Little Lever School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Little Lever 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 Little Lever 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

Highlighting best practice
Dominic Mckeon, head teacher
The Little Lever Way helps every child focus
and concentrate on learning
Little Lever Academy is a mixed secondary school in
Little Lever, Bolton. Previously a community school
specialising in business and enterprise, it was converted
to academy status in December 2015. Although it is a low-
mobility academy with 958 students on roll, 32 per cent of
students are eligible for pupil premium, and Little Lever’s
core philosophy reflects this – they want to help students
achieve things previously beyond their grasp, no matter
where they have come from. Principal Dominic Mckeon here
discusses the academy, its attitude, its curriculum and the
Our core purpose
Our core purpose is simple – “To help every person achieve things they never
thought they could.”
Every individual in the academy was involved in creating this
mission statement, and we all believe that no matter who you are or where you
come from, you can achieve brilliant things. We have a ten-year goal to become
one of the best schools in the country. We have started well and have built a
team of people who are absolutely committed to helping our students and their
colleagues achieve things they never thought they could.
This purpose is at the centre of everything we do. The quality of teaching, our
curriculum, our behaviour policy and the way we interact with students are all
centred around our singular philosophy.
»Head teacher: Dominic Mckeon
»Founded in 1972
»Based in Little Lever, Bolton
»Type of school: Mixed
secondary school
»No. of students: 958
»No. of staff: 58
»Ofsted: ”Good”, 2012
»Pupil premium: 32 per cent
Little Lever Academy
The “Little Lever Way”
We do things the Little Lever Way.
We have drawn a physical blue line
around our academy as a message
to our students – when you cross the
blue line, you do things the Little Lever
Way. We established a set of simple
guiding principles that all our students
must abide by when they are in the
academy. There are no excuses with
this, and everyone in the academy is
expected to adhere to these standards.
It applies to everyone; we believe every
child can be successful no matter who
you are or where you come from.
Being relentless
We relentlessly focus on our routines.
Our number one priority is to
continually improve the quality of
teaching; we know this will have the
biggest impact in helping students
achieve things they never thought they
could. We collaboratively created a
simple blueprint to support teachers
to meet the expectations we set. This
was aligned with our purpose and built
around challenging students with the
drive to personalise learning to meet
their needs.
Investing in professional
We believe in creating a developmental
and collaborative culture for staff so
that they receive high-quality feedback
concerning their practice. We review
the quality of teaching every week,
and act rapidly to coach and support
teachers through this process.
We have established a unique
relationship with the training provider
Ambition School Leadership. This has
allowed us to create individual training
programmes for newly qualified
teachers through to senior leaders
so that all staff have the appropriate
skills to deliver the core purpose.
All of our middle leaders must take
part in the professional development
programme we have designed with
Ambition School Leadership within
the first six terms of taking up the
post. This is a non-negotiable clause
written into their job descriptions. We
build collaborative planning into the
curriculum when teachers are at their
most creative and innovative. Teachers
have to talk about the impact of their
practice and share what is having the
greatest impact with their colleagues.
We have developed strong links
with other schools and have shared
our training packages. Our links
with St James’ in Bolton, Blessed
Thomas Holford in Altrincham, All
Saints Catholic College in Dukinfield,
Outwood Grange in Yorkshire and the
PiXL club have given us access to local,
regional and national sources of best
practice. We have learnt something
from each of these organisations
and have acted swiftly to change our
practice so we continue to rapidly
improve in all areas.
Our curriculum
We simply want our curriculum to
improve our students’ life chances.
We concentrate on English, maths and
science, but because we personalise
Every student can
achieve things they
never thought they
When you
cross the blue
line, you do
things the
Little Lever
Highlighting best practice
the curriculum, we can keep it both
broad and balanced. Some of our
students are entered for GCSEs at the
end of year 10 in one of their option
choices; this allows us to provide
flexible curriculum options for those
students who need additional time and
challenge in English, maths and science
in year 11. Our students can select
“option English”, “option maths”
and “option science” in year 11. Our
intervention is part of our curriculum
and learning model.
Simple structures
We rationalised the staffing structure
so it was simple, clear and cost-
effective. Moving leaders onto
leadership pay scales allowed greater
flexibility to extend and clarify the roles
of high-performing middle leaders,
as well as providing progression and
training for them. This has supported
our recruitment and retention strategy.
Using effective, curriculum-led
financial planning has also helped us
to effectively model the costs of our
curriculum for the next five years to
ensure we can operate efficiently and
generate resources to achieve our core
purpose. Our students benefit from the
capacity for progress we create.
Celebrate success
We are very proud of every child at
Little Lever, and we see the potential
every young person has to go on and
achieve things they never thought
they could. We regularly reward
and celebrate the achievements of
In 2017, our GCSE outcomes in
English rose by seven per cent and
our maths outcomes rose by 12 per
cent. We have significantly narrowed
the achievement gap between boys
and girls and the achievement gap of
the most disadvantaged students. Our
professional development programme
has been regarded as a source of
national best practice and the quality
of teaching has rapidly improved
across the academy.
While we are monumentally proud
of everything we have done so far,
we adopt a second philosophy when
it comes to looking to the future:
“Don’t dwell on your success or your
failure, keep moving forward.” We
know there is more to do for our
young people, and we are determined
to provide
the highest standard of
education for them and their families
so that our whole community benefits.
We see the
potential every
young person
has to go on
and achieve
things they
never thought
they could
Welcome to Little Lever

This article was sponsored by Little Lever 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