Loose Primary School

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


Highlighting best practice
Darren Webb,
executive head teacher
Surrounding children with
In 2013 Loose Infant School was judged to require improvement.
At the same time the junior school was deemed vulnerable by
Kent education authority, which felt that urgent action was
needed to avoid the risk of the school being sent into special
measures by Ofsted. Darren Webb was appointed head teacher
of the amalgamated schools in 2014. His first task was to tackle
the pervading mood of complacency, which was leading to poor
pupil progress.
Darren identifies three distinct periods of school improvement that enabled Loose
Primary School to overcome these challenges and establish outstanding provision.
These were:
»Transformation – developing a culture of excellence (September 2014 to
December 2014)
»Embedding excellence (January 2015 to July 2016)
»Leading excellence (September 2016 onwards)
Transformation – developing a culture of excellence
Our first task was to establish a set of shared values to underpin a clear and strong
vision that would set the tone for rapid school improvement. We agreed on the
very first day in September 2014 that Loose Primary School should be a place
where “Potential is Limitless”. Between September 2014 and December 2014 we
implemented a 14-week transformation plan to develop this culture and to improve
dramatically the quality of provision.
»Executive head teacher:
Darren Webb
»Based in Maidstone, Kent
»No. of pupils: 654
»No. of classes: 21
»No. of teachers: 31
»Ofsted: “Outstanding”,
November 2016
»School motto: “Potential is
Loose Primary School
We needed to challenge mindsets, as
there was enormous talent among the
staff that wasn’t having the impact
that it should have had. High-quality
professional development was the
key and a programme of support was
designed to reinforce our emerging
culture of excellence. Inspirational
speakers were invited into school and
every member of staff was given the
opportunity to visit outstanding schools
in London and the South East. These
schools were carefully selected to
strengthen our message and meetings
were arranged after each visit to agree
what each member of staff would
implement to secure positive impact
for the children at Loose.
During the transformation plan there
was a relentless focus on developing
a thorough understanding of high-
quality teaching. All teachers worked
with coaches and mentors to establish
individual development plans which
insisted on high expectations and
accountability for pupil outcomes. A
set of non-negotiables was created and
these were used, alongside the teachers’
individual plans, to evaluate progress
regularly. This had a tremendous
impact on raising expectations and
improving the quality of teaching.
The environment was also vitally
important. We wanted a focal point
– a vision – to guide the direction for
reform. The school was decluttered and
refurbished and communal areas were
reinvigorated. Enthusiastic teachers
who had bought into the vision at an
early stage transformed their classrooms
using the visits to other schools to
inspire them. These rooms were then
used as models for others and to add
to the strengthening ethos. Classrooms
were becoming a place of beauty
where high expectations were evident
wherever you looked. The children
could not fail to be caught up in this.
The final part of the “transformation
phase” was the development of
a leadership structure that was fit
for purpose. I knew that the small
leadership team was unable to sustain
this pace of school improvement
without establishing a structure that
would allow a relentless focus on
improving the quality of teaching and
learning. Governors were supportive
Designing a rich and
interactive curriculum
where learning really
We needed to
mindsets, as
there was
talent among
the staff that
wasn’t having
the impact
that it should
have had
Highlighting best practice
and we quickly created new posts such
as a business manager and families
and community manager. We also
appointed an additional assistant head
teacher and created a strategic team of
middle leaders. Financially, this was a
risk but we knew that it was essential
and focused on securing efficiencies to
enable us to moveforward.
Embedding excellence
By January 2015, provision was
good in most areas. Momentum was
building and we were keen to use
emerging aspects of outstanding best
practice as a tool both to support staff
and to judge the quality of teaching
throughout the school. These helped
to guide staff in what they needed to
do to establish excellence within their
roles and their classrooms.
We then set about designing a rich and
innovative curriculum that was values
led and provided the children with
many opportunities to become excited
about learning. Enrichment activities
were built into all topics and children
were increasingly involved in planning
so that they were learning about
things that really mattered to them.
We wanted to expose the children to
as many opportunities as possible, and
the arts became a focal point for much
of what we did.
During this period, high expectations
became the norm and children’s
work of the very highest quality was
published on inspiring displays around
the school. This intensified the culture
of excellence and there was a knock-
on effect in the quality of work in
books. There was a real precision with
how the children were critiquing their
own and each other’s learning and
this was enabling them to make far
stronger progress than previously. They
were also seeing excellence in terms
of character, and their behaviour and
attitudes towards learning were quickly
becoming exemplary.
Leading excellence
Teachers have recently created a rubric
for evaluating the quality of their own
practice and for holding others to
account for their practices so a culture
of trust is now being strengthened
throughout the school system. Our
leadership pathways and outstanding
teacher programmes are helping us to
ensure that excellence is maintained
and that capacity continues to grow
so that the impact of this work is felt
beyond Loose Primary School.
From September 2016, we have been
confident that outstanding provision
is consistent across the school. I have
immense admiration for the whole
staff team for embracing such a
rapid period of change and school
improvement. For me, it proves that
with a clear direction, a commitment
to excellence and a willingness from
governors and leaders to invest in
people, anything is possible.
We wanted to
expose the
children to as
as possible,
and the arts
became a
focal point for
much of what
we did
Achieving high standards
through making learning
fun and exciting


This article was sponsored by Loose 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 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