Colegrave Primary School

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

Highlighting best practice
Tahreem Shaz-Vennus,
All senior leaders and outstanding
practitioners lead by example
It was March 25, 2013, and Tahreem Shaz-Vennus was
nearing the end of her head teacher interview. She had
joined Colegrave Primary School, Stratford, as deputy head
teacher 18 months earlier, during which time the school had
been judged as “good” during its February Ofsted inspection.
But now it had all come down to the chair of governors’ final
question: “Where do you see Colegrave in five years?” Tahreem
replied without hesitation: “Colegrave will be an outstanding
school.” Transport yourself forward five years and the proof
lies in the Ofsted report: “This is an outstanding school. The
inspirational leadership of the head teacher is a key factor in the
significant improvements that the school has made since the
previous inspection.”
The word “journey” is overused when discussing how aspirational outcomes are
achieved from a given starting point, but in our case, no word is more apt. To
move the school from “good” to “outstanding” has been a long and oft-difficult
process of change and development. Supported and challenged in equal measure
by a knowledgeable governing body, this journey began by restructuring the senior
leadership team. I needed individuals who shared my ambition, who could lead by
example and who believed that “good” wasn’t good enough for our pupils. Why
shouldn’t our children achieve as highly as those in the best state schools in the
country? Recognising exceptional talent already within the school, I promoted staff
who shared the same blend of qualities – a complete intolerance of mediocrity; the
ability to inspire, lead and support all stakeholders; and the capacity to hold staff
»Head teacher: Tahreem Shaz-
»Founded in 1890
»Based in Stratford, Newham
»Type of school: Three-form-
entry community school
»No. of pupils: 630
»No. of staff: 100
»Resource provision for children
with profound and multiple
learning disabilities
»Lead school for SCITTELS – an
outstanding teacher-training
provider for east London
»Our pupils performed during
the NHS sequence of the
opening ceremony for the
2012 London Olympics
Colegrave Primary
accountable. Above all, I now had a
team who would never waver from
their core purpose – to put the children
at the heart of all we do, and to
ensure that our high expectations for
teaching, learning and pupil outcomes
were met daily.
These objectives could never be
realised without the right teaching
and support personnel. Committed
and driven colleagues who shared
my vision for the school stayed
and flourished while talented new
staff were recruited. Teachers with
ambition and leadership qualities were
promoted to middle leader, either as
year lead or subject lead, and support
staff were assigned roles suited to their
specific skill set. In addition, new roles
– such as specialist PE, performing
arts and “English as an additional
language” teachers – were created
by utilising sports and pupil premium
funds. Running parallel to this period
of change was the establishment of an
additional resource provision base – a
“very special environment”, according
to our June 2017 Ofsted report – that
has given our pupils with even the
most complex needs the opportunity
to thrive as a result of first-class
teaching by staff specialising in SEND.
None of this happened overnight,
of course, and I didn’t always get it
right, but identifying and retaining the
right person in the right role has been
fundamental to our success.
Conquering the community
Getting it right from within is one
thing – how the school is perceived
by the wider community is another.
Despite our “good” Ofsted grading
in 2012, we were by no means the
first choice for many families living
within our catchment. Newly opened
academies and free schools were
attracting many prospective and
current pupils. Determined to reverse
this trend, I began by revitalising
“Brand Colegrave”. A refreshed logo
and updated vision statement – “At
Colegrave, whatever a child’s mind can
conceive and believe, it can achieve”
– were followed by the introduction
of a smarter, more distinctive uniform.
Although we relied upon some of the
school budget to initially subsidise
the cost of the uniform to parents, At Colegrave, all children
achieve highly, regardless
of disadvantages or
UNICEF Rights Respecting
School – a right to play
At Colegrave,
whatever a
child’s mind
can conceive
and believe, it
can achieve
Highlighting best practice
Iconsidered this money well spent –
we were now immediately identifiable,
and pupils were proud to wear
Colegrave’s colours. Since pride is a
catalyst for high standards, a greater
emphasis was placed on the aesthetics
of our learning environment – phase
by phase, classrooms were remodelled
and high-quality, attractive communal
and class displays showcased the best
of what our pupils could achieve.
Crucially, a relaunched website and a
strong social media presence enabled
us to tell our story in a way that we
hadn’t before – and at the heart of
our story lies a rich and engaging
A creative curriculum
Attainment and progress in the core
subjects have always been a school
priority. For this reason, English, maths
and science are led by members of the
senior leadership team, who, through
effective training, team-teaching and
monitoring, have successfully raised
standards in teaching and learning. A
school’s curriculum is so much more
than the core subjects, however, and
we knew that we could never achieve
outstanding if our “afternoons” –
foundation subjects – did not match
up to our “mornings” – maths and
English. Determined to make the
national curriculum work for us,
rather than us work for it, a thematic,
skills-based curriculum was written
and developed with the interests of
our pupils in mind. Traditional topics
such as “The Great Fire of London”
and “The Egyptians” now sit alongside
unique, specially designed topics
such as “Banksy”
– a year 5 art and
science unit based around the elusive
street artist – and
“The Body Shop”,
which sees year 4 pupils become
young entrepreneurs by designing,
making and selling their own soap.
Outcomes such as these provide
a focus for each topic, and so our
children regularly have the opportunity
to hold assemblies, participate in
debates and showcase their work
through exhibitions. Increased parental
engagement has been a rewarding
outcome of these end-of-term events.
Doing right by our pupils
Interwoven throughout our curriculum
is Unicef’s Rights Respecting Schools
Award, the focus on which was
launched two years ago. Academic
success is important, but schools
also have a duty to educate the
whole child. By promoting the
values of respect, dignity and non-
discrimination, the initiative has guided
our pupils to have a strong moral
compass. They are aware of their
rights, and they speak passionately
about injustice where they see it.
During Children in Need Day earlier
this year, I overheard one of our
year 6 pupils say to another, “If one
child does not have access to their
rights, then we have all failed.” It has
been an eventful journey towards
“outstanding”, with many successes
along the way, but nothing has made
me more proud to be head teacher of
our wonderful school than this.
Retaining the
right person in
the right role
has been
to our success
We aim for the stars and
nothing less

This article was sponsored by Colegrave 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 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