Our Lady of Muswell Catholic Primary School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Our Lady of Muswell Catholic Primary 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 Our Lady of Muswell Catholic Primary 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


Head teacher Angela McNicholas
We are one community
Our Lady of Muswell Primary School is a two-form-entry
Catholic school in Haringey, north London. In their
most recent Ofsted inspection, they were graded as
“outstanding”. Their mission statement is: “One Community,
Love of Learning, Making Time for God”. In everything they do,
they live by it, and it sits at the heart of their school ethos and
philosophy. It is a welcoming, friendly, bright and happy school
where children feel secure. They have a clear moral purpose and
a shared belief that the school can impact upon the lives and
opportunities of children. Their culture is one grounded in the
belief that all children and staff can not only achieve, but excel.
Head teacher Angela McNicholas elaborates.
A five-year journey
Our journey to this “outstanding” grade began in 2013, when I was asked to become
the acting head teacher of the school, with an unrelenting focus on teaching and
learning alongside establishing a body of staff who were excellent practitioners. To
achieve this, it was beyond important for staff to take on board ownership of this
development. Staff meetings focused on unifying the team and their ideas; they
helped to define what excellent teaching and learning should look like in our school,
while sharing good practice and opening a professional dialogue. Altogether, this
new educational climate has been about one thing: pupil progress.
We knew that we had to focus on what happens within the classroom to ensure
this progress. We became part of a research learning community in conjunction
»Head teacher: AngelaMcNicholas
»Founded in 1959
»Based in Haringey
»Type of school: Catholic primary
»No. of students: 399
»No. of staff: 20
»Ofsted: “Outstanding”,
November 2017
Our Lady of Muswell
Catholic Primary School
Highlighting best practice
with the University of Bristol and
the Institute of Education. From this
research, staff developed strong
questioning skills which support and
challenge one another to continually
We had a tired school environment
and a limited budget, so we created
a three-year plan – starting with that
which would have the best impact for
the children. The first summer saw
repainting of internal walls which were
a sorry sight; we then moved onto the
furniture within the class, then the IT
infrastructure. Finally, we turned our
focus to the school’s exterior, and
refurbished our playground entirely.
Along the journey, we have had the
support of both our parents and our
governors who form a central part of
our community. We have a vibrant
parents’ association, the Friends of
OLM, who organise events that have
allowed us to achieve our aims. Many
parents also contribute to our school
building fund; their support, however,
goes beyond finances. They are
engaged in their children’s learning
and generate a welcoming atmosphere
both inside the school and beyond.
All of these separate endeavours have
led us here, to this “outstanding”
accreditation we received in
Our mission statement realised
In being one community, our intake
is rich and diverse. In the school, over
25 languages are spoken. This varied
selection of backgrounds is a strength
of our school; we recognise, respect
and celebrate difference within our
community. As a diocesan school, we
also have a local parish priest who is an
active part of the school community.
Our love of learning means there is
an unrelenting drive to make our
curriculum as engaging as possible. Our
teachers have been at the heart of this
change, and have, as a result, created a
new cross-curricular approach which is
constantly reviewed. There are themed
weeks each half-term, where we come
away from our usual timetable. These
may be curriculum-based, centred
perhaps around science or computing.
They might also focus upon something
that directly impacts our community,
for example, “Welcome Week”.
Considering the school background
and current affairs, it has become
vital that pupils understood the terms
they were hearing, such as migrant
or refugee. Welcome Week allowed
children time to explore these ideas,
and we liaised with both Christian Aid
and the Refugee Council in doing so.
Our new changes are a perfect example
of how we innovate and seize new
Pupils at the school
take ownership of their
Our focus is
on educating
the whole
person and
the process is
seen at every
level as a
teacher and
opportunities; we have completely
overhauled our maths curriculum.
We invested time in researching the
way forward by visiting schools where
mastery schemes were being trialled,
attending conferences and engaging
with maths hubs. This enabled us to
make an informed decision to invest
in the Maths No Problem scheme – by
the time it became recommended by
the DfE, we had been actively utilising
it for two years, and had witnessed the
impact it was having in our school; we
have been delighted with the results,
which cause our teachers to rethink
approaches to how maths is taught
and how children learn. Decisions
about our curriculum are always made
collaboratively and grounded in research.
Above all else, we make time for God;
we are, at heart, a Catholic school. We
aim to excel by following gospel values.
This does not, however, exclude children
of other beliefs; our current intake is
approximately 75 per cent Catholic.
A full pupil experience
Academic success is important, but we
want more than that for our children –
we want them to be resilient learners.
Pupils at the school take ownership of
their learning, and the process is seen
at every level as a partnership between
teacher and pupil. After their time here,
we want them to be fully prepared
for the next stage of their lives, so our
focus is on educating the whole person.
We are passionate about enabling our
children to contribute to the constant
process of improvement. Team captains
are voted into their posts and help to
organise events such as charity days. In
areas of the curriculum, children also
have a voice – science lab technicians
work alongside the subject leader to
plan and deliver science week and create
newsletters. Additionally, the school
council gives children the opportunity
to voice their own opinions and make
important decisions about key issues.
Challenges and the future
As a result of falling admission
numbers in our area, overall finance is
becoming increasingly difficult – this
has meant hard decisions including
restructuring and some unfortunate
redundancies; as staff leave, we cannot
always automatically replace them. The
largest challenge lies in maintaining
current school standards and culture
with fewer staff. This will require a
school-wide mentality change; it will
be impossible to provide everything
we have historically delivered with
a diminished staff team. A recent
benchmarking exercise against
other local schools displayed a clear
understanding that funding is focused
upon, as a matter of priority, ensuring
high-quality teaching alongside staff
learning and development.
With a newly refined curriculum,
outstanding models for professional
development and an outward-
looking attitude across all we do,
we think the future is bright for Our
Lady of Muswell. We look to further
supplement our “outstanding” Ofsted
grade in everything we do, and ensure
that the school remains inclusive and
all-encompassing and, above all else,
retains its focus on our integral three-
part mission statement.
about our
curriculum are
always made
and grounded
in research
Early years learning
through play


This article was sponsored by Our Lady of Muswell Catholic Primary 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 Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy