Every lesson, every day,
good or better
Ms Beth Honnor, head teacher, with
Aim high, work hard, be kind
When Marriotts School was placed in special measures
in 2012, it had been a failing school for a number
of years. Underachievement extended across most
subjects; its reputation in the community was poor and entry
had fallen to around 70 students per year. Marriotts moved
into a brand new building in January 2013 and Bethany Honnor
was appointed head teacher in September 2013. Despite the
challenges of a £1m budget deficit, Bethany started a journey
to relaunch Marriotts as a “school of choice” for the local
community; to give its current and future students the best
possible education and to turn it into the “good” school it istoday.
We set about rebuilding a school, which, despite many caring members of staff,
had lost purpose and self-confidence.
Our journey
We quickly launched our student mission:
Aim high, work hard, be kind
and set
ourselves four wildly important goals (WIGs):
»100 per cent of students achieve their personal best
»Every lesson, every day, good or better
»High-quality professional development for all staff
»360 degrees of care, support and challenge for our students and their families.
We agreed that every strategy we put in place for improvement must help us
achieve these goals.
»Head teacher: Bethany Honnor
»First founded between 1963
and 1965
»Based in Stevenage,
»Type of school: Community
comprehensive for students
aged 11-19
»Formerly known as Bedwell
Secondary School; the school
was renamed as Marriotts
School in 1994
»No. of students: 1,315
»Pupil premium: Around 40 per
»Staff FTE teachers 74.6; non-
teaching 53.7
Marriotts School
Highlighting best practice
Student behaviour was not conducive
to learning, so our first step was
to establish high expectations for
students’ conduct. We:
»established clear rules, routines and
systems for rewards and sanctions
»recruited a team of non-teaching
pastoral leaders readily available to
support students in class, resolve
issues and meet parents
»worked with students to produce
our Student Charter, encapsulating
what it means to aim high, work
hard and be kind both in and outside
the classroom
»worked with an organisation called
Humanutopia to build student
»changed our drab uniform to a more
formal style to boost confidence in
the school.
During this period of rapid change
students grew in confidence, and there
was increased focus and engagement
in lessons.
In the first year of our journey, entry
level student numbers increased from
70 to 240, and we have subsequently
been oversubscribed.
We focus on the concepts of respect,
attitude and ownership, encouraging
students to take responsibility for
their success. Behaviour is now
good and Ofsted recognised our
work to improve students’ personal
development and welfare as
outstanding, stating
The value of tolerance permeates
all aspects of school life, creating
a harmonious and inclusive
In order to raise standards it was essential
to make leadership more effective at all
levels. Staff needed to know what was
expected. We established clear lines of
accountability, focusing particularly on
middle leadership.
We introduced an annual cycle
of five eight-week modules with
clear monitoring and improvement
structures. This allowed us to:
»evidence our strengths and identify
areas for development
»carry out regular marking trawls,
work scrutinies and lesson
»establish clear strategies for
assessment and analysis.
By working to a structured cycle,
monitoring and tracking doesn’t get
lost in the business of school life.
Staff quickly came on board and were
energised to deliver our student mission.
It turns out that rather than
constraining staff, high accountability
enables everyone to contribute to
goals. This has had significant impact,
and in 2016 Ofsted noted that
leadership is outstanding.
Positive behaviour and accountability
gave us the right platform from which
to improve teaching. We agreed on
“the basics” we expect to see in every
lesson. Whole-school routines include:
»non-negotiable lesson planning
One hundred per cent
of students achieve their
personal best
Leadership at
all levels is
because senior
leaders set
of staff and
Ofsted 2016
»questioning techniques
»techniques to gain student attention
Focusing on the concept of “every
minute matters”, and incorporating
such strategies as “everybody writes”
and “everybody hands up” to ensure
there are no passengers in the
classroom helped foster consistency.
This, in turn, enables students to focus
on learning, as they know what to
expect in every lesson.
Central to delivering improvement
is training. In this climate, recruiting
quality staff is a huge challenge. We
focused on recruiting key players and
restructuring roles so that, as a team,
we could drive improvement.
Through a commitment to continued
professional development, we are
now able to recruit and train staff
“theMarriotts way”.
In 2016 Ofsted concluded that:
Staff are proud to work at
the school, and feel very well
supported in improving their
teaching skills.”
Everything has been put in place to
achieve our most crucial WIG:
One hundred per cent of students
achieve their personal best.”
Our cohort started with attainment
significantly below national averages,
and – because it contained a higher
than average number of students with
special needs or in receipt of pupil
premium – raising standards was crucial.
In order to meet this challenge we
»rigorous tracking and assessment
»leaders tasked with raising standards
who monitor data and intervene
»additional intervention sessions
»“Approach to learning” grades
ensuring the right culture for learning
Results have improved significantly and
our Progress 8 score is consistently above
average. Ofsted took note of our:
No excuses culture where all
pupils can achieve well.”
»Our school is now “good” with
“outstanding” leadership and
pastoral care
»We have a good reputation and are
»Our sports centre is achieving many
successes, including setting up a
school in the Gambia
»Performing arts students won the
National Rock Challenge 2017
The future
Marriotts shares a site with Lonsdale
School, a school for young people with
complex physical and neurological
needs. Staff, curriculum and
facilities are already shared. Given
this proximity, further collaborative
activities are planned. The next step
is to federate or form an academy
embracing the two schools.
Education, however, is fickle.
Terminal exams and school funding
issues will always bring with them
new challenges, which we will meet
by keeping WIGs at the heart of
everything we do and by
aiming high,
working hard and being kind.
Leaders have
raised the
of pupils
through a
programme of
and support
Ofsted 2016
“Pupils participate
enthusiastically in a wide
range of extracurricular
activities, including a
project to build a school
in Gambia”
– Ofsted 2016