Radlett Preparatory School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Radlett Preparatory 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 Radlett Preparatory 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
Gary White, principal
Pupils’ peer and self-assessment
was an initial priority
Radlett Preparatory School is a privately owned non-
association independent school for boys and girls aged
four to eleven. It is located on the outskirts of Radlett,
Hertfordshire, having moved in 1980 from the town centre.
Radlett currently has 440 pupils on roll. Children in the school
are provided with opportunities to achieve high academic
standards and develop physically, emotionally and morally
through the delivery of a varied and engaging curriculum. Gary
White, principal since September 2013, says that investing in
your staff at all levels is key to greater success.
Appointed by the directors in September 2013, I was tasked with delivering our
common vision to further improve and enhance the quality of provision, ensure we
were Ofsted-ready but to also take full regard of the core ethos, traditions and values
embedded in this well-regarded independent school. Having previously carried out a
review, commissioned by the directors, it was clear this was a good school that needed
additional support to overcome some barriers that existed in contemporary practice.
Having spent all of my teaching and leadership career in the state sector and
supporting a vast array of schools in my role as deputy team leader for standards
and achievement in Hertfordshire, I recognised that the key components
constituting a successful school – giving staff greater responsibility, ensuring that
they are fully accountable for their practice and providing them with opportunities
to improve through a range of high quality training opportunities and individualised
support – urgently needed strengthening. These essential components can be
identified in all effective state and independent schools.
»Principal: Gary White
»Established in 1935
»Based in Radlett, Hertfordshire
»Type of school: Independent
preparatory school
»No. of pupils: 440
»No. of staff: 60
»Three-form entry aged 4-11
»Ofsted: “Good”
Radlett Preparatory
The starting point – Ofsted
and changing times
As the Ofsted inspection would be
changing from the framework the
school had been previously judged
“good” against in the summer of
2013, one of my key objectives was
to prepare the school for the changes
that would be required to meet the
more rigorous expectations of the next
inspection. It was key for the staff to
understand from the outset that this
new inspection framework would
differ vastly from the previous one,
placing greater demands on all areas
across the school.
While understanding this was one
reason for change, the main driver of
this work was to build upon the current
outcomes for pupils across the school.
My common strapline which I used
throughout these early days was that
“children only get one opportunity, so
we have to make each day count!”
The staff harboured initial concerns
that I was in some way instigating a
process to turn this independent school
into a state one. It was soon apparent,
however, that the excellent practices
that are commonly used within
“good” and “outstanding” state
schools could be used to improve and
enhance the provision of a traditionally
run independent one.
Acknowledging you can’t do
it all
Following on from this initial whole-
school review, my first course of
action was to implement a rigorous
schedule of monitoring and evaluation.
It became very apparent that in order
to carry out this successfully, senior
leaders in the school needed training
to effectively engage in the process;
in a large three-form-entry school,
this would not have been possible
for me to do alone. Senior leaders
were therefore upskilled, working in
partnership with me, to enable them
to participate and add value to this
monitoring programme, the results of
which proved to be very effective.
Senior leaders responded excellently
and used this professional
development to grow their skills. Key
to this was the ability of all senior
staff participating in a rigorous and
meaningful performance appraisal
process, which has been used to
identify the professional needs
of teaching staff and increase
accountability. It was acknowledged,
however, and supported by the
directors, that for us to grow at a more
rapid rate, an additional member of Leadership opportunities
for pupils throughout
our curriculum
Further use of our
outdoor areas to
enhance learning as
identified in our school
development plan
Children only
get one
so we have to
make each
day count!
Highlighting best practice
staff, who already possessed a range
of key skills, was needed. In September
2015, an experienced vice principal
for standards and achievement was
appointed, to spearhead the schools’
monitoring strategy. A senior member
of staff was given the responsibility for
continuous professional development
(CPD) alongside this.
This proved to be a pivotal moment in
our progress. Not only had we identified
the need for additional support and
a change in role, but, once in place,
it allowed staff at all levels across
the school to be afforded far greater
opportunities and time to reflect on their
own practice of teaching and leadership.
They started receiving appropriate
training based on their needs.
The importance of “growing
your own”
This work has enabled us to develop
not only the senior leadership team but
also leaders at all levels who are now
well positioned to comprehensively hold
their areas of the school to account and
make decisions that positively impact
on pupil outcomes.
This ongoing process has been further
supported by serious investment
– not just financial in nature – in
our whole-school CPD programme.
Our CPD co-ordinator ensures that
suitable courses based on the needs of
individuals are identified at all levels.
All courses attended are evaluated by
those staff involved and key points
shared. This is supported by high
quality, high impact sessions delivered
by all leaders in school which are based
on the outcomes of their monitoring
and evaluation linked to the school
development plan. This is further
supplemented by the access of all staff
to external trainers visiting the school,
senior leaders working with middle
leaders utilising coaching and mentoring
strategies, and staff supporting staff
through the lesson study model.
The investment in staff training has
not only developed pedagogical
understanding, given ownership to
leaders across the school and increased
accountability but has also increased
staff confidence. Staff are willing to
engage, challenge and discuss ideas
with each other confidently, which
ultimately shapes the journey for
improving school experiences for
One of the keys to maximising
the impact of these strategies is
engagement with the process. It is a
testament to the staff at the school
who have risen to the challenges and
committed to this development. All
staff have used these new skills to
improve the quality of provision across
all areas of the school, which is leading
to even higher expectations and
greater outcomes for all our pupils.
As we strive for even greater success,
we will continue to promote a culture
of learning for all and continue to
maintain the high expectations of
the whole school community. This
will ensure that the amazing pupils
of Radlett Preparatory School reach
their full potential and are fully
prepared for the next step in their
The excellent
practices that
are commonly
used within
‘good’ and
state schools
could be used
to improve
and enhance
the provision
of a
Training our staff is of
paramount importance


This article was sponsored by Radlett Preparatory 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