Cromwell Junior & Infant School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Cromwell Junior & Infant 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 Cromwell Junior & Infant 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

Headteacher Rubina Darr
An aerial view of our
wonderful school
Cromwell Junior and Infant School, now part of the
Cromwell Learning Community Multi-Academy Trust, are
committed to supporting their curriculum with values-
based teaching, led by headteacher Rubina Darr. This involves
multiple fundraising efforts, regular trips to the Houses of
Parliament and engagement with current social issues, such as
the experiences of refugees. Having recently become a“School
of Sanctuary”, they aim to provide a safe haven for anyone,
regardless of background or experience. Teacher Laura Prosser
discusses their commitment to teach students about their role in
We are a vibrant, mainstream school in inner-city Birmingham, with a high proportion
of our children receiving free school meals and having English as an additional
language. We pride ourselves on providing the best opportunities and experiences
for the many children who attend our school. This is underlined by our school
vision: “If children are happy, they will achieve... we seek to educate the whole
child, paying particular attention to their emotional and intellectual wellbeing”.
In January 2017, we became part of the Cromwell Learning Community Multi-
Academy Trust. The trust is a forward thinking and responsible establishment with
a passion for enabling all stakeholders to learn and work together in our schools.
Developing an engaging curriculum
At the heart of the school is an exciting, detailed and well-planned curriculum
that is designed to support pupil learning and development. It is an oasis that
»Headteacher: Rubina Darr
»Year 4 Teacher: Laura Prosser
»Established in 1889
»Based in Birmingham
»Type: Junior and infant school
»No. of students: 236
Cromwell Junior &
Infant School
Highlighting best practice
inspires and equips children for life in
today’s challenging world. We stay
up to date with current assessment
recommendations and ensure that
pupils’ progress is carefully monitored,
supported by our continuous focus
on assessment for learning. Our
commitment to a strong moral
compass ensures that the pupil voice
matters, and, to supplement the
curriculum, we invite visiting speakers
to share their experiences and inspire
the children. We always challenge
inequality and race, gender and
ethnicity marginalisation, and our
staff body is made up of people from
diverse backgrounds, all of whom
are seen as excellent role models
for the children. From an early age,
our children are instilled with what
it means to be an active citizen in a
Children are regularly encouraged
to discuss issues, resolve conflicts
and provide possible solutions to
scenarios that arise in school life. This
gives them the understanding of the
importance of feeling listened to. We
also organised debating sessions for
our year 5 students with the English-
Speaking Union to develop their
skills of debating, counter-arguing,
evidencing points of view and seeing
both sides of the argument. Both
articulacy and oracy are high in the
agenda of our school.
Teaching our students about
the values of democracy
The trust takes part in “Parliament
Week” to raise awareness of the
importance of parliament and the
democratic system in Britain. During
this time, our pupils learn to debate,
write manifestos for school council
membership and vote through our
own polling station. Our children value
that they live in a democracy and have
the right to vote. Beyond this, we
invited a Birmingham city councillor
to share with the children her job
role and how she helps the people of
Birmingham to have their voices heard.
Our school council visited Birmingham
City Council House and met the lord
mayor of Birmingham, Councillor Anne
Underwood. We also regularly visit
the Houses of Parliament, touring the
House of Commons and the House of
Lords, and take part in a workshop to
develop the skills of being a successful
school councillor.
We have recently been awarded
status as a “School of Sanctuary”.
This underlines our commitment to
ensuring that our school is a safe and
welcoming place for all, particularly for
those who are seeking refuge. Every
year, we take part in “Refugee Week”.
During this time, we invite speakers
from Amnesty International, create
postcards to be given to refugees
coming to Birmingham and listen to
the real-life experiences of visitors who
have experienced being a refugee.
In March 2018, all year 6 girls
across the MAT experienced “Girls
in Politics”, an international event
in London. The event was called
“Camp United Nations for Girls”, a
leadership programme introducing
girls to the work of the United Nations.
Making our world a
better place begins
by meeting, greeting,
listening and learning
Children are
encouraged to
discuss issues,
conflicts and
solutions to
scenarios that
arise in school
The girls received a lesson on the
history and purpose of the UN and
were all assigned to a UN country,
undertaking research into the issues
the country may currently befacing.
This empowered our girls to have a
stronger voice.
Giving back to our community
Throughout the year, we organise
fundraising opportunities to ensure
that we help those less fortunate
than ourselves. We fundraise locally
by collecting and donating items to
the homeless in Birmingham and
fundraise nationally for charities such
as Crisis, Centrepoint and the Salvation
Army. On an international level, we
fundraise for Save the Children, Unicef
and Disasters Emergency Committee.
We have invited parents, staff and
children to support us in raising money
for global issues in Yemen, Syria
andSomalia by cooking and sharing
We are also involved in the Erasmus
Creative Digital Media project, and
representatives from the school
joined others from across Turkey, Italy
and Slovakia. The team have been
meeting with other project leaders
to finalise the implementation of the
digital learning apps that schools from
different countries will be using.
Like many schools up and down
the country, we are facing issues
around funding and budgeting. We
are committed, however, to not
sacrificing any of the extracurricular
activities we organise, so we will seek
I feel fortunate that I began my newly
qualified teacher year and have
continued to develop my career at
the school. What struck me most as a
new teacher learning and developing
my skills in this field was the sheer
determination and passion invested
into every single child within this
school. Lack of privilege is never
seen as a barrier to learning. Indeed,
we are exploring what it means
to be privileged in society and the
responsibility it carries.
As a teacher, I am excited to look
forward to the future and the
opportunity of sharing our vision and
enthusiasm with like-minded people
and organisations. I share the vision
of the school: to ensure that children
have the best possible opportunities
to excel. I passionately believe that
excellent practice should be shared so
that all children are able to access the
education and experiences they are
entitled to.
Indeed, we
are exploring
what it means
to be
privileged in
society and
it carries
Donated a mini-bus
by St. James Place
Charity Foundation to
explore pastures new in
Birmingham and beyond

This article was sponsored by Cromwell Junior & Infant 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 Professor The Lord Blunkett.

The Rt Hon Professor The Lord Blunkett's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Professor The Lord Blunkett

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. 
The Rt Hon Professor The Lord Blunkett