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 Eagley Infant School is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.
Eagley Infant School
Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett, MP
Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles, MP
1EAGLEY INFANT SCHOOL |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE
Happy children make the best
Year 1 children with Jo Field
and Tracy Lawton
Based in the north of Bolton, Eagley Infant School has
undergone many changes over the last few years.
Headteacher Tracy Lawton says that what won’t change,
however, is the school’s commitment to providing a caring and
nurturing environment where the children develop confidence
and resilience. Tracy offers a fuller insight into how this works in
practice, with particular emphasis on how vital it is to let children
explore the world beyond the boundaries of conventional learning.
Happy children make the best learners – this is one of the starting points of our
school. It’s an ethos that permeates everything we do. It’s also why we refer to
ourselves as the “Eagley family”. These are not just words we say; we take this
sentiment seriously and put it into action, even before the children start school. We
love them as though they were our own.
A family environment
It’s not just children who are part of this family; the parents also play a vital role in the
whole picture. For example, we invite parents to view our everyday activities so they
can experience for themselves what their children are doing and learning. Parents
and carers are given opportunities to participate in lessons, join their children for
lunch, take care of the school animals and join in gardening days with their children.
We also have our own after-school club, run by school staff, which offers consistency
for children and reassurance for parents that their children are well looked after.
The result of this is an excellent working relationship with parents and carers,
evident not least through the positive questionnaire feedback that we receive.
EAGLEY INFANT SCHOOL
»Headteacher: Tracy Lawton
»Founded in 1975
»Located in Bromley Cross,
»Type of school: Stand-alone
»No. of pupils: 223
»7 teachers, 9 teaching
assistants and 12 playleaders
Eagley Infant School
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
2| EAGLEY INFANT SCHOOL
Integral to our success is teamwork. I
work closely with Jo Field, the deputy
headteacher, and we encourage
this type of working relationship
throughout the school. We also
encourage staff to embrace risk and
take the initiative. It is our belief that if
we expect the children to do this, then
so should we.
Creativity and thinking
outside the box
Outdoor learning is an integral part
of our new curriculum. With very little
funding but lots of hard work from our
school community, our school grounds
have been developed to a high
standard, which has been recognised
by the RHS. Children access regular
forest school sessions, and our animals
– which include a pony, sheep, ducks,
chickens, rabbits, fish and a giant snail
– are frequently used as a resource to
bring lessons to life.
Our latest initiative is to provide our
families with a “farm shop”, run by
our Key Stage 1 children, that sells
our home-grown produce and pet
produce. This enterprise permeates all
areas of the curriculum, as the pupils
are required to manage a budget,
stock the shop, advertise their produce
and sell to the community. There are
opportunities for everyone in our
school community to participate,
whether that is through working in the
shop, gardening or animal husbandry.
Each year group is responsible for an
allotment and plays a key role in caring
for one of our animals. All members of
the community are encouraged to be
involved, and the “Get Your Grown-
up Gardening” days are extremely
popular. The school community also
came together to build an award-
winning school garden at RHS Tatton
Flower Show, which received the
accolade of “Best in Show”.
We have found that the outdoor
environment is a valuable resource to
support us in nurturing our children.
A chat with the ducks, grooming the
pony or exploring the fairy glen are
extremely therapeutic activities that
help our pupils.
The children play a key
role in caring for our
All members of
and the “Get
3EAGLEY INFANT SCHOOL |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE
Giving our children the opportunity
to explore their environment has
equipped them with the self-belief and
resilience to tackle learning confidently.
This has had positive outcomes
when it comes to their attainment in
maths, reading and writing. Over 95
per cent of year 1 pupils consistently
pass the phonics screening test, and
our end-of-Key-Stage-1 results are
consistently well above local and
The importance of exploration
We’re delighted to see that Ofsted’s
new framework has acknowledged
that learning goes beyond reading,
writing and maths. A broad and
balanced curriculum that underpins
the ethos of the school, has clear aims
and is fully understood by all allows
all pupils to access learning at their
starting point and make progress.
There is an opportunity for senior
and subject leaders to be creative and
to apply their knowledge, expertise
and skill in order to provide their
pupils with an innovative, explorative
curriculum which sets no limitations on
a child’s achievements.
Children have an enormous capacity
for creativity, and the more you can
feed this curiosity through encouraging
them to interact with the real world,
the more they can apply actual
understanding in practice. When you
see the children interact with their
surroundings in this way, you can
actually see their learning in action and
the extent of their progress.
A bright and hopeful future
As we approach the future, we find
ourselves with no shortage of hope
and positivity. We’re glad, for instance,
that Ofsted has moved more in the
direction that we have long been in
favour of. It gives us confidence that
we are pursuing the correct path. Our
vision is shared by all in the school and
the community, which means we can
move forward together.
Our success is a product of much
consideration of what will benefit
children the most. In short, children are
at the heart of everything we do here
at Eagley Infant School. In so far as we
remain true to this belief, there is every
reason to expect that the school’s best
days are yet to come.
them with the
Springtime at one of our
Rehearsing for the violin
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.