Low Ash Primary School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Low Ash 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 Low Ash 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


The school is proud to be at
the heart of the community
The school’s motto is: “Learn,
achieve, persevere, succeed”
There is no doubt that the success of Low Ash Primary’s
journey from an underperforming school to a “good”
school is firmly based on people and relationships: the
right people in the right places, with the collective “tools” and
a strong sense of purpose. Supported and guided by decisive,
effective and strategic leadership, the way in which Terry
Woollin runs his school is informed by the guiding principles
of co-operation and teamwork, which are at the heart of Low
Ash’s ethos. By following a self-improving school model, having
an unwavering attention to detail and a relentless focus, the
simple vision – teach well, so children enjoy and excel – has
been achieved.
The difference
When I became head teacher of Low Ash in 2013, I joined a school with great
facilities, a genuine community feel and no obvious barriers to learning: an average
deprivation factor and number of children with special educational needs, together
with the vast majority of children speaking English as their first language and
strong parental support. So why was Low Ash languishing in the bottom third of
the 160 or so primary schools in Bradford?
Five years on and we have our Ofsted rating of “good” (April 2016), our writing
scores in 2016 were in the top five per cent of schools nationally and, in 2017,
the school’s progress scores for reading, writing and maths were all in the top
»Head teacher: Terry Woollin
»Founded in 1937
»Based in Wrose, Bradford,
West Yorkshire
»Type of school: Primary school
for children aged 3 to 11
»No. of pupils: 460
Low Ash Primary
Highlighting best practice
20 per cent of schools nationally.
Furthermore, attainment in reading,
writing and maths when combined
was 12 per cent above the national
figure for 2017.
How it was done
It was clear to me that funding cuts for
local authorities would mean solutions,
and improvement would need to
come from within. Identifying talented
individuals to bring about and manage
change, by revising the leadership
structure, was the key. Giving leaders
the time and opportunity to complete
action research, analyse strengths
and areas needing development and
to learn from other settings were
important factors too; all set against
a backdrop of tightening budgets for
schools in the future. However, it was
vital that we changed and looked at
things from a more strategic view,
rethought and remodelled.
Procedures and processes were
pared back, becoming more focused,
effective and consistent. Leaders now
had the time, clarity of focus and
team support to put plans into action.
Investing time to create and mould a
leadership “dream team” was crucial
if people were to buy into the vision,
feel empowered and take the initiative
As the first few successes were
achieved, change became easier to
embrace and accept. Although it was
incredibly hard work, people believed
in what we were doing; each success
was celebrated. We improved the
look and atmosphere of the school
by showcasing the achievements of
the children and staff so that visitors,
parents and children were swathed in
success at every opportunity.
A distributed leadership model,
based on tasks and interactions, not
positions, was an important feature
of our success. A shared, collective
and extended leadership practice
was needed to increase the capacity
for success. This gave ownership
and proved to be motivational,
but it needed high levels of trust,
transparency and mutual respect.
We listened well
Governance was strong. Regular visits,
discussions and interactions with
leaders, parents and children made
a difference. It became clear that the
children wanted more exciting and
interesting lessons and a chance to
discuss and debate things more. From
this the concepts of the “Creative
Carousel” and “Our Low Ash
Values” (Respect, Tolerance, Liberty,
Democracy, and Law) were born.
Opportunities for the children to excel,
but also enjoy, were now available and
gleefully received.
The restrictive diet and focus solely on
reading, writing and maths became a
thing of the past and extracurricular
clubs were increased to more than 20.
With the improved and “fun” curriculum
came an increase in attendance too.
The school actively
promotes its values
of respect, tolerance,
democracy, liberty and
A distributed
model, based
on tasks and
not positions,
was an
feature of our
Strength in depth
Because we now have a strong base
of expertise to draw upon, it is easier
to motivate and develop staff in both
academic subjects and the more
creative aspects.
From spelling strategies to clay coil pot
techniques, from models and images
in maths to cutting, cooking and food
hygiene – we share expertise and build
capacity and confidence in our staff.
The introduction of videoing, where
colleagues reflect and debate on their
own and others’ practice, has been
instrumental in improving standards
in a supportive and non-threatening
environment based on honesty
New priorities, new
Embedding outside learning into our
curriculum is next. Linked to year
group topics such as Anglo Saxons,
North America and The Seaside,
we continue to try to be creative in
our approach. In our World War 2
topic, children can design, make and
experience being in an Anderson
shelter, then go blackberry picking
and,finally, learn to make and bake
their own apple and blackberry
crumble. Children are immersed in
real-life, first-hand experiences to
capture their imagination and develop
a love of learning that they thrive on.
The future? We’re branching
Our successes have been recognised
and we now work alongside other
primary schools and teaching schools.
We want to help others to build their
capacity to improve, particularly at a
leadership and strategic level.
I firmly believe that there is always
something to be learnt both from
others and working with others:
absolutely a reciprocal process. If
someone asked me: “Can you put
your finger on the main thing that will
help you support others well, learn
from them and develop yourselves
furthertoo?” The answer would be a
simple one: focus on the people and
relationships and keep to the main
thing; teach well, so children enjoy
Focus on the people and
relationships and keep to the main
thing: teach well, so children enjoy
and excel
»Investors in Pupils
»Bradford College Initial
Teacher Education (ITE)
»School Games Gold
»Music Provision Silver
The school ensures that children are
ready and well placed to make the
world better
A positive learning
environment for all


This article was sponsored by Low Ash 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