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 Bushey Heath Primary School is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.
Bushey Heath Primary School
Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett, MP
Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles, MP
1BUSHEY HEATH PRIMARY SCHOOL |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE
Headteacher Penny Barefoot
A vibrant school inspiring
children to realise their
Bushey Heath Primary School is a modern, innovating school
with strong traditional values. Graded “outstanding” by
Ofsted since 2009, it was ranked by The Times as the
143rd best state primary school in England last year. Head
teacher, Penny Barefoot, explains how the teaching staff
pride themselves on their ability to achieve academic success,
balancing knowledge and skills whilst teaching an exciting
curriculum and key life skills.
Our motto – a vibrant school inspiring children to realise their potential – perfectly
encapsulates our school. Talented staff, from lunchtime supervisors and classroom
assistants to class teachers and senior leaders, engaged parents and skilled
governors, are committed to ensuring each and every one of our pupils feels safe
and happy. This creates an ideal environment in which they can learn and succeed
to the best of their ability. Senior leaders ensure members of staff feel truly valued
and strive to create a culture of respect for work-life balance. This results in a
school environment in which children and staff can thrive.
Our behaviour policy – which focuses on a no-raised-voice method of behaviour
management – means that incidents of misbehaviour are extremely rare and,
when they do occur, they are dealt with calmly and consistently in a manner that is
deemed fair and respectful by our pupils.
A recent inspector from Herts For Learning stated: “There was much evidence of
excellent behaviour for learning. This was clear throughout the school. There was no
evidence at the visit of any behaviour that was less than exemplary. Pupils are polite,
well-mannered, conscientious, self-assured children who thrive at the school.”
»Headteacher: Penny Barefoot
»Founded in 1879
»Based in Bushey, Hertfordshire
»Type of school: Maintained
»No. of pupils: 274
»No. of staff: 42
Bushey Heath Primary
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
2| BUSHEY HEATH PRIMARY SCHOOL
Key to our success
Our pupils continue to leave each key
stage well above the national average,
owing to our deep and rich curriculum,
which continues to evolve year on year.
We use national curriculum guidance
simply as a starting point. Our history
scheme of work, for example, allows
pupils to learn about dinosaurs and the
significance of the Normandy invasion
– topics over and above those typically
required by the national curriculum.
Rather than having one year group
focus on an area of history and then
move on to a different topic in the
next academic year, our pupils revisit
the same area throughout their school
life. In year 3, pupils may learn how
the Romans dressed and where they
came from, while by year 6 they will be
considering why the Roman Empire fell
and whether the Romans had been a
force for good.
Our newly revamped computing
curriculum focuses on core skills,
computer science, online safety and
creative application. It recognises that
our pupils are often technologically
advanced and that they should be
allowed the opportunity to apply these
skills creatively in a secure, safe setting.
To support this, we have ventured into
an exciting new project: developing
and maintaining a “Digital Media
Hub”. Here pupils will have access
to state-of-the-art equipment that
will provide them with essential skills
for the ever-changing modern digital
age. It will include a soundproofed
podcast booth, mini newsroom,
vlogging equipment, high-specification
computers for post-production
editing and smartphone filming and
We are fortunate to be supported by
skilled industry professionals within our
community, such as BBC 3 Counties
Radio host Nick Coffer, interior
designer Sally McCoy and Victoria
Grech from Video-Marketer, as well
as parents, local businesses, council
officials and the Hertsmere Community
Infrastructure Fund. Our pupils have
been and continue to be involved
in every aspect of the project, from
initial ideas and design to fundraising
and purchasing of equipment. As an
example, our year 5 pupils planned
and set up their own crowdfunding
pages to finance the project, which
has been a great success so far. All
these skills and opportunities will be
developed while children are in a safe
and secure environment, where clear
guidance can be given on the impact
of digital media – in particular their
digital footprint. As a result, our pupils
will learn the benefits and dangers of
using digital media before they go to
Healthy Bodies, Healthy
Minds: Looking after myself
This project promotes and encourages
our children to take an interest in their
own physical and mental wellbeing.
The project incorporates many areas,
»Competitive sports – We provide
high-quality netball, rugby, running
and football training and compete
with local schools. Wearesupported
by expertise from the local
Competitive and non-
competitive sports are
enjoyed by all children
an interest in
3BUSHEY HEATH PRIMARY SCHOOL |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE
community, including training from
Watford Football Club and Harrow
Rugby Club, and we have access to
Merchant Taylor’s running track.
»Physical self-improvement – All
children are provided with pedometers
and skipping ropes, setting themselves
challenging targets each day (one mile
a day for our infants, two miles a day
in years 3 and 4 and three miles and
more a day for year 5 and 6 pupils).
This links to a smaller sister project
called “Walk to the Moon”. Here,
the children are working together
to accumulate enough steps to
cover the distance to the moon. The
children have estimated that this
should take approximately four years
to complete, and they are on track.
»Daily dance and skipping – This
provides an alternative for those
children who do not enjoy, or excel in,
team or competitive sports, ensuring
that they remain healthy and active.
»Healthy eating – The “Seed to Plate”
project helps children understand
where their food comes from and
encourages them to make informed
choices. The children grow fruit and
vegetables in our greenhouse. They
also care for the hens that originate
from eggs hatched in school. We sell
the eggs, teaching the children not
to always rely on shop-bought food
and that eggs can be sold for profit.
Funds raised are used to care for the
chickens in an attempt to create a
»Healthy mind – With a mindfulness
and growth-mindset culture
embedded throughout the school,
children learn resilience, focus and
self-reliance. This is supported
through initiatives such as a support
group for children of service
personnel called Mini-Troopers
and a police project focusing
on responsibility and citizenship
engagement called Mini-Police.
“What I’d Like My Teacher to
Know” forms, philosophy club and
“Emotional Bottles” help our pupils
communicate to our staff at times of
emotional vulnerability and stress.
Ultimately, by continuing to evolve
and innovate in all of the above, we
believe that we provide our pupils with
the perfect environment in which to
learn and grow into well-rounded,
thoughtful and intelligent young
people by the time they leave us for
secondary school at the end of year 6.
Finally, we are a happy place and we
laugh a lot. Come and visit and see for
We are a
and we laugh
Outdoor learning is a
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.