Cardinal Newman RC 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 Cardinal Newman RC School is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Dr James Kilmartin, principal
We are a community that prides
itself on its care for each individual
Cardinal Newman Catholic School is one of the biggest
schools in Britain. With 2,260 students (including a sixth
form of 435) and over 200 staff it is more like a learning
village than a conventional school. More than 30 languages are
spoken by pupils and there are large contingents from Polish,
Spanish and Italian families as well as a long-established Coptic
Christian community who fled from Egypt and Sudan to escape
persecution. Dr James Kilmartin, principal, explains.
We are proudly comprehensive. We boast a full range of academic ability – ranging
from students who get 4 A*s at A Level and go on to the best universities in the
world to students with profound special educational needs – and we value each
and every child to the same extent.
The problem of size: making big beautiful
Perhaps the greatest challenge in such a large school is to achieve a consistently
high quality of teaching and learning in all areas. Monitoring and evaluation is one
of the keys to this. In smaller establishments the senior leadership team can appear
ubiquitous: in the words of a fellow head teacher “visiting every lesson every day”.
Given that in each teaching session at Cardinal Newman over 105 lessons are
taking place, this is simply not possible.
To overcome this, we have had to create a genuine culture of dispersed leadership,
giving our middle leaders the training and the authority to continually raise
standards in their areas. Alongside that, we have worked hard to align our values,
structures and processes. Another key to our success has been a huge investment
in continuous professional development. Here we have been able to make the most
»Principal: Dr James Kilmartin
»Founded in 1971
»Based in Hove, East Sussex
»Type of school: Voluntary-aided
secondary mixed comprehensive
»No. of students: 2,260
»No. of teaching staff: 145
»Pupil premium: 17 per cent
»SEND: 0.5per cent
»EAL: 18 per cent
»Ofsted: “Good”
Cardinal Newman
Catholic School
Highlighting best practice
of the advantages of scale. Last year,
25 members of our staff undertook
National College qualifications for
middle and senior leadership in school.
At Saturday morning and twilight
sessions, these colleagues worked
together to develop their leadership
skills. In planning and implementing
their projects they were able to
collaborate on highly relevant areas
for development which address our six
strategic targets.
These targets have been set to
build on the rapid improvement of
the school since it was judged to
“require improvement” in December
2015. We were able to deal quickly
and effectively with the areas for
improvement identified then, and by
January 2017, Ofsted rated us “good”
– so we are on our way!
But, for us, “good” is not good
enough. Our ambition is to become
one of the best schools in Britain. Our
three-year strategic plan provides the
road map to get this school where we
want it to be. Our six targets are:
1. Attendance to rise to 97 per cent
overall with no group of students
(including SEN and disadvantaged)
below 95 per cent;
2. Behaviour for learning where
low-level disruption is minimal and
exclusions are rare;
3. Challenge for every student in every
class at Key Stage 3 and Key Stage
5, in particular, to ensure students
make greater progress;
4. Disadvantaged students to make
at least as much progress as non-
disadvantaged students;
5. Enhance the spiritual life of the
school by enabling students to be
ever more active in planning and
delivering assemblies, liturgies and
social action;
6. Financial sustainability against a
background of fixed income and
rising costs.
So how are we delivering these aims in
Non-teaching pastoral and attendance
managers have been recruited. They have
worked with students and their families
with persistent absence (attendance
below 90 per cent) or at risk of exclusion.
The impact of this has been to reduce
levels of persistent absence below
national average. We also introduced
rewards for good attendance.
Behaviour for learning
We have made great strides in this
area by:
»Aligning the senior leadership team
more closely with year groups, to
support progress leaders and to
develop smaller learning and faith
communities within the school
»Using our information and
management system to reward great
behaviour and to sanction disruption
»Ensuring that we respond quickly
to unacceptable behaviour – with
an ‘on call’ system and same-day
detentions – while rewarding hard
work, determination and effort in
every lesson
»Enabling pupils to display truly great
behaviour for learning by creating
frequent opportunities for student
We actively encourage
student contribution and
We have regularly
been the best school
in the city for GCSE
and A-Level results
Pupils’ good
means that
teachers are
able to teach
lessons which
pupils enjoy
Ofsted, Jan 2018
leadership as buddies, prefects and,
most successfully of all, as fully
trained anti-bullying ambassadors.
We have over 50 such ambassadors,
trained by Kidscape and managed by
our anti-bullying coordinator, who are
linked to each of the forms in years
7 to 9. We are really proud of their
work; most recent student surveys
have not only shown that bullying
is rare but, of equal importance,
confirmed student confidence that
when issues are reported they are
dealt with quickly and effectively.
Teaching and learning
The “Cardinal 10” was established
to encapsulate our core expectations
of teaching and learning to ensure a
shared vision of what we mean by good
and outstanding learning. “Round the
teaching clock” there is monitoring and
evaluation of the quality of learning
and student progress to ensure that
the work of teachers and students is
checked more regularly and that more
feedback is provided to teachers. A
policy for presentation of student
work has now been implemented.
Homework is now set through Firefly
to ensure that parents and carers can
effectively support their child and
ensure that homework is completed by
the due date and to a high standard.
Feedback and marking protocols are
now in place to increase the quality
of the feedback to students, enabling
them to make greater progress. Our
Accelerated Reading Scheme was
introduced to year 8 after the success
with year 7. We have added extra
lessons for mathematics and English
while maintaining a truly broad and
balanced curriculum.
Diminishing the difference
Use of pupil premium funding was
evaluated so that it was much more
transparent and more effective,
enabling us to reduce the difference
between the attainment and the
progress of our disadvantaged students
and their non-disadvantaged peers.
A governors’ pupil premium working
party was established to challenge
and support the assistant head
teacher responsible for this area. Lead
teachers were realigned to focus on
disadvantaged students, to move away
from an intervention model towards
quality first teaching – from which we
know disadvantaged students receive
the most benefit.
Our latest GCSE results show that our
Progress 8 Score is +0.31. This means
that our students make more than
expected progress. Our attendance
rates are now above national average.
Over 150,000 positive behaviour
points have been awarded since the
beginning of term. We have a new
same-day detention system which is
working well.
Our goal is to become, by 2020, one
of the best schools in Britain. We want
every child, whatever their starting
point and whatever their background,
to make great progress and to feel
that they are “known, loved and
achieving their potential”. Our ethos
has always been summed up in the
word “Caritas”. We have added
“Excellence” and “Together”. The
three work well in unison.
and welfare is
A strong sense
of community
permeates the
Ofsted, Jan 2018
Our students are taught
to observe our three
key rules: Be polite,
be punctual and be
We seek to remain
at the cutting edge
of teaching and

This article was sponsored by Cardinal Newman RC School. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.