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 Kingsford Community School is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.
Kingsford Community School
Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett, MP
Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles, MP
1KINGSFORD COMMUNITY SCHOOL |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE
School, Beckton, Newham
Kingsford Community School, based in the heart of London,
has been widely recognised for engaging all stakeholders
via its inspiring curriculum, which holds global citizenship
at its core, and their Confucius Classroom status. Raising
aspirations, inspiring excellence and promoting confidence are
central to the delivery of the academic curriculum and pastoral
support at Kingsford. This ethos has resulted in significant
personal development and high rates of academic progress well
above the national average for all pupils, including those who
are entitled to pupil premium. Headteacher Joan Deslandes,
who has been awarded an OBE for her services to education,
The Parliamentary Review
more about the steps Kingsford
took to achieve this.
Confucius Classroom status: reaching out to the world
Kingsford Community School is a cultural melting pot. With over 70 languages
spoken by both staff and pupils, understanding the world and the cultures that
surround us has never been more important. We place great emphasis on the
importance of creating and maintaining an accepting and nurturing school
environment that encourages its members to be proud of their heritage and to
always aim high. Annual cultural days are a highlight of the school year, where the
diversity of the school community is embraced and celebrated.
During days such as these, pupils and staff have the opportunity to learn more
about the cultures of those people that we see and interact with every day.
»Headteacher: Joan Deslandes
»Established in 2000
»Located in Beckton, Newham,
»Type of school: Community
»No. of pupils: 1,476
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
2| KINGSFORD COMMUNITY SCHOOL
Moments like this in the school year
showcase just how welcoming a
community Kingsford truly is, where
everyone is accepted, acknowledged
and heard. This is encapsulated in our
inclusion mission statement: “Every
Student, Every Lesson, Every Day.”
At the heart of this unique educational
environment is our school’s
International School and Confucius
Classroom status, which demonstrates
our school-wide focus to engage pupils
with global citizenship. Central to this
is our success in fostering international
relationships with educators from
many countries, particularly China.
Kingsford began this approach by
introducing Mandarin lessons as
a compulsory component of our
curriculum at a time where no other
schools had considered doing this. The
school became a Confucius Classroom
in 2007, making us the first school in
London and the South East to achieve
such a distinction. Additionally, since
2012, we have been recognised as the
Best Confucius Classroom in the world.
Accordingly, we have a strong affiliation
with the University College London
Institute of Education’s Confucius
Institute as well as Hanban, the Office of
Chinese Language Council International.
Kingsford also holds the International
School Award. This recognition
is based on the fact that we have
successfully integrated a global
dimension in our pupils’ learning. The
programme has continued to mature
and plays an increasingly important
part in school life. Each year the school
sends a number of pupils on work
experience abroad and this year we
have hosted delegations of educators
and pupils from Uzbekistan, the Middle
East, China, Ghana and Denmark.
This testifies more broadly to our school’s
attitude, which, in an increasingly
globalised world, is more necessary than
ever. We can now genuinely claim to
be a truly international school, through
which students grow awareness
of different cultures, beliefs and
perspectives. While doing so, we have
also become a more closely-knit and
open-minded community. In addition to
bringing people together, the success
of the school’s Chinese curriculum sets
up young people for a world in which
China will become the world’s largest
economy. This dimension of their
learning will be a vital aspect of their
Putting words into action
We also believe it is important to ensure
wellbeing for our pupils, especially for
those who may lack this support in their
home context. We take seriously our
duty and responsibility to encourage
personal growth, fuel ambition, inspire
excellence and nurture confidence. Our
large investments in character education
have been instrumental in forging a
moral community built on foundations
of kindness, ambition and participation.
In practice, this involves engaging
young people in activities that promote
– both implicitly and explicitly – a
sense of belonging, purpose and
personal strength. This takes place in
both formal and informal contexts.
Everyone is accepted,
At the heart of
our school is
3KINGSFORD COMMUNITY SCHOOL |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE
More specifically, the pupil leadership
opportunities we offer – such as the
Kingsford Observers of Learning –
provide real and lasting benefits to
Essentially, this is a student-led group
who observe the lessons of current
and prospective staff. The pupils
offer written and verbal feedback to
suggest how teachers could improve
their methods to further support pupil
progress. This is a fantastic way of
empowering pupils and enhancing best
practice to secure excellent outcomes,
and it ensures that staff are constantly
This also engages pupils in reasoning
and analysis. In short, it develops their
powers of critical thinking, placing an
emphasis on the importance of their
input and the value of their opinions,
which are fundamental in ensuring
that Kingsford Community School
continues to improve and grow.
We are strongly aware of the need to
educate the whole child. This is why, we
promote an education and a curriculum
that develops every aspect of the child –
intellectually, spiritually, creatively, and
emotionally. For this reason, we offer
subjects such as art, drama, music and
media right through to GCSE, alongside
the standard academicsubjects.
At present, I see too many schools
demeaning these more creative
pursuits, which, in my opinion, is much
to the detriment of the young people
A brighter future for all
Looking to the future, I am excited at
the prospect of sharing our approach
with an ever-broader audience through
Centre for Teaching
Excellence. Already there is huge
interest in what we are doing. We shall
soon be running international teacher
training programmes on a regular basis
where educators will come from all
over the world to see our approach to
teaching and the curriculum put into
action, and to learn how they too can
follow our lead.
We are delighted to be a comprehensive
school that caters for a diverse and
broad range of talented young people
from the local community. We have
great faith in our pupils becoming the
bold and significant contributors of
tomorrow. To achieve this, we must
give every single child the opportunity
to succeed and thrive as global citizens.
As long as we remain committed
to that ethos, I am convinced that a
bright future lies ahead.
It’s a fantastic
practice in order
to secure better
We offer a great
many pupil leadership
The Rt Hon Professor The Lord Blunkett's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review
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.