East Park Academy

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by East Park Academy'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 East Park Academy 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


Hayley Guest, head teacher
Growing hearts
and minds
Established as a primary school in 2007, East Park Academy
is a school situated in the Wolverhampton area. Comprising
almost 700 students and just over 100 staff, the school
recently became part of a multi-academy trust with Manor
Primary, a model which its head teacher, Hayley Guest,
champions. By becoming part of a MAT with local schools and
strongly encouraging the professional development of its staff,
East Park Academy has gone from being in “special measures”
to “good”. What follows is Hayley Guest’s account of this
An ethos of evolution
My time in the school began two years ago with a very difficult situation. The school
was rated by Ofsted as in need of “special measures”, and justifiably so. Although
having taught at other “special measures” schools in the past, the behaviour
issues at East Park were the worst I had seen. Staff lacked opportunities, children
were often deeply uneasy about being at school and no one seemed to have a
voice. Change was needed – and quickly. To bring this about, I decided that the
fundamental change most needed was that of the general culture and ethos ofthe
An important element in our journey was the betterment of our teachers’ skills.
Being part of Manor MAT helped greatly in this respect, because the trust of which
we became part contained an “outstanding” school, Manor Primary School – from
whom we could learn a lot. Lessons drawn from working with this school were
»Head teacher: Hayley Guest
»Founded in 2007
»Based in Wolverhampton
»Type of school: Primary school
for 3–11 year olds
»No. of pupils: 698
»No. of staff: 101
»Ofsted: “Good” consistently,
after moving from “special
»Emphasis on professional
development; had a big
impact on the improvement of
the school.
East Park Academy
Highlighting best practice
especially valuable because they also
contained pupils from Wolverhampton
– that is, pupils who share many of
the same contextual issues as ours.
This, incidentally, is one of the reasons
why I believe MATs with local schools
are more efficient. In addition to our
internal school improvement, we also
had staff from Manor shadowing,
coaching and otherwise assisting
our teachers, with a view to offering
advice on best practice. It’s difficult
to overstate how big an impact this
had on the quality of teaching at
I wanted to make sure all stakeholders
had a voice and a feeling that they
were valued and meaningful part
of the journey we were about to
embarkon. In practice, this meant
affording our teachers the best
possible opportunities to develop
professionally. The first step, however,
is to listen. Upon doing this, it was
immediately clear during this academic
year that one of the biggest problems
our teachers faced was their workload,
something also made clear during
my attendance at a Department of
Education seminar in Manchester.
Tospeak generally, in addition to the
normal week of 30-odd hours, our
teachers were spending 18 hours
marking and up to a further 15 hours
for planning and preparation. Solving
this issue would mean that teachers
would be invigorated and happier,
which would have a knock-on effect
for children’slearning.
The solution was to turn marking
and feedback into a more interactive
feature of our school life, and not
simply a faceless task delegated to
teachers’ evenings. By adopting this
approach, marking and feedback
was now done in real time during
the class session, which brought
with it two important benefits. One
was that teachers’ workloads were
significantly alleviated, and the
other was that children were vastly
more enthused to perform better in
class. One should not be too quick
to assume a causal connection, but
the fact that attainment rose in
tandem with this measure makes it
reasonable to assume this measure
was enormouslybeneficial.
Manor MAT children
and the children’s
author, Jeremy Strong
pastoral and
family support
Socio-economic difficulties
Still, one of the major problems with
our situation was, and continues to be,
the social and economic deprivation of
Wolverhampton. Many of our children
come from backgrounds that are not
conducive to learning and flourishing.
One of our main jobs, therefore,
is to blur as much as possible the
boundary between school and home
life. More concretely, this entailed the
development of stronger pastoral and
family support teams. Naturally, this
involves assisting with family issues,
as well as sometimes more arcane
issues like financial problems. Many
families in our community, for instance,
are recipients of universal credit –
recent changes to which have caused
disruption and confusion for some.
Because this can have a considerable
effect on children, it is incumbent upon
us – with the help of charities and
credit unions – to help remedy these
We also ensure that our students
are properly fed by providing them,
when they need it, with a substantial
breakfast. Ultimately, we want our
children to know that we love and
care for them. This has had incredibly
positive results. Many children, who’d
hitherto been afraid of school, now
mourn the approach of holidays or
half-term because it means that they
will be away from school.
Keeping things local
In describing this journey, one of
the major points to emphasize is the
role played in this by the local MAT
system, for us Manor MAT. Many
MATs comprise of schools far apart
from one another; indeed, I myself
have taught and led at them. These, I
feel, are inefficient and lack soul. Being
closely affiliated with local schools who
are – due to their proximity – facing
many of the same issues we are means
collaboration has taken place much
more effectively than would otherwise
have been the case. And it is this close
collaboration, in parallel with our
teacher development, that has been at
the heart of our vast improvement. The
point I’d like to make to policymakers
is this: encourage by all political means
the formation of MATs between
We will be progressing further in
the direction of a local MAT system
with Manor MAT, with a view to
incorporating another two local
schools who need support – something
we know that we can now contribute
to. Whereas before complacency
prevailed, our school now looks at
our children and sees an enormous,
glistening sea of potential. It is on this
exciting path that we will continue,
growing hearts and minds.
in parallel with
our teacher
that has been
at the heart of
our vast
Children were vastly more enthused
to perform better in class
We want our children to
know that we love and
care for them


This article was sponsored by East Park Academy. 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