus
on improving the skills and attitude of their children.
In their pedagogy, they aim to ensure that their pupils
form a genuine understanding of concepts, rather than just
remembering them. Another focus at Brudenell is on ensuring
adults are seen as role models for learning within the school.
Headteacher Jill Harland tells
The Parliamentary Review
despite the challenges, the school has managed, and continues
to manage, constant improvement.
With approximately 300 pupils, we’re an average-sized inner-city school based
in the centre of Leeds, with a nursery as part of our provision. Our community is
both rich and complex, with higher-than-usual mobility. In any given year, we see
roughly 30 per cent mobility in our school, because we are a destination for many
new arrivals into the country, as well as those who come briefly from abroad to
study at Leeds University.
As part of our contextual background, we have a number of social challenges to
deal with. A fifth of our children are on free school meals, and over 30 per cent
are on pupil premium funding. Because many of our children return to see their
family abroad, our attendance rate is roughly 95 per cent. Many pupils start out at
Brudenell with low levels of English ability, which we do our utmost to work with,
ensuring every child gets the best-possible start in life. We’re very supportive of
the community we have here, and this is something the parents reciprocate, which
has bred trust and respect between them and us – crucial aspects of a fruitful
BRUDENELL PRIMARY SCHOOL
»Headteacher: Jill Harland
»Founded in 1992
»Located in Leeds
»Type of school: Foundation
»No. of pupils: 307
»Uses coaching and philosophy
as pedagogical methods
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
2| BRUDENELL PRIMARY SCHOOL
An ethos that runs through
everything we do
This is all underpinned by a set of
values which we take seriously and
adhere to strongly. Our mission
statement consists of the following
The goal of our mission statement,
however, is to foster the mindsets and
attitudes of all stakeholders in order
to maximise knowledge and skills.
Taken together – attitude, skills and
knowledge – these elements form
the triangle upon which our school is
based. It’s apparent in everything we
and the children do. A good attitude
is the solid foundation on which other
aspects of learning can be built; skills
allow the children to make valuable
contributions to the world; and
knowledge brings with it a certain kind
of power, which allows greater ability
to get on in the world.
To give a more concrete example, let’s
say a child is writing a short story: if
they work effectively with a partner
in doing so, we reward this as an
example of good attitude – especially
if they show signs of perseverance
and listening skills. However, writing a
short story well, in itself, demonstrates
skill and knowledge. Getting the
right balance of these three traits
is the goal of Brudenell. It ensures
we are developing the whole child
and properly encouraging a love of
learning. Persistence, too, which is
part of our approach to improving
attitudes, is key to guaranteeing that
children can handle whatever life
throws at them.
Innovative action for
Another example of best practice is our
commitment to developing our own
pedagogy in the form of coaching.
We use coaching methods in assisting
children to be self-motivated to try
new things, and we enable teachers
to review and improve on their own
practices. Essentially, teachers identify
areas for improvement, carry out
research, conduct a baseline and trial
recommended approaches, before
reviewing the impact on pupil learning.
Once a half-term, teachers will spend
time out of class reviewing the
situation, with a view to refining their
methods for pedagogy more generally.
enquiries deepen the
understanding of basic
attitude is the
3BRUDENELL PRIMARY SCHOOL |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE
At Brudenell, we take this aspect of
our methodology seriously. It is a core
component of our commitment to
best practice, as well as a source of
We also like children to be deep
thinkers, which is why we have
employed the use of philosophical
inquiry (P4C) to help children
understand, rather than just know,
why they should do some things and
not do others. If, for example, we
are trying to teach kids that bullying
is wrong, we don’t simply tell them
that it is. We also question our
interpretation of bullying and try to
create cognitive conflict, which in turn
deepens the children’s initial thoughts
and leads to a more considered and
Funding and skills
Moving forward, one of the things
we would like to see is recognition of
an ever-increasing mobility problem.
Too many of our children don’t get
to experience the whole journey,
and this adds pressure to staff
recruitment and class stability. While
we always welcome and provide
the best opportunities for every
child who walks through our door,
the mobility problem has an impact
on our daily work and ultimately
our published attainment figures.
Moreover, we’d like to see greater
provision for children with extra needs.
Although we do everything we can
to help those with such needs, there
could be more in place from the
government, especially for those from
One more issue worth mentioning is
the difficulty that we and many schools
have in recruitment. For a myriad of
reasons, too many teachers are put
off the profession and lack a desire to
stay in it. This is the most wonderful
career and a job worth doing, but in
order to feel supported and to grow as
professionals, staff need to be nurtured
and respected for the amazing work
they do. Often the demands are too
pressurised, and focus is placed on
unrealistic and less effectual aspects
of education, which leads to schools
losing fantastic teachers. In short, we
need to make sure there are enough
passionate and inspired teachers for
the next generation to thrive.
As we look to the future, it’s crucial
for us that we continue our culture,
approach and values in order that we
can develop the whole child rather
than just achieve metrics. For as long
as we remain committed to these, we
are optimistic for the future.
This is the
career and a
Feedback is seen as a
cycle of improvement
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.