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 Hadrian Primary School is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.
Hadrian Primary School
Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett, MP
Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles, MP
1HADRIAN PRIMARY SCHOOL |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE
Headteacher Mr Scott Brown
The arts have had a positive
and significant impact on
Hadrian Primary School are committed to embedding
arts in their curriculum, both to develop core skills and
to promote an appreciation of music, drama and visual
art. Based in South Shields, in the Beacon and Bents ward,
they have developed partnerships with national and local arts
organisations, ranging from the local theatre to the Shakespeare
Schools Foundation. This focus on the arts also helps to improve
the vocabulary and confidence of their students, many of whom
have English as an additional language. Headteacher Scott
Brown explains the impact that arts had on his education and
how they have adapted to shrinking budgets.
Perhaps the most striking thing about our school is our location. Situated in Lawe
Top, South Shields, we overlook the North Sea and the River Tyne and are only
across the road from the remains of a Roman fort, which was used as a supply
point for Hadrian’s Wall. South Tyneside is a very small local authority, with 46
primary schools. Within that context, there are only three who educate the vast
majority of the ethnic minority population. Our student population is 52 per cent
ethnic minority, and schools with the majority of students having English as an
additional language are quite unique within our local authority.
The Beacon and Bents ward, in which the large majority of our pupils live, is an
area of high social deprivation. The ward has an index of multiple deprivation
ranking of 563, with the borough average as high as 1,161. The school currently
has 22 per cent of pupils entitled to free school meals, but this changes on an
almost weekly basis.
HADRIAN PRIMARY SCHOOL
»Headteacher: Mr Scott Brown
»Established in 1978
»Based in South Shields, South
»Type: Primary school
»No. of pupils: 283
»Ofsted: “Outstanding” 2011
»Accreditations: Gold Artsmark,
IQM Inclusion Quality Mark,
Basic Skills Award, Basic
Skills Early Years Award,
International Schools Award,
ICT Mark and School Games
Hadrian Primary School
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
2| HADRIAN PRIMARY SCHOOL
Encouraging an appreciation
for the arts
I originally came to the school as
deputy headteacher in 2002, becoming
headteacher in 2006, and in that time
have seen major changes take place.
When I took over as headteacher, I
was very keen to develop and embed
the arts into our curriculum. It is
something that as a child I felt the
benefit of, and it was the arts that
sparked my imagination. I wanted to
give this opportunity to our children,
especially considering our school’s
diverse population, and raise children’s
aspirations across the board.
In 2006, when funding was more
abundant, we took advantage of an
opportunity to become involved in
the Creative Partnerships programme.
We used this to bring in musicians
in residence, who worked to upskill
our teachers across the school.
We also involved local artists over
a wide range of projects, all with
the intent of improving our whole
We became partners with our local
theatre and have for the last ten years
produced our own annual school
show. Although the theatre is only a
mile away, the majority of our children
had never previously visited it. Staff
have really bought into this approach.
We are lucky to have such a dedicated
team of teachers and support staff.
Our ethos is based on mutual respect
between and among adults and
children and this is a cornerstone of
the learning at our school.
In 2002, our English as an additional
language population was 22 per
cent, which has since grown to 52
per cent in 2019. As many of our
Our pupils use creative
digital technologies to
enhance and support
Our ethos is
and this is the
the learning in
3HADRIAN PRIMARY SCHOOL |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE
students have very limited English
and have grown up in a family home
speaking a foreign language, we have
focused on literacy and language
skills. Over time, this has instilled
self-confidence in our students and
the ability to communicate better.
The development of both written and
spoken vocabulary via the arts has
ensured that these opportunities have
had the largestimpact.
Shrinking arts budgets
One of the major issues we have faced
is the disappearance of funding and
the tightening of budgets. We had
seen the benefit of arts funding and
we wanted to maintain this. When
Creative Partnerships folded, we had to
decide whether we could continue to
focus on an arts-rich provision. Having
seen the value and the outcomes of
such a varied and rich curriculum,
we were determined to ensure that
we were still able to offer creative
opportunities for all.
Although we no longer have arts-
dedicated funding, we have become
involved with a number of local
and national groups and were one
of three schools across the country
to be involved with King’s College
London’s programme ‘My Primary
School is at the Museum’, where a
class of children were based at the
museum and worked creatively with
the resources available. We also
continue to work alongside The Baltic
and The Sage in Gateshead, as well
as collaborate with many local and
national artists. This has provided our
pupils with opportunities to perform
with musicians such as Beverley Knight
In recent years, we have secured
National Lottery funding and support
from the National Heritage Project. We
now continually fundraise to support
these opportunities further.
We have many exciting events
on the horizon and have recently
joined the Shakespeare Schools
Foundation, which encourages
children to explore and a find a love
of Shakespeare. Part of this project
gives our children the opportunity to
perform Shakespeare on stage, both
regionally and nationally. As with
much of our curriculum, and indeed
our wider vision, this will support the
development of core skills of verbal
and literary mastery and the growth
of an invaluable appreciation for
We are driven by our continuing vision
of providing a broad, balanced and
arts-rich curriculum. It is due to the
drive and dedication of the staff and
children that we are still able to offer a
wide range of creative opportunities as
part of our continuous provision.
This is a unique school, and I feel
privileged to work here. It is a
setting with a fabulous feel and
the value and
of such a
varied and rich
we were still
able to offer
through the arts helps
to develop language
and impacts positively
on relationships and our
The Rt Hon Professor The Lord Blunkett's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review
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.