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 Marner Primary School is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.
Marner Primary School
Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles
1MARNER PRIMARY SCHOOL |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE
The joy of reading and
Marner Primary School have placed their story at the heart
of everything they do: from their extracurricular offering
to their key vision words of “respect”, “happiness”,
“growth”, “hope” and “motivation”. The school community is
bound together through school-wide projects such as becoming
a Rights Respecting School, and they have worked hard to design
a curriculum that suits the individual needs of their students. They
aim to consolidate their progress by establishing a robust and
effective peer review system that goes beyond simple checklists.
Headteacher Nick Hague tells
The Parliamentary Review
We are a three-form entry community school with 680 students on roll, just
below our capacity of 700. Alongside our main provision, we have our own
nursery, which provides both part-time and full-time places. I joined the school in
September 2016, with the school already being rated “good” by Ofsted. Within
six months, we were inspected again and our rating was renewed. Since that time,
we have sought to build on this foundation. We have undertaken a slight rebrand,
changing our logo and installing a new vision and focus. Everything we do is now
centred on the phrase “Marner: the story of us.” This is linked to our key vision
words: “respect”, “happiness”, “growth”, “hope” and “motivation”.
Telling the story of the school
As our children undertake a staggering amount of varied activities, we thought it
was essential to showcase the breadth of the offering the school provided. From
sporting competitions to Marner’s Got Talent, we needed to demonstrate to
MARNER PRIMARY SCHOOL
»Headteacher: Nick Hague
»Based in Tower Hamlets
»Type: Three-form entry
»No. of pupils: 680
Marner Primary School
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
2| MARNER PRIMARY SCHOOL
parents and the community the range
of activities we offer to our students.
By showcasing what we do beyond the
classroom, we can also show our core
values and what we believe in.
One of the key changes that we made
was the establishment of a strong
parental engagement system. This
is a key focus for us and centres on
involving parents as much as possible,
often through courses, which can
range from organising the summer
fair to emotional literacy. We also try
to orchestrate an open agenda and
share our story, letting the parents
know how we are structuring our
provision. Beyond this, we seek to
give parents opportunities to develop
and offer various educational courses.
If they have a need we cannot
fulfil, we signpost them to other
This year, we have started working on
becoming a Rights Respecting School.
This is a school-wide project and is
infused throughout our curriculum
and everything that we do. We
are targeting the first award this
year before moving on to the silver
award next year. Beyond this, we are
engaged with the mayor of London’s
air pollution project and are a Disney
school, having just performed The Lion
King and visited the Lyceum Theatre.
These various projects and experiences
all contribute to our vision and what
we aim to offer our children. We also
run a Saturday school. Children can
come along and engage in English
and Maths activities alongside a
broader focus, supported by visiting
speakers and external trips. We are
trying to tell the story of a primary
school in a different way: we are not
just 9-5 but are working on offering a
Developing a provision that
suits our needs
When I arrived, the school followed the
international primary curriculum. Since
that time, we have been reviewing
and adapting our curriculum offer to
ensure that it is right for our children.
We are not leaving the IPC behind but
rather are seeking to move away from
using only one model and to create a
hybrid that best suits the needs of our
children. To this end, we are cherry-
picking the best elements of different
models and linking them closely to the
story we want to tell. This combined
curriculum is based on best practice in
a range of areas.
Keeping the ball in the
One of the
that we made
of a strong
3MARNER PRIMARY SCHOOL |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE
Rather than conducting large-
scale retraining, we have refocused
our resources and staff. Before
the establishment of our parental
engagement team, we only had one
parental engagement officer for the
whole school. For a school of our
size, this was an incredibly large task
for one person. We refocused this
brief and expanded their capabilities:
we now have a home school liaison
officer, an officer who handles
volunteers and someone who focuses
specifically on early years. Our view is
that if you engage with parents during
those vital early years, they will be on
board for their children’s whole school
careers. These clearer procedures have
already garnered positive feedback
from parents. We continue to host
termly parent response meetings,
run by Tower Hamlets, which allows
us to receive honest feedback. The
majority of these responses have been
really positive, especially around the
expansion of the engagement team, as
parents feel that it has supported and
developed our provision.
The biggest issue we face is funding,
both for our mainstream offering and
for those with special educational
needs. We have a very strong
relationship with a special school
in Tower Hamlets and host satellite
classes for children with autism. There
is a very strong argument for base
funding to be significantly improved,
but, if this were to occur, I feel that
schools should be clearly accountable
as to how they spend it. It must be
proven by each school that they are
productively using the increased
funding, ensuring that we can properly
allocate resources going forward.
To continue our development, we are
beginning to focus on our peer review
work, establishing a new way to
monitor and check each other’s work.
This will move away from checklists
and simplistic systems and provide
genuine peer review. This is the second
year we have been developing this,
and the results have been extremely
positive. We will continue to focus on
improving standards and supporting
existing projects, such as becoming
a Rights Respecting School, and will
also work to improve the environment
as much as we can. Moving forward,
we will do all we can to ensure that
we continue to meet the needs of
focus on our
work; this will
Scaling the heights
The Rt Hon Professor The Lord Blunkett's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review
A new Prime Minister, a new Education Secretary and, as we're all painfully aware, a deeply uncertain future. It is in this context that the education service continues to deliver for individuals, communities and of course for our nation.
There is no doubt whatsoever that the education service as a whole, schools, post 16/Further Education, and yes, lifelong learning, needs the most enormous injection of cash. Independent analysis shows that there has been at least an 8% average reduction in the amount of spend per pupil in our schools. Those damaged most by this have been pupils with special educational needs, whose voices are sadly rarely heard. The necessity of urgent action was underlined in July by the report of the all-party House of Commons Select Committee on Education. They could not have been clearer about the need for substantial funding and a long-term 10-year commitment.
At the same time, there are a number of reviews taking place. One of them, in relation to post-16 qualifications, is in danger of a classic mistake by politicians and officials who have little or no understanding of the complex territory they're dealing with. Namely, the ridiculous proposition that BTEC National Diplomas might be set aside because 'T Levels are the gold standard'!
I'm in favour of T Levels, but in the right context and for the right outcome. They are intended to be extremely focused specialist qualifications in defined areas of employment. When and if they eventually take off – there is predicted to be just a thousand students in 2021-22 taking up the qualification – they will not replace the BTEC, which has been the workhorse providing a general and high-quality education for decades. The BTEC has equipped young people for a variety of opportunities in a very changing employment market where the development of artificial intelligence, robotics, and changed working practices makes confining the choice of vocational pathways to one narrow focus, frankly ridiculous.
Meanwhile, her Majesty's Opposition continue to throw out titbits which do not give, as yet, a very clear idea of what, if elected, Labour would do in office. What is needed is positive proposals. Abolishing this, that or the other – assessments/tests for those leaving primary school, for instance – is not the same thing as a very forward-looking agenda for radical improvement in standards and equity between those who can and cannot afford additional help for their children.
There are a handful of Labour Party members, supported by some people who ought to know better, who have decided that a full-frontal assault on private education would be a good idea. For those worried about this, stop worrying. A party that put this in its manifesto wouldn't get elected, and if by some fluke it did, it would be challenged in the courts to the point where all the contradictions would be exposed for everyone to see.
Just contemplate one simple fact. 20% of secondary schoolchildren in the borough of Hackney attend private schools! Yes, Hackney. This is because a large number of parents, some of whom scrape the money together, are sending their children to private education in London which happens to be the area of England with the best academic outcomes from state education. What's more, very large numbers (again, particularly in London) pay for private tutors. At the last estimate 40% of parents in London had at some point over the last year paid for a tutor for their child!
Perhaps therefore an opposition party, hoping to provide unity rather than division, opportunity for all rather than a futile class battle against educational privilege, would seek ways of ensuring that those who can't afford tutors have the kind of support outside school that would put them on equal terms.
One thing is very certain, no government would be able to stop parents buying additional tutoring for their children.
So, a practical agenda for equalising opportunity, for investing where it's needed most, for transforming the pipeline from school through college, apprenticeships, or university, is a goal worth fighting for. A positive way of linking business and education through political decision-making, with the delivery by excellent professionals in the education service, to the children of today and the economy of tomorrow. Surely that is a much more progressive and less negative way forward for both government and opposition.