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


Maths CAP lesson using
equipment and assessment for
learning cups
Children create a thank you
for firefighters for helping
us during the Moorland
fires of 2018
Buckton Vale Primary School, located in Stalybridge, on the
outskirts of Manchester, has been ranked by Ofsted as a
“good” school. The previous Ofsted inspection ranked
the school as “requires improvement”. This rapid rate of
improvement is testament to the hard work and determination
of the whole school, the local community and the local authority.
The school is now a larger than average primary school, with
over 300 children – an increase from 250 pupils just a few years
ago. Headteacher Deborah Brown, under whom many of these
changes occurred, tells
TheParliamentary Review
more about
the school’s upward journey.
In one of our previous Ofsted inspections, concerns were raised about passive
learning and academic standards not being close enough to the nationally expected
ones. Increasing expectations has therefore been a key element in improving the
school. To achieve this, the central goal of the school is to enhance and enrich the
curriculum. Doing so has helped demonstrate to staff, pupils and parents that the
school is on a clear journey of improvement. This, in effect, became an invite to
parents and pupils to join in and work together to make the school better.
Moving forward together
In 2018, the school was successful in obtaining the Leading Parent Partnership
Award for the second time, alongside a glowing report. The local community has
embraced our desire to make the school as good as it can be. This has required
»Headteacher: Deborah Brown
»Based in Stalybridge, Greater
»Type of school: Local
education authority controlled
»No. of students: 304
»In the heart of the Moorland
Buckton Vale Primary School
Highlighting best practice
additional commitment from all those
at the school. As an example, last
year the area was at the centre of the
moorland wildfires. During this time
the school became a hub for the local
community and fire services, offering
support, updates and safety advice to
local residents. Many people from the
partnership of schools; have also been
closely involved in the school’s overall
Buckton Vale Primary School is part of
the Mossley and Carrbrook Partnership
2018, which includes Mossley Hollins
High School, Milton St John’s,
Micklehurst All Saints, St George’s, St
Joseph’s and Livingstone School. This
alliance allows the schools to exchange
best practice and work together in the
best interests of the children. It’s worth
noting, however, that this is not a
multi-academy trust, as all those schools
are presently operating under a local
authority. The partnership has enabled
Buckton Vale to contribute to procuring
a Spanish teacher and Spanish lessons.
It also allows the school to teach musical
instruments and perform concerts, as
well as collaborating on many other
projects. Staff and parents are greatly
in favour of this arrangement – it’s
been a majorsuccess.
Broadening our efforts,
always improving
When I was headteacher, I focused
much of the teaching and learning
changes on the work Amanda
Spielman, chief Ofsted inspector,
had done on the national curriculum.
More recently, I have become a grief
recovery specialist, whereby I share
knowledge and expertise throughout
Tameside with other headteachers,
teachers and anyone working with
children in order to aid and support
pupils who have experienced
bereavement, divorce or other types of
loss. This work is believed to enhance
children’s learning, as mental health is
given firstpriority.
Such initiatives are part of the broader
effort by teaching staff at Buckton
Vale to go the extra mile; it’s the main
reason for the school’s improvement.
The vast majority of the staff have
remained with the school during this
improvement phase. This is because
the school provides them with the
support and help they need to improve
professionally. The great improvements
made by the teaching staff are
especially impressive given the increase
in pupil numbers.
Outdoor learning in
forest school; children
build their own safe fire
To ensure no
child is left
behind, every
pupil has a
simple traffic-
light signal
they can use to
ask for help
Alongside this has come a higher
number of pupils with special
educational needs – in fact, the
number of SEND children has doubled
since 2013. This, however, is not just
because the school has been bringing
in more pupils. It is also because the
school became more focused on
detecting special educational needs
earlier on in the school journey –
something from which children can
benefit enormously.
Involving children with the
real world
The school is positioned in a well-
resourced suburb in Stalybridge,
meaning we can perform an
exceptional amount of work outdoors.
The forest school has proved to be a
great success – the children love it,
and it has been integrated especially
well with the scientific aspects of
We’ve also introduced many practical
steps to improve learning and thus
outcomes. For instance, a teacher will
introduce a problem-solving exercise to
start a lesson, which is the “teach from
the top” concept designed to raise
attainment. The idea is that rather than
getting children to complete pages of
questions, they need only complete as
many as it takes for them to grasp the
concept. After they have, they are then
asked to put this into practice through
a problem-solving challenge. This
“challenge, apply, practice” method
allows the children to feel they are
in control of their learning and can
develop autonomy.
To ensure no child is left behind, every
pupil has a simple traffic-light signal
they can use to ask for help. Each
pupil has traffic-light-coloured cups
which they can place on the table.
If, for example, a child puts their red
cup on the table, this indicates they
need help. It is a simple visual method
which works very well and allows the
teacher to help that pupil without any
disturbance to the rest of the class.
The behaviour policy at the school
has also been integral to its success.
The values of responsibility, honesty,
respect, happiness, aspire to achieve
and believe are expectations every
pupil is expected to follow. The school
even ran a child-led competition to
design stickers for each of the values.
The children really enjoy this system,
and the stickers are now much sought
after and a great reward for children
following those values. The school
even has a rap that was created by one
of the children, which everyone sings
in assemblies.
The result of all these efforts is that 88
per cent of children have now reached
age-related expected standards in
reading, mathematics and writing. In
2018, greater depth standards were
attained by 42 per cent of the children
in reading, 39 per cent in mathematics
and 33 per cent in writing. These are
very encouraging statistics and are just
one indication of the improvements
that have been made. With the help
of its excellent staff, pupils, parents
and school partners as well as the local
authority, Buckton Vale Primary School
will continue to improve and strive to
become an outstanding school.
The result of all
these efforts is
that 88 per cent
of children have
now reached
standards in
and writing
Our partnership schools
perform together at a
brass band concert held
at Mossley Hollins High


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