Harwood Park Primary School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Harwood Park 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 Harwood Park 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


Amanda Davies, head teacher
Enriching lives for better
Harwood Park is a primary school based in Heywood,
Rochdale, that has undergone dramatic improvements
over recent years. Serving a student body from a largely
deprived population, the new leadership have provided students
with the confidence that they can achieve, while raising the
quality of both teaching and learning. Head teacher Amanda
Davies explains how she was able to turn the school around
in just five terms, which culminated in a “good” rating from
Ofsted in May 2016.
I became head teacher of Harwood Park in September 2014, after the school
had been given a “requires improvement” grade from Ofsted. Strong leadership
was needed, so a new deputy head and assistant head were appointed at the
same time. As a result, the expectations and standards were instantly raised and a
number of underperforming teachers were moved on.
Four years ago, when I started as head, I was faced with a number of problems.
Teaching across the school was inconsistent and the pupil admission number had
increased to 60, but the school hadn’t filled the places. The reputation of the
school in the community was poor and behaviour in the classroom was poorly
managed. Lastly, parents did not have high enough aspirations for their children.
Working at Harwood Park was my first job as a head teacher, and I felt under
immediate pressure to improve the school. The next Ofsted inspection was in 20
months’ time, so it was essential that I stuck to my own vision and values and
began to work quickly.
»Head teacher: Amanda Davies
»Founded in 1914
»Based in Heywood, Rochdale
»Type of school: Mixed primary
»No. of pupils: 362
»Pupil premium: 61.5 per cent
»Deprivation index: 0.33
»Ofsted: “Good”, May 2016
Harwood Park
Primary School
Highlighting best practice
Teaching and learning
The quality of teaching and learning had
been inconsistent and understanding
was lacking. Staff were not considerate
of our students’ learning journey, and
they were not marking with the goal of
improvement in mind. Previously, there
had been extensive interventions and
catch-up programmes, neither of which
had a significant or positive effect.
We set out by defining quality
teaching and identifying to new staff
what our vision for learning looked
like in practice. By establishing high
expectations and standards from the
beginning, staff were aware of the
levels that were expected of them.
We introduced a structure for lessons,
which included a connection phase
to pinpoint the children’s level of
understanding right at the beginning of
the lesson and included key vocabulary
to be learnt over itsduration.
Regular monitoring and tracking of
assessment data has played a crucial
role in teachers’ identification of
precise interventions. Consistency was
the key, so a structured monitoring
and evaluation calendar was
introduced that enabled appropriate
support for all, along with clear
accountability. Above all, it has been
important for all staff to be determined
that no child is left behind.
One of the biggest challenges we have
faced has been the student mobility
during the year. It has had an impact
on our data, but we have tried to
embrace the challenge by putting
robust induction procedures in place.
Both the initial induction meeting and
strict assessment procedures on entry
ensure that new students are given
tailored support from the start. We
are ready to provide special help while
they are settling in and we take all the
necessary steps to ensure no learning
time is lost. Potential problems or
difficulties are dealt with and we try
to pre-empt issues to ensure a smooth
start for the child.
High-quality training
Quality staff training and development
has been a key priority since I began,
and, over the past four years, we have
had a large-scale restructure. All new
staff now follow a rigorous induction
with planned opportunities for
coaching and mentoring throughout
the year. Leaders are now outstanding
practitioners, visibly showing the
expectations and standards that
should be achieved. All leaders are
actively engaged in a variety of training
programmes to develop their skills,
knowledge and confidence.
Teaching assistants attend all weekly
professional development meetings.
They help contribute to the analysis of
work and data to gain a greater picture
of each child’s learning. Teachers and
TAs receive the same level of training,
which ensures the same values and
aims are embedded in all our staff
across the board.
We also made the decision to invest
in training teaching staff to become
“attachment aware”. Staff were
delivering high-quality teaching and
learning, but our most vulnerable
children were simply not ready because
of attachment issues.
Year 6 mathematics
Above all, it
has been
important for
all staff to be
that no child is
left behind
As a result, emotional coaching and
attachment awareness run alongside
our teaching and learning. This has
greatly increased the children’s ability
to resolve conflicts and learn, as they
can safely know that a member of staff
is always considering theirfeelings.
Parental engagement
Historically it had been difficult for our
school to engage parents, so to tackle
this we involved the school in the
Leading Parent Partnership Award and
focused on key areas. Our Ofsted report
in 2016 highlighted that parents are
positive about the work of theschool.
The report states that “the teachers
are very approachable and they receive
regular information about how well their
child is doing”. We achieved the Leading
Parental Partnership Award in 2017
and are continuing to see an increased
number of parents attending school
events and supporting theirchildren.
Growth mindset
Our commitment to the principles
of a growth mindset has played a
significant role in building resilience in
our students. We have also developed
a new motto: “Aspire to Succeed –
Iwant, I will do, I can do! Embrace the
challenge; shape our future!”
This is embedded across the school
through both our daily assemblies
and the practice of all teaching staff.
Our year 6 pupils who recently took
their SAT exams did so with more
confidence than ever. They persevered
and showed determination, which is
a true reflection of the changes we
Aspire to succeed
The reputation of the school is
changing, and this is evident in the local
community. The new vision statement
“Aspire to Succeed” and the change
in school uniform has successfully
separated the school from its previous
reputation and has helped us form a
relationship with our community.
Our shared vision enables staff and
governors to support the pursuit
of our goals. We will continue to
remain committed to delivering our
vision statement: Aspire to Succeed.
This defines Harwood Park. We are
extremely proud of our achievements
and the whole team demonstrates
perseverance and resilience. It is these
qualities that have allowed us to
remain calm and focused with a true
belief that all our children can succeed
in the future.
We will
continue to
committed to
delivering our
Aspire to
Succeed. This
Harwood Park
Our pupils drive towards
success and excellence


This article was sponsored by Harwood Park 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 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