Carlton Junior & Infant School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Carlton Junior & Infant 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 Carlton Junior & Infant 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

Headteacher RizwanaMahmood
We streamlined our offering
to provide a meaningful
learning experience
Over the last 10 years, Carlton Junior and Infant School
have achieved a dramatic transformation, going from
involvement in an intensive support programme to
becoming rated “good” in their latest Ofsted inspection.
Based in Batley Carr, they have overhauled their curriculum
to focus more on experiential learning and the targeting of
the students’ cultural contexts to promote engagement and
interest. Headteacher Rizwana Mahmood joined the school as
a deputy in 2008 and explains how they achieved their rapid
improvement and how they navigate funding issues.
Our school serves a lower-income area, and many of our students have fewer
opportunities compared to other children. The area has high rates of crime, mental
health issues, infant mortality and poverty. This often means that children are
disadvantaged when they arrive. Although this is undeniably true to an extent,
Ifound, when I joined in 2008, that it had become a consistent justification for the
school’s performance.
When I arrived, the school was under an intensive support programme, part
of the Labour government’s national strategy for schools failing to meet floor
targets. Key to this was a lack of purpose for the curriculum. Everything needed
to be streamlined and contextually relevant to facilitate a meaningful learning
experience for the students. Continuous professional development was very
ad hoc and needed corroboration with our data and the guidelines of the
support programme. I joined as a deputy and immediately set about improving
»Founded in 1912
»Based in Batley Carr
»Type of school: Junior and
infant school
»No. of students: 215
Carlton Junior and
Infant School
Highlighting best practice
Staff left as we raised standards, and
we were able to achieve rapid change
within the second year. We began
to receive less input from the local
authority and achieved a “good”
Ofsted rating in 2010, recognised
specifically for our PSCHE work,
behaviour, safeguarding and our
quality CPD. Our upward trajectory
continued and we received a further
“good” assessment in 2012. By 2014,
when I became headteacher, we were
beginning to see the first signs of our
efforts, and in 2015 we received a
strong “good” under the new Ofsted
framework. Our remarkable progress
can be shown in the improved results
of our students: we are now in the
top one per cent for reading and
are the highest ranking school in the
local authority. We received a letter
in February 2019 from The Rt Hon
Damian Hinds MP, secretary of state
for education, and The Rt Hon Nick
Gibb MP, minister of state for school
standards, congratulating us for the
high levels of progress in Key Stage 2,
ranking the school in the top three per
cent of schools.
One of our biggest challenges was
engaging the parents who did not
have the confidence to communicate
with staff. We held workshops to
change this and began a concerted
effort to improve attendance. Parental
engagement has since significantly
improved, and this has had a positive
impact on pupil outcomes. We were
the first in Kirklees to achieve the
Engaging Families Award and the first
in Yorkshire and Humber to receive
the SMSC Gold Standard. In addition,
we have been recognised for our
work on inclusion and gained the
Achievement for All Award, as well as
the International School Award.
Data informed, not data driven
We are not a data-driven school, but
we are data informed. This allows us
to assess gaps, quality of teaching,
provision and next steps. One of the
major ways we were able to achieve
our transformation was by creating
an experientially rich and contextually
sensitive curriculum, split into
The first of these is our core provision.
This is aimed at pupils of all abilities,
and we have instigated a rigorous
timetable in the mornings to target
this. Our second strand is our creative
curriculum, which takes place in the
afternoons. This employs a topic-based
approach and is targeted at students’
individual contexts. For example, a KS2
topic on explorers was adapted to suit
the primarily Muslim and South Asian
contexts of our students. Alongside
research on Sir Francis Drake, we
studied explorers who were prominent
in South Asia. This proved to be a
great success, as the students’ cultural
contexts allowed them to engage
Our third strand concerns our precision
curriculum, for those who are
performing under or above the average
level. This involves assistance for those
performing less well and additional
support for those performing
We were the first school
in Yorkshire and Humber
to receive the SMSC
Gold Standard
We are now in
the top one
per cent for
reading and
are the
ranking school
in the local
Our fourth stand is our alternative
curriculum, or flexi school system,
designed for vulnerable children who
cannot handle a whole day. This
amounts to around five per cent of
the school. We provide these students
with engaging opportunities and
split the day between mornings at
school and targeted learning at home
in the afternoon. In this strand, we
also provide nurture activities, which
include life skills. This strand is further
supplemented by activities focused
on wellbeing, mindfulness, yoga and
outdoor learning.
Our fifth strand enables children to
explore and expand their learning
beyond the school gates. We have
organised golfing, horse riding and
skiing trips and have recently booked
a cruise to Italy. To support our wider
work, we work alongside schools in
Dubai, Spain and Italy. This enables
both teachers and children to draw
comparisons and gain a global
understanding of life and education.
A lack of funding affecting
One of the primary issues we face is
a shrinking recruitment pool. We are
increasingly unable to hire experienced
teachers and have had to source
cheaper staff who still operate at the
high standard we expect. We have
begun to recruit teachers on a six-term
trial basis. These recruitment issues
are primarily due to funding restraints.
As budgets decrease, we are looking
at difficult decisions in terms of staff
redundancies, especially for teaching
assistants. In 2008, we had 32 staff
teaching staff; we now have seven
teachers and seven full-time equivalent
teaching assistants. To plug these
funding gaps, we have been increasing
our fundraising efforts. The decrease
in teaching assistants will affect our
precision curriculum most, and we may
have to begin running preschool or
afterschool sessions because of this.
Looking ahead, we aim to develop
the “outstanding” elements of our
provision. As part of a school cluster,
we are aiming to pool resources,
sharing certain roles among the
schools. In order to sustain quality
learning experiences, we are looking at
where money can be saved while still
providing a high standard of teaching.
We believe that each student has a
right to these experiences, and we are
confident that we will do everything
within our reach to deliver high-quality
learning and to nurture the children
to dream, aspire and achieve their
We are
confident that
we will do
within our
reach to
deliver high-
learning and
to nurture the
children to
dream, aspire
and achieve
their very best
We have adapted our
curriculum to suit the
contexts of our students

This article was sponsored by Carlton Junior & Infant 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 The Rt Hon Professor The Lord Blunkett.

The Rt Hon Professor The Lord Blunkett's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Professor The Lord Blunkett

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. 
The Rt Hon Professor The Lord Blunkett