City of Birmingham School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by City of Birmingham 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 City of Birmingham 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, MP
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles, MP

www.cityofbirminghamschool.com

THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
30 | CITY OF BIRMINGHAM SCHOOL
Headteacher Steve Howell
At City of Birmingham School,
we focus on raising aspirations
City of Birmingham School changes children’s lives. In
September 2017, Steve Howell stepped up from deputy
head to headteacher with one single goal in mind: raising
aspirations for a generation of excluded pupils in the city. Each
year, between 800 and 900 children attend, and they are some
of the most vulnerable in the city. As excluded children, their
life chances are already at risk: they are more likely to become
caught up in crime and suffer from substance addiction, while
being less likely to achieve in school. Steve elaborates on the
challenges they face and talks about the changes they have
implemented over the past two years.
We identified that the key to improving our pupils’ life chances was to set high
expectations for academic achievement and raise their aspirations for the future. A
year on from taking up the headship, I am proud of the changes we have put in place,
and the impact they are having. Our dedicated team is more committed than ever to
creating transformational experiences for every pupil that comes through the school.
Evolving our offer
We have completely reinvented our curriculum, and are passionate about providing
a broad and rich offer along with extracurricular opportunities that they would not
otherwise experience.
The real key to raising aspirations is convincing excluded young people that they have
a bright future. We have created a range of pathways for our Key Stage 4 pupils
REPORT CARD
CITY OF BIRMINGHAM SCHOOL
»Headteacher: Steve Howell
»Based across 8 sites in
Birmingham
»Type of school: Pupil referral
unit
»No. of staff: 162
»No. of pupils: 492 aged 5 to
16
»SEN: 99.6 per cent
»Free school meals: 68 per cent
City of Birmingham
School
31CITY OF BIRMINGHAM SCHOOL |
SECONDARY EDUCATION
to ensure that they leave school with
multiple meaningful qualifications that
equip them for the future and provide
them with the same opportunities as
their peers in otherschools.
Each of these pathways is grounded
in high individual expectations. GCSE
English, maths and biology are a
minimum expectation for every single
pupil. Some pupils will add up to six
more subjects to their portfolio by the
end of year 11; others will undertake
a programme of GCSE qualifications
alongside more vocational courses,
such as health and social care.
Many pupils will couple GCSE English
and maths with vocational qualifications
in areas including motor mechanics,
construction, catering and hairdressing.
This pathway is particularly important;
it helps to provide inspirational
opportunities for pupils who may be
disengaged or disillusioned with more
traditionalsubjects.
Evolving our team
We have taken a multifaceted
approach to ensuring that staff across
the school have the right skills to
deliver our new curriculum.
Firstly, we have developed close
working relationships with a number
of teaching and mainstream schools.
These partnerships have enabled us to
access specialist support for teachers
and TAs to enhance their specialist
subject knowledge. Staff who haven’t
delivered GCSE qualifications for
several years now feel a greater level of
confidence, and the progress pupils are
making towards gaining qualifications
is evidence of the early success we
areexperiencing.
Secondly, we are investing in our own
outstanding practitioners by having them
undertake specific training. This has
improved our approach to teaching and
learning for many groups of staff in the
school. The initial results of this initiative
have been extremely positive, and work
has begun on training a second and
third cohort. We sincerely believe in
creating excellence from within and
investing in staffdevelopment.
Finally, we have focused our attention
on a comprehensive recruitment
strategy, which has proven to be
successful for key positions within the
school. For example, we identified
head of maths as being a vital role
within the new curriculum and utilised
a wide range of tools to secure
an outstanding candidate with a
strong track record. Working with a
recruitment agency, starting a social
media campaign and getting our name
recognised across the country has
revolutionised the way we recruit staff.
Data difficulties
We don’t fit into national data
comparisons. Our pupils are in a very
unique situation, and measuring
them by traditional metrics provides
progress results that are wholly
unrepresentative. We recognised
the importance of high-quality and
meaningful data early on in our
journey, and set about building our
own framework to utilise and analyse
The right staff, delivering
effectively
We have
completely
reinvented our
curriculum, and
are passionate
about providing
a broad and
richoffer
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2019
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
30 | CITY OF BIRMINGHAM SCHOOL
Headteacher Steve Howell
At City of Birmingham School,
we focus on raising aspirations
City of Birmingham School changes children’s lives. In
September 2017, Steve Howell stepped up from deputy
head to headteacher with one single goal in mind: raising
aspirations for a generation of excluded pupils in the city. Each
year, between 800 and 900 children attend, and they are some
of the most vulnerable in the city. As excluded children, their
life chances are already at risk: they are more likely to become
caught up in crime and suffer from substance addiction, while
being less likely to achieve in school. Steve elaborates on the
challenges they face and talks about the changes they have
implemented over the past two years.
We identified that the key to improving our pupils’ life chances was to set high
expectations for academic achievement and raise their aspirations for the future. A
year on from taking up the headship, I am proud of the changes we have put in place,
and the impact they are having. Our dedicated team is more committed than ever to
creating transformational experiences for every pupil that comes through the school.
Evolving our offer
We have completely reinvented our curriculum, and are passionate about providing
a broad and rich offer along with extracurricular opportunities that they would not
otherwise experience.
The real key to raising aspirations is convincing excluded young people that they have
a bright future. We have created a range of pathways for our Key Stage 4 pupils
REPORT CARD
CITY OF BIRMINGHAM SCHOOL
»Headteacher: Steve Howell
»Based across 8 sites in
Birmingham
»Type of school: Pupil referral
unit
»No. of staff: 162
»No. of pupils: 492 aged 5 to
16
»SEN: 99.6 per cent
»Free school meals: 68 per cent
City of Birmingham
School
31CITY OF BIRMINGHAM SCHOOL |
SECONDARY EDUCATION
to ensure that they leave school with
multiple meaningful qualifications that
equip them for the future and provide
them with the same opportunities as
their peers in otherschools.
Each of these pathways is grounded
in high individual expectations. GCSE
English, maths and biology are a
minimum expectation for every single
pupil. Some pupils will add up to six
more subjects to their portfolio by the
end of year 11; others will undertake
a programme of GCSE qualifications
alongside more vocational courses,
such as health and social care.
Many pupils will couple GCSE English
and maths with vocational qualifications
in areas including motor mechanics,
construction, catering and hairdressing.
This pathway is particularly important;
it helps to provide inspirational
opportunities for pupils who may be
disengaged or disillusioned with more
traditionalsubjects.
Evolving our team
We have taken a multifaceted
approach to ensuring that staff across
the school have the right skills to
deliver our new curriculum.
Firstly, we have developed close
working relationships with a number
of teaching and mainstream schools.
These partnerships have enabled us to
access specialist support for teachers
and TAs to enhance their specialist
subject knowledge. Staff who haven’t
delivered GCSE qualifications for
several years now feel a greater level of
confidence, and the progress pupils are
making towards gaining qualifications
is evidence of the early success we
areexperiencing.
Secondly, we are investing in our own
outstanding practitioners by having them
undertake specific training. This has
improved our approach to teaching and
learning for many groups of staff in the
school. The initial results of this initiative
have been extremely positive, and work
has begun on training a second and
third cohort. We sincerely believe in
creating excellence from within and
investing in staffdevelopment.
Finally, we have focused our attention
on a comprehensive recruitment
strategy, which has proven to be
successful for key positions within the
school. For example, we identified
head of maths as being a vital role
within the new curriculum and utilised
a wide range of tools to secure
an outstanding candidate with a
strong track record. Working with a
recruitment agency, starting a social
media campaign and getting our name
recognised across the country has
revolutionised the way we recruit staff.
Data difficulties
We don’t fit into national data
comparisons. Our pupils are in a very
unique situation, and measuring
them by traditional metrics provides
progress results that are wholly
unrepresentative. We recognised
the importance of high-quality and
meaningful data early on in our
journey, and set about building our
own framework to utilise and analyse
The right staff, delivering
effectively
We have
completely
reinvented our
curriculum, and
are passionate
about providing
a broad and
richoffer
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
32 | CITY OF BIRMINGHAM SCHOOL
the wealth of information we had.
Our new approach to assessing pupil
progress is now based on keen data
analysis, ongoing assessments and
identifying both areas of strength and
areas for development.
The information we gather informs
leaders about pupils’ progress, but
the true value of our new framework
becomes apparent after more
comprehensive data analysis. It provides
teachers with an intricate breakdown
of what each individual pupil needs,
and how best to support them
academically. Using this system, our
teachers are now able to appropriately
plan interventions where necessary and
deliver exceptionallessons.
Distributed leadership
A typical leadership structure in
education is based around a top-
down model, where one headteacher
distributes and delegates appropriately
to their senior leadership team and other
members of staff. With eight separate
sites across Birmingham, however, we
recognised that such a model would not
fit our school, logistically or practically,
and set about designing our own.
We had to empower other staff to
become leaders. This new method of
distributed leadership places a real
focus on the importance of informed
decision-making and accountability. I
believe that the most effective way to
improve is to constantly collaborate on
a shared, strong and strategic vision,
and to enable other staff to implement
new developments. With this new
model, we are now able to create an
environment of trust and co-operation
that was not previously possible.
External scrutiny
When I first began my headship,
I identified a lack of operational
scrutiny. Without being challenged
as a headteacher and a school, we
would not be able to grow or develop.
I thus sought external scrutiny and
challenge. We have since worked with
a strong school improvement advisor,
engaged in local peer-to-peer reviews,
undertaken joint quality assurance
activities with external specialists and
started to externally moderate all work
and assessments.
These activities have all driven a
process of constant improvement.
We know that scrutiny is vital, and
we will continue to seek different
ways to incorporate it in our drive
forimprovement.
Continued excellence
Our priorities for the future are clear.
We want to provide an aspirational
and inspirational curriculum that meets
the complex needs of our students,
prepare them for the future.
We will focus on further staff
development by working with
external partners, and ensure that our
teachers are at the cutting edge of
educationalpedagogy.
We had to
empower staff
to become
leaders
Outdoor learning is key
to self-improvement
33ARCHBISHOP ILSLEY CATHOLIC SCHOOL |
SECONDARY EDUCATION
Headteacher Helen Burrows
Year 11 students preparing
for examinations
Archbishop Ilsley Catholic School, based in Acocks Green,
Birmingham, have undertaken a programme of change
to consolidate and improve their “good” Ofsted rating.
Having instigated a new uniform policy, they have seen a
corresponding improvement in pupil behaviour and are working
to adapt their curriculum to ensure that it is rigorous and
challenging. Helen Burrows became headteacher after working
as assistant head since 2014 and discusses how they have
instigated their programme of change and the need for the
government to support teacher retention.
In September 2018, Archbishop Ilsley Catholic School started the next phase of
our journey. Judged as “good” in our two previous Ofsted inspections, with sound
prior leadership, the school was already working on solid foundations, but if we
were to make further improvements, change needed to happen. We could not
afford to stand still for one moment.
As the incoming headteacher, I was fortunate enough to have sufficient working
knowledge of the school, having previously been assistant head at the school since
January 2014. This enabled me to start the academic year with a focused plan on
what we needed to do in both the present moment and the future. We had to hit
the ground running.
Establishing a clear vision and direction of travel was critical in helping staff and
students to understand that there was going to be change. Not change for the
sake of it but for the purpose of taking the school forward. Our vision is based
REPORT CARD
ARCHBISHOP ILSLEY CATHOLIC
SCHOOL
»Headteacher: Helen Burrows
»Established in 1957
»Based in Acocks Green,
Birmingham
»Type of school: Catholic
secondary
»No. of pupils: 1,165, including
the sixth form
»www.ilsley.bham.sch.uk
Archbishop Ilsley Catholic
School

www.cityofbirminghamschool.com

The Parliamentary Review Publication, in which this article originally appeared, contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss

Even by the standards of the day –this has been one of the most exciting and unpredictable years in British politics.

The leadership election we’ve just seen marks a huge moment in our country’s history. This government is taking a decisive new direction, embracing the opportunities of Brexit and preparing our country to flourish outside the EU.

As international trade secretary, I’ll be driving forward work on the free trade agreements that are going to be a priority for the government. Free trade isn’t just an abstract concept bandied around by technocrats. It is crucial for a strong economy and for the ability of families to make ends meet. Free trade benefits people in every part of our country, as British firms export to new markets and people doing the weekly shop have access to a wider choice of goods at lower prices.

The essence of free trade is in the title: freedom. It’s about giving people the power to exchange their goods without heavy government taxation or interference. Commerce and free exchange are the engine room of prosperity and social mobility. I’m determined to tackle the forces who want to hold that back.

One of my priorities is agreeing an exciting new free trade deal with the US, building on the great relationship between our two countries and the Prime Minister and US President. But I’ll also be talking to other partners including New Zealand, Australia and fast-growing Asian markets.

And with the EU too, we want a friendly and constructive relationship, as constitutional equals, and as friends and partners in facing the challenges that lie ahead – a relationship based on a deep free trade agreement. Our country produces some of the world’s most successful exports, and the opportunity to bring these to the rest of the world should make us all excited about the future. It is this excitement, optimism and ambition which I believe will come to define this government.

For too long now, we have been told Britain isn’t big or important enough to survive outside the EU – that we have to accept a deal that reflects our reduced circumstances. I say that’s rubbish. With the right policies in place, we can be the most competitive, free-thinking, prosperous nation on Earth exporting to the world and leading in new developments like AI. To do that, we’ll give the brilliant next generation of entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed. Since 2015, there has been a staggering 85 per cent rise in the number of businesses set up by 18 to 24 year olds – twice the level set up by the same age group in France and Germany. We’ll help them flourish by championing enterprise, cutting taxes and making regulation flexible and responsive to their needs.

As we do that, we’ll level up and unite all parts of the UK with great transport links, fibre broadband in every home and proper school funding, so everyone shares in our country’s success.

2019 has been the year of brewing economic and political revolution. 2020 will be the year when a revitalised Conservative government turbo charges the economy, boosts prospects for people across the country, and catapults Britain back to the forefront of the world stage.



Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss
Secretary of State for International Development