Frogmore Junior School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Frogmore Junior 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 Frogmore Junior 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

Headteacher Carl McCarthy
A “can do” approach
where everyone can
Frogmore Junior School have achieved a rapid turnaround.
After being put into special measures, they have since become
an academy and have continuously improved, with their most
recent Ofsted report commending the attitude of their pupils as
outstanding. They have changed their curriculum to promote a
rounded learning experience and have emphasised the importance
of sport and pupil inclusion in decision-making. Headteacher
Carl McCarthy explains how they achieved their remarkable
turnaround and how they plan to continue that progress.
I came to the school as an advisor in 2017 while working with the University of
Chichester Academy Trust. I had been a headteacher twice before, but what
struck me when I arrived was the sense of teamwork and togetherness that the
staff, trust and governors showed. Located in a disadvantaged area, the school
had undergone a rapid transformation from being put into special measures to
becoming an academy in 2013. I was aware that the school needed extra guidance
to move it forward, so when the headship became available in September 2017,
I knew I could make a significant difference. Using the insight I had gained from
being an advisor, we have been able to continue this progress and have seen 18
months of rapid improvement.
The strength of the team was foundational to this progress. We also identified that
the children needed a distinct set of values, which would be at the centre of their
learning experience. We endeavour to always put the children first and actively
give them a role to play in decision-making processes. Real prominence is given to
involving the pupils through the school council and the digital leaders and sports
»Headteacher: Carl McCarthy
»Founded in 1969
»Based in Blackwater
»Type: Junior school
»No. of staff: 27
»No. of students: 187
»Ofsted: “Good”
Frogmore Junior
Highlighting best practice
leaders programmes. When schools
are struggling, direct instruction is
clearly needed, but in terms of school
improvement, this only goes so far.
Involving pupils and staff, and working
collaboratively, can help to achieve far
greater results.
Adapting the curriculum to
improve results
We reinvigorated the curriculum
and tried to infuse it with strong,
memorable experiences. The
importance of sport was significantly
increased, and we changed the
curriculum to make it more rounded.
We used Shakespeare and classic
texts to bring learning to life. Books
were at the centre of what we tried
to do. We feel that, at the end of
their junior study, pupils should have
access to and feel confident about
the key themes and ideas in these
seminal texts. We have also developed
relationships with external partners,
such as St George’s School in Ascot,
and try to incorporate inspirational
extracurricular events: we have invited
renowned authors to the school; we
have hosted Olympic athletes, who
gave our pupils coaching sessions;
and we have worked with Chelsea
FC Foundation to supplement our
curriculum with experiences that
add significant value like the “Girl
Powered” Vex Robotics challenge.
Key to improving results is instilling
aspiration in our children. Both
staff and pupils need to feel that
they are being listened to. We have
created a culture that promotes
achievement, values individuals and
A deliberate strategy has been to
ensure that teachers spend as much
time as possible in the classroom.
When I arrived, some teachers would
often be involved in activities that
took them out of the classroom and
disrupted the pupils’ routines. Inspired
by a visit to Singapore, we ensured
that each class teacher would be
teaching every day. This allows pupils
to know who will be teaching them
each morning and decreases the
probability of challenging behaviour.
Repeated changes to routine, teaching
staff and teaching schedules can be a
trigger for disruption. I am convinced
that consistency significantly improves
how pupils learn and provides a
sense of stability. We engage our
staff in carefully planned continuing
professional development programmes
and are very thoughtful in planning
Primary education is
complex, but, in many
ways, what we are
trying to do is very
We have
created a
culture that
and celebrates
and preparing for any time that
teachers have away from their classes.
Empowering teachers and
promoting positivity
I have high expectations for my staff,
but I believe that they are more than
capable of exceeding them. Ultimately,
it is essential to empower teachers
to be the best they can be. We have
created an atmosphere in which every
employee adds tangible value to the
school; as headteacher, I am trying to
engender meaning for the whole team
and awareness of what they provide.
Many schools around the country have
inherited a deficit model that focuses
on what teachers and pupils can’t do
and the things that must be changed.
We have taken the opposite approach,
promoting positivity, building on
potential, using best practice and
creating high morale among our team.
One of the biggest challenges we
face is budget constraints. To adapt
to this, we have adopted a “less
is more” approach. Rather than
focusing on advanced technology or
expensive solutions, we have tried
to keep everything very simple and
focused on learning. We want our
pupils to value books, develop their
imaginations and be involved in active
learning that helps to create strong,
memorable experiences, rather than
relying on learning via a screen, as, in
my opinion, this can be distracting and
unhelpful. We still teach computing,
coding and even robotics, but we
prefer to keep the teaching experience
itself simpler. This has led to growing
efficiency in our expenditure, and we
have been able to invest resources into
the wider curriculum experiences that
we provide. Budget constraints can
force schools into difficult decisions
and prevent them from becoming
the sanctuaries for learning that they
should be.
Staff morale is really high, and
we have been able to recruit and
retain staff very well. Our teachers
feel positive about their profession,
and this has helped to increase
pupil numbers. Our progress is best
encapsulated by the fact that many
of our students from disadvantaged
backgrounds are significantly
outperforming their more-advantaged
peers. The support of the University
of Chichester and a great board of
governors has been invaluable in
helping us to achieve this.
Looking ahead, we want to continue
to improve, perfecting the curriculum
as far as possible while making
minor tweaks to ensure that we are
performing at the highest possible
level. For this stage, we are trying
to ensure that our teachers feel that
they are experts in their field. Primary
education is complex, but, in many
ways, what we are trying to do is very
simple. We will continue to do what
has proved to be so successful: placing
values, sport and the curriculum at
the heart of the school experience
and ensuring that all of our pupils are
prepared for, and looking forward to,
secondary school.
We want our
pupils to value
develop their
and be
involved in
active learning
that helps to
create strong,
Celebrating learning by
promoting positivity,
building on potential
and using best practice

This article was sponsored by Frogmore Junior 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 The Rt Hon Professor The Lord Blunkett.

The Rt Hon Professor The Lord Blunkett's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Professor The Lord Blunkett

A new Prime Minister, a new Education Secretary and, as we're all painfully aware, a deeply uncertain future. It is in this context that the education service continues to deliver for individuals, communities and of course for our nation. 
There is no doubt whatsoever that the education service as a whole, schools, post 16/Further Education, and yes, lifelong learning, needs the most enormous injection of cash. Independent analysis shows that there has been at least an 8% average reduction in the amount of spend per pupil in our schools. Those damaged most by this have been pupils with special educational needs, whose voices are sadly rarely heard. The necessity of urgent action was underlined in July by the report of the all-party House of Commons Select Committee on Education. They could not have been clearer about the need for substantial funding and a long-term 10-year commitment. 
At the same time, there are a number of reviews taking place. One of them, in relation to post-16 qualifications, is in danger of a classic mistake by politicians and officials who have little or no understanding of the complex territory they're dealing with. Namely, the ridiculous proposition that BTEC National Diplomas might be set aside because 'T Levels are the gold standard'! 
I'm in favour of T Levels, but in the right context and for the right outcome. They are intended to be extremely focused specialist qualifications in defined areas of employment. When and if they eventually take off – there is predicted to be just a thousand students in 2021-22 taking up the qualification – they will not replace the BTEC, which has been the workhorse providing a general and high-quality education for decades. The BTEC has equipped young people for a variety of opportunities in a very changing employment market where the development of artificial intelligence, robotics, and changed working practices makes confining the choice of vocational pathways to one narrow focus, frankly ridiculous. 
Meanwhile, her Majesty's Opposition continue to throw out titbits which do not give, as yet, a very clear idea of what, if elected, Labour would do in office. What is needed is positive proposals. Abolishing this, that or the other – assessments/tests for those leaving primary school, for instance – is not the same thing as a very forward-looking agenda for radical improvement in standards and equity between those who can and cannot afford additional help for their children.  
There are a handful of Labour Party members, supported by some people who ought to know better, who have decided that a full-frontal assault on private education would be a good idea. For those worried about this, stop worrying. A party that put this in its manifesto wouldn't get elected, and if by some fluke it did, it would be challenged in the courts to the point where all the contradictions would be exposed for everyone to see. 
Just contemplate one simple fact. 20% of secondary schoolchildren in the borough of Hackney attend private schools! Yes, Hackney. This is because a large number of parents, some of whom scrape the money together, are sending their children to private education in London which happens to be the area of England with the best academic outcomes from state education. What's more, very large numbers (again, particularly in London) pay for private tutors. At the last estimate 40% of parents in London had at some point over the last year paid for a tutor for their child!  
Perhaps therefore an opposition party, hoping to provide unity rather than division, opportunity for all rather than a futile class battle against educational privilege, would seek ways of ensuring that those who can't afford tutors have the kind of support outside school that would put them on equal terms. 
One thing is very certain, no government would be able to stop parents buying additional tutoring for their children.
So, a practical agenda for equalising opportunity, for investing where it's needed most, for transforming the pipeline from school through college, apprenticeships, or university, is a goal worth fighting for. A positive way of linking business and education through political decision-making, with the delivery by excellent professionals in the education service, to the children of today and the economy of tomorrow. Surely that is a much more progressive and less negative way forward for both government and opposition. 
The Rt Hon Professor The Lord Blunkett