Kirton Primary School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Kirton 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 Kirton 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

Executive Headteacher
NickyDonley (centre)
We are within the top one
per cent of schools in the
country for the performance
of disadvantaged pupils
By adopting an innovative project entitled “Learn and
Earn”, Kirton Primary School have been able to increase
their standards dramatically, moving from below the local
average to be within the top one per cent of the schools in the
country for the performance of disadvantaged pupils. Central to
this improvement has been pursuing teaching beyond the core
curriculum, a technique that benefits both the engagement of
pupils and core attainment scores. Executive Headteacher Nicky
Donley came to the school 12 years ago and explains how they
have achieved this dramatic progress.
Based in a rural community on the outskirts of Boston, our school caters for 540
students, of which 30 per cent have special educational needs, 20 per cent have
English as an additional language and 25 per cent are entitled to free school meals.
I came to the school 12 years ago, at a time when they were really struggling with
standards, particularly for those students leaving Key Stage 2. The school was
well below the national and indeed the local average, so it was essential that we
improved these standards.
The “Learn and Earn” project
One of the main ways we achieved this was the establishment of the in-school
high street. The aim of this project was twofold: to motivate a passion for hard
work and learning while inspiring the children to generate and take control of their
own success and to teach the children personal finance to prepare them for the
pressures of adulthood. The key features of the high street are the school bank and
»Executive Headteacher:
»Established in 1975
»Based in Kirton
»Type: Primary
»No. of pupils: 540
Kirton Primary School
Highlighting best practice
the school shop, part of our “Learn
and Earn” project.
Both the bank and the shop are entirely
student run and are linked directly to
the curriculum. Students earn Kirts (K),
our currency, through a number of
methods, such as receiving full marks
on a spelling test, which they can then
deposit into the bank. Kirts can also be
earned for independent working, social
and personal learning, or representing
the school in a football fixture or a
choir performance.
The bank and shop staff wear uniforms
and badges that they have selected
themselves. The children organise and
oversee their work rotas, check pay,
order stock, create window displays,
arrange special offers, open bank
accounts, balance the books and lock
up at the close of each day’s trading.
They also get paid in Kirts.
The shop sells merchandise at prices
ranging from 3K to 100K. Getting
full marks on a spelling test earns 1K,
so the children have to work hard
and get to experience the reward of
long-term saving for more-expensive
items over the immediate gratification
of spending on cheaper items.
The children are even able to earn
interest on their savings. Many have
changed their spending and saving
habits based on previous impulsive
purchases that have delayed their
saving plans. Some children have
bought Mother’s Day gifts or gifts for
younger siblings, imbuing in them
a sense of pride, independence and
autonomy. Since the opening of the
high street, every child in the school
has opened an account in the bank
and purchased items from the shops.
After browsing the shops, they are
able to set their own goals – whether
financial, academic or social – in order
to make a purchase. They have learnt
how to manage their finances and to
appreciate the connection between
work and reward. They have learnt the
value of earning and of hard work.
Lessons that were once accompanied
by groans now elicit a buzz of
excitement. Dedicated staff have given
up their own time to put on additional
lunchtime clubs for the children to
learn their times tables and spellings.
Children request retests; so determined
are they to earn their Kirts that one
times tables test a week has proved
not enough.
Both the bank and shop
are entirely student
run and linked to the
They have
learnt how to
manage their
finances and
to appreciate
between work
and reward
The impact on standards
The venture has had a significant
impact on standards. For the last four
years, Kirton Primary School has been
in the top two per cent of schools in
England for progress in mathematics,
reading and writing and the top one
per cent for the progress made by
disadvantaged children, including
those with special educational needs.
The Real Schools Guide has rated
Kirton Primary School as the best
primary school in Lincolnshire for four
years running.
“Learn and Earn” has been particularly
beneficial to children from more
disadvantaged backgrounds, as
they have made the most rapid
improvement, eradicating any gaps in
terms of attainment.
Alongside this wider project, we have
also adapted our curriculum, switching
to a topic-based model. These topics
are designed to correspond to the
interests of our children, and we fit a
learning objective into each topic. Each
segment only lasts six weeks, ensuring
that if children are not engaged, they
do not have to wait long. The relaxing
of Ofsted guidelines has meant that
we are now getting recognition
for what we are doing, especially
our commitment to extracurricular
teaching: personal finance is not on
the curriculum, but our investment
in this through the “Learn and Earn”
project has seen results sky rocket.
Celebrating our staff and
continuing to develop
This increase in standards, and the
accolades we have received for it, has
also developed a strong sense of pride
among our staff. They now strive for
evermore recognition, and although
recruitment is still a challenge, we
receive many more applicants than
other local schools. The personal
awards our staff have received – one
won Primary School Teacher of the
Year while another received the
Finance Teacher of the Year Award
– are testament to their effort and
To continue this progress, we are
looking to develop our school grounds.
We have asked what the children
would like and are delivering their
wishes. We are planning to construct
biodomes, much like those at the
Eden project. One will be based on
the Mediterranean climate, one for
a tropical environment and one for
Boston. The children will use these
spaces to grow the types of plants that
are indigenous to these areas. As well
as developing responsibility among our
students, it will give them a chance to
see different environments, as many of
their families cannot afford to travel.
We are committed to embracing new
and challenging ways to improve the
way we teach, and we hope to do this
for many more years to come.
We are
committed to
new and
ways to
improve the
way we teach
The Real Schools Guide
has rated us the best
primary school in
Lincolnshire for four
years running

This article was sponsored by Kirton 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 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