Pott Shrigley Church School

Highlighting best practice as a representative in The Parliamentary Review

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 Pott Shrigley Church School is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.


Headteacher Joanne Bromley
A school and a
village hall
Pott Shrigley Church School is situated within the beautiful
surroundings of the Peak District National Park. It has
been a small rural school for over 400 years, and its school
building doubles as the local village hall. It also houses a bar in
the basement and has close links to St Christopher’s Church.
According to Headteacher Joanne Bromley, it is “a school truly
at the heart of the community”.
With a current school roll of 24 children, the unique environment feels more like an
extended family. The children themselves advertise our school simply by stating: if
you come here, you will feel loved.
In the beginning
Starting as headteacher in September 2018, I inherited the legacy of a school
which had faced closure and was held together by staff who, alongside parents,
governors and the local community, had fought to keep the school open. Children
in year 6 had already experienced four different head teachers. It was clear that
some calm management, consistency and strong direction was required. Very early
on, we worked with the children on their behaviour and treatment of each other
to reinforce Christian values – treat each other as you would wish to be treated, be
kind always. This is our second golden rule and my personal favourite.
Over the course of the year, we explored a number of different Christian values and
decided on three that we would live by: koinonia, compassion and respect. Our
vicar, Reverend David, played an important role in this process as our connection
with St Christopher’s Church is so strong. Parents and governors helped to choose
»Headteacher: Joanne Bromley
»Founded in 1492
»Located in Pott Shrigley,
»Type of school: Village school
»No. of pupils: 24
Pott Shrigley
Highlighting best practice
a new mission statement: “Be kind
and compassionate to one another,
forgiving each other, just as in Christ,
God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
A different way of working
Staff worked together to establish
ways of teaching which would fulfil the
demands of the national curriculum
while also catering for the needs our
children. Teaching four different year
groups in one class requires great
skill and creativity on the part of the
teacher. It also builds on our Christian
values of compassion and respect
as older children work with younger
children and develop mentoring skills
which they can carry forward to later
life. Younger children are exposed
to a wider range of language and
experiences than they might otherwise
be. Consequently, the impact on their
progress is remarkable. Age is not a
limitation here.
Over the past year, we have embedded
good learning behaviours so that
children can gain the skills they need to
be able to deepen their understanding.
Facing challenges and being able to
explain their methods was something
which the children struggled with
at first. A combination of rewarding
perseverance and engagement, giving
children the right vocabulary and clever
use of technology has enabled our
children to become more proficient at
problem solving and reasoning. We are
privileged to be able to teach children
according to what they need, including
those with SEN, in order for them to
reach their full potential.
Inside and out
One of the challenges we face is that
the building we work in isn’t actually
our own – it is the village hall. This
presents opportunities and challenges.
We enjoy collaborating with the village
for the annual Christmas Fair and
Rose Queen Fete and benefit from
the use of technology when Flix in the
Stix enable us to have our own movie
nights. However, the building isn’t just
old and difficult to maintain: it is not
designed for purpose. Consequently,
our toilets are downstairs, and the
children have no access to a wet area
Forest School at New
Hey Farm
The children
advertise our
school simply
by stating: if
you come
here, you will
feel loved
upstairs. We are continually mindful
that our environment is used for other
village purposes. We are fortunate that
the chair of the village hall trustees is
an advocate and therefore our alliance
is based on true partnership and
mutual respect.
We make the most of our location
on the edge of the Peak District, by
committing to learning outside the
classroom. Every Friday afternoon,
the whole school leaves the building
to learn in a different environment
and in a different way. Forest school
is our favourite activity, but we also
go climbing, practise yoga and enjoy
water sports in the beautiful Goyt
Valley. During the autumn term,
we have been visiting a local farm
learning about trees, using a night
vision camera to see mammals and
learning about the sheep on the
farm. As a school, we believe that
this kind of experience enhances
the children’s social, emotional and
mental wellbeing, teaches them how
to manage risk, builds resilience and
bravery and encourages cooperation.
Not least, it gives them an appreciation
of their place in the world, increases
their environmental awareness and
helps them to build a sustainable
relationship with the outdoors.
Moving forwards
The most pressing challenge we face is
the cuts to school budgets and the new
Fairer Funding Formula. It is not fairer
for small rural schools and we do not
have enough money to run the school.
We rely on funding from grants,
our fantastic PTA and a reduction in
basic services, such as cleaning the
school, to avoid a deficit budget. Our
local authority acknowledge that it
is difficult to manage with such low
pupil numbers. It will continue to be
so unless the government properly
supports rural schools financially,
acknowledging that they are vital to
the communities theyserve.
As the new Ofsted framework
changes the focus to a broad,
balanced curriculum and expert subject
leadership, this presents yet another
challenge for small schools. With only
three teachers, including myself, we
intend to work with governors to
develop our curriculum and a rolling
programme of subject leadership.
This way, we can give each area the
attention it deserves while maintaining a
work-life balance for staff. We also hope
to continue our excellent relationships
with other rural church schools to share
expertise and CPDopportunities.
Age is not a
limitation here
Inspiring a love of


This article was sponsored by Pott Shrigley Church School. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.