Fens Primary School

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


Head teacher Mr Cornforth with
reception pupils in the early
years outdoor learning space
Helping at the charity
cake sale
Children’s learning, in all its forms, sits at the heart of the
culture of Fens Primary School, located in Hartlepool, and
nurturing a love of learning is what head teacher Peter
Cornforth believes will help to make Fens a successful school for
many years to come.
Fens is dedicated to the pursuit of high standards in all aspects of school life, be it
academic, creative, interpersonal skills or citizenship-related. Our aim is to ensure
that every child has access to high-quality teaching and learning experiences
delivered by committed staff who know their children’s strengths and talents,
ensuring that each of them leaves Fens fully prepared for the next stage of their
learning journey.
The school is held in high esteem by the local community – visitors talk of the
happy and vibrant atmosphere, with classrooms that “fizz and buzz” with the
joy of learning. We have high expectations of behaviour and have created a safe,
secure environment in which children, staff, parents and governors can exist free
from all forms of fear. Tolerance, understanding, mutual support and compassion
are the kind of qualities we hold dear.
Growing our own experts
We are lucky to have a passionate, committed and confident teaching team, who
drive themselves to be the best they can be for the children in their care. They
know their children well, are ambitious for what they want them to achieve and
knowledgeable about how to get them there. The school, in turn, is absolutely
committed to the continual development of its staff, and, as a result, we have
»Head teacher: Peter Cornforth
»Founded in 1965
»Based in Hartlepool, County
»Type of school: Community
primary school
»No. of staff: 58
»No. of pupils: 464 (including
»Accreditations: PE School
Games Gold Mark, Artsmark
Award, Science Silver Mark
Fens Primary School
Highlighting best practice
created a culture of “growing our
own” experts. Some of our teachers
began their time at Fens on student
placements and have gone on to
become high-quality classroom
practitioners, and many of our teaching
assistants have gone on to further
their careers by training to become
teachers. Nor is it uncommon to come
across middle leaders who are teachers
that started their careers at Fens and
have benefited from our strong and
proactive focus on staff development.
A high proportion of staff meeting
time is used for internally organised,
school-specific training which focuses
on development needs identified
through the school evaluation process.
This evaluation process, in turn,
draws heavily on the different areas
of expertise developed by our staff
members. Many of our most successful
curricular innovations have begun
with internally organised and delivered
training events, followed by a thorough
process of embedding the new
methods – which is key to the success
of any new initiative. We also send
staff out to carefully chosen external
courses and participate wholeheartedly
in town-wide training events aimed at
locally identified areas for development.
our members of staff
are included in the process of ongoing
professional development.
Our coaching system also plays
a significant part in driving staff
development. Not to be thought of as
either training or mentoring, coaching
is a highly positive, supportive process
which allows a coachee to reflect
deeply on practice through careful,
sympathetic questioning from the
coach, who must be a skilled listener.
This process allows a professional to
think in detail about every aspect of
their practice, and thus tweak further
improvements or further enrich what
they do already.
An enriched, inspiring
Teachers at Fens aim to make their
lessons rich, inspiring experiences
across the entire curriculum, and we
have endeavoured to design and build
learning spaces in the school which
support this objective and expand the
range of possibilities for delivering the
curriculum imaginatively.
Our Digital Learning Suite is a
particularly special space. It is big
enough for two classes from a full
year group to work in and consists of
a large room with four white walls,
a white floor – in effect a blank
canvas – and a range of projectors
and speakers. Teachers can thus
create an environment to suit their
subject theme, meaning children can
spend their learning time immersed
in blitzed London, a South American
rainforest, a desert island – whatever
the lesson requires. Not only does such
an environment engage everyone’s
complete attention, but it is also a
wonderful way of filling a child’s head
with a myriad of imaginative thoughts
and ideas. The enhanced vocabulary
used by the children – which it inspires
– clearly demonstrates the immense
value of such a resource.
A recently completed project of which
we are very proud is the Outdoor
Learning Area for our reception classes.
Children attending a
careers carousel during
our Aspire to Be” half
Teachers at
Fens aim to
make their
lessons rich,
across the
and we have
to design and
build learning
spaces in the
school which
support this
This development took a great deal of
planning and research to determine
exactly what we wanted, and our visits
to many other schools served both to
help us formulate our design vision
and to recognise elements we did
want. The result is a superb learning
space which is already improving the
quality of curriculum and experiences
delivered to our reception children.
Also popular are our regular
themed weeks, which are not only
enjoyed and valued by the children,
parents, staff and governors, but
are themselves excellent devices for
bettering and enriching our delivery
of the curriculum. During this time,
individual subjects such as science, PE,
reading and writing, or subject groups
such as the arts, are given special
focus. This allows staff to thoroughly
immerse the children in certain areas
of learning, and allows curriculum
leaders to plan and lead week-long
events that showcase their subjects.
While these are weeks that enthuse
and enthral the children, there is also a
huge degree of parental engagement,
signalled among other things by the
persistently long queues for our after-
school final celebration, which takes
place at the end of the week. The
children gain great enjoyment and
pride from showing their parents the
activities they’ve undertaken and the
work they’ve completed, explaining
what they have learnt with great
A themed week we had been
conceptualising for some time in
preparation for this academic year
was an “aspirations” week. This was
a week in which children were given
access to a range of people – including
former pupils – who brought with
them many different experiences of
the world of work. This served to give
the children knowledge and awareness
of the many possibilities for future
employment that are available to
them, so that their ambitions are not
limited by their immediate spheres of
life experience and what they see on
the television. Subsequent planning
revealed that a single week would be
far too short for such an undertaking
to be effective, so our “week” became
a full half-term, during which we
believe we were successful in planting
seeds that will make a difference to
our children’s futures.
The children
gain great
enjoyment and
pride from
showing their
parents the
activities they’ve
undertaken and
the work
explaining what
they have learnt
with great
Milk time for nursery
Year 6 forensic detective scientists
investigate the scene of a crime


This article was sponsored by Fens 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