Harrow Way Community School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Harrow Way Community 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 Harrow Way Community 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 Michael Serridge
Leading organisations have
recognised the exemplary
standards of teaching and
learning at Harrow Way
Striving for the highest quality in teaching and learning is
the bedrock of Andover-based Harrow Way Community
School. The school’s commitment to achieving exemplary
standards has been recognised and praised by the Teacher
Development Trust, which awarded the school its prestigious
Silver Award. Headteacher Michael Serridge tells
Parliamentary Review
that his relentless focus on constant
improvement has resulted in dramatically improved student
outcomes and increasingly strong Ofsted ratings.
Harrow Way has around 920 students, and, with all year groups oversubscribed,
we’re one of the first-choice schools in Andover, with more parental preferences
(year 7 admissions) than any other Test Valley school. Our ever-improving
performance is, of course, key to this, but underpinning this success is a strong
focus on student wellbeing. Harrow Way was the first school in Hampshire to pick
up the much-coveted BIG Award from the national anti-bullying organisation BIG
(Bullying Intervention Group), for our exemplary work in bullying intervention.
Succeeding in attaining this headship in 2012 was important to me, as I felt I could
make a difference here. This was a school that I believed could realistically embark
on a “journey to outstanding” – indeed, this is the strategy we have set ourselves
and are rigorously working towards for the period spanning 2017 to 2020. The
ultimate goal is very simple – we intend to be one of the finest secondary schools
for miles around.
»Headteacher: Michael Serridge
»Founded in 1967
»Located in Andover, Hampshire
»Type of school: Mixed
»No. of pupils: 921
»In the top 50 for the most
improved schools in the
country in 2015
»Designated a lead school by
CAS (Computing at School)
»Only school in Hampshire to
be awarded the Geographical
Association’s Centre of
Excellence status
Harrow Way
Community School
Highlighting best practice
Broad, balanced and bold
In 2015, we were one of the top
50 schools in the country in terms
of improvement. Since then, we’ve
continued to grow from strength to
strength. As a school, we’ve received
recognition in many areas. We are a
computing lead school, which means
we offer support for other primary
and secondary schools regarding
information technology, and we are
seen as a specialist maths school. The
quality of our geography teaching
has also won us the status of being
a centre of excellence, and we have
received a Gold Arts Mark from the
Art Council of Great Britain. It’s not
just the academic aspect of education
that we are aiming to excel at; student
wellbeing is also a top priority, and
we’re proud to have distinguished
ourselves in the area of anti-bullying.
These accomplishments, however,
are not grounds for us to stand still.
Our aim is to create a culture where
every teacher believes they need to
improve – not because they are not
good enough, but because they can
do even better and because we want
to keep on improving outcomes for
our children. We want to refine and
enhance our existing education so as
to bring up the next generation of
ethically and globally minded citizens.
This unwillingness to keep still is an
ethos and the golden thread that
runs throughout the school, finding
expression in all corners – something
that the school governors can attest to.
High-quality pedagogy is at the
heart of everything we do. We invest
heavily in continuous professional
development to ensure no one
stagnates. That is not to say, however,
that we overwork our teachers. Far
from it – we are unique in that we
have a remarkably high retention
rate, because we try our very best to
foster a family environment in which
everyone supports one another. Both
new and old staff feel this way.
Exemplifying best practice
One of the key practices that
underpins our success is monitoring
and evaluation. We are always seeking
to reflect on ways in which we can
do things better in terms of teaching,
provision and general ways of working.
This goes beyond just using data to see
how students are performing; it also
means that if we see something that
another school is doing well and that
shows signs of success, we are more
than happy to adopt such methods.
Our middle and senior leaders
have shown a remarkable ability to
identify in their departments what
Enhancing the student
experience to enrich
A strong focus on
student and staff
wellbeing underpins
much of our success
As a school,
we’ve received
recognition in
many areas
works well and what could do with
reform. They report this to me in
total candour, which then drives
further improvements for the school
– something our most recent Ofsted
report commented on.
Moving forward in spite of
Despite these great strides forward,
funding has presented a considerable
challenge – not just to us, but
around the country. In this more
constrained environment, I have had
to prioritise more carefully. One of
the non-negotiables, which I will not
compromise on, is ensuring we have
nothing short of the best teachers
working for our children.
Another challenge is workload and
wellbeing for teachers and staff. Too
many are led away from the profession
because of the often-immense pressure
that is placed on them. To help
ameliorate this stress, I have focused
heavily on making teachers happy
about coming into work. By reducing
the burdens they carry, we can ensure
their long-term presence here, which
benefits not just them but also the
school and, ultimately, the children.
Continuity of staff, after all, is key to
securing good outcomes for students.
One of the ways in which we have
done this is by engaging in the practice
of abandonment – that is, abandoning
needless bureaucracy such as filling
in data forms, which do little to help
students. We also allot extra time on
Mondays for teachers to plan their
lessons. This has paid off, as staff
morale and retention are particularly
high as a result.
Our efforts have been rewarded
in many ways, which gives us the
motivation to continue the good
work we’ve already achieved. Even
though each successive Ofsted report
of ours is stronger, we’re seeking to
achieve goals on our terms – that is
to say, we want to become “great”
rather than “good”. By this, we mean
we want to bring on board the best,
most passionate teachers, and we also
want to be the first-choice school in
the area. This bold, forward-looking
approach to the future is a part of
our culture and strongly embedded in
Harrow Way Community School – and
while this remains the case, we will
continue to move from strength to
strength, all the way to great.
challenge is
workload and
wellbeing for
teachers and
staff. Too
many are led
away from the
Harrow Way is seeking
to become ‘great’ rather
than ‘good’


This article was sponsored by Harrow Way Community 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 Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss

Even by the standards of the day –this has been one of the most exciting and unpredictable years in British politics.

The leadership election we’ve just seen marks a huge moment in our country’s history. This government is taking a decisive new direction, embracing the opportunities of Brexit and preparing our country to flourish outside the EU.

As international trade secretary, I’ll be driving forward work on the free trade agreements that are going to be a priority for the government. Free trade isn’t just an abstract concept bandied around by technocrats. It is crucial for a strong economy and for the ability of families to make ends meet. Free trade benefits people in every part of our country, as British firms export to new markets and people doing the weekly shop have access to a wider choice of goods at lower prices.

The essence of free trade is in the title: freedom. It’s about giving people the power to exchange their goods without heavy government taxation or interference. Commerce and free exchange are the engine room of prosperity and social mobility. I’m determined to tackle the forces who want to hold that back.

One of my priorities is agreeing an exciting new free trade deal with the US, building on the great relationship between our two countries and the Prime Minister and US President. But I’ll also be talking to other partners including New Zealand, Australia and fast-growing Asian markets.

And with the EU too, we want a friendly and constructive relationship, as constitutional equals, and as friends and partners in facing the challenges that lie ahead – a relationship based on a deep free trade agreement. Our country produces some of the world’s most successful exports, and the opportunity to bring these to the rest of the world should make us all excited about the future. It is this excitement, optimism and ambition which I believe will come to define this government.

For too long now, we have been told Britain isn’t big or important enough to survive outside the EU – that we have to accept a deal that reflects our reduced circumstances. I say that’s rubbish. With the right policies in place, we can be the most competitive, free-thinking, prosperous nation on Earth exporting to the world and leading in new developments like AI. To do that, we’ll give the brilliant next generation of entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed. Since 2015, there has been a staggering 85 per cent rise in the number of businesses set up by 18 to 24 year olds – twice the level set up by the same age group in France and Germany. We’ll help them flourish by championing enterprise, cutting taxes and making regulation flexible and responsive to their needs.

As we do that, we’ll level up and unite all parts of the UK with great transport links, fibre broadband in every home and proper school funding, so everyone shares in our country’s success.

2019 has been the year of brewing economic and political revolution. 2020 will be the year when a revitalised Conservative government turbo charges the economy, boosts prospects for people across the country, and catapults Britain back to the forefront of the world stage.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss
Secretary of State for International Development