Chattenden Primary School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Chattenden Primary 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 Chattenden Primary 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

Principal Rishi Boyjoonauth
Our Reception children
enjoying the enhanced
EYFS outdoor area and our
wooden ship
Based in Medway, Chattenden Primary School has been a
consistently “good” school since 2010. It’s an academy
school with a focus on developing the whole child and
reaching their interests through specialist subject teaching and
a broad curriculum. Their Principal, Rishi Boyjoonauth, formerly
a solicitor, says it was a surprise to him when he entered the
profession that primary school teachers were expected to be
a “jack of all trades”. Instead, he believes that a school can
perform best when teaching subjects with specialist leaders.
Since starting, he’s invested in a rigorous journey of continuous
professional development, allowing staff to reach their full
potential. Since implementing these changes, the school has
been receiving increased recognition. Rishi tells the
In 2012, our school became a stand-alone academy. Our intake is quite varied and a
large portion come from deprived backgrounds. Twenty-one per cent of our pupils
are in receipt of pupil premium and 16 per cent have special educational needs.
A new journey of professional development
Upon becoming principal in 2016, I began the journey of developing the quality of
teaching and learning with the leadership team. We felt that in order to empower
staff, their continuous professional development had to be made a priority.
As someone who has a background in teacher training, I saw that there was a
somewhat diminished culture of CPD. More specifically, it was important that
»Principal: Rishi Boyjoonauth
»Converted to stand-alone
academy in 2012
»Based in Medway, Kent
»Type of school: Primary school
»No. of pupils: 210
»Principal started his career as a
Chattenden Primary
Highlighting best practice
all staff felt engaged in the process
of improvement and understood
recent developments in best practice.
Accountability, too, was something
that the school could improve upon.
In short, I wanted to ensure staff were
meeting their fullpotential.
I therefore began by articulating loudly
and clearly in all corners of the school
what our core purpose was, which
is, and always will be, teaching and
learning. Our school motto is “success
no matter what”. Everything that
happens in the school must have this
core objective in mind. Ensuring our
children get the most of school in terms
of teaching and learning has to be at
the forefront of all of ourconsiderations.
In view of this consideration, my initial
period saw an intensive period of
upskilling staff and imbuing the new
and bolder ethos. On the first inset day,
we had the whole school community
from the finance office to the site
manager come in to discuss the new
direction the school was to take and
focus on what teaching and learning
should look like. Only on this shared
foundation could we move forward –
everyone had to be on the same page.
I also effected change in the domain
of assessment. At the time, too much
of the curriculum had its focus on
standardised testing, in order that
certain boxes could be ticked. I operate
on the belief that learning has to be
about more than just remembering
facts; it has to have a real and
lasting impact on the child. One of
the mantras we introduced to help
us reflect as practitioners on what
learning should be about was DR ICE:
» Deepening thinking
» Role modelling
» Impact on learning
» Challenge
» Engagement
This broader conception of what
it means to educate a child allows
children to engage more deeply with
topics; it paves the way for them to
understand topics from first principles
rather than through rote memory.
A broader and more specialist
One of the real strengths we’ve
developed over time is our specialised
and broad curriculum. Whereas
before the school was weaker in
terms of sports and music, we have
now greatly improved our provision
in this area. My background in music
has been very helpful in this regard.
As part of this initiative, we started a
school choir which performs at local
and national events (such as Young
Voices at the O2 in London) and
increased and improved the quality
of peripatetic tuition for pupils,
so that the year culminates in a
fantastic musical extravaganza called
The dance curriculum has been an
outstanding success. One of our
brilliant teaching assistants is also
a dance teacher. The curriculum
provision was enhanced and as a
Children at the school
develop a real passion
for reading and love
using the newly
refurbished library
Only on this
could we move
forward –
everyone had
to be on the
same page
result we won the Royal Opera House
National Nutcracker ballet competition
in 2017 out of 100 schools nationally.
During this the children – under
appropriate guidance and supervision
– had to compose their own dance
based on
The Nutcracker
Efforts like this show the success
of engaging in specialisms and
getting buy-in from the children. We
encouraged the children’s interest in
gardening, led by another brilliant
member of staff, and we came
second in Kent Life magazine’s School
Garden of the Year competition. In
my opinion, too much emphasis is
placed on the need for staff to know
and teach everything. By bringing
in specialist provision and teachers,
however, we have allowed children
to excel to a much greater degree.
Previously in sporting competitions, we
were always the school who “tried the
best”; we can now boast having won
in multiple areas of the Medway Mini
Youth Games, including tag rugby
Greater collaboration for
greater results
I believe it would be fruitful for greater
collaboration to occur between
schools. At present, academies and
schools run by local authorities can
be too distant from one another.
Given that Medway is a relatively small
unitary authority, this makes little
sense. It was particularly surprising
for me to discover that there had
been no interaction between us
and the excellent school just down
the road. Our school plays an active
role within the local consortium of
schools, and many schools have come
to look at our excellent examples
of writing and handwriting which
were described as “impeccable” by
Ofsted. We also recently led training
for one of the local grammar schools
on the raised expectations of the new
Ultimately, we’re all in this together,
bringing up the next generation
of citizens. One example of where
collaboration could be particularly
fruitful is in paediatric services, and
I am in the process of working with
others in the community to see that
services like these become a shared
In any case, I’m excited about where
things are heading, even if there are
challenges along the way. Amanda
Spielman’s new direction with respect
to a renewed focus on curriculum is
something we welcome, although this
still stands as an awkward contrast
against the DfE core subject results
that schools must publish. Education,
after all, has to go beyond mere
numbers and tables; it has to take
into account the whole child. It’s with
this in mind that we move forward,
confident in our mission.
The curriculum
provision was
enhanced and as
a result we won
the Royal Opera
House National
Nutcracker ballet
competition in
Dance and the
performing arts are
now at the heart of the

This article was sponsored by Chattenden Primary 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