Red Hall Primary 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 Red Hall Primary School is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Believing every child can achieve
At Red Hall Primary School in Darlington, children thrive
and achieve outcomes that vastly exceed expectations,
despite 83 per cent of the school’s population coming
from areas ranked in the top five per cent of the most deprived
in England. Since Julie Davidson joined the school as headteacher
in September 2013, Red Hall Primary School has been taken on
an improvement journey that bucks the trend in terms of pupil
outcomes both nationally and locally. Julie explains how forward-
thinking and risk-taking leadership from dedicated and talented
leaders has transformed the school over the last five years.
Our school uses the acronym CARING – Community, Aspirational, Respectful,
Inclusive, Nurturing, Growing together. This vision was designed by the school
community, including our governing body, parents and children, and sums up the
whole school community’s views about what makes us special.
Our school is embedded in the community, and the partnerships we have formed
have put us at the heart of an initiative to improve the neighbourhood beyond all
recognition; creating a warm and calm environment that makes staff, parents and
pupils feel more welcome is something we are immensely proud of.
The parents who responded to Ofsted’s survey commented that teachers “always
make time to help”, “assist every child to achieve the best they can” and support
children to “thrive”. They describe us as a “fantastic, caring school completely
focused on children and their families”.
»Headteacher: Julie Davidson
»Established in 2000
»Located in Darlington, County
»Type of school: Local authority
maintained primary
»No. of pupils: 220
»65 per cent Pupil Premium 30
per cent SEN needs with seven
children with EHCs and seven
children on the EHC pathway
»Ofsted: “good” with two areas
“outstanding” – April 2019
Red Hall Primary
Highlighting best practice
During the Covid-19 pandemic, our true
community spirit became more evident,
as on top of normal school duties while
the school remained open for our key
worker and vulnerable children, staff
prepared weekly breakfast hampers
for our families, and provided and
delivered meals and shopping essentials,
three times weekly, to the elderly and
vulnerable who were isolating on the
estate. It was during this time that the
school began to work with volunteers
and a charity called The Bread and Butter
Thing to support our families during this
difficult time with fooddistribution.
We have extremely high expectations
for all pupils and do not put a cap
Outcomes for pupils have increased
significantly over the years. In 2014,
we were the first primary school in
Darlington to pilot provision for two-
year-olds. This potential risk in terms
of funding and staffing has quickly
become one of our most significant
strengths. It has had a demonstrable
impact, improving outcomes within the
early years and throughout the school.
It has also increased pupil numbers
and consequently helped to secure our
school’s future.
Career days are held annually for Years
5 and 6, which have professionals from
a range of employment backgrounds
– finance, construction, ICT and
universities, among others. Children
in our EYFS setting have a similar
experience annually, when they teach
their topic “People who help us”. A
range of expertise is brought in, which,
in some children, ignites their passion
for learning and their determination to
work hard to become something they
have learnt about.
Finding the balance between clear
boundaries linked to our school code
of conduct and flexibility is important
to us. This can be challenging for
some people, but staff are encouraged
to step back and look at the bigger
picture each time.
Our school behaviour systems have
been developed with our children at
the heart and are unique to our school.
We talk about choices and teach our
children to emotionally regulate.
Inclusive education is about the full
participation and achievement of all
learners. We pride ourselves on being
a fully inclusive mainstream school,
where children and young people with
special educational needs are engaged
and achieve. Our school prides itself on
its ability to adapt to the child or young
person rather than making them adapt
to fit the school. Children come to our
school with a vast spectrum of needs.
We make it our job to understand
A curriculum that is
inspired by the interests
of the child
We have
extremely high
for all pupils
and do not
put a cap on
We invest in a strong pupil wellbeing team, which includes:
»all staff being trained in ACEs (adverse childhood experiences)
»an emotional literacy support assistant (ELSA)
»learning mentors trained in drawing and talking therapies and sand play
»weekly wellbeing meetings, which are used to discuss every child in
the school who may be causing us a concern – through this immediate
action, we are proactive in dealing with children’s and families’ emotional
needs, rather than reactive
»a family support worker
»a counsellor – we recognise that some of our children carry a significant amount
of emotional distress and memories that have not been addressed; therefore,
as a school, we have invested in a counsellor to work with these children.
those needs and offer a provision that
may need to change to meet them.
In the last three years, we have taken
in seven children who are at risk of
permanent exclusion or had been
permanently excluded previously. All of
those children have left our school as a
success or are thriving in our school.
We ensure we foster a caring, safe and
respectful whole-school environment
where our children feel safe and
nurtured and share this with the wider
school community. We recognise the
huge impact the school environment
can have on all its learners and follow
the Reggio Emilia belief that the
environment is the third teacher.
We’ve adopted a neutral and calming
working environment across the whole
school. Our environment is based on
nature – the complete opposite to
most environments our children come
from. Neutral colours in our classrooms
allow children’s work to stand out.
It is very important for both adults
and children to learn in an organised
space. This doesn’t mean perfect or
pristine but rather involves having a
purposeful, functional and clutter-free
working environment. We encourage
independence by making sure children
have access to whatever they need so
they can lead their own learning.
We recognise that it is not only the
children who need nurturing, but
also their families and our staff. The
headteacher and deputy headteacher
are aware of periods which are difficult
for staff and ensure support is put in
place and offered at these times.
Growing together
Our early years provision is outstanding
and establishes firm roots in child-
centred learning which are built on
throughout the subsequent years
in school, developing children who
are able to play, explore, create and
investigate. These principles are the
foundation for all our learning.
In September 2018, the school was
awarded the Well-Being Award in
recognition of how we promote
positive social and emotional
wellbeing, mental health and wellness
for pupils and staff. This is what sits at
the core of the service we provide at
Red Hall Primary School.
Many of our children return to speak
to their teachers many years after
their time at Red Hall has ended. This
shows their relationships with staff are
Our future
We hope to have a future that lives
up to our past, and we will endeavour
to raise the profile of Red Hall on a
local and national level. In order to
ensure all our children leave the school
looking to the future, we support them
beyond their education with us, and
will continue to do so.
Due to our successes in working with
vulnerable children, we are working
with the local authority to open, at
our school, the first primary resource
provision in Darlington for children
with social, emotional and mental
health needs. This provision will be
designed with the voice of the children
and their parents at its heart.
Staff are
encouraged to
step back and
look at the
bigger picture
each time
Nurturing our children
and watching them grow

This article was sponsored by Red Hall 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