Leeds East Academy

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Leeds East Academy'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 Leeds East Academy 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


Mrs Sarah Carrie, principal
Green-pen reflection
Having worked in the community of Seacroft for 18 years,
I have always known that our students were capable of
achieving excellence and that Leeds East Academy, under
the right leadership, would be destined to provide an excellent
standard of education for the community it serves. Thankfully
for this school, with the arrival of Andrew Whitaker as executive
principal and the support of our sponsor, Leeds City College, this
has happened and an exceptional team of staff and senior leaders
are now in place in the school. Both staff and students are
proud to form part of the White Rose Academies Trust, whose
far-reaching ambitions have broken the historical cycle of poor
academic achievement for pupils and transformed the quality of
the provision on offer to our wonderful, vibrant student body.
The initial stages of the journey to outstanding were expertly steered by Chris
Stokes who was the principal of the school from November 2016 to the start of
2018. As vice principal of raising standards during this exciting time for the school, I
was already a key part of the team who initiated and carried out the transformative
changes, which saw the fortunes of this wonderful school change significantly.
To now be principal at this pivotal point in the school’s journey is an absolute
privilege, and I feel destined, responsible and honoured to continue the journey I
commenced as part of Chris’ team.
Leeds East Academy serves the community of Seacroft in Leeds, which is one of the
most deprived communities in the UK. The majority of students who attend attract
the highest deprivation factors and some 69 per cent of the student population
»Executive principal: Andrew
»Principal: Mrs Sarah Carrie
»Founded in September 2011
as Leeds East Academy,
formerly Parklands Girls High
School from 1960
»Based in Seacroft, Leeds
»No. of students: 834
»No. of teachers: 61
»Disadvantaged pupils: 69 per
»EAL: 27 per cent
»2016 Progress 8 score: -0.74
»2017 Progress 8 score: +0.33
»Currently the most improved
school in Yorkshire
Leeds East Academy
Highlighting best practice
are classed as disadvantaged. Many of
our students come from single-parent
households and in their lifetimes, they
have suffered some form of significant
hardship or neglect. In recent years
a significant piece of work had been
conducted to improve the pastoral
care of pupils at Leeds East Academy;
however, developing and improving
the quality of teaching and learning
had been overlooked. The result of
this was that teachers’ expectations
of what students could achieve were
low, students lacked aspiration and
ambition, and the academic results
were poor, meaning that the majority
of students left with few, if any, GCSE
In September 2016, the school
achieved its worst-ever GCSE
results and plummeted below the
floor standard in both progress
and attainment measures. With
Ofsted due imminently and the
disastrous consequences of receiving
an “inadequate” or “requires
improvement” judgment all too clear,
the need to take swift and decisive
action to radically reform this failing
secondary school had never been
so great. After meeting with every
member of staff and all of year 11,
a bold new vision was put in place
for the school, a vision that would
see the school: not only achieve an
“outstanding” judgement from Ofsted
in 2019 but also be placed in the
top 1 per cent of schools nationally
within two years. Setting this hugely
aspirational goal was arguably one
of the most important steps on our
journey to success.
In order to drive the school forward at
a rapid pace there was a strong need
to establish a culture of excellence
and ambition. The establishment of
the LEA core values played a large
part in saying what we would be
about moving forward. Excellence,
punctuality, ambition, confidence,
resilience, positivity and respect
became the key words that were
synonymous with everything that we
did at Leeds East Academy. At senior
leadership level, we often would talk
about how our decisions reflected our
core values. Introducing the values
reinforced the behaviours we want our
students to demonstrate, making our
expectations explicitly clear. This has
elevated the aspirations of our students
as they are able to engage with and
fully understand a set of principles,
which will not only support them to
do well in school but also in life. Both
students and staff have embraced the
core values as they are at the heart of
everything we stand for.
Alongside the establishment of our
core values, we set about developing a
strong student leadership programme.
Students were not only put forward
to represent the academy but also
the trust, and through the creation
of opportunities including visiting
parliament, student leadership roles
quickly became both highly desirable
and highly regarded within the
academy. These roles in themselves
have created a highly important part
of our journey and are instrumental
in supporting us to further develop
the quality of our provision, improve
our results and significantly improve
Red Zone in action
There is a high
level of
across the
school, which
ensures that
all pupils
what is
required of
the quality of teaching and learning.
Through student voice activities our
student leaders identified that there
needed to be a greater focus on
preparing pupils for the pressures and
demands of the current examination
system and “preparing for exam
success” became priority four of our
teaching and learning strategy.
We were able to further strengthen
preparing our students for exam
success through the establishment
of an exciting partnership with the
Gorse Academies Trust, an outstanding
multi-academy trust in Leeds. Through
this partnership we were exposed to
a number of highly effective teaching
and learning strategies which had
been proven to have an incredible
impact on improving outcomes for
students. “Red Zone” quickly became
the centrepiece of our teaching and
learning strategy in school and is
something that we attribute a great
deal of our success to. Red Zone is a
period of time in every lesson that is
focused entirely on exam practice. Red
Zone takes place in all lessons, in all
subjects and in all year groups. Work
completed during this time is entirely
independent and is about assessing
whether a student can apply what
they have learnt to real GCSE exam
questions. Red Zone created a feeling
of exam confidence in our students;
they were better prepared than ever
for what they were going to face and
as a result had developed resilience to
the unknown.
Under new leadership and the forging
of a fantastic team of staff, Leeds
East Academy is thriving and has
moved, in just one year, from being
the worst-performing secondary
school in Leeds with a Progress 8
score of -0.74, to a school in the ninth
percentile of schools nationally with
a validated Progress 8 score of +0.33.
This is just the beginning and our
current year 11 students are forecast
to attain results that will achieve our
two-year goal and place the academy
in the first percentile nationally. It is
fully anticipated that in every single
attainment and progress measure,
Leeds East Academy will exceed
national averages this year, in spite
of our Sig- (24.8) average point score
Alongside our academic success, Leeds
East Academy is now also excelling
in other non-attainment measures.
Attendance today currently stands at
95.2 per cent (90.9 per cent in 15/16),
persistent absence is at 9.5 per cent
(26 per cent in 15/16), exclusions are
at 0.8 per cent (77 per cent in 15/16)
and NEET is at 2.2 per cent (21 per
cent in 15/16). In addition to this,
having recently been selected to write
case studies for the regional school
commissioner on rapid improvement
and cultural change, the academy
has managed to shift an exceptionally
poor reputation and has begun to be
taken seriously for its now far-reaching
achievements. The families of Seacroft
and the surrounding areas now have a
school that they can be proud of. With
440 applications to join the academy in
September next year, it is clear that the
community is fully behind the school
on its journey to “outstanding”.
Pupils are
resilience and
They show
respect for one
another and are
ambitious and
Student leaders drive
school improvement


This article was sponsored by Leeds East Academy. 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 Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy