Etone College

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Etone College'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 Etone College 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

Ian Smith, head teacher
High standards underpin
all that we do
Based in Nuneaton, Etone College is a secondary school in
the Matrix Academy Trust for pupils aged 11-19. What
makes this school unique is the speed with which it has
progressed. They have recently attained a “good” rating by
Ofsted, which is just one of the bodies that have recognised
their excellence – a significant achievement given that, in very
recent memory, the school was placed in “special measures”
(2013). Just three years later, this same school received national
recognition for progress, placing them in the top 14 per cent of
schools nationally – a remarkable feat for such a short space of
time. Never has there been a better time for pupils to join Etone
College on its journey of progression, something that Ian Smith,
head teacher, who joined the school at Easter 2015, describes
in greater detail below.
Knowing strengths
Rapid progression requires a school to take a fresh approach – one that is incisively
informed by a thorough sense of what it already does well and how it needs
to improve. At Etone College, we’ve always prided ourselves on our traditional
values of good manners, courtesy and respect with a “no excuses” culture. Pupils
constantly reflect on their choices, how much their choices were in their control
and how they might have chosen differently. This is accompanied by a keen sense
of responsibility and numerous opportunities for pupils to participate and take
ownership of their own learning. Our strong pastoral system has undoubtedly
»Head teacher: Ian Smith
»Based in Etone, Nuneaton,
»Type of school: Secondary
comprehensive with a sixth
»No. of pupils: 750
»No. of staff: 80
»Ofsted: Quickly progressed
from “special measures” to
»In the top ten highest
performing academies
Etone College
Highlighting best practice
underpinned our success, and while
it doesn’t always yield the same
obviously measurable outcomes as
other measures, it has provided the
foundations on which we have been
able to build.
High-quality pedagogy now pervades
the school, with a strong emphasis
placed on measurable outcomes, set
in a culture where only the best is
good enough. In practice, this means
highly effective teaching and learning,
rigorously planned quality assurance
and the regular and diagnostic use
of pupil data. By measuring and
evaluating our outcomes and through
high-quality professional dialogue
and CPD, we are able to inform our
next stage of planning and facilitate
recursive improvements year on year.
The “devil is in the detail” – looking
closely not only to ensure that the
basics are in place and completed to a
minimum expected standard but that
we are also constantly improving all
aspects of our practice.
Aspirations for and expectations of
our pupils are very high and we work
continually to ensure that pupils share
the same sense of belief in their own
abilities. We look to provide them with
opportunity – wanting to be the means
by which they realise their ambitions
and potential. Rewards, closely aligned
to progress and participation, and the
strong pastoral system, have been
pivotal to this success, as have links to
external providers such as universities,
which all constantly encourage our
pupils to aim high.
Curriculum relevance and clear
progression pathways are also key to
engagement and therefore success.
Our curriculum rationale is simple:
based around clearly transferable
employability skills that allow our
pupils to make progress within school
and be equipped for their appropriate
next steps. We celebrate the successes
of our pupils, with regular, high-profile
events now the norm. At the heart of
everything we do is a belief that we
will provide the highest possible level
of education provision while meeting
the specific needs of our community
– a local school to meet the needs of
local people.
Maintaining a close point of contact
with parents, our feeder schools
and the community have also been
central to our improvement, and we
now enjoy a much better reputation
in the local area as a result. We
recognise the crucial role that parents
and carers have had in our success –
playing greater roles in their children’s
progress and achievements. We are
now the first choice of many – moving
from a rapidly falling roll to admission
numbers that have doubled, now
being the highest they have ever been.
A key strength is also positive
contributions from all stakeholders:
“everybody benefits because
everybody contributes”. We’ve
been able to transform learning and
outcomes for our pupils because of the
real team ethos running through our
school – teaching and non-teaching
staff alike – whose common purpose is
to improve experiences and outcomes
for pupils. Our staff work hard to
Willmott Dixon site visit
Paris trip, 2018
We’ve been able
to transform
learning and
outcomes for
our pupils
because of the
real team ethos
running through
our school
secure improvement for pupils and
we, in return, work hard to secure
improvements for staff.
One aspect of this is CPD with a
recognition that staff at different stages
of their career have different needs.
These efforts ensure that our teachers
have the necessary skills to improve
learning. Ultimately, we want our staff
to have the opportunities to grow and
improve. Part and parcel of this process
is the chance for us to recognise strong
practitioners and elevate them in terms
of leadership. This fits with our school
strapline of “progress for all” – a
statement to which we have a very real
and genuine commitment.
Although we’ve undergone enormous
improvement, there are still challenges.
Curriculum change is often rapid, often
providing insufficient time for schools
to adapt. Teacher recruitment is also
difficult, particularly in certain subjects,
and while we have successfully
engaged with Evolve Teaching School
SCITT programmes to “grow our own”,
we are acutely aware of the uncertainty
that surrounds teacher recruitment
both now and in the future.
The future
We see collaboration as key to our
future success, and are proud to be
part of the Matrix Academy Trust.
As such, we have been afforded
opportunities to share and learn best
practice. We enjoy the status of being
part of the seventh highest performing
academy chain in the country.
Collaboration is an area we’d like to
grow, not least by establishing links
within Nuneaton – only good things
can come from partnerships with other
schools. We’ve already worked hard to
re-establish curriculum links with our
primary feeder schools, and developing
further links with other schools would
be particularly helpful, particularly
as we would all be familiar with
challenges specific to our region.
Looking to the future, we want to
continue our successful journey.
Complacency does not exist at
Etone. At the risk of tempting fate,
we constantly strive to be an Ofsted
“outstanding” school. Until then,
we plan to expand our work with
other schools, utilise the forthcoming
new build and further increase our
numbers while never losing our focus
on traditional values and progress. We
want to be known as a leading school
in our area that meets the needs of the
pupils, the parents and the broader
community. More than that though,
we want to be the school where there
is truly “progress for all”.
We enjoy the
status of
being in the
top ten for the
Students participating in
the Duke of Edinburgh
Award scheme
Year 11 prom, class of

This article was sponsored by Etone College. 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