Culcheth High School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Culcheth High 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 Culcheth High 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
Culcheth High School –
aGoogle reference school
Mr Christopher Hunt,
head teacher
Over a turbulent 17-month period between December
2013 and May 2015, Culcheth High School had four head
teachers and many senior leadership changes which
led to the school lacking direction and being without focused
leadership. Outcomes for students dropped, staff turnover was
high and staff morale was low. The “reset button” needed to be
pressed, and through effective governance, a newly formed senior
leadership team and hard-working staff and students, Culcheth
High School developed a values-driven approach to education
and staff development. GCSE 5 A*-C including English and maths
improved from 62 per cent in 2015 to 78 per cent in 2016.
Culcheth High School has changed immensely over the last three years and has
continued to grow and develop. We are a school that truly works in the community,
with the community and for the community. It led Ofsted to comment in May 2017
that “the leadership team runs the school with an honest integrity which nurtures a
high-trust environment where pupils and staff can flourish”.
Changing the culture
Following this period of instability, which had far-reaching effects on the school
community, it was clear that the school needed to “reboot” its purpose, vision and
values. A reformed and streamlined governing body and a newly appointed senior
leadership team embarked on a mission to change the culture of the school to
ensure that everyone in the school community could live up to the school’s motto
of being “the best that we can be”.
»Head teacher:
Mr Christopher Hunt
»Founded in 1931
»Based in Culcheth,
Warrington, Cheshire
»Type of school: 11-16 local
authority comprehensive high
»No. of students: 1,144
»No. of teaching staff: 66
»No. of support staff: 46
»Ofsted: “Good”, May 2017
»School motto: “The best that
we can be”
»School values: Respect,
honesty and excellence
Culcheth High School
A series of voice activities, staff
meetings, student activities and
governing body meetings focused on
what we felt, as a school community,
we wanted Culcheth High School to be
like, moving forward.
Culcheth High School’s purpose is to
inspire students to achieve and guide
them to be confident, articulate and
skilled citizens – skills which will enable
them to thrive in a diverse British and
global community. We are a learning-
centred school, which strives to
nurture and develop students and staff
in a vibrant, tolerant and aspirational
school community. This culture is
characterised by high levels of staff and
student happiness and mutual respect
underpinned by pride, ambition and
commitment to achievement and
enrichment for all.
We strive to be a school community
where all staff are committed to our
ethos of “always learning” through
personalised professional development,
underpinned by a collaborative
coaching culture which promotes and
nurtures all staff to sustain excellence
and develop their skills.
The main thing is to keep the
main thing the main thing
As a learning-centred school, we
placed teaching and learning and
staff development at the core of every
decision made. We joined the Teacher
Development Trust Network and
engaged in its Continuous Professional
Development Accreditation
Programme. This started with a whole-
school audit of current provision and
planning of future provision. The audit
involved interviews with a wide range
of staff and it reported “a radical and
demonstrable shift in culture over the
last two years. The leadership team has
a strong vision for the school in which
teacher development is central”.
Over the last two years, Culcheth
High School gained the Teacher
Development Trust Network
Bronze Award, and it has now
been accredited with the Silver
Award for the quality and culture of
professional development. Professional
development at Culcheth High School
takes an evidence-based approach.
We have appointed a research
lead teacher, who supports the
development of teaching, learning and
assessment through evidence-based
research and best-practice studies.
Culcheth High School became a
Google reference school in December
2017 following the developmental
work we had completed with Google
and their industry partners. Google
Classroom is an integral part of
school life and staff development
Students at Culcheth
High School being “the
best that they can be”
Culcheth High
purpose is to
inspire students
to achieve and
guide them to
be confident,
articulate and
skilled citizens
Highlighting best practice
as it facilitates teaching, learning,
assessment and professional
development effectively.
To structurally support and elevate
the development of teaching, learning
and assessment we needed to further
develop leadership at all levels through
our programme for leaders and
aspiring leaders. We have cultivated
a coaching culture using our bespoke
leadership framework. We have also
developed a Leadership Development
Programme, which focuses on
embedding incremental coaching
and lateral leadership at Culcheth
A caring school where everyone
is valued and everyone values
We want everyone to work in a caring
school where everyone is valued and
everyone values relationships. We
expect all members of our school
community to be the best that they
can be and to help others to be the
best that they can be by internalising
our school values of respect, honesty
and excellence.
Staff wellbeing and reducing staff
workload is a vital part of our school
improvement plans. We have worked
tirelessly to reduce the workload
burden of staff through reviewing and
refining all school practices to ensure
that everything is about teaching,
learning and assessment. A meaningful
staff voice, a “Staff Plus” welfare
group and a continual review of
practices ensures that staff wellbeing
is at the forefront of everything that
we do.
We have always prided ourselves on
the excellent student pastoral support
within Culcheth High School which
supports students and families from
diverse socio-economic backgrounds,
recruiting students from over thirty
different primary schools from three
different local authorities.
Culcheth High School is the lead
commissioning school for Warrington
secondary schools’ award-winning
“Future in Mind” mental health
project. Working with the Warrington
Clinical Commissioning Group, the
project has led to an effective network
of fully trained staff in every secondary
school working alongside students and
health professionals to support the
mental health and wellbeing of young
people across Warrington.
At Culcheth High School, following
a period of instability, our renewed
purpose, vision and values have
provided the framework for real
school improvement that has seen a
complete change in school culture with
a relentless focus on learning, staff and
student wellbeing, and professional
development. Academic attainment
has improved and our vision and
practices have been awarded and
recognised externally by a number
of organisations including Ofsted.
Staff, governors, students and the
school community have risen to the
challenge and strive to achieve the
best outcomes that they can. After all,
our school motto has rung true and
encouraged not only the staff, but also
the students, to seize the day and take
advantage of their opportunities.
students and
the school
have risen to
the challenge
and strive to
achieve the
best outcomes
that they can
A high-trust environment
where students and staff
can flourish

This article was sponsored by Culcheth High 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