Garfield Primary School

Highlighting best practice as a representative in The Parliamentary Review

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 Garfield Primary School is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Karen Khwaja, head teacher
Our unique new school
Karen Khwaja, head teacher of Garfield Primary School,
was asked in 2012 how she felt about building a new
school next to the current site. Karen supported the idea
and that decision has led to the amazing but challenging task of
planning the new “dream” school. It would be the catalyst to
create a new and exciting vision and values for the school and
to radically transform and enrich the curriculum. Karen sets out
how her vision of a new model school came into being.
Planning a new school
I was fortunate to work alongside a strong and committed leadership team and a
skilled governing body who were relentless in their ambition. We wanted the very
best for our pupils and the local community. Our local authority, Enfield, allowed us
to get fully involved in the facilities and environment we wanted to create.
The old Garfield was cramped, full of clutter, had only one hall and with no
additional rooms, support staff often worked with groups in the corridors, which
was hardly ideal. We had the opportunity to think very strategically about what we
wanted the new Garfield to be like. We went into meticulous detail with regards to
what the outside of the school should look like. It was important to us that it was
an impressive, unique building that stood out from other schools.
We planned each room, its location, function and potential for impacting
on the education and welfare of our school team. We created a long set of
“non-negotiables” and brokered them relentlessly. Building works started in July
2014 and we moved into the new school in June2016.
»Head teacher: Karen Khwaja
»Founded in 1883
»New school opened in June
»Based in Enfield
»Type of school: Local authority
primary school
»No. of pupils: 425 on roll
»No. of staff: 71
»EAL: 62 per cent – 48 different
languages spoken
»Free school meals: 24 per cent
»SEN: 9.69 per cent
»Ofsted: “Good”
»School motto: “Today’s
Children, Tomorrow’s Future”
Garfield Primary
Highlighting best practice
The new Garfield – the
environment matters
We now have a school that matches
our aspirations. The site has an
inspirational school library, a modern
and professional ICT suite, special
facilities for children with emotional
and social needs and additional group
rooms for our pupils to learn in.
These specialist rooms enabled us to
translate our vision of an inclusive and
broad curriculum into a daily reality.
Our levels of inclusion and our pupils’
reading habits have grown through
this provision and general standards
are rising year on year.
Our new large hall allows whole-school
assemblies and parents can attend
regularly and always be included. It
also divides into three smaller halls
meaning that timetabling is more
efficient. Our vision for the classrooms
was to ensure they were of a
consistently high standard for all pupils
while still giving teachers autonomy.
No clutter, a place for everything and
not too many displays. Our pupils
like the uniformity of the classrooms
and it has helped with transition.
The new school grounds, although
still developing, foster a real love for
sports, play and fun.
What we stand for
Our old mission statement was a
poster, framed in a corridor and few
would have been able to tell you
what it said. It was time for a radical
overhaul. After several staff meetings,
we decided our vision and values
should be an acrostic of “Garfield”.
We debated each key word and
sentence until we were sure it captured
all we strived for and believed in.
We took things further forward
by ensuring they were explicitly
understood by all our community.
Each of our values are now displayed
throughout the school through large
illustrations on walls.
We introduced postcards of each
value and these are now posted home
to pupils once we have seen them
demonstrate them. Pupils develop their
understanding of these values through
weekly assemblies, which focus on
one of the eight values. Our values
and the accompanying explanations
have created a very powerful script
and language which is used by staff
Pupils love to read in our
new library
Our official opening –
July 2016
We had a long
list of non-
Garfield College and our
We believe in a broad and rich
curriculum for all. In 2017, we
launched our Garfield College for
pupils at KS2 (juniors). A wide range
of six-week courses were available on
a rolling programme including: ballet,
mindfulness, origami, art history, glass
painting, carpentry, drama, Albanian
and basketball. The rationale was that
all our staff have talents to share and
our pupils deserve to explore new
subjects and learn more about what
they like and are good at.
Pupils chose their options and learn
together in mixed age groups. Course
tutors were all sourced in-house and
included teachers, office and site
team, lunch staff and senior team.
Pupil enjoyment and enrichment is
high as is the quality of learning, and
our pupils have developed as resilient
and curious learners, always keen to
try new things. It has also helped raise
pupils’ aspirations to attend college
We have also significantly increased
the number of school trips over each
year by effective forward planning,
researching new museums and
opportunities and being fortunate to
be located in London. Visiting theatre
groups, themed days and weeks and
a timetable of guest speakers giving
career talks, have also added breadth
to our offer.
Capturing progress –
As an inclusive school, we know that
many of our pupils make progress
not best demonstrated from books
or a test result. Our new e-portfolio
captures each pupil’s learning six times
a year during years 1–6. As well as
uploading work samples that can be
compared, pupils are filmed reciting
a learnt poem and talk about their
learning and achievements of each
passing year. The filming process has
improved their presenting skills and
confidence. It has also given them an
opportunity to record their memories
and opinions, which, as they are
given a copy on leaving year 6, can
be kept and treasured, long into their
We are proud of our
new values

This article was sponsored by Garfield Primary School. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.