La Sainte Union Catholic School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by La Sainte Union Catholic 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 La Sainte Union Catholic 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

Sophie Fegan, head teacher
We pride ourselves on the inclusive, caring and
secure environment we provide for pupils
La Sainte Union (LSU), in Highgate, London, is a Roman
Catholic girls school for 11 to 18-year-olds, with boys
admitted in sixth form. It prides itself on providing young
people with a wealth of opportunities to grow spiritually,
personally and academically in a calm environment. Between
a selection of trustees, governors, staff, students and parents,
La Sainte Union is more than a school: it is a community. It
prioritises excellence and strives for students to expect and want
more, and to be passionate and driven in everything they do.
Here, Sophie Fegan, head teacher, discusses La Sainte Union, its
mission, its charisma and its community spirit.
Our history and mission
Our school was opened in 1861 following an invitation from Cardinal Wiseman.
A decorated history has followed; we formed a consortium with local schools in
the 1980s, and were awarded specialist school status in July 2004. Central to our
mission is the vision of our founder, Father Jean Baptiste Debrabant, who stated:
“AChristian-based education offers a sure hope for the future of religion and society.”
We consider ourselves custodians of his vision. As such, we endeavour to provide
an inclusive, caring and secure environment for all pupils to recognise their own
academic potential, and seek to educate the whole person – academically, as well
as socially, spiritually and morally. This attitude is integral to remaining a passionate
Catholic community promoting the dignity of each talented individual, focusing on
the needs and encouraging the aspirations of our students.
»Head teacher: Sophie Fegan
»Founded in 1861
»Based in Highgate, Camden
»Type of school: Roman
Catholic girls’ school for 11-18
year olds
»No. of students: 1,200
»No. of staff: 130
»Founding member of
the LaSWAP Sixth Form
»Active member of the North
London Citizens charity
La Sainte Union
Catholic School
Highlighting best practice
Developing the LSU learning
Our journey over the last few years
has been centred on moving from
being a school with pockets of
excellence to becoming a school
where excellence is the norm. We
saw overwhelmingly positive results,
previously, specifically in English and
religious education – but we wanted
to strive towards seeing these results
in all subjects. We knew the whole
school, across our entire traditional
curriculum, could emulate what had
been achieved in these individual
areas. To accomplish this, we focused
on raising the quality of teaching
in maths and science, specifically in
two aspects: the quality of delivery
and the quality of the curriculum.
In other words, what was taught,
and how it was being taught. For
both these areas, members of our
leadership team focused on providing
detailed lesson observation feedback
and specialised development targets
for each member of teaching
Alongside this, subject leaders
evaluated the quality of the schemes
of work, listened to pupil feedback
about what was taught, scrutinised
curriculum resources, engaged in
a research programme and visited
other schools. As a result, subject
leaders developed a concrete idea
of what excellence in their subject
at our school should look like.
They were supported by the senior
leadership in making this vision a
reality, an effect of which was the
mathematics department developing
what we termed a “mastery
curriculum”. As a result, pupils at Key
Stage 3 have a clear and excellent
understanding of key concepts. For
science, however, we examined
instead the accountability in the
team, and ensured everyone in it
took responsibility for the success of
students in the department.
This began five years ago by
introducing subject leaders to a
rigorous process of self-evaluation. Not
only have we developed our teaching
and learning philosophies but we
have also struck a harmonious balance
between direction and creativity.
These are key pedagogical concepts
which the entire staff team apply
consistently in their own, individual
style ofdelivery.
Across the whole school, the LSU
learning community ensures that
Pupils at Key Stage
3 follow a mastery
A broad and balanced
curriculum helps to
educate the whole
We have
struck a
direction and
teachers engage with pedagogical
research. Action research trios
investigate and trial new ways of
working, and report back to their
teams every term. Staff at all levels
contribute to our teaching and
learning digest – a journal which
reports and reflects on pedagogical
development. Teachers run internal
twilight training sessions for one
another. A key focus of our strategy
is to increase students’ output while
reducing teacher workload.
Supporting our community
Following the internal success of our
work, we have begun reaching out
as we seek to support and work in
tandem with other schools, where LSU
teachers work as coaches and mentors
for staff. We have established learning
hubs with regards to our “maths
mastery” curriculum and on academic
writing skills for post-16 education. We
run a chartered teacher programme,
which develops outstanding sixth
The culture in this school means that
all teachers are reflective practitioners
who engage with pedagogical
research. Teachers are ambitious
for the school, for their students
and for themselves. Staff receive six
individual feedback sessions through
the academic year, be it through
observation, scrutiny of resources, or
learner feedback. Subject knowledge
is strong and our teachers work closely
with exam boards, some of them as
examiners, to understand what needs
to be done for the attainment of
higher grades.
What comes next?
Progress at LSU is excellent, but we
know more can be done. Our aim is
that all teachers at LSU have a solid
understanding of what is taught at
Key Stage 2 so that progress in year
7 can be serious and straightforward.
We fully recognise the demands of
undergraduate courses and university
life, and, as such, our A level lessons
prepare students for more than just
excellent grades. We want to ensure
that all teachers are experts in their
fields through links with primary and
tertiary providers as well as employers.
Finally, the development of our
careers education will provide another
opportunity for staff to familiarise
themselves with the needs of the
workplace and assist them in adapting
their teaching to meet these needs.
A key focus of
our strategy is
to increase
students’ output
while reducing
Academic writing skills
are taught explicitly in
the sixth form
Our production
an example of our
dedication to exposing
students to high culture

This article was sponsored by La Sainte Union Catholic 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