Moulsham High School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Moulsham High 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 Moulsham High 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

Highlighting best practice
Moulsham is in the top5 per
cent of all schools nationally
following the 2017 results
Mark Farmer, executive head
teacher, with students
In 2010, Moulsham High School was viewed as a “coasting”
school. It had a good reputation, students with average or
slightly above national-standard ability on entry, and exemplary
behaviour, all of which masked average, and sometimes below
average, outcomes. Executive head teacher, Mark Farmer,
discusses how the school has begun fulfilling its potential.
In 2017, we achieved a Progress 8 score of +0.55, the third highest in Essex.
Previous Progress 8 scores in 2015 and 2016 had also been high (0.32 and
0.39), denoting a concerted improvement in academic standards. The school’s
transformational journey has been long and eventful: an unexpected dip in results
in 2014 made us the focus of intense external scrutiny. A relentless focus, however,
on teaching and learning, combined with the formation of a dedicated staff
committed to high levels of achievement, has given us positive results and driven
success at Moulsham High.
The first seeds for this success were sown in November 2010. We insisted
that maximising student progress should be the top priority of everyone in the
school, emphasising the need for there to be a collective effort if outcomes
were to improve. Consequently, teaching and learning became central aspects
of the Moulsham High experience and remain our core focus as a school. Before
2010, no one had ever led on teaching and learning across the school. This was
redressed with the appointment of a deputy head teacher in charge of provision
and an assistant head teacher responsible for teaching and learning. A more
rigorous CPD programme consisting of masterclasses, twilight workshops and a
teaching and learning community was established, the contents of these activities
being centred largely around a termly teaching and learning focus. We also
»Executive head teacher:
»Head of school: Julia Mead
»Founded in 1938
»Based in Chelmsford, Essex
»Type of school:
Comprehensive academy
»No. of students: 1,506
Moulsham High School
employed new coaching schemes
for staff, who were struggling to
consistently teach good lessons;
nonetheless, we recognised their
potential to become outstanding
The school’s approach to data was
totally revamped. Students received
aspirational targets, equivalent to four
levels of progress. After each data
drop, meetings with departmental
heads concentrated on the progress
of individual students and what
intervention was being provided
for them. Members of SLT had
accountability for the outcomes of
particular pupil groups. Provision had
a radical overhaul. The “one size fits
all” curriculum that had previously
existed was replaced with a pathway
system, which enabled the most able
to be accelerated while those with
weaker basic skills received booster
literacy and numeracy lessons. In years
10 and 11, the English Baccalaureate
was made compulsory for those with
high prior attainment, whereas other
students were given a wider range of
Moreover, putting new systems
and structures in place is relatively
easy. The greatest challenge by far
was changing the culture within the
school. Expectations were higher.
Staff were working towards different
priorities in different ways and were
being held more accountable than
ever before. Many embraced the
change in direction wholeheartedly,
seeing it as being for the good of
the students, but strategies had to
be found to bring others on board.
At times, this was frustrating for the
SLT but, supported by a committed
governing body, the team persevered,
convinced that what they were asking
of staff was right. Within a year,
outcomes started to improve. Staff,
enjoying levels of success hitherto
unestablished, began to want to build
upon their achievements year on year
and, at that point, our journey towards
“outstanding” was underway. Our
students were also more aspirational
and, alongside their parents, bought
into our vision.
As a school, however, we have
always been acutely aware that we Students like the culture
of high expectations and
Teaching and
learning will
remain at the
heart of
Highlighting best practice
cannot afford to become complacent.
The rapidly changing educational
landscape of recent years has meant
that we have constantly had to
evaluate and revise our practice.
As recently as September 2016,
we carried out a middle leadership
restructure. Sixteen heads of
department and subject were reduced
to nine “heads of faculty”. These
are line-managed by two rather than
five members of SLT, as had been
the case previously. The advantages
of a more streamlined structure are
immense: all heads of faculty can have
a progress meeting with the head
of school within one week of a data
drop and the leadership of subjects
is moreconsistent. Consistency has
also been a concern for us in terms
of marking and feedback. To this
end, we introduced the infamous
Moulsham High School blue sticker,
which requires staff to comment on
the success criteria students have
achieved and those that still have
to be met. In addition, a “now do”
activity is set, which requires students
to improve an aspect of their work
using purple pen.
To track student progress even more
effectively, we have introduced a
progress 8 group for year 11 and
restructured the pastoral team. Each
year group now has a standards and
progress leader who is responsible
for the academic monitoring of their
cohort, with the bulk of day-to-day
pastoral issues being managed by
pastoral managers who are members
of the support staff. In a climate
where recruitment is difficult, we
have held our ground and only
appointed high-quality specialist staff,
even if this has meant interviewing
ten or 12 times for some posts and
venturing overseas if necessary. Gap
filling would not provide our students
with the standard of education
Our journey is by no means at an
end. In September 2017, we became
the founding school of the Bridge
Academy Trust. We are excited by the
possibilities this will bring for working
collaboratively with others in search
of best practice for staff and students.
As has been the case for the last
seven years, teaching and learning
will remain at the heart of everything
we do. We know that we still need to
encourage a greater number of staff
to take risks and be more innovative in
their teaching. We know that provision
in years 7-9 must be demanding
enough to prepare students for the
rigour of the reformed GCSEs. We
know that, in spite of our recent
success, we cannot stand still.
Our journey is
by no means at
an end. In
2017, we
became the
school of the
Academy Trust
High quality teaching and
learning is at the heart
of all we do at MHS

This article was sponsored by Moulsham High 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