Kingsley High School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Kingsley High 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 Kingsley High 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 Hazel Paterson
and Deputy Headteacher John
Initial “I can” statements
were written to
demonstrate skills in English
and maths
Kingsley High School have undertaken a process of
transformation following the change to the national
curriculum in 2014. Teaching students with complex
learning needs, they sought to adapt their provision to ensure
that all elements of their education, health and care plans are
fulfilled. Working as part of the Brent, Harrow and Hertfordshire
Assessment Group, they have been invited by the Department
for Education to take part in the next pilot programme to see
what ought to replace P scales. Deputy Headteacher John
Hartley tells
The Parliamentary Review
When the national curriculum was amended in 2014, special education was, in
reality, barely given consideration. Rather than feel threatened by the removal of
familiar educational structures that had no clear replacement, we saw instead an
opportunity to revisit the curriculum offer in place for our learners. This involved
consideration of not only lesson content but also what skills and understanding
we specifically wanted our learners to develop. Amid a climate of educational
uncertainty, we questioned whether we were teaching a subject-based curriculum,
whether P scales were still relevant and what criteria we should use for assessment.
To moderate our students in a “life without levels”, we sought to create our own
stability. We are not so naive or presumptuous to think that we were the only
special school taking such a course of action, and our journey to our most recent
Ofsted inspection and beyond has involved considerable partnership work.
»Deputy Headteacher: John
»Chair of Governors:
»Based in Harrow
»Type: Special education
school for 11-19-year-olds
with PMLD, SLD, ASD, VI and
complex needs
»No. of students: 77
»Ofsted: “Outstanding” May
2014 and November 2018
Kingsley High School
Highlighting best practice
Developing a new curriculum
In November 2018, we hosted Ofsted
for a routine inspection. The report
states: “you have a flexible and
dynamic curriculum that links subjects
together and gives pupils opportunities
to practise key skills as well as acquire
knowledge”, confirming our own
self-evaluation. Getting to this stage
took a great deal of effort, thought
and, importantly, collaboration
between members of staff across the
school structure. Teaching assistants,
teachers and school leadership stepped
right back to the fundamentals of
education pedagogy, applying the
models of such theorists as Maslow
and Bloom to the practical experience
of learners with profound and
complex learning disabilities, with
autistic spectrum disorders, with
visual impairments, with complex
communication difficulties and with
What exactly constitutes learner
analysis and evaluation in a school
such as ours, where learners might
have similar cognitive levels to those
normally expected in early years
settings but with the life experience,
hormones and energy levels typically
associated with 11-19-year-olds? We
had to ask ourselves whether it was
the same for learners in Key Stage 3
as it is those about to transition to
college at the age of 19. Beyond this,
we had to embed sport and health into
a creative curriculum while developing
our learners’ independence. The
outcome was a flexible, three-year,
key-stage-based, rolling, thematic
curriculum that endeavours to cover
all of the above. It has been effective
so far.
Developing new assessment
Once we had come to common
understandings about these matters,
we were able to consider the
expectations we might have of our
learners. These would be informed by
two rapidly emerging strands: firstly,
the importance of education, health
and care plans, which, in our general
experience, transpire to be education
plans with a bit of social care if we are
lucky; and secondly, the need for an
alternative to P scales.
We tackled both simultaneously.
Working on the premise of long-term
outcomes, spanning a key stage,
set to support the identified needs,
we streamlined our assessment
procedure to involve termly personal
learning plans. These set out short-
For many of our
learners, the annual
residential trip provides
the opportunity to prove
that “they can”
Getting to this
stage took a
great deal of
thought and,
members of
staff across
the school
term outcomes to meet year-long,
medium-term outcomes, which are set
at the annual review with the aim of
meeting long-term outcomes. These
outcomes are all written in the form of
“I will” statements so that individuals
can, once achieved, state “I can”.
Meanwhile, in collaboration with seven
other “outstanding”-graded special
schools working as the Brent, Harrow
and Hertfordshire Assessment Group
and with guidance and leadership
from our mutual School Improvement
Partner Jan Martin, we developed
a series of subject-based “I can”
statements. These were initially written
for English and maths and intended
to both provide a hierarchy of ability
to replace P scales and bridge the gap
between what was P8 and what is
now Level 1. They have since expanded
to include personal and social
development, ICT, and PE, with other
“traditional” subject areas to follow.
Developing the developments
The change has been huge and quick.
That we have been able to achieve an
“outstanding” assessment is testimony
to the collaborative approach taken
both within and outside school. All
voices have been heard, all suggestions
have been considered, and the advice
and sharing of experience with
colleagues from partner schools have
been sought and built upon. Our
November Ofsted report states: “You
have excellent internal systems for
staff teams, middle and senior leaders
to check teachers’ assessments on a
regular basis. You also make very good
use of your collaborative networks
to check that your judgements are
secure.” However, we still do not have
a perfect system.
We have just embarked upon the next
stage of our journey. This has involved
reviewing our curriculum coverage to
ensure all areas of EHCPs are covered
proportionately. Our teachers, teaching
assistants and school leaders are now
in the process of working together in
curriculum groups to map our banks of
“I can” statements to EHCP outcome
areas. This in itself will not be sufficient
as we strive to demonstrate the
achievements of our learners; as such,
these “I can” statements will need
to be formulated into a sequential
hierarchy of skill.
Our journey continues to take place
amid an ongoing lack of clarity from
the Department for Education about
what is replacing P scales. Twelve
months ago, it appeared likely that the
progress of learners in special schools
would be judged against the “aspects
of engagement” originally devised by
Professor Barry Carpenter. However,
the November 2018 report “Piloting
the seven aspects of engagement for
summative assessment: qualitative
evaluation” from the Standards and
Testing Agency echoes concerns we
have felt about the effectiveness of
this model. At the time of writing,
our collaborative partnership has
been approached by the Department
for Education to participate in the
next pilot programme. While further
research and investigation are
undertaken, we will continue to work
on the model we have developed,
which provides curriculum content and
assessment that best meet the needs
of our complex cohort of learners.
That we have
been able to
achieve an
assessment is
testimony to
taken both
within and
outside school
Many of our learners are
at very early stages of
cognition despite having
several years of life

This article was sponsored by Kingsley High 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 Professor The Lord Blunkett.

The Rt Hon Professor The Lord Blunkett's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Professor The Lord Blunkett

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. 
The Rt Hon Professor The Lord Blunkett