Buzz Learning

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Buzz Learning'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 Buzz Learning 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

Highlighting best practice
Founder ThereseTimlin
Our premises
Buzz Learning are an independent special school and
college based in southeast Northumberland. Originally
delivering training programmes for young people who
were not engaged in education or employment, they have since
specialised in serving the needs of children and young people
with special educational needs or disabilities. They work closely
with parents and local authorities to meet the needs of each of
their learners and ease the transition between education and
adulthood. Founder Therese Timlin explains the story of the
company and the challenges they face.
Returning to the northeast after a long period working in education in both
southern England and the United States, I noticed a significant decline in the state
of the local area. While I had already observed this trend when returning home
during my university studies, I was shocked to see how much worse it had become.
This decline was mainly characterised by high unemployment and an ensuing loss
of hope, especially among young people.
My father had worked in the coal industry while I was growing up and, at that
time, the area was relatively prosperous. The loss of the mining and other industries
in the north east, and the failure to invest adequately in alternative trade and
commerce, led to generational unemployment and low aspiration among many
sections of the community.
Back in the northeast having worked for a number of local training providers, I felt
that there was a desperate need for a new provider that could work effectively with
those young people who were deemed hardest to help. It was essential that such a
service instilled self-belief and hope, and I felt the obligation to meet that need.
»Founder and Manager:
Therese Timlin
»Founded in 2004
»Based in Ashington,
»Services: Training for SEND
»No. of employees: 13
Buzz Learning
I set up the company to provide young
people with the best opportunities
possible. I have been fortunate to
have had very strong support from the
start from a close colleague, Margaret
Castro, joined soon after by Jan
Lowery. Together, we have built up a
dedicated and exceptional team, who
contribute massively to our success.
We strongly believe that each person
has a wealth of potential, regardless of
their starting point in life. Our mission
statement, underlying all that we do is:
“Be all you can.”
Focusing on supporting those
with special educational
needs and disabilities
In the company’s early days, we worked
with young people who were not in
education, employment or training,
otherwise known as NEETs, and we
enjoyed great success. Since 2011,
our user base has slowly changed, and
we now work exclusively with young
people aged 13-24 who have SEND. This
change was prompted by a joint project
we created and delivered, initiated in
response to an Ofsted survey and funded
by Northumberland County Council.
Ofsted had studied the progression
of people with learning difficulties
above the age of 16 and found that
the transition for these individuals from
post-16 education into adulthood was
not fully effective and that schools,
local authorities and other agencies
did not work together sufficiently well
to ensure that the young people were
adequately prepared for this change.
Our project, which we named Ability,
took into account the findings of the
Ofsted survey and aimed to improve
the transition into adulthood for young
people with SEND. Ability was such
a success that it became part of our
prime contract with the Education
Funding Agency the following year.
We have now found our niche working
successfully with SEND learners. Each of
the young people we teach has differing
and individual needs, and we work hard
to find and use the best strategies to
prepare them for adulthood.
Achieving independent special
school status
Our most recent development has
been achieving independent special
school status with the Department for
Education. This means that we can
now work with children with special
educational needs who are aged
13 and over in our new school. The
school is in its early stages, but we are
determined to make it a success.
Adam, one of our
original Ability learners
One of our college
It was essential
that such a
service instilled
self-belief and
hope, and I felt
the obligation
to meet that
Highlighting best practice
We are known locally as “the small,
friendly school and college”. We do
not aspire to become a large provider,
and we are not motivated by profit.
Our aim is simply to do the best that
we can and serve the local area in the
most effective way possible.
Developing our staff to
increase efficiency
One of the main challenges we face
is ensuring that our staff team are
equipped to work as effectively as they
can within an often stressful sector.
This involves providing all staff with
time away from the classroom or
office to update their skills and reflect
on their learning and maintain their
wellbeing. This is an essential but costly
process, made increasingly difficult by
reduced funding.
Like other providers of education
dependent on the public purse,
our progress and development are
hindered by the constant cuts to the
education budget. Local authorities
in our area are also under constant
pressure. Individual staff members
do the best that they can within the
constraints of funding but sometimes,
despite their best intentions, they are
reactive rather than proactive and this
subsequently affects our business’
efficiency. It is my sincere belief that if
senior government ministers were to
visit providers like us, they would gain
a more realistic understanding of the
reality of education and the services we
provide and so would be better placed
to allocate funding properly. Our local
MP, Ian Lavery, knows our provision
well, understands the difficulties we
face and is a constant support.
We are also heavily reliant on Ofsted
inspectors’ understanding of our
provision during inspections, as the
grades awarded impact on others’
opinions of our provision and the
contracts we can apply for. It is
essential that inspectors have a sound
awareness of the needs of our learners
and the specific issues that they face.
Fortunately, this has been the case
during our last few inspections, and
this has been paramount in enabling
us to improve.
Looking forward, we plan to continue
to develop our practice and engender
aspiration and success in the young
people we work with. By adhering
to our central principles and making
sure we maintain the high standard
of service we offer, I am confident
that we will be able to serve the local
community for many years to come.
It is my sincere
belief that if
ministers were
to visit providers
like us, they
would gain a
more realistic
of the reality of
education and
the services we
Ian Lavery MP with some
of our school pupils

This article was sponsored by Buzz Learning. 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 The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister