Kirkham Grammar School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Kirkham Grammar 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 Kirkham Grammar 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

Headmaster Daniel Berry
Time to unite all areas of
Having served as a headmaster in both state and
independent sectors, Daniel Berry understands better
than most how the two could work together better
to achieve mutual benefits and improved educational and
community outcomes. He served as a headteacher of St
George’s Church of England Academy for four years, and in
this period the school was inspected by Ofsted, improving
from a failing school to “outstanding” across all areas. This
journey taught him a lot about the fundamental skills and duties
of headship and he has used these lessons to the benefit of
Kirkham Grammar School. Daniel tells
The Parliamentary Review
I took up the position of headmaster of KGS during a period of change. It is an
established independent school with a boarding house of 65 pupils and is a place
with a strong family ethos, excellent exam success and a reputation in sport, drama
and music that is the envy of the area. There was feeling that the school was in
need of change and could no longer rely on its reputation. The governing body and
school community understood this and decided to take a radical shift in direction –
retaining the traditional values but bringing in a period of modernambition.
Fusing modernity with tradition
The first area that needed addressing was the system surrounding teaching
and learning, including monitoring, marking and assessment. We embarked on
»Headmaster: Daniel Berry
»Founded in 1549
»Located in Kirkham,
»Type of school: Independent
co-educational, day and
boarding school for students
aged 3 to 18
»No. of students: 858
»Motto: Ingredera Ut Proficias
or Enter to Profit
Kirkham Grammar
Highlighting best practice
introducing a number of transparent
protocols in the classrooms that
allowed staff and parents to fully
understand the educational process.
Subjects were organised into clusters
with a senior teacher supporting
them, and regular meetings allowed
problems to be addressed quickly. We
created a culture of new initiatives
such as regular observations across
clusters and the introduction of
“health checks’” that allowed staff
to review teaching and learning
practice at regular intervals. Reducing
marking workloads and the number of
assessments gave time back to staff,
and an improved work-life balance
allowed them to focus on teaching.
Parental reports received an overhaul
and we began to use Durham
University data systems, which ran
alongside the introduction of a parent
app for regular updates, while a new
parent-reporting system introduced
learning pathways. This reflected
the new 1–9 scoring system, using
the Durham University data to set
a predicted pathway range of 1–3
(pink), 3–5 (red), 5–7 (orange) and
7–9 (green). This system has proved
popular and is used across the
foundation from three to 18. All
staff now mark using pink or green
if needed, to highlight areas for
improvement. Alongside a number of
policy changes, building enhancements
and key staffing appointments, we
started to transform into a modern
academic establishment with
traditional grammar school values that
still managed to focus on educating
the whole child.
What is possibly more important
and of more benefit to us and local
communities is how the offer of
additional co-curricular opportunities
that educate the whole child and the
freedom from Ofsted and constant
government initiatives allows a school
to thrive. Ways in which independent
education can support and accelerate
change in state schools were becoming
more apparent. Education can work
in partnership to break down social
disadvantage and improve state school
standards. We have demonstrated
how the benefits of partnerships in
the community, bursaries and social
mobility have enhanced standards
and attainment for all, and the value
this brings to educational outcomes
became infectious. The aim is to prove
that collaboration can transform
education across state and private
partnerships with some factual
examples from KGS.
We want to see a larger number of
pupils offered assistance to attend
independent schools in key social areas
and stronger partnerships between
state and independent schools to
ensure access to resources or support.
Therefore, we have increased our
continued support to families with
bursaries and scholarships and we have
introduced sport, science, drama and
technology to our local state schools. A
partnership with the local state senior
school also introduced Combined
Cadet Force programmes to 25 pupils
every week.
We aim to educate the
whole child
The offer of
additional co-
that educate
the whole
child and the
freedom from
Ofsted and
allows a
school to
Using extracurricular activities
to transform education
Sport and extracurricular activities have
long been the bedrock of independent
education. This aspect of school life is
possibly one of the largest untapped
resources a school can offer to another
with little additionally. Independent
schools have a long history of sporting
excellence and promoting a wide range
of extracurricular activities because
they value them and invest time in
them. This we have done incredibly
well, hosting fixtures and tournaments
and offering free coaching. There are
currently more than 20 partnerships
each year between KGS and state
sector schools, as well as many
extracurricular activities enabling
children and young people from
all walks of life to broaden their
experiences outside the classroom.
Sport is clearly a significantly different
experience in an independent school
compared to state.
Having experienced headship in both
state and independent schools – with
the exception of catering services being
of a significantly higher standard – the
area of sport is one that clearly stands
out. It has always been an important
focus for independent schools and
has been supported with a larger
than average number of Olympians
coming from private schools.
Despite the educational trends and
government policies that have forced
both independent and state schools
to respond to, sport has remained
protected from this interference and
has thrived. For a variety of reasons,
sport has declined in maintained
schools and in society in general
while more children than any previous
generation are deemed obese.
The possibilities are endless for a
transformation of the British education
system. Making high-quality schooling
a choice for many alongside schools
that support the needs of a community
and ultimately a child. Quite apart
from the 275,700 jobs provided
by independent schools as local
employers. and the places for 600,000
children, they create no additional cost
for the state. I can confidently state
that if the independent sector were
allowed to support more pupils from
a wider variety of backgrounds, this
would transform communities and
This is the chance to offer a diverse
education across Britain to ensure
social cold spots are no longer
entrenched in today’s society. Many
independent schools are at the heart
of local communities, cultural life and,
as a result, give back in unquantifiable
terms so much more. As we enter a
brave new era of British independence,
we should look more towards what
unites us in education than what
divides us. In my experience across
both sectors, we have so much to
share and celebrate. We often try too
much to set independent and state
schools apart, often to the detriment
of the pupils we are trying to support.
Quite apart
from the
275,700 jobs
provided by
schools as
and the places
for 600,000
children, they
create no
additional cost
for the state
Excellence across all

This article was sponsored by Kirkham Grammar 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 Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss

Even by the standards of the day –this has been one of the most exciting and unpredictable years in British politics.

The leadership election we’ve just seen marks a huge moment in our country’s history. This government is taking a decisive new direction, embracing the opportunities of Brexit and preparing our country to flourish outside the EU.

As international trade secretary, I’ll be driving forward work on the free trade agreements that are going to be a priority for the government. Free trade isn’t just an abstract concept bandied around by technocrats. It is crucial for a strong economy and for the ability of families to make ends meet. Free trade benefits people in every part of our country, as British firms export to new markets and people doing the weekly shop have access to a wider choice of goods at lower prices.

The essence of free trade is in the title: freedom. It’s about giving people the power to exchange their goods without heavy government taxation or interference. Commerce and free exchange are the engine room of prosperity and social mobility. I’m determined to tackle the forces who want to hold that back.

One of my priorities is agreeing an exciting new free trade deal with the US, building on the great relationship between our two countries and the Prime Minister and US President. But I’ll also be talking to other partners including New Zealand, Australia and fast-growing Asian markets.

And with the EU too, we want a friendly and constructive relationship, as constitutional equals, and as friends and partners in facing the challenges that lie ahead – a relationship based on a deep free trade agreement. Our country produces some of the world’s most successful exports, and the opportunity to bring these to the rest of the world should make us all excited about the future. It is this excitement, optimism and ambition which I believe will come to define this government.

For too long now, we have been told Britain isn’t big or important enough to survive outside the EU – that we have to accept a deal that reflects our reduced circumstances. I say that’s rubbish. With the right policies in place, we can be the most competitive, free-thinking, prosperous nation on Earth exporting to the world and leading in new developments like AI. To do that, we’ll give the brilliant next generation of entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed. Since 2015, there has been a staggering 85 per cent rise in the number of businesses set up by 18 to 24 year olds – twice the level set up by the same age group in France and Germany. We’ll help them flourish by championing enterprise, cutting taxes and making regulation flexible and responsive to their needs.

As we do that, we’ll level up and unite all parts of the UK with great transport links, fibre broadband in every home and proper school funding, so everyone shares in our country’s success.

2019 has been the year of brewing economic and political revolution. 2020 will be the year when a revitalised Conservative government turbo charges the economy, boosts prospects for people across the country, and catapults Britain back to the forefront of the world stage.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss
Secretary of State for International Development