Bullion Lane Primary School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Bullion Lane Primary School'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 Bullion Lane Primary School 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


Head teacher Sarah Barningham
and pupils
“Look what we have
grown in our allotment!”
Bullion Lane is a nursery and primary school located in
Chester-le-Street, County Durham. Sarah Barningham, who
has been head teacher since 2010, explains that the success
of the school has been built on the foundations of team work,
determination and a welcoming atmosphere. Bullion Lane was
rated “good” by Ofsted in its most recent inspection and the school
believes it is well on its way to becoming “outstanding”.
Believing in learning
“Believing in learning and promoting success” is Bullion Lane’s school motto,
where the strong ethos of collaboration and commitment is enhanced by the
knowledge that everyone is special. A safe and challenging learning environment
encourages every child to aim high and be the best they can be. We take immense
pride in the mutual respect and trusting relationships which exist between staff
and pupils and this positivity is the cornerstone of our vibrant school culture, where
there are high levels of compassion and determination with a permeating thread
of humour. A recent visitor remarked on leaving the site that “as soon as you walk
through the doors, you feel welcomed, accepted and part of something special”.
Bullion Lane Primary School is situated in County Durham in an area of high
unemployment and social deprivation, reflected in 63 per cent of pupil premium
funding. The majority of pupils enter our school well below the national average
in all aspects of development. Yet despite this, we were thrilled to receive a letter
from the minister of education congratulating us for being in the top three per cent
of schools in the country for progress in reading, writing and mathematics.
»Head teacher: Miss Sarah
»Deputy head teacher:
MrsMargaret Lloyd
»Based in Chester-le-Street,
County Durham
»Type of school: State nursery
and primary school
»Age group: 2-11
»No. of pupils: 316
»Teachers: 12
»Support staff: 20
»Pupil premium: 63 per cent
»Ofsted: “Good”
Bullion Lane Primary
Highlighting best practice
It is a privilege to be part of such
a fantastic team. Teachers and
teaching assistants work exceptionally
well together and have an in-
depth knowledge of curriculum
expectations, assessment systems and
analysis of data, which are used to
promote personalised learning and
Teaching styles have been adjusted,
so that pupil’s work provides more
challenge. Robust monitoring and
evaluation, classroom observations,
book scrutinies, discussions and
feedback are all effective strategies
employed by the strong senior
leadership team in order to raise
standards. The school’s collective
vision is encapsulated in the well-
focused and comprehensive
development plan, which sets out clear
yet ambitious guidelines. The visibility
and availability of senior leaders is a
strength of the school and ensures
that all staff, pupils and parents have
instant access to communicate their
ideas or concerns.
We believe that achievement in our
school is outstanding because pupils
in all classes make at least good and
often outstanding progress from their
starting points. Children enter our
nursery with skills that are significantly
below national expectations,
particularly in communication,
language, literacy and mathematics.
Some children in nursery and reception
have very limited language skills and
are unable to speak. Measures to
combat this include the provision of
16 places for two-year-olds and the
formation of speech and language
groups with immediate effect from the
period of identification.
With 43 per cent of children having
special needs, every class has at least
one member of support staff, so that
basic skills and social intervention
groups can be put into place to
ensure that each child is challenged
to reach their full potential – a system
which has worked brilliantly. Pupils
as a result of this make excellent
progress and have exceptionally high
attainment at the end of year 6, with
overall combined percentages for
reading, writing and mathematics
being 86 per cent in 2016 and 88
per cent in 2017, far exceeding the
national average.
Effective programmes we have used
include “Read, Write, Inc” which has
greatly improved learning in phonics
and reading, and has had a positive
impact on writing and spelling.
“Accelerated reader” is used in years
5 and 6 and has helped older pupils
improve their reading skills.
Ethos of love and care
We are a highly inclusive school and
we ensure all pupils have the resources
to succeed. Students are encouraged
to be thoughtful and consider carefully
how their actions may affect others,
especially as we have recently admitted
six refugee pupils from Syria and Iraq.
All staff work hard to maintain a
supportive and nurturing environment,
Pupils surfing in Australia
A safe,
and exciting
every child to
aim high
and, because of their disadvantaged
backgrounds, many pupils look
upon school as a sanctuary. We have
appointed a family support worker and
a pupil support adviser to aid this.
Older pupils take on roles of
responsibility, acting as buddies,
playground leaders and members of
the school council. We also co-ordinate
with agencies which allows us to give
support to a child and their family
when they are faced with difficulties
such as domestic violence.
Parents on board
Parents say that they have seen
the school go from strength to
strength. They are supportive, and
the hall is always full to capacity
for performances and social events.
Engagement with academic issues,
though, still presents a challenge. As
many parents didn’t have positive
school experiences themselves,
we found this to be a barrier, but
we are slowly breaking this down
through child involvement activities.
Our target-setting days are very
well attended because of the pupil
presence, which we have realised is
the key. Any activity involving pupils
will encourage parents to visit the
school, so we are now trying to
incorporate academic activities with
social events.
Extended school day
Our extended school day starts with
breakfast club at 7.30am and ends
with a wide variety of after school
clubs often run by members of staff.
There is a huge take-up of places as
the school offers further continuity by
enabling pupils to enjoy fun activities
while learning new skills, in a safe and
familiar environment.
Performing arts, music and sports
activities promote self-belief,
confidence and build self-esteem.
Bullion Lane School is a central key
venue for sport in Chester-le-Street
with a swimming pool and playing
field. As a result, pupils participate
in a wide range of competitions and
Learning beyond the curriculum
Every opportunity is taken to extend
learning beyond the classroom, so
our pupils are made aware of new
experiences. These include visits to art
galleries, museums, historical sites,
the seaside, parks and forests and a
residential outdoor adventure visit for
year 6 pupils. Our deputy head has
even taken three groups to Australia.
Pursuing excellence
Our immediate goals are maintaining
our high expectations and standards,
as we genuinely feel we have moved
from a “good” to an “outstanding”
school since our last inspection. We
are immensely proud of the progress
we have made over the past eight
years, and our commitment and drive
will ensure that we continue to be
successful as we pursue our journey
Pupils are
made aware
of new
that are
different from
their everyday
Stars in the making


This article was sponsored by Bullion Lane Primary School. 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 Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy