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 Cauldwell Primary School is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.
Cauldwell Primary School
Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles
1CAULDWELL PRIMARY SCHOOL |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE
Headteacher Judith Apps
Engaging in an irresistable
Founded in 1996, Cauldwell Primary is a growing and ambitious
school based in Bedford. Headteacher Judith Apps has been
at the school since 1998 and has carefully embedded a
clear ethos based around aspiration and overcoming barriers to
achievement. It serves 420 students between the ages of four
and eleven after changing from a lower to a primary school in
2014. Judith explains why its ethos and vision have been such an
integral part of its improvement over the past 20 years.
Since arriving at Cauldwell Primary School in 1998, I have overseen significant
change in both the culture and organisation of the school. We expanded to a
primary in 2014, which led to the school nearly doubling in size, and we also
secured academy status in 2017. These were difficult decisions to make but we
always ensured that the best interests of our pupils were at the fore. We were
rated “good” by Ofsted in 2013.
Clear vision and ethos
We serve a deprived and diverse yet culturally rich community and have made
substantial efforts to integrate parents and pupils and set up quality lines of
communication. There are 38 languages spoken by parents and children, while 30
per cent of our pupils receive pupil premium and 16 per cent SEND. To overcome
these potential challenges, we recognised that parental engagement is essential
and we have ensured we put communication at the centre of our approach.
Our vision states that we are committed to achievement for all and it cannot
be overstated how important that is. Whether they are staff, parents or pupils,
CAULDWELL PRIMARY SCHOOL
»Headteacher: Judith Apps
»Founded in 1996
»Based in Bedford
»Type of school: Primary
»No. of students: 420
»No. of staff: 55
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
2| CAULDWELL PRIMARY SCHOOL
everyone matters and we take every
measure possible to ensure they are
valued and supported. We oversee this
closely and I still teach on a weekly
basis in order to develop a genuine
relationship with teachers, pupils
and parents. Our strong relationships
allow us to foresee how changes
will affect our pupils and we have
an understanding of what drives
progress in every child. As a result, we
understand the challenges faced and
can develop an aspirational vision of
what each child can achieve.
Staff continuity has helped us keep our
central values close and it has been
a privilege to undertake this journey
with so many committed, passionate
colleagues. They have been consistent
in their approach and they help foster
a strong sense of identity and pride
on site every day. We have a real team
ethos, and this sets a clear example for
our pupils. We celebrate everyone’s
successes together and are proud
of achievements made both in and
outside of school.
Going the extra mile
At Cauldwell every child really does
matter and we use every resource
available to identify and meet the
needs of all our learners. The wellbeing
and safeguarding of each child is of
paramount importance to our daily
practice. We know that children can’t
learn unless their emotional and
physical needs are met. Intervention
groups run throughout the day
ranging from phonics through to
reading, maths, writing, speaking
and listening and wellbeing, which
involve children of all ages and are
targeted at individual needs. People
are our biggest resource in meeting
all children’s needs and we therefore
invest heavily in this.
Our curriculum is local, and tailor-
made for the community we serve,
but it also fully incorporates the
national curriculum. Our intent is that
the experience of education must be
exciting, irresistible and memorable
while ensuring every child achieves
Building a sense of
vision of what
each child can
3CAULDWELL PRIMARY SCHOOL |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE
their very best. We have a two-year
rolling programme of topics for each
key stage, which enables us to build
strong connections between subjects
and ensures a consistent approach
across the school. Quality texts drive
the topics and this literature also
supports us in developing the essential
language skills our pupils need to
progress. Developing these skills is a
fundamental aspect of our curriculum,
deriving from the fact that many of
our pupils speak English as a second
language. The learning is active and
experience based, with outstanding
teaching at the core.
To broaden the experiences of our
pupils and further support their
development, we run after-school
enrichment classes for all Key Stage
2 children. These include extra sport
or music, cooking and additional
sessions in literacy and numeracy
where necessary. Many parents don’t
have the time or resources to take their
children to clubs externally, so they
have really appreciated this facility.
These extra classes run Monday to
Thursday from 3.30 to 4.30 pm and
we owe thanks to our committed staff
for making this possible.
As previously emphasised, parental
engagement is a strong focus. We
run a community hub on site where
our parent support worker engages
families in a wide range of activities,
from ESOL classes and parenting to
craft and family learning. While the
classes are obviously vital in supporting
individuals, they also create a greater
sense of buy-in from the parents,
supporting us in providing “early
help”. Many of our parents have not
had positive experiences of school, so
it is great to see them so enthusiastic
about how their children learn while
they themselves are learning.
Pupils’ interests at our heart
The transition to becoming an
academy has been challenging;
however, a new chair of trustees
has just been appointed, which is
positive, and we are in the process
of appointing a new CEO. Alongside
the three other schools in our multi-
academy trust, we want to retain our
strong sense of identity, while also
working together to create genuine
improvements through an ethos of
collaboration. The target is to grow
and improve together, combining
our resources and knowledge base to
make changes that have benefits for all
of our pupils.
Our target is
to grow and
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.