Dale Community Primary School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Dale Community 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 Dale Community 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


Headteacher Louise Foster
A love of reading is
encouraged right from the
start of school
Dale Community Primary is an ambitious school in Derby
that has experienced steady improvements in the last
decade. Rated “good” by Ofsted since 2014, it is
continuing to build upon its success under new Headteacher
Louise Foster, who explains that staff, students and parents
are working together to drive improvements forward while
maintaining the nurturing ethos that is embedded within
the school. Louise became head in 2017, having worked
at the school for over 15 years, and she discusses how her
experience has put her in the best position possible to progress
Dale Community Primary School is a very special place where all children,
parents and staff work together as part of a happy, positive and caring learning
community. Every child at Dale is recognised as an individual. My staff aim to get to
know children well and our priority is to ensure that they enjoy school, are happy
and feel safe. I believe that, alongside academic skills, children need to develop a
wide range of skills and attitudes to allow them to become lifelong learners.
A strong emphasis is placed on teaching our children to have self-respect,
confidence and a sense of responsibility for their own wellbeing and for that of
others and the environment. Pupils are encouraged to contribute to school life
and their suggestions are highly valued. To support children in achieving their full
potential, I encourage all parents to be part of the Dale community, and the school
works in partnership with them.
»Headteacher: Louise Foster
»Founded in 1908
»Based in Derby
»Type of school: Community
»No. of students: 549
»No. of staff: 76
Dale Community
Primary School
Highlighting best practice
Community focus and clear
There are 550 pupils on roll from
reception to year 6 and the school
is federated with Stonehill Nursery
School, which is a 51-place maintained
nursery taking two, three and four-
year-olds. Our locality is one of the
most deprived in Derby and is also
in the top 20 per cent of deprived
areas in the UK. High mobility within
the local community means that our
pupil numbers fluctuate. Our school
welcomes a range of nationalities,
with the majority of pupils learning
English as an additional language. Dale
Primary is a community school and our
community is truly at the heart of what
I believe school is about.
Increasingly, our families, particularly
our new families, understand our
expectations and values because of
the help they receive from the school’s
Inclusion Team. This dedicated team
helps us build and maintain positive
relationships with parents and carers,
and all of our staff, of which there are
over 100, are committed to providing
support. I was lucky to inherit a school
that was already well respected within
the community, and we continue to
build upon these strong foundations.
Staff morale is high and this increases
the confidence that stakeholders have
in the school. As a leadership team, we
are aware of the challenges our staff
face and ensure that we offer them
high-quality CPD to equip them to face
these challenges. Because we invest
in our staff, involve them and make
them aware of the rationale behind
decision-making, they offer greater
commitment and this in turn benefits
our pupils.
For our staff, parents and pupils, our
values are at the centre of everything
we do and the decisions that we make.
At Dale, we create an environment
where we inspire a love of learning,
build a strong community, celebrate
our diversity and provide life-changing
opportunities so that children can
flourish and therefore achieve in all
areas of school life.
Revamping our curriculum
Our inspection report in 2014
identified maths as being the area
that needed the most improvement
and so our deputy head embarked
on a search for an approach that
would meet the needs of our
children. Following detailed research,
we introduced the Maths Mastery
approach, a programme that has since
been embedded across the school.
Maths Mastery has changed the
way we teach maths, and children’s
ability to articulate their mathematical
understanding has improved
significantly. My deputy has become
a Maths Mastery specialist, which
Our dedicated sports
team uses the facilities
and opportunities in our
community to take part
in a range of sports
Dale Primary is
a community
school and
community is
truly at the
heart of what
I believe
school is
allows her to assist other schools to
We have also developed the teaching
of literacy and the provision of our
non-core curriculum. Our timetable
now reflects the priorities of our
school and the needs of our children,
for example allocating time to teach
reading and encourage the love of
reading. Innovative timetabling has
also allowed us to immerse children in
cross-curricular topics and this has led
to high-quality learning and increased
levels of engagement.
Striving for further
Over the last ten years, our
improvement has been impressive
but I am determined not to rest in
the pursuit of excellence. In 2018
Ofsted said: “You raised the school’s
ambitions for its pupils. It is clear that
your aspirations and actions are having
a positive impact.”
To ensure that we continue to improve
and raise standards, we are closely
monitoring and tracking the progress
of individual pupils and delivering
teacher-led interventions at the
point of need. Our self-evaluation
programme ensures that we can
accurately identify our strengths as
well as quickly take action to address
any areas that need improvement. Last
year, as a result of this, our reading
results increased from 54 per cent
to 69 per cent; our writing increased
from 54 per cent to 73 per cent and
our combined figure increased from
47 per cent to 65 per cent of children
reaching the age-related standard.
These improvements are further
supported by our use of external
partners to ensure an objective
evaluation. We are also outward
looking in our approach and are
open to new ideas and research-led
initiatives. Support from organisations
such as the Derby Research School,
Maths Hub, the Derby-based Primary
Strategy Group and the Derby
Opportunity area ensures that we
are well informed and this has led to
accelerated improvements.
Although beyond our control, financial
pressures are huge and falling budgets
could impact upon our ability to
employ and retain staff. Being located
in an Edwardian building that was
not designed for modern teaching
also brings additional demands. We
do not know what the budget will
be next year and this is challenging
when trying to forward plan. Despite
all of this, we will continue to strive
for improvement so that our pupils
continue to flourish at Dale.
has allowed us
to immerse
children in
topics and this
has led to
learning and
levels of
We enrich our
curriculum with trips,
visitors, residentials,
experiences and wider
opportunities such as
learning to play musical


This article was sponsored by Dale Community 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 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