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 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