Market Drayton Infant & Nursery School

Highlighting best practice as a representative in The Parliamentary Review

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 Market Drayton Infant & Nursery School is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Headteacher Samantha Scott
A broad curriculum offer
helps to build aspirations
Based in North Shropshire Market Drayton Infant and
Nursery School is situated in an area with a number of
social and economic challenges. Typically a large proportion
of the children enter the nursery over six months behind where
they should be, particularly in communication and language
skills. It is a three-form entry school, with a large nursery setting.
The current Headteacher Samantha Scott was appointed in 2008
and the school received the Ofsted rating of “good” in 2013.
In 2018, the school worked with five other schools to establish Empower Academy
Trust. I joined Market Drayton Infant and Nursery School in 2008 when the school
had historically received “satisfactory” grades from Ofsted. Attainment was below
national averages and, of the then current year two cohort, only seven per cent had
achieved the expected level in all areas of communication, language and literacy at
the end of Early Years Foundation Stage. Attainment at the end of Key Stage 1 had
been significantly below national attainment in reading, writing and mathematics
for the previous three years.
Two terms after my appointment, the school received its first inspection under my
leadership. The school maintained its “satisfactory” rating, but the inspector stated
that two terms earlier the school could have been in special measures. The report
commented: “Good leadership from the new headteacher has led to the right
action being taken.”
Distributive leadership
Historically, our school had been quite isolated, and the staff were enthusiastic
about the opportunity for change. There had been a lack of rigour in assessment,
»Headteacher: Samantha Scott
»Academy conversion:
»Location: Shropshire
»Type of school: Three form
entry infant school with nursery
»No. of students: 400
Market Drayton Infant
& Nursery School
Highlighting best practice
the curriculum was uninspiring and the
leadership within the school required
strengthening. Significant work
was needed in terms of the school
environment to make it a place that
the whole school community would be
proud of and somewhere that would
be conducive to learning and teaching.
A considerable amount of work
in strengthening the leadership
was completed. The school now
has a strong distributive leadership
structure, with increased emphasis
on leadership at all levels, from senior
leaders through to subject leadership.
Developing and implementing
a coaching model has improved
standards in learning and teaching
over a number of years; this includes
lesson study, team teaching, and
lesson coaching through the use
of video to improve practice. As a
result, staff are more open to asking
for support, willing to share their
practice, accountable and able to take
controlled risks.
Wellbeing at the heart
Initially, in the change period, the
self-esteem of the children was low
and their attitudes to “self and school”
were ranked significantly below their
peers nationally.
Our approach to mental health and
wellbeing is one of our highest priorities.
Rather than one or two members of staff
offering pastoral support, the school
has developed a more tiered approach
for emotional health and wellbeing.
There are three members of staff that
have completed the “Emotional Literacy
Support Adviser” training, who offer
small-group and one-to-one pastoral
support where needed. One of the
main challenges was finding therapeutic
support for children in our age range.
It was decided to use some of the pupil
premium funding to train a member of
staff as a play therapist, enabling the
school to address the needs of children
who may have experienced adverse
childhood experiences.
To benchmark the work the school was
doing, we decided to work towards a
wellbeing award, with key performance
indicators developed, against which
we could assess ourselves. This has
enabled us to evaluate and celebrate
the work that has been done to
support all stakeholders. As part of the
work, the mental health leads have co-
operated with a range of professionals
from external agencies. The school
was asked to present the work to the
Health and Wellbeing Board in January
2020 and in March 2020 external
validation recommended that we
were awarded the Wellbeing Award
for Schools supported by the National
Children’s Bureau.
Achievement for all
We place a keen emphasis on early
intervention, which starts from entry
into the nursery provision. Completing
home visits helps the school to develop
a relationship with parents from the
outset and identify early support.
Having the nursery on site means that
children with SEND are identified as
soon as possible and we can then begin
to put appropriate support in place.
About a quarter of the children in the
nursery receive speech and language
A large nursery setting
means that early
development and
intervention is key
Our approach
to mental
health and
wellbeing is
one of our
support from our specially trained
teaching assistants. The majority of the
children receiving this intervention do
not have a speech and language need
by the end of Key Stage 1.
We also ensure that the pupils can
access extracurricular activities and
all wider school activities, as well as
making consistent progress.
Teachers meet regularly with identified
parents for conversations, which helps
to ensure the correct intervention and
support is identified for their child and
forge better relationships with families.
Parents are invited in for workshops,
linked to literacy or mathematics where
they work alongside their child at least
a year and the turnout is over 95 per
cent across the school. Our dedication
to supporting children with SEND
and those identified as disadvantaged
has been recognised through the
Achievement for All Quality Mark.
An innovative curriculum
The broader curriculum of the school is
something that we have worked hard
to develop over a number of years. The
main curriculum driver for the school
is “Reach for the Stars”; in a market
town this helps to build aspirations
and teach children about different
possibilities for their future lives.
Based on research, since September
2019, the existing curriculum has
been adapted in order to develop a
more innovative approach. “Threshold
concepts” are used as the key disciplines
for each subject, which the children keep
returning to over time. “Interleaving” or
spaced repetition is used to implement
the curriculum, which discriminates
from topics and aids long-term memory.
For example, the children will return to
materials in science several times during
the year. Early feedback from staff
and pupils indicates that this approach
is working, with children able to talk
more widely about different aspects of
Leading the school through
partial closure and reopening
Maintaining communication with all
stakeholders has been a challenge
since March. Despite this, I think
it is something that the school has
done well. A learning platform
called Seesaw was used to support
children at home enabling them to
have regular communication with
classmates. Where families did not
have access to the internet, packs
of work were prepared. Through
regular contact, staff did an excellent
job in supporting families who
required additional support. From
the parental questionnaire, 100 per
cent of parents felt that the guidance
from the school during coronavirus
had been clear and 93 per cent felt
that the school had supported home
learning well.
From September 2020, I have taken
up the post of executive headteacher
across the infant and junior school. The
challenge for the next year will be to
offer a broad and balanced curriculum,
support wellbeing of the whole school
community and at the same time
making up for the lost months where
the schooling has and continues to be
anything but normal.
The main
driver for the
school is “Reach
for the Stars”;
in a market
town this helps
to build
aspirations and
teach children
about different
possibilities for
their future
Raising attainment
in Communication,
Language and Literacy
has been a priority

This article was sponsored by Market Drayton Infant & Nursery 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