Hoo St Werburgh Primary School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Hoo St Werburgh 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 Hoo St Werburgh 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


Tara Deevoy, head teacher
Our first mural celebrated the two parts of
our school, our goose logo and our shared
values. Others soon followed.
Tara Deevoy was appointed as head of Hoo St Werburgh
Primary School in September 2014, following a “requires
improvement” Ofsted grading and inconsistent results.
Key challenges at the school included their semi-rural location, a
high turnover of teaching staff, low teacher morale and around
20 per cent of their Key Stage 2 results coming from students
requiring specially-resourced provision for complex needs.
These all contributed to diminished results and a reputation
as challenging within the local teaching community; Tara,
however, could see that, behind that, the school had the right
foundations and massive potential to become one of the best
primary schools in the area.
Rediscovering our core values
The value of having pupils with complex special needs as part of our school
community is not something that can be measured by data. Our school format –
part mainstream and part special needs – is fairly unique, and gives our mainstream
pupils the opportunity to spend time with those perceived as different. As a result,
a sense of ingrained tolerance runs throughout the school. This tolerance can be
challenging when a child with severe needs starts vocalising loudly during a special
assembly or a shared workshop, but our older pupils are fantastic role models and
our centre staff have endless patience.
With this spirit of inclusion and integration at our core, it was always a source
of consternation that this was not taken into account in our published data.
»Head teacher: Tara Deevoy
»The village infant and junior
schools amalgamated to form
Hoo St Werburgh Primary
School in the 1970s and the
Marlborough Centre was
added in 2004
»Location: Semi-rural peninsula
location in rapidly expanding
»Type of School: breakfast and
holiday club, nursery (3+)
»No. of students: 503
»No. of staff: 101
»29 per cent pupils eligible for
the pupil premium
Hoo St Werburgh Primary
School & Marlborough Centre
Highlighting best practice
A crucial organisational strategy
in counteracting this was the
disaggregation of all data to show how
the two distinct parts of the school
were performing, rather than as an
inappropriately represented whole.
This was key to sharpening our focus,
raising staff morale and demonstrating
our effectiveness. We also worked
towards increased progress in areas
other than reading, writing and maths.
Talking positively about the school
both in and out of the building was
a conscious choice which helped to
provoke monumental change. I am a
firm believer in the power of positivity
and kindness as levers for change, and
coined the phrase “Hooray for the
Hoo Way”. Before long, this attitude
promoted visits from teachers at
other schools; opening our doors and
establishing a cooperative dialogue
about good school practice really
instilled a sense of pride in our staff.
Explaining and discussing their practice
with knowledgeable visitors was
very cheap and effective professional
Quick wins
»Relaunching the school values,
particularly “belonging”, and
painting them all over the school
»Celebrating sporting, artistic and
musical excellence alongside
academic success – getting ourselves
some positive local press
»Celebrating our school’s unique
nature by creating a brochure just
using pupil voice. This produced our
aim of all being honourable people.
Drawing on these values and
celebrating what we did well was
necessary to improve recruitment and
retention; with those two attributes
improved, we have a fighting
chance of securing better teaching
and outcomes. The governors and I
shared a clear vision for investment
in staff and, in keeping with that, we
established a programme: “Growing
Our Own”. The impact of this has
been considerable; we now get
speculative CVs from teachers based
on recommendation and “word of
mouth” is frequently ticked on our
online application portal. We have
been able to recruit well for every post
advertised since 2015.
Our “Growing Our Own” programme
has included developing staff at
every level of the organisation since
its launch in Jan 2015. This means
we have staff who are fully signed
up to the school’s vision, values
and expectations; these include
those on training programmes from
NVQs to NPQSL, which all align with
the school development plan and
contribute to improving the school.
A significant number of our teaching
assistants come from our apprentice
programme or internal volunteer
training. Three teaching assistants
have been through our school direct,
two more are due to start this year,
and our last five NQTs have all
trained with us at some point in their
undergraduate journey. We recognise
Year 6 maths looks a
little different in the
Marlborough Centre
With this spirit
of inclusion
integration at
our core, it
was always a
source of
that this was
not taken into
account in our
published data
the necessity of spotting talent early,
and pride ourselves on being able to
do so. As a result of this, we have
seen 100 per cent internal promotion
to leadershipposts. Becoming part
of a local MAT in September 2016
enabled us to provide a wider range
of development pathways in a trust
which shares our values and ethos.
Supporting the promotion of middle
leaders into senior positions in
other schools was my first do or die
decision. Three long standing, high
performing assistant head teachers
were given leadership training, and
then supported to move on when
they were confident to do so, while
maintaining meaningful and active
links with our school. In a school with
historic staffing difficulties, supporting
successful people to move on to
their next career step seems counter-
intuitive, but this was exactly what was
needed to get our career development
system moving.
As a result of the focus on investing in
people and the central school value of
“belonging”, 40 out of 50 main school
staff were new to either our school or
their role when we were inspected only
a year after launching our strategy.
This was a phenomenal rate of change,
and one which gave the school a
renewed energy and focus.
Getting the “good” and
carrying on
Recognising the need to develop and
grow senior leaders as well, governors
appointed a part-time interim
executive head teacher in March 2015;
we worked together to create a sense
of shared endeavour in the school.
Work on celebrating core school values
and developing staff came together
at this point. In January 2016, our
Ofsted inspection stated that “staff are
overwhelmingly supportive of the drive
for improvement”.
I have no doubt that this key phrase is
why we were able to secure the first
ever “good” grading for the school,
and improve so rapidly.
Developing our keen and enthusiastic
team of new middle leaders was noted
as an area of further development for
the school; this has been our focus.
Giving them the confidence and
skills to improve standards has been
achieved through a mixture of in-house
coaching, including shadowing roles
for new leaders, allocated time, to
demonstrate the value of their activity
and non-negotiable formal leadership
training, which builds networks and
regularly provides exposure to best
Our results in mainstream school are
now firmly above national in Early
Years Foundation Stage and in year
1 and year 2 phonics. Our Key Stage
1 results are in line with the national
average, and our Key Stage 2 results
are improving rapidly year-on-year.
The future is undoubtedly bright for
Hoo St Werburgh, as a leader for
staff development within our MAT.
As I leave the school for promotion
to executive headship, I could not be
prouder of my team.
Staff are
supportive of
the drive for
Our apprenticeship
programme has helped
to raise standards in
English and maths
while providing diverse
sporting opportunities


This article was sponsored by Hoo St Werburgh 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