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 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