Disley Primary School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Disley 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 Disley 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 Heather Taylor and
SLT, 2018/19
New classrooms
At Disley Primary School, Headteacher Heather Taylor and
her team have established a whole-school ethos using
four key words: “respect”, “resilience”, “responsible”
and “reflect”. Their practice of co-operative and reflective
learning feeds into everything they do. Heather has been at
the school for 15 years and over that period has seen the
introduction of an established leadership team, a focused
improvement plan and a behaviour policy – all of which have
helped put their children in a better place to learn. She tells
TheParliamentary Review
When I first started at Disley, it became clear that a whole-school approach would
be central to any future success. One of my first tasks was to draw up a behaviour
policy. We made sure we included children, parents and governors in the process
to ensure its success – this policy is still in place now. Our behaviour improved
dramatically in those first few years, and everybody involved in the school now
knows what’s expected of them.
Our first turning point came in 2009, when we were inspected by an HMI under a
pilot of the then-new Ofsted framework. In the run-up to the inspection, we had
desperately hoped we would move beyond our judgment of “satisfactory” but
unfortunately did not manage to do so. The HMI, however, came to me afterwards,
and it was his advice that really spurred on our next change and subsequently
continued to drive me throughout my career: “if you put the same emphasis on
teaching and learning as you have done on behaviour, you’ll make that difference.”
»Headteacher: Heather Taylor
»Based in Disley, Cheshire
»Established in 1911
»Type of school: Community
»No. of children: 268
»No. of staff: 30
Disley Primary School
Highlighting best practice
Improving teaching and
As a result, we set about changing
the way we delivered teaching
and learning with an emphasis on
teamwork. This started by examining
what we thought outstanding teaching
was – we asked everyone for their
ideas, pooled them together and drew
up criteria for what we considered an
outstanding lesson.
We referred to this as “A Dream
Lesson”, and it helped to give us a
shared understanding and a common
approach to teaching. To achieve the
high standards we set ourselves for
teaching and learning, we trained the
entire staff team to deliver co-operative
learning through Kagan Structures.
This remains a strong focus of our
teaching today.
The 2010/11 academic year was
another important one for us. We had
greatly improved children’s behaviour
across the school, and teaching and
learning was much stronger, reflected
in our SATs results. Staff were working
collaboratively and observing one
another’s lessons to ensure they
developed appropriately and met the
criteria of “A Dream Lesson”. We
achieved our Ofsted “good” grading in
2011, and upon reinspection in March
2017 were told that, although we
didn’t quite reach the “outstanding”
grade we so hoped for, we were
strongly placed to go for it next time.
Collaboration and pupil voice
When I was first appointed in 2004,
governors and staff set a strapline for
the school to summarise the school’s
aims. It was agreed as “Hand in
Hand Promoting Excellence”, which
showed our commitment to working
in partnership with parents and the
community. Recently we have adopted
something of a secondary motto,
“Proud to Belong”, which I feel sums
up how far we have come to meet
those early aims of working together.
We want our children to feel a sense
of community not only in school but
also within the local community and
globally. This is something we’ve
further developed through our creation
of a school parliament with children
sitting on different committees.
Developing Disley Primary
As a result of this incredible journey
with some practical changes and new
initiatives implemented, we are now a
We like to challenge
Happiness brings
We want our
children to
feel a sense of
locally and
designated lead school in a teaching
hub, responsible for liaising with four
other local schools to assist with and
lead teacher training.
The school itself has also grown and
developed over the past few years.
Extensions to the building mean that
over a third of the school is now new.
This is something that will prove to
be necessary in the future, as we
bring our pre-school group on-site
permanently and new housing is
built in the local area. With four new
classrooms, new staff rooms and
offices, and an area for the pre-school
group to operate from, we are now
better equipped than ever to deliver
high-quality education to children from
the ages of two to 11.
What about the future?
We are the only school in Disley. The
nearest school in our local authority
is over three miles away and just isn’t
accessible for parents. As a result, we
are often oversubscribed. In 2017, we
had 54 applications for 40 places, and
the LA is not looking to increase our
admission number; they have to meet
the needs of other local schools.
A restriction on admissions with a
tightening budget will be one of the
biggest challenges we will face in the
years ahead.
We are presently in early-stage
consultations about joining a multi-
academy trust. Although successful as
a stand-alone community school, we
have some excellent, committed and
talented staff.
Budgets for schools are tight – but
opportunities could be better for our
school as part of an MAT. Staff would
potentially have more opportunities
for professional development and
collaborative working, and children
would benefit from this, as well as
being part of a bigger, supportive
community and the possibility of
increasing our admission number.
It might be a challenge, but we
need to look forward to ensure the
appropriate development opportunities
are there for our children and our staff.
Reaching the “outstanding”
This remains our ultimate goal. It
would, I hope, tie in with our vision
of the school being part of an MAT.
I’m aware that I’m coming towards
the end of my career, and when I do
eventually retire, I want to look back
knowing that I’ve done the best I can
for Disley and our community and
have set us on the right course for
I think it’s of the utmost importance
that we set about preparing not just
the children, but everyone involved
with the school, for their future as part
of a national and global community.
It’s a big world out there.
I want to look
back knowing
that I’ve done
the best I can
for Disley and
and have set
us on the right
course for the
Dr Spencer Kagan is a world-renowned author and a keynote speaker
in the field of education and psychology. He was a full-time professor
of psychology and education at the University of California, Berkeley.
His educational structures focus on co-operative learning and
engagement with students.
School parliament,


This article was sponsored by Disley 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