Moat House

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 Moat House is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Highlighting best practice
Headteacher Lucy Cooney
“Students thrive at this school. Their
lives are turned around” – Ofsted, 2019
Moat House in Stockport is a secondary school and
nursery, founded to support 14 to 19 year old
girls who are pregnant or new mothers. Alongside
academic qualifications, Moat House teaches wider life skills
including cookery and parenting. The school and nursery have
been consistently rated as “outstanding” by Ofsted, including
most recently in March 2019. Headteacher Lucy Cooney
discusses the breadth of their provision and how they have
developed a mutually supportive atmosphere.
We have a long history of supporting young mums. The school was established in
1979 and I arrived in January 2017, becoming only the third headteacher in our
history. We are a unit for teenage mums between the ages of 14 and 19, who are
pregnant or have recently given birth. Our provision is split between the school and
an on-site nursery, caring for babies while the pupils are in school. The school and
nursery are independently reviewed by Ofsted with both graded “outstanding” in
March 2019.
We are supported by Stockport Council and take students from all across the town.
Our intake reflects the diversity of the area, with pockets of deprivation and wealth.
Our pupils come to us for many reasons, but often they have become disengaged
with education or wider society. It is our job to try to re-engage them. Having a
baby can feel like the end of girls’ ambitions, but we’re here to show them that it
can be the start of a bright future.
»Headteacher: Lucy Cooney
»Established in 1979
»Based in Stockport
»Type of school: Specialist
school for new mothers
»No. of students: 17 students
and 14 babies
Moat House
Care for mothers and babies
At Moat House, we provide holistic
support for every pupil and baby.
The school and nursery work closely
together, and we conduct the staff
briefing together as one staff body.
These links between the two parts
are one of the primary reasons for
It’s also important that the girls
form close links to the nursery. At
a very early stage, they spend time
getting to know the nursery staff,
and during pregnancy they will work
with a nursery key worker to complete
“Preparation for Baby” – a series of
sessions which cover topics such as
sterilising bottles and safer sleeping.
At dinnertime, everyone in the school,
including all staff, students and babies,
comes together to eat, modelling a
family lunch. This wraparound care
helps students to give their babies the
best start in life.
Achieving the right balance
When students are initially referred,
we hold an induction in which we get
to know the gaps in their education
and what additional support they
may require. Nearly all the students
who attend are studying for English
and maths qualifications, but we
offer a variety of other GCSEs too,
including science, English literature,
geography, child development, art and
Our success can be seen in the results
we achieve, with most of our students
emerging with target grades or
above. We have an established and
experienced teaching staff who are
outstanding in their own right. Our
English teacher has been shortlisted
for the
English Teacher of the Year
Award for 2019, and our team won
the Gold Pearson Award for Team of
the Year in 2014.
We also deliver a wide range of
activities and enrichment opportunities,
from educational visits on the theme
of inspirational women to art projects.
We are part of the AQA Unlocking
Potential Dame Kelly Holmes Project,
linking us to a sports mentor who
facilitates sessions with our students.
I’m particularly proud of the brilliant
atmosphere in school. Students
“The school’s curriculum
is enriching” – Ofsted,
There is a
culture of
mutual respect
and care in
which students
can thrive and
progress in their
learning and
well-being –
Ofsted 2019
Opportunities are taken to
develop parenting skills
Highlighting best practice
generally behave excellently as they
appreciate the opportunity at Moat
House and have a renewed keenness
for learning. Importantly, the girls do
not need to worry about their child
while at school. Ofsted noted that
“the relationships between staff and
students are outstanding. There is a
culture of mutual respect and care in
which students can thrive and make
exceptional progress in their learning
and well-being.”
Beyond the classroom
Much of what we do is about
supporting our students to be the
best parents they can be. We have
timetabled parenting classes, reading
with baby sessions delivered in the
nursery and one timetabled session
a week with the midwife or health
adviser, removing the need to miss
school for appointments. All students
have cookery lessons in which they
learn ten central recipes; this is
a valuable life skill and helps our
students to become good parents.
The first 1,000 days of a baby’s life
are hugely significant, and supporting
their parents through these first few
years ensures a brighter future for
them. Many of our students come
from challenging backgrounds
and our safeguarding and pastoral
support is superb. Very few of our
school leavers are classified as not in
education, employment or training.
Our post-16 provision also enables
us to employ a young parent project
worker who helps to secure nursery
places if the mother is in college and
ease the transition into college for
The importance of continued
We cannot overstate the importance
of Stockport Council’s contribution to
our provision. They fund the majority
of what we do, and we would not
be here without them. As we enter
our 40th year, we hope that we can
continue to provide the same level
of support. We do not just provide
education but wraparound care that
gives these babies the best start in life
and their mothers a new opportunity
to re-engage with learning. Many
go on to further education, some to
university. It is essential to make sure
that our students understand their lives
are not over, but just beginning. Our
Ofsted inspector said that “students
thrive at this school. Their lives are
turned around.” Hopefully we will be
able to continue to do this for years
Much of what
we do is
our students
to be the best
parents they
can be
Staff and students
enjoying one of our 40th
anniversary celebrations

This article was sponsored by Moat House. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.