Christ Church Primary School

Highlighting best practice as a representative in The Parliamentary Review

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 Christ Church Primary School is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Headteacher Sarah Riley
Happy children, inspired
Dream it, believe it, achieve it: this is the ambition that
Christ Church C of E Primary School, based in Dudley,
aims to instil in its pupils. Too many in the community
are unfairly denied prospects that children in other, more
prosperous parts of the UK can take for granted. The school
has therefore sought to bring these disadvantaged children
the experiences and opportunities that other schools have and
that every child deserves. It’s an effort that has won the school
success, not least in the form of an “outstanding” Ofsted
rating. Headteacher Sarah Riley says more about the school’s
strengths and challenges.
Giving everyone a chance
We’re a large and lively primary school with a strong community presence.
Although we operate in a deprived area, we aim to make sure that our children do
not miss out on things that children from more prosperous areas take for granted.
Central to this goal is striving for excellence in all we do, ensuring that every child
flourishes and gets a taste of the wider world.
Our Christian ethos means that we welcome all children who are eligible to join
us. On entry to nursery, many pupils are with less than average understanding of
the basics, and a significant number have additional needs. One of our challenges,
therefore, is to ensure these children receive the quality teaching and interventions
they need to help them get where they need to be. We are firmly aware of just
how important it is for us to provide them with an environment in which they can
»Headteacher: Sarah Riley
»Founded in 1837
»Located in Coseley, West
»Type of school: Church of
England, voluntary controlled,
local authority primary
»No. of students: 523, with
52 additional in morning and
afternoon nursery
»Highly effectiveteamwork
and high aspirations for all
characterise this inclusive
church school
»Imaginative use of books to
shape learning across the
curriculum is key to pupils
seeing the bigger pictureof
Christ Church C of E
Primary School
Highlighting best practice
flourish and grow. To do this, we have
to fully know them and their parents,
and work in partnership with parents
and carers to personalise learning
so they are able to reach their full
Many of our children are gifted and
able – and it’s equally vital that we
nourish their talents. However, these
pupils are often lacking in worldly
experience due to the unfavourable
socioeconomic circumstances of
the area in which we’re situated.
Therefore, we have placed a high
priority on bringing our children a
vision – a wider vision – of the world
outside of their community.
Socioeconomic deprivation means
more than just a lack of money; it
means that one isn’t granted as many
opportunities to understand other
peoples, languages and cultures –
which means that one doesn’t have a
full and proper understanding of the
majority of the world. It also means
that educational resources are not
as readily at hand as they would be
in other parts of England. Our job is
both simple and hard: we teach our
pupils about other ways of living, other
ways of thinking and other ways of
speaking. Through our exciting and
relevant curriculum with literacy at
its heart, children grow in a learning
environment that gives them a depth
and breadth of understanding about
the wider world in which they live.
Underpinning all of these efforts is our
strong and foundational commitment
to Christian values – that is, values
of respect, truth, kindness and
forgiveness, as well as equality of
treatment. In more practical terms,
this means many things. It means
everyone getting to know each
person and valuing them as such. It
means forging a community in which
everyone feels they play a meaningful
part and understands that they are
loved by God. It also, and perhaps
more fundamentally, means that the
children know that God has placed
them in this world so that they can
live fully and happily and reach their
physical, spiritual, emotional and
Values and help require
To stay true to our values, both
religious and temporal, we have to be
in receipt of resources that meet the
needs of those who struggle most.
The relatively high number of our
children who need tailored individual
An early love of reading
underpins all we do
means one
isn’t granted
as many
to understand
other peoples,
languages and
support means that our school needs
considerable funding. As of now, this
rate of funding is less than optimal.
Funding in this area should reflect the
strong obligation we have as a society
to improve the prospects of our most
vulnerable. Moreover, intervention at
this early stage is when the scope for
lifelong difference is widest. To fail
at this point might mean larger costs
down the road.
On a similar note, the effect of
austerity has also affected our
community negatively. Universal
services for families, in this
environment, become much more
important. Indeed, the role they have
played cannot go understated – they
have helped enormously in helping
young people and their families to
flourish. We ourselves have decided
not to let funding negatively impact
our pastoral services. We’ve thus
appointed a new full-time pastoral
family worker, whose sole job it is to
help families.
Never resting on our laurels
At the end of the day, we’re an
outstanding school and will continue
to be so. Almost without fail, we go
from strength to strength and our
children are achieving exceptionally
well. This is because we identify
everyone’s abilities and take swift
action to address any gaps in learning,
including at the earliest ages. For this
reason, our children make much better
progress in reading, writing and maths
than others nationally,withmany
outperformingothers nationally.
We want to build on this. An
“outstanding” rating from
Ofsted should not be a source of
Key to this will be:
»The continued development of
resilience and self-regulated learning
in our children
»Further refinement of our reading,
writing and maths teaching
»Our continued focus on delivering
a broad and balanced curriculum
shaped by our vision for all children
to live life to the full.
Distributed leadership plays a vital role
in securing our already high standards.
All levels of leadership – be they senior,
delegated or middle – have significant
autonomy over their areas. By making
the playing field more equal, we
foster a strong sense of teamwork
and community. From our strong
foundations, we expect to see more of
the success we’ve enjoyed in the past.
Intervention at
this early
stage is when
the scope for
difference is
Pupils collaborate
exceptionally well

This article was sponsored by Christ Church Primary School. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.