Eaton Valley Primary School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Eaton Valley 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 Eaton Valley 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

Sue Ramsay, head teacher, with
the school motto “Pride in all we
do”, which was created by the
school council
We expect all our children to achieve,
regardless of their background, and they
work hard to always do their best
Eaton Valley Primary School is a multicultural school,
reflecting the diversity of West Bromwich and the
surrounding areas. In recent years, the school has overseen
a marked increase in the number of students meeting the
national standard for literacy and reading, emblematic of head
teacher Sue Ramsay’s tenacious approach to imbedding the
literacy curriculum and dedication to the betterment of her
students and the local community.
The school has a wide mix of students from varying backgrounds, countries and
regions, including a predominant southern Asian and eastern European cohort; 48
per cent of the school’s intake have English as an additional language and 68 per
cent of the students come from ethnic minority backgrounds. The school’s motto,
“Pride in all we do”, is reflected in the actions of the leadership of the school,
having overcome the adversity of being labelled as a “special measures” school to
achieve the Ofsted rating of “good” in 2012 and again in 2017.
Taking on the headship at the beginning of September 2010, after having been
diagnosed with breast cancer in May, was both a personal and professional battle.
This was my first headship and, if I had known at the time that I had a serious
illness, I certainly wouldn’t have dreamt of applying. Eaton Valley was a newly
opened development on the edge of the green belt and its original cohort of
children was complex: taken from the highly deprived area of West Bromwich,
Sandwell. The previous building had been in disrepair and had barely enough
children left to fill a one-form-entry school.
»Head teacher: Sue Ramsay
»Year founded: 2009
»Location: West Bromwich,
Sandwell, West Midlands
»Type of school: Local authority
primary school
»No. of pupils: 467
»Age range of pupils: 3-11 years
including a 65-place nursery
(this includes the 30 hours’
provision for those who qualify)
»Pupil premium: 23 per cent
»EAL: 48 per cent
»SEND: 13 per cent
»Pupils from an ethnic minority
background: 68 per cent
Eaton Valley Primary
Highlighting best practice
The new building was built for two
forms of entry, meaning that we
could comfortably accommodate
a greater number of students and
had the resources to cope with a
My mind was certainly kept busy.
I had little time to concentrate on
my chemotherapyandradiotherapy
procedures. In May 2011, the school
went through an Ofsted inspection,
which resulted in us being placed in
“special measures”. In short, pupils
were not motivated to learn, teachers
had received very little in the way of
professional development, their skills
were lacking and the ethos didn’t
prioritise placing the children first as
the school’s core focus. This was a fair
judgment at the time and I now had
two battles to fight.
We received two visits from
representatives from the Department
for Education (DfE), seeking to
transform the school from a local-
authority-maintained school to an
academy. Although we met with
a couple of trusts, the staff and
governors felt that this would be
the wrong decision for the school to
make. To move away from the local
authority, who, at the time, were
providing a great deal of support to
the school, seemed to be a frivolous
option. We didn’t feel that changing
the status of the school would be
beneficial to the overall running of
the school and to the pupils. I felt
an allegiance to the LA and still do,
which is why we still retain loyal ties
to them.
We spent four terms working
tirelessly to improve the teaching and
learning within the school. Inevitably,
some staff moved on; we lost one
outstanding teacher who felt that
his job may have been in jeopardy
because of the situation the school
was in. Not many teachers wanted
to work with a school in “special
measures”, which initially made
recruitment more of a challenge.
However, some came for that reason
alone, wanting to make a difference
to the children’s lives. It was at this
point when I realised that for the
school to become successful, I needed
Reading is given high
priority across the school
– including celebrating
World Book Day
We spent four
terms working
tirelessly to
improve the
teaching and
within the
to surround myself with hard-working,
like-minded people, who were highly
competent and motivated.
In July 2012, we were given special
dispensation from Her Majesty’s
Inspectors to appoint newly qualified
teachers and needed three to ensure
the school was fully staffed for
September 2012. In that September,
shortly after the second visit from the
DfE, we were removed from “special
measures” and graded a “good”
school by HMI. The good news didn’t
just stop there; thankfully I was given
a clean bill of health in 2015, after
having struggled with cancer since my
appointment as head teacher – things
were beginning to fall into place.
The school has grown in pupil
numbers with school places in
Sandwell being highly sought after
and it is now full. We have continued
to place the children at the centre
of all that we do. Sometimes being
from a deprived background can
unfortunately mean that pupils begin
their academic lives from low starting
points. Almost half of our children do
not have English as their first language
but we do not allow this to lower our
expectations. Every child is expected
to achieve and we work hard to
overcome any barriers children may
However our reading results at the
end of Key Stage 2 in 2016, under
the new testing arrangements, were
disappointing to say the least (37 per
cent) and so began a focused phase of
teacher training and a heavy focus on
the teaching of reading skills.
We were again inspected in November
2017 and have maintained our “good”
status – under the new framework –
with the inspectors noting how much
further forward the school has come
since 2012 and acknowledging our
improvements in the teaching and
learning of reading: “There is a positive
culture for reading in the school
because staff have made it a high
priority during the last academic year”.
Ofsted Nov 2017
We are not quite at “outstanding” yet
but we are “good” and getting better
all the time.
There is a
positive culture
for reading in
the school
because staff
have made it a
high priority
during the last
academic year
Ofsted Nov 2017
The Queen’s 90th
birthday was celebrated
by our community

This article was sponsored by Eaton Valley 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 Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy