Essex Primary School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Essex 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 Essex 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

Highlighting best practice
RosieCowan, executive head
Bringing the curriculum to life
through learning and laughter
Based in the London borough of Newham, Essex Primary
School is a four-form entryschoolwith a nursery and ASD-
resourced provision. The school welcomes all children,
striving for the best outcomes however long the children
stay with them. A culturally inclusive curriculum ensures each
pupil in this diverse school feels valued, respected and safe.
Executive head teacher, Rosie Cowan, discusses the progress of
the school’s students, and how data-gathering and analysis is
Upon becoming head teacher in 2003, I shared a vision of inclusion and excellence
which, over the years, has enabled the school to focus on improvement. Achieving
numerous awards – such as Inclusion Quality Mark (Gold Flagship Status), Arts
Mark, Games Mark (Gold Status), Sustainable Travel Award, International Award
and the School Achievement Award – helps us maintain our focus and continue
development and progress. As our latest Ofsted report (March 2018) states: “The
culture of the school clearly incorporates ‘challenge for all’ and not only for the
most able.”
Although we’re a larger-than-average primary school, with almost 1,000 children,
our focus is to personalise education to meet individual needs. These needs include
autism, moderate to severe learning difficulties, visual and hearing impairments,
complex needs and high achievers (the winner of the Eton debate 2017 was a
former pupil of ours). According to our Ofsted report of January 2014: “Pupils’
behaviour is outstanding. They treat each other and adults with great respect, are
polite and well mannered.”
»Executive head teacher:
»Founded as a primary school
in 1994 – formerly known as
Essex Junior and Infant School
»Based in Manor Park, Newham
»Type of school: Primary school
»No. of pupils: 979
»Essex pupils were proud to
have been part of the Opening
Ceremony for the 2012
London Olympic Games
Essex Primary School
The school was also rated as “good”.
This judgment was based on attainment
and not on pupil progress, as pupil
progress is consistently more than
expected. The new Ofsted inspection
framework recognises the potential for
Essex Primary School to be judged as
outstanding: “I am of the opinion that
the school has demonstrated strong
practices and marked improvements in
specific areas. This may indicate that
the school has improved significantly
overall. Therefore I am recommending
that the school’s next inspection be a
section 5 inspection.” (Ofsted report,
Essex Primary School is unique. To
understand the challenges of a
competitive and mastery curriculum,
one must understand the children
and the community we serve. Manor
Park is in Newham (five miles east of
the City of London), whose culturally
diverse community is evidenced by the
following data summaries:
»Over 54 languages spoken
»Many pupils enter with limited
English skills
»Local community comprising many
low-income families
»Multi-occupancy housing prevalent
»High mobility (many of our children
move mid-year)
»Higher socio-economic families move
out of Manor Park
»Parents lack confidence to support
children due to low English
Nevertheless, our children’s progress
is remarkable. Tim Coulson (regional
commissioner) wrote to the school in
September 2016: “Everyone is aware
of the higher demands of the tests
than in previous years and it’s very
impressive how well and quickly your
staff have adapted and taught the
children to the required standards.”
Our cohort’s diversity of culture and
religion is a key strength. We celebrate
and nurture each child’s uniqueness
through teaching British values, and
our culturally inclusive curriculum
ensures everyone feels valued,
respected and safe. To this end, we
have an embedded Ethnic Minority
Awareness practice; have a focus on
pastoral care (including a mentoring
scheme and a school counsellor); and
ensure the well-being of everyone.
Despite the size of our cohort, we
take great pride in understanding
each of our children as individuals,
so our exceptional data-gathering
and analysis strategies are key to
ensuring our pupils’ progress. Each
child’s ability is meticulously tracked,
so we can design tailored targets that
are both challenging and attainable.
These contextualised learning plans
are backed by differentiated lesson
objectives, consistent intervention
strategies and after-school and
weekend clubs. According to our latest
IQM Report, “Essex Primary School is
committed to meeting the needs of
its children and is outstanding in its
commitment to, and implementation
of, inclusive practice.” Mother Tongue Music
Project 2018: creativity
and diversity in action
The culture of
the school
‘challenge for
all’ and not
only for the
most able
Ofsted, March 2018
Highlighting best practice
Data analysis also serves to encourage
our educators, for they can see how
their hard work is benefiting the
children in their care far beyond the
grades of the final SATs. The trend
is always upward, with any dips in
our results predicted and re-framed
through our thorough tracking of
contributing factors. We can state with
confidence that almost all pupils with
us from year 2 will reach the expected
level of attainment in their SATs.
Our curriculum
Where possible, we use a cross-
curricular and inclusive approach, as
recognised in our most recent Ofsted
report: “Leaders are continually
looking for ways to enrich pupils’
experiences. You go above and
beyond to make sure that the
school’s curriculum is engaging and
exciting.” Our success is due to the
variety of strategies used to ensure
our chosen themes are addressed
across all subjects, so that our children
benefit from a holistic approach to
learning. Language development
is core, as are real experiences to
enable pupils to develop both the
vocabulary and speech structure to
write meaningfully for appropriate
audiences. Visits include many
museums and public buildings
throughout the UK and Europe, as well
as parks, zoos, farms and seasides.
We’ve developed links with schools
in Hertfordshire and Cambridge to
enhance pupil experience, knowledge
and understanding as well as staff
professional development.
Music project week is a mainstay for
us. With the support of award-winning
musicians such as Cleveland Watkiss
(the creator of award-winning albums)
and Eska Mtungwazi (nominated for
the prestigious Mercury Music Prize
2015), the children devise a celebration
of song, dance and drama around their
theme (e.g. Black History Month or
Refugee Week) to creatively express
what they’ve learnt. The performances
are always joyful and uniting. “It was
uplifting and hope for the future!”
(Former HMI Deavon Baker-Oxley). A
highlight was the masterclass given by
Courtney Pine (pupil voice) in 2013.
I’ve been a head teacher for 20 years.
My journey in education has brought
standards from Cambridge to inner-
city London, in keeping with the
suggestion from David Laws MP in
2015: “Share your achievements with
other schools so that they can learn
from your strengths and experiences.”
Broadly summarised, our ethos is
inclusion and high standards for
everyone. Uniting staff was another
important goal. Indeed, one of the
strengths of Essex is the recruitment
and retention of high-quality staff.
Continued professional development is
tailored to meet the individual member
of staff and offers succession planning
and sustainability for the benefit of all.
Our plans include further partnerships;
more emphasis on the adoption
of digital technology as a teaching
and learning tool; and increased
aspiration for our children in terms
of independent and grammar
school applications as they move to
Leaders are
looking for
ways to enrich
Ofsted, March 2018
Sensory stimulation and
development engage
pupils in their learning

This article was sponsored by Essex 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