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 Crawley Ridge Junior School is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.
Crawley Ridge Junior School
Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett, MP
Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles, MP
1CRAWLEY RIDGE JUNIOR SCHOOL |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE
Headteacher Sue Knight
The forest school develops
resilience and teamwork
Crawley Ridge is a junior school based in Camberley, Surrey,
that has been on a journey of improvement in recent years.
It now aims to provide its students with a memorable
education that inspires them to explore and achieve as they move
on to the next stage of their development. Sue Knight became
headteacher in 2016 and she tells
The Parliamentary Review
how she brought about a cultural change throughout.
Crawley Ridge is a school on the up and we want everyone to know it. We are
not just an average junior school. We have a history of far exceeding national
average results and a long waiting list for places. The school had a reputation for a
creative curriculum, superb sporting achievement, outstanding music and beautiful
art work. But the truth is that the last few years have been tough. Leadership
and governance became complacent, the school became too inward facing and
standards fell. Results fell too and admission numbers dipped after Ofsted visited
and designated the school as “requires improvement”.
A programme of change
This is a story of both bold actions and marginal changes that, when added
together, have made a big difference that we are proud to talk about. Changes
were made to strengthen the senior leadership team and governors challenged and
reorganised themselves to focus on driving the school forwards. Both the senior
leadership team and the governing body looked outside the school for help and
support. The local authority put us on a programme of focus support. This gave us
access to maths and English consultants as well as the support of a senior school
CRAWLEY RIDGE JUNIOR SCHOOL
»Headteacher: Sue Knight
»Founded in 1974
»Based in Camberley, Surrey
»Type of school: Junior
»No. of pupils: 248
»No. of staff: 42
Crawley Ridge Junior
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
2| CRAWLEY RIDGE JUNIOR SCHOOL
improvement partner. The consultants
were able to work with middle leaders
to enhance the work they had begun,
introducing a mastery curriculum and
The governing board also began
to look for additional sources of
support and appointed an executive
headteacher with extensive experience
of supporting schools. The presence
of the executive headteacher restored
parental confidence and added
weight to the work of the senior
leadership team. The external view
of teaching in the school from these
different partners was used to look
for areas of development and the
quality of teaching improved greatly.
New teachers were appointed and a
robust induction process ensured that
standards were maintained.
Recognising the need for sustainability
and to create a new culture of wider
schools-led collaboration, we launched
a multi-academy trust alongside four
other local schools and the school
became a part of The Alliance Multi
Academy Trust in April 2018. We will
support the other schools in the MAT
with those areas in which we excel and
we will absorb their excellence, so that
collectively we will be stronger.
Smaller changes involved moving
the daily assembly to just before
morning break to give an extended
English lesson. This provided pupils
with the chance to develop writing
stamina and enabled the teaching of
grammar, punctuation and spelling
at the point of writing. In maths,
teachers and teaching assistants were
trained in the mastery approach and
two teachers joined a research group
run by a local maths hub. Resources
were purchased so that all year
groups had access to manipulatives
and workshops were held for parents,
so that they understood the new
approach. We found that family
workshops, at which parents and
children were together, were the
most successful and they proved to be
Teachers have become used to a more
rigorous programme of monitoring
and there is now an “open door”
ethos among the staff. The senior
leadership team regularly visit classes
and are able to feed back to staff on
what is going well and what could be
better. This has resulted in teaching
now being considered at least “good”
across the school. There is a positive
atmosphere within the school with a
lovely buzz inclassrooms.
Behaviour for learning was also
addressed and teachers employ a
range of strategies to ensure that
all pupils are engaged and active in
their learning. The mastery approach
naturally supports the development
of independence in pupils and this is
being supported by an increased use
of working walls. A new assessment
programme was purchased, which
was particularly beneficial for tracking
the vulnerable children in the school.
The inclusion leader introduced simple
procedures to ensure that teachers
are aware of the children who were
not making the progress they should
and that interventions are carefully
targeted at their needs.
Sports day in the
There is a
school with a
lovely buzz in
3CRAWLEY RIDGE JUNIOR SCHOOL |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE
The path ahead
The result of all of these changes has
been two years of vastly improved
results with the school once more
performing above local and national
markers in the year six SATs. The
local authority has taken the school
off the focus support programme
and declared us to be in the “good
to great” category. This has helped
towards restoring confidence in the
school and both parents and pupils
are positive about the changes that
have been made. Most importantly,
however, the school is once more
an exciting place for pupils, staff
The next steps in our journey are also
exciting as we become a school that is
considered to be “outstanding” with
full classrooms and a long waiting list.
Our school is set in amazing grounds;
the gardens of a former large house
with many specimens of unusual
plants and large areas of woodland.
We are now looking to exploit this
and staff are training as forest school
leaders. Forest schools is an exciting
programme that challenges children
and develops confidence, resilience
and team working. The skills are
proven to transfer to all aspects of life
and there is a clear link to improved
outcomes for children. Wellbeing and
good mental health has an increased
profile in the school and we have
developed a weekly enrichment
afternoon to focus on these key issues.
Topics across the school are being
refreshed, and themed weeks enliven
and enrich our provision.
As Barbara Johnson said, “change is
a process not an event”. We are all
excited about the process leading us to
achieving our 2020 vision of becoming
a “truly exceptional school: excellence
every day for every individual”.
school off the
us to be in the
The mastery approach
makes maths fun and
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.