Golborne High School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Golborne High 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 Golborne High 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


Highlighting best practice
Alison Gormally, head teacher
Year 7 pupils in awe
during British Values Day
Golborne High School is a foundation school for students
aged 11 to 16 based in Wigan, Greater Manchester. In
the last two years, Golborne has undergone a revolution
aimed at ensuring its processes are built strategically around the
needs of their students while fostering a lifelong joy of learning.
Head teacher Alison Gormally discusses how her vision is being
fulfilled through rigorous strategic planning and externally quality-
assured systems leadership. This has ensured that students leave
the school with high aspirations, which they can realise because of
their exceptional academic results, resilience and independence.
Golborne is a growing school that has progressed significantly since I became head
teacher in January 2016. We are projected to grow from 830 students to 1,025 over
the next four years; a testament to the changes we have implemented. I have always
had an ambitious and transparent vision of how I would go about transforming the
school; the governors and leadership at all levels share a passionate belief in this
vision and are driven to ensure that the necessary changes have been implemented in
order to make Golborne a “great” school to learn in.
Golborne was previously a community school based in an area with low expectations
and aspirations. Our aim was to turn it into a beacon of excellence at the heart of
the local community. We wanted to develop students who dream big, by creating
an imaginative curriculum that challenged, inspired and catered for the needs of all
learners to prepare them for their post-16 pathways. We looked to deliver a large
cultural shift among our students, parents and community. Toomany stakeholders
were prepared to settle for mediocrity, however, we refuse to give our students
»Head teacher: Allison Gormally
»Founded in 1954
»Based in Wigan, Greater
»Type of school: Foundation
school for students aged 11-16
»No. of students: 830
»No. of staff: 101
»We received the Gold Award
from the CEIAG, the Green Flag
Award, the Parent Partnership
Award and the Wigan School
of the Year Award
Golborne High School
anything but an exceptional education
which in turn creates high aspirations.
Data shows that we are on the way
to achieving our goals. Our Progress 8
score has increased from -0.22 to 0.3,
while our admission numbers have
risen and we have become the school
of choice in our local area. Attendance
is above the national average, while
persistent absences are below the
national average. There have been 0
NEETs for the last two years, and we
are above the national average on all
performance measures. Lastly, we have
significantly reduced the attainment gap
between disadvantaged and all other
students across the whole school. In our
2016 Ofsted inspection, we were rated
as “good”, but I am confident that we
are now well on our way to becoming
an “outstanding” school.
Our improvement has been rapid and
sustained for several reasons, some of
which are more complex than others.
At the centre of this progress, though,
is an unwavering moral compass. We
are absolutely committed to ensuring
that every child is at the heart of our
decision-making processes and that
change is not made for the sake of it
or because of some current educational
trend but because it will have a
positive impact on our students in
Education is not just about the
measurable outcomes, although we
never lose sight of this, it is also about
fostering a genuine passion to learn;
an insatiable curiosity and a boundless
imagination. In an educational
climate of increased testing and
more challenging GCSEs, there is a
temptation for schools to create lessons
which are tailored entirely to passing
examinations and which suppress
creativity. We have created a curriculum
and a teaching and learning framework
which envelops the challenge needed
for GCSEs within an immersive and
imaginative setting. Theoutcome
is rapid progress and students who
love learning. This teaching and
learning framework is underpinned by
intelligently formed, outward-facing
partnerships and a commitment from
all staff to underpinning their classroom
practice with evidence-based research.
The school has recently undertaken a
dramatic rebrand to change perceptions
among stakeholders. Our new image
represents lofty expectations and
unlimited aspirations in the setting of
a nurturing family environment. This
image was communicated transparently
to all of our stakeholders; a rebrand
alone will not change the culture of
a school. We had to be open and
transparent about all changes, as I firmly
believed that stakeholders who support
the school needed to understand why
they were being made and feel part of
the collective journey.
We have insisted on creating as many
means of communication with staff,
parents and students as possible. If you
are going to move a school forwards,
it has to be on a journey that excites
and engages stakeholders at all levels.
Parents can respond to my blog, and we
have set up a parent partnership forum
which has empowered our parents to
influence both policy decisions and the
day-to-day operational procedures of
the school. The implementation of new
school uniform is a particular example
of the success of this strategy. The cast of
Ghost the
Education is
not just about
the measurable
although we
never lose sight
of this, it is also
about fostering
a genuine
passion to
learn; an
curiosity and a
Highlighting best practice
To ensure that all students are provided
with the best possible education,
we have developed an innovative
curriculum. We decided that, morally,
we had to deliver a curriculum that
was right for many different cohorts of
learners. As a result, we have developed
a curriculum designed around four
distinct pathways, ensuring that every
student has their own unique tailored
pathway so that they can fully unlock
their potential. We work in partnership
with our post-16 providers to ensure
that our curriculum provides each
student with a bespoke pathway that
allows them to access aspirational
post-16 opportunities in education and
future employment. We want to ensure
that our curriculum equips individual
students with the skills, knowledge and
experience to compete successfully at a
local, national and international level.
Students follow one of four pathways
dependent upon their ability. Each
pathway incorporates traditional
academic subjects alongside vocational
courses, independent study and weekly
work experience. Each element of
the provision is proportional to the
ability of the student and their post-
16 aspirations. Less able students are
advised to study one less option than
other students which is replaced by
weekly work experience, leading directly
to employment.
On the other hand, the most able
students undertake one vocational
qualification, which gives them access
to a different type of learning, while
allowing them to remain engaged
with their academic studies. We are
keen to consider the impact of mental
health issues, anxiety and stress as a
consequence of the new GCSE exam
format. We also provide students with
private study time, which helps prepare
them for A-levels, university and work.
Our morally driven curriculum prepares
children for aspirational and appropriate
post-16 pathways while also nurturing
their love of learning. We achieve this
by risk assessing the impact of the
workload from the GCSE courses on
the mental health and wellbeing of
the students. Personalised support
packages are implemented for all pupils
to support them through this anxious
time. We are also absolutely committed
to delivering a curriculum that allows
students to develop knowledge beyond
the exam criteria. The progress and
development made in this regard has
thus been recognisednationally.
Academisation and expansion of the
school with a reduced budget are
challenges that we face as leaders going
forward. To deliver the planned growth
within the available and projected
budget is a challenge which we will face
with the courageous leadership that
characterises our journey thus far.
We have to consider the multi-academy
agenda, which may afford us the
opportunity to share our nationally
recognised practice with other local
schools, and help us to spread our
innovative curriculum to more schools.
When making these decisions we will
never lose sight of our priority – our
students. Our unwavering desire to
inspire our students to dream big
dreams which extend their horizons
beyond their expectations will remain at
the core of our journey forwards.
desire to
inspire our
students to
dream big
dreams which
extend their
beyond their
will remain at
the core of
our journey
Year 7 pupil enjoying a
music technology lesson


This article was sponsored by Golborne High 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 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