Hassenbrook Academy

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Hassenbrook Academy'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 Hassenbrook Academy 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


Ms Joanne Williams,
In awe in science
ORTU Hassenbrook Academy is an age 11-16 secondary
school in Thurrock, Essex. In January 2016, Hassenbrook
was placed into special measures. Ofsted reported
that “disadvantaged pupils do much worse than other pupils,
especially in English”. Within months, the Stanford and
Corringham Schools’ Trust (now known as the Ortu Federation)
were supporting the school in the interim phase before the
school joined the trust in September 2016.
After a brief interim head teacher, Joanne Williams was appointed as substantive
head teacher in January 2017. Though still improving, GCSE results for English
have already risen from 39 per cent achieving grades A-C in 2016 to 57 per cent
achieving grades 9-4 in 2017. Furthermore, Progress 8 measures have increased,
particularly for disadvantaged pupils whose progress is now equivalent to that of
other pupils.
So what made the difference?
The immediate support from the trust allowed us to adopt and develop systems
and structures to support leaders and staff. The immediate actions were:
»Adding capacity to the school’s leadership team through an interim head teacher
»Building capacity within the English department through the secondment of
experienced staff
»A clear and rigorous performance management system which held staff to account
»Ceasing all exclusions
»Head teacher:
»Opened as new school on
September 1, 2016
»Based in Stanford-le-Hope,
Thurrock, Essex
»Type of school: Secondary
school for pupils aged 11–16
»No. of pupils on roll: 484
»No. of teachers: 40
»SEND or EHCP: 18 per cent
»Disadvantaged pupils: 36 per
Hassenbrook Academy
Highlighting best practice
Change the culture
I was appointed as the substantive
head teacher in January 2017.
Working alongside the trust and the
staff, we moved quickly to ensure
we all understood the needs of the
school and its pupils. In my “State of
the Nation” address to staff in January
2017, I made sure the whole staff
knew the whole and honest picture
of the school. I shared the key areas
for improvement, and the fact that
everybody had a role in making these
happen. The
were now clear. This made a huge
difference to our outcomes in the
summer of 2017.
Behaviour was the most pressing
challenge, an indication of which was
the considerable history of exclusions
at the school. We implemented a “no-
exclusion” policy in order to change
the culture within the school. This
meant that staff had to collectively
address the unwanted behaviours that
some pupils were displaying. By no
means was this easy. We made sure
that everybody was clear about their
role in dealing with and transforming
behaviour. To this end, we worked on
developing a code of conduct using
what we call the three Rs: Respect,
Responsibility and Readiness (to learn)
– something we explained during
assemblies. The pupils carried conduct
cards and received numerous reward
points for demonstrating the correct
behaviours. We have also transformed
these to focus on the “attributes of
a good learner”. Our cards are now
called “learner cards”. These cards
focus on the learning behaviours of
the pupils, rewarding behaviours of:
resilience, collaboration, reflection
and active learning. In the meantime,
the number of entries in our log of
behaviour incidents has reduced from
2,300 in weeks one through 18 of
2017 to just 1,100 in the same period
of 2018 – a reduction of 50 per cent.
Another task was to ensure that the
needs of pupils were being met more
effectively. There were a number
of pupils for whom learning in the
mainstream classroom was very
difficult due to behavioural issues
and learning gaps. As part of our
efforts, we devised a Personalised
Learning Centre (PLC). We employed
a teacher whose role was to set
up a thematically holistic learning
experience whereby skills were taught
and transferred across subjects,
helping pupils to see links between
their learning and feeling success
within a small group environment.
We used “topics” to engage the
pupils’ interests and enable them
to contextualise their learning. The
pupils in the PLC are now attending
school more regularly with attendance
increasing from 80 per cent to 93 per
cent in the last year. These pupils are
now reintegrated into the mainstream
classes for practical subjects and are
successfully accessing parts of the
curriculum alongside their wider group
of peers.
Getting the creative
The number
of behaviour
recorded has
reduced by
50per cent
In September 2017, we introduced
100-minute lessons in order to
engage pupils in learning and reduce
the number of transitions between
lessons. Staff were trained in the use
of engagement strategies and ensuring
depth of learning so that pupils had
more opportunity within the lesson to
reflect. These 100-minute lessons have
reduced time spent moving between
lessons, reduced the opportunity for
unwanted behaviour in and around the
school between lessons, and enabled
pupils to really engage with their
learning. There is evidence of a greater
depth of learning within lessons and
books show that more work is now
being produced by pupils. We are
expecting this to be reflected in the
GCSE results in 2018.
Money matters in education
As part of joining the ORTU
Federation, we have been fortunate
to have successfully received funding
through Condition Improvement
Fund bids. This additional funding
has helped to build a school that
reflects our raised standards. As
such, we now have a new reception
area to welcome members of the
Hassenbrook community and other
stakeholders, a new kitchen, a dining
area, and new wiring, and the school
is being redecorated to reflect the new
investment into thepupils.
In addition to conducting a review
of our pupil premium funding and
impact, we looked at the needs of
the pupils in question and worked
with families and staff to identify their
needs. We also organised tailored
support for individuals including
Easter school, interventions and
enrichment activities; we provided
transport in order that these pupils
could attend these extracurricular
events; and we supported families by
providing uniform and other necessary
equipment to enable them to learn.
Our focus on these disadvantaged
pupils has led to a rise in progress8
measures from -1.15 in 2016 for
disadvantaged pupils to -0.36 in 2017
– a huge improvement. In fact, our
disadvantaged pupils are now making
better progress than other pupils in
many subjects. The improvements
to the school building and learning
environment have been vital in visually
demonstrating the higher expectations
and investment in the pupils.
There are still inhibitive factors,
however – for instance, overly
constrained finances and an overly
restrictive curriculum focused on the
English baccalaureate, which means
that some children are not able to
take up vocational or creative subjects.
Moreover, the national pressures of
recruitment and teacher workload
have impacted heavily on the school.
I’m very proud of the progress we have
made at ORTU Hassenbrook Academy,
even if there is still more to do. With
the dedication of our wonderful staff,
parents and pupils, I know that we will
build upon our strengths and ensure
that ORTU Hassenbrook will be a truly
exceptional school providing excellent
education and care for all.
We will build
upon our
Girls in action


This article was sponsored by Hassenbrook Academy. 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