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


Headteacher David Jenkins
Learning collaboratively allows pupils
to recognise each others strengths
As the largest primary school in the Isle of Man, Bunscoill
Rhumsaa (in English, Ramsey Primary School) has
undergone many changes during the last ten or so
years. It was created after the amalgamation of the town’s
infant and junior schools, which, only a few years prior, had
been lucky enough to move into brand-new facilities. The Isle
of Man has its own approach to education, of which Bunscoill
Rhumsaa is a strong example. Headteacher David Jenkins
TheParliamentary Review
more about these unique
circumstances and how they can work to the children’s benefit.
Freedom to manoeuvre
As a school on the Isle of Man, we work to a different set of rules to our colleagues
in England. We have our own curriculum guidance – called “Essentials for
Learning” – and schools here do not come under Ofsted’s oversight. There are no
tests or exams in our primary schools. Instead, a rigorous set of assessment criteria
underpin ongoing teacher assessment of pupils, while a thorough programme –
School Self Review and Evaluation – supports school improvement.
Working within a system which allows for a high level of autonomy means that
schools are able to create strong, independent identities, and headteachers are
allowed to design and build a school which is uniquely suited to their individual
communities. That is where we began our journey at Bunscoill Rhumsaa. We
started by defining what it was that we truly wanted the children in our community
to experience while they were at our school: what really mattered?
»Headteacher: David Jenkins
»Founded in 2013
»Located in the Isle of Man
»Type of school: Primary school
»No. of pupils: 510
Bunscoill Rhumsaa
Primary School
Highlighting best practice
Moving forward with
purpose: six keystones
We settled on six keystones that we
agreed would be foundational to
our curriculum at Bunscoill Rhumsaa
– keystones that would run through
everything that we did and support
our pupils in developing not only as
effective learners, but also as proud
members of their community. These
keystones are what make our school
uniquely suited to its purpose. We
call it the “Rhumsaa Difference”, and
the six keystones of it are wellbeing,
heritage, global awareness, creativity,
enquiry and opportunity. To keep these
aspects at the front of our thinking,
each one has been allocated to a
member of the senior management
team, who monitor their inclusion in
our work and seek out and support
new ways in which we can develop
them further.
The Rhumsaa Difference provides us
with our guiding light as we move
forward. Each step we consider, each
new initiative we look at, we are sure
to reflect on how it will support any or
all of the six keystones of our school.
With this in place, we were ready to
move forward as a school.
Promoting good mental
Our first focus was to develop how we
support pupils’ wellbeing. We were
all agreed that this was a crucial step
and one that should be taken carefully
and meaningfully. We did not want
to pay lip service to something that
we believed could be transformative
We sought the support of the island’s
educational psychology team, as we
were keen to utilise their experience
and expertise, and they were able to
provide us with not only a programme
that had been extensively researched
and proven, but also a significant
training schedule for staff.
We committed to it and made sure it
stuck: two wellbeing lessons a week
for all children in the school, from
reception to year 6, covering a wide
range of topics, from friendships to
how to manage feelings of frustration,
and from dealing with disappointment
to celebrating success.
The impact was immediate, and we
saw that our pupils were soon using
the language and strategies that they
had learnt about in these lessons.
Astime has passed, we have been
able to see just how important to the
school’s progress this has been. We are
certain that children who are able to
better understand and manage their
own emotions are better placed to get
the most out of school.
Learning through
discovery motivates our
Our first focus
was to
develop how
we support
The right curriculum at the
right time
In Isle of Man primary schools, the
headteacher is responsible for setting
the curriculum, ensuring it supports
the island’s “Essentials for Learning”
curriculum guidance. That’s a level
of freedom that allows us to build a
curriculum around our own school’s
core beliefs, and to adapt and flex
according to each school’s needs
For us, it was essential that our
curriculum supported us all in making
the Rhumsaa Difference. We had
already made waves in our teaching
about mental health and wellbeing,
and it was time to make the same
commitment to the rest of our
teaching and learning.
We settled on a whole-school
curriculum, which we believe allows
us the freedom and flexibility that our
pupils and teachers alike crave, while
also providing a consistency of approach
and standards for ourchildren.
It is important to us to be able to
respond rapidly to local and global
events, to take impromptu opportunities
to learn outside the classroom, and
to be imaginative and adventurous in
our approach. We have been able to
build excellent relationships with the
community around us, and we have
developed these so that they are able
to support the children’s learning.
For example, our pupils have enjoyed
working with the team of gardeners
from a nearby historic house and
gardens on a number of projects,
including planting and nurturing flower
displays for the public and creating
enchanted woodlands to explore.
The curriculum at Bunscoill Rhumsaa is a
strong blend of skilled instruction, pupil
discovery, adventure and exploration.
We have been able to put in place a
learning experience that is underlined
by the six elements of the Rhumsaa
Difference and is unique to our school.
We have seen this holistic approach to
allowing and supporting our pupils to
develop on an academic and personal
level reap dividends for them. The
school has performed well academically,
and our pupils are happy, motivated
and engaged in their learning, as well
as in their community. Here on the Isle
of Man, we are very proud of that.
We have been
able to build
with the
around us, and
we have
developed these
so that they are
able to support
the children’s
Wellbeing is a keystone
of our curriculum


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