Oriel High School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Oriel 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 Oriel 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
Philip Stack, head teacher, and
the student headship team
A school at the heart of the
Situated in Maidenbower, Crawley, West Sussex, Oriel
High School is an institution built by the community, for
the community. Opened in September 2004 following a
campaign by local residents, Philip Stack joined as the head
teacher in 2009 and has felt proud, privileged and humbled to
hold this post since then.
Oriel’s journey
Maidenbower was built as a district in the late 1980s through to the early 1990s.
The local authority commissioned the building of primary schools to serve the local
families but had decided against the need to build a new secondary school due to
the number of them already in Crawley – local parents, however, had other ideas.
Their campaign included asking the young children in the infant schools to send
Christmas cards to the then prime minister Tony Blair, with the message: “All we
want for Christmas is our own high school”. The campaign was successful and the
school was subsequently built under the private finance initiative (PFI) programme.
PFI has faced criticism in the media, particularly recently, but we have made it work
through our very positive and successful relationship with our PFI provider, BAMFM.
Such has been our success that a group of 27 delegates, including ministers,
executives and accountants, were sent by the Indonesian government in May 2017
to learn from us and BAMFM.
I am very proud of our students and our staff and the working partnership we have
with our families. We enjoy great academic, cultural and sporting success with our
»Head teacher: Philip Stack
»Founded in 2004
»Based in Maidenbower,
Crawley, West Sussex
»Type of school: Community
secondary school
»No. of students: 1,450
»No. of staff: 152
»A school founded by the local
»A strong sense of
community within the school
strengthened by the vertical
pastoral structure
Oriel High School
students. Our academic results are
positive proof that great outcomes
and progress can be achieved with
young people, without the school
being reduced to an exam factory. We
celebrate the arts, and have school
bands, choirs and orchestra performing
on a regular basis and an annual
whole-school production –
School of
is the 2018 show. Our varied
sports teams are competitive and often
very successful at local, county and
national level. We run many day trips,
as well as residential trips at home
and abroad, in Europe and the USA.
Our students are global citizens and
regularly raise money throughout the
year for local, national and international
causes. Our annual sponsored walk
each summer has typically raised the
better part of £20,000 each time.
After consulting with the school
community, students and staff,
we concluded on a central school
philosophy grounded in four key
values: creativity, achievement, respect,
and excellence. Our school motto
captures the essence of Oriel High in
that we believe all members of our
school should be: “Empowered to
achieve; inspired to excel”.
Pastoral care and learning
Our pastoral care is a strength of our
school. Students in years 7 to 11 are
assigned to one of our four learning
communities when they join our
school: Africa, Americas, Asia and
Australasia. The vast majority of our
students stay at the end of Year 11
and join our thriving sixth form. Each
learning community has ten learning
mentor groups that meet together
each morning and afternoon, but
unusually, each of the ten groups
comprises students aged 11 to 16.
This is an incredibly powerful
structure, and it enables the youngest
students to feel at ease while
surrounded by their older peers from
the first day of the academic year.
We have a strong student voice; each
learning community has a student
council led by a member of the
Student Headship Team that meets
regularly, and I meet with our Student
Headship Team once a fortnight. We
also have a sixth form student union
led by an elected president and vice-
president, along with the senior head
girl and head boy.
One group setting off on
the sponsored walk
Empowered to
inspired to
Highlighting best practice
Our older students act as mentors
to our younger students, both
informally – through the vertical
structure of each learning community
– and formally – through various
programmes such as our peer mentor
and paired reader schemes. The
strength of our partnership working
with our families can be illustrated
by the high turnout we enjoy at
parent consultation and information
evenings. We believe that knowledge
is power, and for many years ensured
that parents and students have full
online access to the data that we
hold on each individual at the school.
In addition to our weekly learning
community assemblies, we hold
celebration assemblies at the end of
each term, which involves students
and staff participation.
These recognise academic, musical
and sporting successes of the term,
as well as providing us with some
great entertainment. Two examples
in recent years spring to mind: our
version of
Strictly Come Dancing
, in
which members of staff performed
and were assessed by the judges, and
another which included battle of the
bands where staff performed against
students – the staff band won!
The next step
We are a school that believes in
looking outward and serving the
educational community both locally
and nationally. We are members of a
national collaborative group, as well
our own local teaching school alliance
and town-wide group of primary and
secondary schools. We firmly believe in
professional collaboration for the good
of all students and their families. As a
school and as individuals we are driven
to be on a continuously improving
pathway; complacency and standing
still are not parts of our creed. We
aspire to be a centre of excellence in
every aspect.
Our professional development is a
key part of this ambition; colleagues
are cooperative and supportive of
each other, and challenge themselves
to be their best. We recognise the
issues facing schools and education
in general in terms of accountability,
examination reforms and finance as
well as retention and recruitment.
We remain fiercely optimistic about
the future, however, and believe that
anything is possible. We are passionate
about recruiting the teachers of
tomorrow; we promote teaching
at careers fairs, support trainees in
our school on the PGCE and School
Direct route and open our doors
every Wednesday to visitors who have
applied through the DfE for a school
experience day.
This scheme has run for many years
at our school, and we learnt recently
from the DfE that one in twenty school
experience days last year happened at
our school. It is very clear each week
when we receive feedback at the end
of the school experience day that
our visitors can tell that we believe
teaching, supporting and working with
young people really is the best job in
the world!
A centre of
Sixth form students at
the summer ball


This article was sponsored by Oriel 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