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 Cheddington Combined School is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.
Cheddington Combined School
Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett, MP
Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles, MP
1CHEDDINGTON COMBINED SCHOOL |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE
Headteacher Kathryn Tamlyn
Sharing a love of reading
Cheddington Combined School is committed to the total
development of every one of its students. Based in rural
Buckinghamshire, its performance tracking system is
shared with parents to enable meaningful learning co-operation
between home and school. Beyond the core curriculum, it offers
a rotational programme of activities that range from archery
to computer animation. This supplements the curriculum by
providing new ways to learn. Headteacher Kathryn Tamlyn tells
The Parliamentary Review about their curriculum offer and how
they have adapted to their status as a rural school.
Our vision is to nurture our children’s young roots to enable and empower them
to become citizens of the 21st century, with a fascination for learning and life.
Each day, we live by our mission statement, “working together to achieve our
potential”, encouraging the children to demonstrate our values as they learn and
play. These statements are not mere words, but form the drivers for our daily time
spent in school.
Our one-form entry school is situated in the heart of our village in rural
Buckinghamshire, and serves Cheddington and the two neighbouring villages
of Horton and Slapton, drawing some children from out of catchment. Our
building is part Victorian and part mid-twentieth century, which gives us a sense
of history, as well as some challenges in meeting the needs of teaching today. We
are fortunate to have wonderful outdoor learning spaces in which to offer active
»Headteacher: Kathryn Tamlyn
»Founded in 1857
»Based in Cheddington Village,
»No. of pupils: 207
»Green Flag Eco School and
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
2| CHEDDINGTON COMBINED SCHOOL
We aim to
feels safe and
valued in our
is able to
A holistic approach to every
We adopt a holistic approach to
every child. We aim to ensure that
each child feels safe and valued in
our school and is able to flourish. The
current promotion of the development
of resilience in young learners is
something that has been part of our
ethos for many years. To have what is
now labelled a “growth mindset” is to
keep trying and to learn from errors,
not to be afraid of them. We teach
the children that to be in your growth
zone can be scary, but it will enable
dreams to come true.
We are committed to promoting
healthy life choices and we encourage
cycling, scooting and walking to
school, offer active play facilities, and
run a mile every week. As an eco-
school, we enable every child and
family to understand how together
we can care for our planet, and this
is very much at the ethical heart
of our school. We offer recycling
opportunities for the community,
as well as using all resources
needed in the school day with care
We are equally committed to
supporting all staff in our school
to have a life-work balance, to be
developed professionally, and to
contribute to the development
of our school. Our annual School
Development Plan is written co-
operatively, with all staff and governors
setting the direction of travel.
Embedding high aspirations
I have been privileged to lead our
school since January 2010, and over
my tenure we have embedded high
aspirations for every child in our care,
regardless of ability or learning needs.
Staff training is a foundation of our
practice, to ensure that we offer
every child the chance to shine. We
have recruited a dedicated teaching
team with a range of experiences,
keeping professional discussions
vibrant and challenging. We have
continued, despite budget pressures,
to prioritise skilled support staff who
also participate in regular training. This
means that every child is supported in
the best way possible in their academic
learning, but also in their emotional
well-being and development of
We have always stayed true to our
belief in a balanced curriculum despite
the external pressures to demonstrate
high levels of attainment in English
and mathematics. Life chances need
an understanding of place and history,
of art and culture, and of science and
technology. Learning is linked across
curriculum areas to both embed and to
create meaningful application.
Going beyond the curriculum
Our curriculum includes a rotational
programme of mixed-age group
activities, which enrich and extend
the learning – covering diverse topics
such as archery, sewing, board
games, forest schools and computer
animation. This is a favourite time in
the week for many children, as they
Learning beyond the
walls of the classroom
3CHEDDINGTON COMBINED SCHOOL |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE
experience learning in a different way.
Our curriculum extends beyond the
walls of the classroom as we offer
a wide range of additional learning
opportunities. Throughout their time
at our school, every child is also taught
road safety, cycling skills and how to
play a musical instrument. Throughout
all areas of learning, we model and
teach values for life.
Lessons in our school typically have
five levels of differentiation in an
activity to enable every child to engage
with the learning, following input
from the teacher at the highest level.
Our unwavering commitment to
aspirational learning ensures that every
child makes progress and attains to
the best of their ability. Our tracking
system covers every subject area and
is based around key performance
indicators. This is shared with parents
so that meaningful learning co-
operation between home and school
A love of reading is a life gift, and
begins with sharing stories and
understanding phonics. Through a
careful analysis of barriers, we have
ensured that the children can attain
very highly in the required phonics test
alongside enjoying reading. Our library
is at the heart of the building, and also
at the heart of offering a world beyond
experience. Consequently, the children
develop not only the skills to interpret
and understand but also a desire
The future for our children may
sometimes be unclear as we prepare
them for roles that may not yet exist.
However, we are fortunate to have a
strong governing board who are the
moral compass for our school, ensuring
that in every decision the needs of the
children come first, the needs of the
staff come second, then any initiatives
or other considerations.
The primary challenge we face is our
status as a rural school. Access to
extra-curricular opportunities, and even
inviting older children in to discuss
the transition to secondary school,
can be difficult. We work hard to
build resilience in our children and
endeavour to access any opportunities
available to us.
As we look to the future, we
acknowledge the challenges and
the need to offer security and
empowerment to the children. We
aspire as a school to continue to offer
an outstanding level of teaching and
learning for every child and to enrich
their lives beyond the core curriculum.
We aim to help them to become self-
aware and self-confident young adults
who treat everyone with respect, learn
with passion and teamwork, and have
patience and determination.
Creativity is a life skill
– here expressed using
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.