Parkside Academy

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Parkside Academy'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 Parkside Academy 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
Kelvin Simpson, head teacher
The student headship team –
student leadership driving progress
Parkside Academy is the founding school of a multi-academy
trust, standing at the heart of the former mining village
of Willington Crook in County Durham. It serves a
local community, proud of its rich heritage, and commands
the respect and support of its students and their families.
Theoutcomes of their disadvantaged students are significantly
above the national outcomes of non-disadvantaged students
(44 per cent of the cohort qualify for pupil premium). Parkside
was recently awarded the World Class School accolade,
signalling a consistent record of outstanding performance – one
of only three schools in the North East to achieve the award.
Head teacher, Kelvin Simpson, proudly asserts: “We add value.
We make a difference. This is how we think we do it.”
Our ethos: “Your child is our child”
This simple yet powerful aspiration is our lodestone and guide. We expect all our
staff to perform their roles to an educational and pastoral standard they would
want their own children and families to receive.
Our school principle: “The aggregation of marginal gains”
Sir David Brailsford’s brainchild, expounded through his work with British cycling,
requires meticulous concentration on every aspect of a project. If everything is
improved a little, then the whole is improved a lot. The sum of our whole is greater
than its parts, but this is achieved by concentrating on the parts. This idea is central
to all that our staff and students do.
»Head teacher: Kelvin Simpson
»Founded in 1952
»Based in County Durham
»Type of school: Secondary
academy for students aged
»No. of students: 800
»No. of staff: 44
»Disadvantaged students: 44
per cent
»Ofsted: “Outstanding”
»World Class Award, December
»Advance Learning Partnership
Multi-Academy Trust
Parkside Academy
»2016: Progress 8 +0.34
»2017: Progress 8 +0.37
»2017: Progress 8
»Disadvantaged +0.30
»Maths +0.40
Our leadership principle:
“Guidedprofessional autonomy”
Our staff and students wish to
develop and become leaders. They
acquire shared responsibility and a
mutual pride in their and the school’s
achievements. This impacts on the self-
belief, self-esteem and motivation of
staff and students alike, engendering
an “all in this together” mentality.
We have many leadership development
opportunities. Our aim is for every
school member to lead effectively
in every way. We encourage,
resource and support autonomy.
Skills and expertise are celebrated.
Fundamentally, our ethos and school
and leadership principles inform and
permeate all our school structures.
Academic structure
We have a simple model of student
progression, focusing on the skills each
child requires to progress.
Wave 1: Whole-class learning is always
broken down to focus on identified
students, providing feedback and
assessment on a lesson-by-lesson basis.
Wave 2: Resilience and skills are
developed through independent tasks,
enabling learning to permeate beyond
the classroom and into the homes and
lifestyles of the students.
Wave 3: Intervention is specifically
targeted. After a diagnosis of need,
there is a period of specific input,
followed by a measurement of how
successful that intervention has been.
Our key strategies
A strategy is just words. It is actions
that count. The implementation of
a strategy, not the strategy itself,
determines student outcomes.
Intervention directed to a specific
student’s skills is integral to a
successful education. Subject skills
and intervention programmes are
individually targeted throughout all
years by our staff, peer tutoring and
on-the-ground support from Newcastle,
Durham and Sunderland universities. An
assistant head leads one-to-one or small
group intervention. Intervention purely
addresses individual needs and impact
is scrutinised to ensure the resources
and time invested are significantly
assisting every child’s progression.
Student leaders
Student councils, sporting leaders,
academic mentors, community
leaders and leadership tutor groups
feature significantly in school life.
Students know they have a significant
role in their school’s direction and
a responsibility to assist it. Student
leaders are widely celebrated through
leadership accreditations. Indeed,
our senior student leadership team
led the successful application for our
recognition as a “World Class School”.
Our “staircase” programme recognises
students’ abilities and strives to
raise aspirations. We celebrate three
transition periods: Key Stage2 to 3,
Key Stage 3 to 4 and Key Stage4
to 5. Programmes such asthe
“MoreAbleand Talented” are
Building a community
proud of its school
If students and
staff have a
sense of
and a mutual
pride in
the impact on
self-esteem and
motivation is
Highlighting best practice
progressed throughout the school
years. External experiences, community
links and accreditation ensure that
students are challenged constantly to
“raise their own bar” of achievement
and expectation.
Parental engagement
Parents have a vital role to play in a
student’s progress. We run weekly
evening parental programmes across
all years. These involve such topics as
subject awareness, family learning,
mentoring, pupil premium, SEN and
targeted subject progression. This has
reaped significant long-term benefits
to student engagement and esteem.
Parents have access to both the staff and
their child’s education; they are integral
to the school’s sustained success.
The support of our student and staff
wellbeing lies at the heart of our
school. The programme is led by an
assistant head with specialist community
support. We rigorously identify our
students’ needs and provide mentoring
programmes combined with dedicated
spaces, times and facilities to support
them. Student early-identification
sessions are planned into staff meetings
with actions and interventions
implemented with the same detailed
approach as expected with academic
actions. Year 11, too, have dedicated
wellbeing exam support.
What next?
Parkside Academy is currently one
of four schools (three secondary,
one primary) within the “Advanced
Learning Partnership”. Multi-academy
trust chains represent a new challenge
for us. We have an exciting opportunity
to positively influence students beyond
our own school community, extending
our ethos and principles. Our future
leaders and skilled teachers will work
across different schools, lead teams
and develop innovative practice within
the trust.
We will strive to create a regionally
recognised, respected and vitally
“value added” educational “brand”
across different age ranges. Under
the trust’s umbrella, we can become
an extended centre of pride for the
families whose children we educate,
providing them with the best
opportunity for lifelong success.
Today, Parkside Academy is infused
with a tangible sense of community
and pride. Our students leave us
with real aspirations and with high
academic results. Our students want
to achieve, our staff want them to
achieve, and achieve they do.
Our staff
aspire to
provide every
child with an
they would
desire for their
own child
School community
celebrates an inspirational
member of staff
Students inspired by
engaging learning

This article was sponsored by Parkside Academy. 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