Brunswick Park Primary School

Highlighting best practice as a representative in The Parliamentary Review

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 Brunswick Park Primary School is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Susannah Bellingham
Welcome to Brunswick
Based in Camberwell, southeast London, Brunswick Park
Primary School is a two-form entry mainstream community
school with a Resource Base for pupils with Autistic
Spectrum Condition (ASC). Having shrunk in size in recent
years, the school has fought back from the challenges it has
faced to be given a “good” rating in its latest Ofsted report.
Headteacher Susannah Bellingham explains more.
In recent years, council regeneration projects in our area have replaced high-density
social housing with mixed lower-density housing. As this has progressed, families in
council accommodation have been relocated, unable to return due to social housing
shortage and rising prices. Fifty per cent of Brunswick’s children are in receipt of
the pupil premium, and a significant minority have no recourse to public funds
(NRPF). However, regeneration has also brought increasing affluence and a gradual
demographic shift has begun. Local families have plenty of schools to choose from, so
we are delighted when parents and carers choose Brunswick for its inclusive, caring
ethos that focuses on pupil well-being and commitment to personal development.
Our mission is to equip children with the knowledge and skills to live in society
as good citizens, able and willing to help and understand others regardless of
ethnic origin or cultural background. School leaders and staff know for themselves
how difficult this is to achieve, having had to recalibrate the school’s then adult-
orientated culture following an Ofsted inspection in 2014 that resulted in a
judgment of “requires improvement”.
Against a background of relentless challenge, senior leaders implemented robust,
consistent systems of progress-focused monitoring and evaluation centred on
»Based in the London Borough
of Southwark
»Type of school: LA Maintained
Community Primary School
with Nursery
»No. of pupils: 408, capacity is
Brunswick Park
Primary School
Highlighting best practice
enabling children to fulfil their
potential. We then developed an
approach to assessment for those
pupils with complex SEND so teachers
could assess and accurately track
children attaining below the level of
the national curriculum.
Relationships are key to our success.
If relationships are founded in mutual
respect, fairness and consideration
for others, children feel safe. When
they feel safe they can take risks,
be challenged and ask questions.
Asking questions breeds curiosity and
from curiosity comes engagement.
If children are engaged they learn,
enjoy it and want to continue. Our
staff members learn that as every
child is unique, there is no one size
fits all approach to teaching. While
we ensure there is consistency
of provision, high expectation,
productivity and outcome, our
children most affected by adverse
childhood experiences, SEMH
challenges and complex SEND need
approaches that are tailored entirely
This flexibility is reflected in our
response to the needs of particular
groups and cohorts. If our experience
of them indicates the need for
nurture-style teaching, we provide it. If
teachers are best-placed to help pupils
to make progress through planning
for specific ability groups, they do it.
Inducting new staff into this way of
working and to providing for such
a wide spectrum of ability has to be
comprehensive and effective.
The wider curriculum helps to build
life skills creatively through a wide
variety of trips and visits, cooking
in the designated teaching kitchen,
gardening and growing vegetables on
our allotments and looking after our
hens. The arts are crucial to children’s
development, and outstanding
specialist music, PE and dance teaching
result in high pupil engagement and
regular involvement and success
in festivals and competitions.
Children develop moral purpose
and responsibility through leading
assemblies, being ambassadors and
sitting on the school council. They are
trained by therapists and our learning
mentor in listening, and provide a
listening friends service for children
who need to talk to a peer. We are
committed to safeguarding vulnerable
families through our breakfast club,
provision of food bank vouchers,
access to a highly trained school-
home support practitioner, a learning
mentor and staff trained in mental
health first aid. Our high-quality
learning environments, comprehensive
monitoring, accurate assessment and
inclusive approach founded in belief
in the power of positive relationships
make the school a rewarding place
Music and Performance
continue no matter what
As every child
is unique,
there is no
one size fits all
»The school has a 14-place resource base for pupils with Autism
Spectrum Condition (ASC) – there are currently 18 resource-based
»7.6 per cent of all pupils have an EHCP – the national average is 3.1
per cent
»Ofsted 2019: “Good” with “outstanding” personal development,
behaviour and welfare
»Motto: Learning for living through respect, support and challenge
On paper Brunswick Park is a
mainstream school with a resource
base for pupils with ASC. In practice
its SEND provision is much wider – 31
pupils with EHCPs and scores of others
awaiting diagnoses. The school’s
reputation as a place where children
with ASC can thrive means it attracts
families who would have otherwise
sent their children to their local school.
Resource base funding does not pay
for the actual cost of educating the
school’s children with complex needs,
as Brunswick Park is a mainstream
setting. If the resource-based children
received the increased funding
allocated if Brunswick were a specialist
setting, it would.
Teachers and support staff with the
motivation and skills necessary to
educate and care for children with a
kaleidoscope of needs in a mainstream
setting, that is judged by Ofsted in
the same way as all other mainstream
settings, are few and far between.
Recruitment and retention at this
school, which despite being in inner
London is not especially well connected
by the inner city’s standards, remains a
constant challenge. As does recruiting
teachers who have been well enough
trained and qualified. We lament
the demise of quality-assured initial
teacher training linked closely to higher
education institutions where research-
based pedagogy was studied and
applied to practice.
At the time of writing, headteachers
are preparing to welcome pupils back
to school after more than five months
of disruption due to coronavirus, using
guidance that does not take school
type or setting into account, or the
negative impact on continuity and
quality of provision for children, caused
by the inevitable increase in staff and
pupil absence whilst strict measures are
taken to minimise spread of thevirus.
Covid-19 aside, with cumulatively less
funding per pupil, a continuing rapid
rise in the number of children with
complex SEND and EHCPs as a result
of a chronic and increasing shortage
of places in specialist provision
and increasing child poverty and
disadvantage, and no co-ordinated
plan to rationalise rapidly excess places
in this area of the borough, the school
struggles with financial viability.
The media publicises the enduring
need to close gaps, but not that
schools are reducing their staff
numbers just at a time when they
should be increasing them to provide
the support and care that children
who suffer disadvantage need, as their
budgets are squeezed too tightly to
pay for them. Austerity has bitten so
hard there is little prospect of recovery
without significant investment in
the education system, but Covid-19
appears to have put paid to that.
Despite all this, at Brunswick Park
we will continue to love and care for
our children and compensate as best
less funding
the school
struggles with
Harvesting potatoes in
Keyworker+ Provision

This article was sponsored by Brunswick Park Primary School. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.