Charters School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Charters 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 Charters 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

Mr Richard Pilgrim and
MrMartyn Parker, co-head
Making lifelong friends
In 2009 Richard Pilgrim and Martyn Parker took on the role as
co-head teachers of Charters School. It was felt that in order
to elevate the school from the already strong position it was
in, a new approach was required. Although a co-headship is
a relatively uncommon model of distributed leadership, both
Richard and Martyn explain that it can be very effective when
the two individuals share a well-established joint educational
vision and purpose. The additional capacity has enabled both
of them to continue to teach, to expand the school, to provide
system leadership, to continue to be fiercely values-driven and
to make sound judgments through debate and dialogue.
Charters’ motto, “unity, respect, excellence”, might easily be written as culture plus
character equals currency, such is our belief that successful academic outcomes
for students are the by-products of happy, engaged and well-motivated students
and not an end in themselves. Certainly, in terms of preparing students for their
futures, the school has a long tradition of providing opportunities for challenge
and reflection. Perhaps the most striking example is the school’s joint ownership
of a residential outdoor education centre in Tirabad, near Sennybridge in the
In 1971, the then head teachers of Charters, Embrook and Maiden Erlegh
schools, supported by what was Berkshire LEA, purchased an old hunting lodge
in some of the most beautiful and wild country in the south of the UK. Forty-
five years later, Charters, as one of the three founder schools, runs ten week-
long residential courses in term time each year. In respect of building warm
»Co-head teachers: Mr Richard
Pilgrim and Mr Martyn Parker
»Founded in 1958
»Based in east Berkshire,
serving Ascot, Sunninghill and
»Type of school: Single
»No. of students: 1,700,
expanding to 1,900
»Motto: “Unity, Respect,
Charters School
Highlighting best practice
relationships, self-confidence and
defining the individual, it is one of
the most important parts of our
curriculum, so much so that in later
years, sixth-form students accompany
students from a nearby school caring
for children with physical and learning
We have always prioritised individuals’
needs through a strong pastoral
support system. Form tutors travel
with their students through the first
five years, and when life gets tough
for some students, we help them
at the Maine Centre, a converted
bungalow on the periphery of
the site where student and family
support services of all kinds sort out
difficulties. It is a huge sadness that
these essential services have been put
under pressure for so long by financial
cutbacks and we are pleased to see
a change in policy direction in this
regard. Every school needs a Maine
Centre. We were pleased that our
Progress 8 score for disadvantaged
students in 2017 was +0.46 against
a school average of +0.39. We are
also proud of our Learning Support
Centre, a resourced unit for up to
15 physically disabled students who
are able to have full access to our
curriculum. Former student and triple
gold-medal-winning Paralympian,
Sophie Christiansen, was an example
to us all in her absolute determination
not to allow her disability to hinder
her progress.
We are proud of our curriculum offer.
At a time when artificial intelligence is
likely to absorb millions of traditional
measuring and checking jobs, we
think that to have a declining interest
in the arts is fundamentally wrong.
Some of our highest-quality work at A
level is in English, Textiles and Music
In the Specialist Schools era, however,
Charters was a Sports and Science
College. Both have made a lasting
impression for different reasons,
although a common denominator
was the freedom to innovate and
not to be risk-averse. As an example,
we planned a convergence of our
Making memories at
Receiving PiXL Edge
Awards at Central
Hall, Westminster
An admirable and humane school,
with some of the sparkiest, brightest,
most articulate and most delightful
students it’s been our pleasure to
meet. Successfully holds its own
against its glossy independent
neighbours, and is preferred by
many parents. If we hadn’t lived in
Crystal Palace, we would have sent
our own children here
Good Schools Guide
science and mathematics curricula
long before the current cohesion.
Our Director of STEM has steered our
engagement with Imperial College’s
“Life in a Warming World” freshwater
ecosystems project. As a result, we are
the only school chosen to participate
in the Royal Society’s 2018 exhibition.
Additionally, we were one of six
schools working with the Institute
of Physics’ Drayson programme to
encourage girls to take the subject
at A level. Last year, eight students
were successful in securing Oxbridge
places, many of whom were studying
scientific disciplines. We have a strong
partnership with the Royal Borough
of Windsor and Maidenhead, who are
providing for us a new purpose-built
mathematics and science teaching
block as part of the local school
expansion programme.
It was the 12 years with a sports
specialism that has left the greatest
legacy. Where a school-wide
endeavour permeates all areas of
an organisation’s work, a cultural
change can happen. In our case, the
programmes to develop leadership
in students, not just in sport but in
languages, business, science and
the arts, are continuing to this day.
In a response to the relentless cry
from employers that schools are
not providing work-ready students,
we set about creating a scheme to
capture, develop and accredit all the
activities a student might undertake
in school or out of school under
the broad attributes of leadership,
organisation, resilience, initiative and
communication. Visits to the CBI
were made, student profiles written
and a proposal submitted to the PiXL
network of schools, of which Charters
has been a long-standing member.
With PiXL’s far-sightedness under the
directorship of Sir John Rowling, the
scheme, entitled “The Edge”, is giving
schools a framework for students’
self-development which is immersive,
systematic and manageable. Students
choose from a database of approved
activities which are verified by the
school’s pastoral staff and are reflected
upon by students in a bespoke online
platform. As the students grow, the
duration, team size and exposure of
the activities grow too. It has been
developed to begin in early years
right through to year 13, where it is
established as a formal Level Three
qualification with the NCFE national
awarding body and is now in various
stages of implementation in well
over 700 schools nationally. We are
incredibly proud of this growing
contribution to the educational
I am writing to
you both to tell
you how
impressive some
of your teaching
staff have been
in supporting
my daughter.
They have
shown such
dedication to
their jobs and
have gone
above and
beyond to help
her through a
very difficult
Parent of year 8 student
Ex-student and gold
medal Paralympian
Sophie Christiansen
A vibrant production of The Three

This article was sponsored by Charters 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 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