Plumstead Manor School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Plumstead Manor 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 Plumstead Manor 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
Douglas Greig, head teacher,
with pupils
We are proud of the rich diversity of cultures and
backgrounds that make up our vibrant and inclusive school
When the current head teacher, Douglas Greig, took up
the leadership of Plumstead Manor School, located
in Greenwich, he faced several significant challenges.
Three years down the line, Plumstead Manor has been judged
to be a “good” school, only two years after it was deemed
to require improvement by Ofsted. Building and sustaining
improvement and change is a key challenge across the school, and
a focus on raising standards has many dimensions; it has by no
means been easy, and Douglas here elaborates on the process.
Moral purpose and strong vision
Our starting point for improvement had to be vision. This wasn’t simply a matter of
out with the old and in with the new; if a vision is to have real purchase, and a strong
foundation, it has to be cultivated and grown. That is why we undertook a genuine
and careful process of talking, listening and thinking together. We were clear that our
goal was to create successful young people in a harmonious community.
That, however, could only come about by ensuring that we focused on excellence
in all that we did. As a girls’ comprehensive school, in a community where around
50 per cent of young people come from disadvantaged backgrounds, we also
settled on an ethos of social justice. The world is not an equal place, and the role
of a school like ours is to provide young people the platform to launch into a better
future, and compete on what, for too many young people, is not a level playing
field. That is why our school vision is built around the core values of success,
harmony, excellence and justice.
»Head teacher: Douglas Greig
»Founded in 1913
»Based in Greenwich
»Type of school: 11-19
comprehensive school
»No. of students: 1,500
»No. of teaching staff: 120
»No. of support staff: 80
»Ofsted: “Good”, May 2018
»2017 Progress 8 score: +0.13
»Disadvantaged students: 49
per cent
»EAL: 57 per cent
»Over 60 languages are spoken
in the school
Plumstead Manor
Enhanced and decisive
With this in place, the next phase was
to turn to getting some of the simple
things right, and quickly. On a range of
issues, I had to be decisive and bold in
making difficult choices that would see
us balance our expenditure against our
income. With the strong support of our
governors, we developed a rigorous
plan that brought our finances back
under control.
At the same time, our improvement
journey could not have taken the
path it has without a clear focus on
leadership capacity, and growing and
enhancing it at all levels. This has
been about nurturing and growing
staff to take on leadership roles and
providing them with the chance to
take on responsibility; we wanted all
members of our team to learn from
other more expert colleagues in our
own school, and beyond. This has now
developed; we are now offering the
NPQML and NPQSL to our staff across
a partnership of local schools, where
they are facilitating the delivery of
these courses.
Focusing on the basics
With our high expectations clearly
agreed and set out, there also needed to
be urgent action to ensure these were
consistently met. Highlights of our focus
on getting the basics right included:
»A simplified behaviour code, which
has high standards at its heart and
includes a simple referral system
that both staff and students can
understand. Central to this is a focus
on empowering all adults in the
school to have authority, but also
to ensure young people are treated
humanely and fairly. This required an
urgent move away from unnecessary
escalation, and a rapid reduction in
the use of fixed-term exclusion as the
main sanction in place in the school.
»Establishing a system that placed
equal focus on rewards as well as
sanctions. During our “visioning
process” the school community
distilled out five key qualities
that they wanted to underpin all
learningat school. These are curiosity,
collaboration, discipline, resilience
and imagination and they are the
backbone of a reward system that
has real currency among students.
»We had to establish clear and
high expectations for lessons,
learning and teaching, based on a
series of strategies that are known
through research to be effective
in promoting longer-lasting and
deeper learning. From high-quality
feedback, or a focus on promoting
metacognition, through to forensic
use of assessment information to
personalise learning, we set out
Students leave our
school well prepared
and ready for their
future lives as
responsible citizens
Curiosity and
imagination are habits
that underpin learning at
Plumstead Manor
The role of a
school like ours
is to provide
young people
the platform to
launch into a
better future
Highlighting best practice
a clear suite of expectations, and
ensured staff were trained to deliver
consistently in all lessons.
»Putting in place structures and
capacity for early help and support
for students, be it a professional
counselling service, a school police
officer, or a safeguarding and child
protection officer. We made sure
we had the right people in the right
place to promote inclusion at the
heart of our school.
»Ensuring a focus on narrowing gaps
and raising achievement for marginal
groups, with our most able and
disadvantaged students being an
urgent priority. We concentrated
primarily on getting the learning
right the first time, but also on
putting in place strategies proven to
remove barriers at an early stage.
Back to “good”, and beyond
Our school improvement journey
has been about building belonging
and pride, and fostering leadership
at all levels. It has involved raising
expectations and placing a relentless
focus on the fact that things had to
be better; our young people deserved
more. The real story at Plumstead
Manor over the last three years has
been about building a clear vision
about our school’s role in the lives
of young people and the local area.
It has needed us all to be tireless in
our attention to raising standards and
improving the quality of education
we provide. As we now emerge with
a recent judgment of “good” in all
areas from Ofsted, the sense of pride
and accomplishment among students,
staff and the wider community gives
me confidence that our improvement
journey will continue.
After 105 years of being a girls’ school,
we welcome a mixed cohort of boys
and girls into year 7 for the first time in
September 2018. In approaching this
change, we’ve carried on focusing on
the factors that have contributed to
our success thus far. We’ve consulted
others, we’ve listened hard and, in
making hard decisions, we’ve made an
authentic attempt to bring people with
us. While we are delighted to have
received a positive inspection outcome,
we are also confident that it will not
end there. Our vision to offer young
people a world-class education based
on high-quality teaching in a safe
and friendly environment is gaining
momentum, and we are very much on
our way to realising that goal.
Pupils leave
the school
well equipped
for the next
stages of their
education or
career, and for
their future
lives as
Ofsted May 2018
Plumstead Manor pupils
are prepared to excel

This article was sponsored by Plumstead Manor 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