Harmans Water Primary School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Harmans Water 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 Harmans Water 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


Headteacher Alison Wyld
Year 5 make zeotropes to
demonstrate lifecycles
Harmans Water Primary School is a large three-form-entry
school in Bracknell Forest. In the summer of 2016, when
the new senior leadership team started, their first job was
to tackle some significant behaviour challenges. The team worked
together with pupils, staff, parents and governors to come up
with six core values that would drive everything they did. This
marked the start of a new journey for Harmans Water Primary
School – a story that headteacher Alison Wyld expands upon.
Over the past couple of years, our school has undergone a considerable change.
Our story begins with the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. As they were about to start,
we looked at the Olympic and Paralympic values and thought deeply about why
they were important, how they had been chosen and in what way they applied to
the competing athletes. We then posed the question to our stakeholders: “If we
had six values for our school, what would they be?”
Our ultimate aim was to create a school with a caring and nurturing ethos where
children felt safe, both emotionally and physically. After much thought and
discussion, the school community chose six values: respect, responsibility, resilience,
teamwork, thoughtfulness and creativity.
Improvement begins with culture
Since then, we have developed a school culture in which children are rewarded
for living the values every day, and this has been a major driving force in moving
us to a situation where behaviour is now “good” (Ofsted). The six simple rules
were also meant to be easily understood and applied throughout the whole
»Headteacher: Alison Wyld
»Founded in 1964
»Located in Bracknell
»Type of school: Community
»No. of pupils: 640
»Largest primary school in
Bracknell Forest
»Partnered with the Soma New
Lower Basic School in The
Harmans Water
Primary School
Highlighting best practice
school; only by doing this could we
provide the consistency that was so
needed at the time. Additionally,
we employed our own in-school
behaviour specialist, who has audited
practice, made recommendations
and supported the implementation of
We formed a new inclusion team,
consisting of the HT, the SENCo, the
behaviour specialist and the family
support adviser. Together, they
devised a comprehensive programme
of pastoral support called Flourish.
This details the pastoral support that
everyone receives, then works through
the kind of extra support that might
be provided to children in a range of
different situations. This is currently
still being developed, but in July 2018,
Ofsted judged the work of the inclusion
team in personal development and
welfare to beoutstanding.
Nurture provision
In summer 2018, having laid the
foundations for a nurturing school, we
decided to set up a nurture-style group
to support some of our most vulnerable
children. Our starting point was that
not all children are ready to meet the
social and intellectual demands of the
mainstream classroom, yet every child
is entitled to a fully inclusive, interesting
and inspirational education. For
children to learn and do their best, we
must give them every opportunity to
develop resilience, strong self-esteem
and a firm sense ofbelonging.
The new provision provides focused
interventions by revisiting early-
learning skills and addressing barriers
to learning for children who are
struggling to cope with emotional
health and wellbeing issues, as well as
behavioural or social difficulties.
If the child is unable to adjust
to the needs of the school, then
the needs of the school must
adjust to meet the needs of
– Marjorie Boxall
The group has been very successful
and has already helped a number of
children to become more successful
in the classroom, supporting and
furthering our vision to become a
nurturing school.
A fuller curriculum
Back in 2016, the curriculum was
dull and dry and didn’t cover all that
it needed to. The school formed a
disruption, research and innovation
team to examine how we could devise
a rich curriculum that met the needs
of all our children, addressed the
requirements of the national curriculum,
included 21st-century learning skills
and had a global perspective. As
a result, all the teachers in school
have been involved in the design of
a tailored HWPS curriculum, which
is project based and involves hands-
on experiential learning that makes
meaningful links betweensubjects.
All our learning is underpinned by
progressions of skills for each subject
so that children have the opportunity
to develop skills and knowledge in all
subjects. Each project is driven by a
“big” question, such as “DidGoldilocks
make good choices?” (for year 1) and
Critique and feedback in
year 4
Having laid the
for a nurturing
school, we
decided to set
up a nurture-
style group to
support some
of our most
“Are we the only ones in space?” (for
year 5). The introduction of “Philosophy
for Children” has provided a framework
for discussion and exploration of ideas
within the planned projects.
The taught curriculum is supplemented
by a series of “essential experiences”
that all children should have before
they leave the school. These were
chosen by children, staff and parents.
Parents are pleased that
they were actively involved
in identifying many of the
experiences that pupils
now access. Pupils talk with
excitement about theatre trips
and upcoming sleepovers in
– Ofsted 2018
We also overhauled assessment
processes and introduced new tracking
systems, as well as an “Assessment for
Learning” toolkit for staff. Following
some trial and error, we introduced a
version of the “structure of observed
learning outcomes” taxonomy adapted
for use in a primary school and have
started developing the use of peer and
self-assessment in our pupils. They
have become very adept in the use of
“critique and feedback” and report that
it is helping them to improve theirwork.
Governance of the school
In 2016, the school was issued with
a warning notice from the Regional
Schools Commissioner, and this was
followed by a sustained period of
pressure for the school to convert to
academy status, as the Department for
Education felt that this was the best
way for the school to improve. Despite
assurances from various officials that
this would not take up too much time
for the leadership, the reality was
that this involved too many meetings
and phone calls with the department
itself, as well as with a range of multi-
academy trusts.
In 2017, the school made an
application to become an academy,
but this was rejected by the
Headteacher Board, and we have since
begun to thrive as a local authority
school. In July 2018, Ofsted made a
comment that the leaders had been
distracted from their core business of
school improvement by this process
and recommended that they focus
their time and energy on continued
school improvement instead – words
we have taken on board and will bear
in mind as we continue our journey
All our learning
is underpinned
by progressions
of skills for each
subject so that
children have
the opportunity
to develop skills
and knowledge
in all subjects
Learning how to ask
good questions in year 1
Investigating whether all
animals come from eggs


This article was sponsored by Harmans Water 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 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