Rushden Primary Academy

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Rushden Primary 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 Rushden Primary 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
Liza Davies, principal
Play, learn and grow
Rushden Primary Academy opened in September 2015 as
a brand-new primary academy for ages 4-11. Principal
Liza Davies was given the heady responsibility of not
only managing a new school, but literally building it from
the ground up. Though this was an exciting and slightly
daunting undertaking, Liza and her dedicated team found it an
opportunity to create an amazing school – one the community
will gravitate towards, and that shall endure as an outstanding
beacon in the Rushden area.
Building a new primary school is not easy, but, in an area increasingly enveloped by
housing developments, our local authority concluded that there was no other way
to properly serve the young people of Rushden. There was already a shortage of
primary school places, and new construction projects only heightened this pressure.
I was appointed principal in Easter 2015, and had one term to lay the groundwork
for a brand-new school. Though aware of the difficult road ahead, I saw Rushden
Primary Academy as a chance to build something beautiful. My previous experience
had been in schools crippled by historical problems, stemming from deep-seated
structural issues that negatively impacted pupil learning. The “blank canvas” of
Rushden, however, meant we could develop a nurturing ethos in a well-provisioned
school with no historical ills.
Building a school from the ground up had many challenges. Beyond technical issues
regarding heating, “snagging” and opening on schedule, there were other problems.
»Principal: Liza Davies
»Founded in 2015
»Based in Rushden,
»Type of school: Primary
academy, ages 4-11
»No. of pupils: 200
»No. of staff: Eight teaching
staff, six teaching assistants
Rushden Primary
Pupil numbers were a significant issue:
when we opened in September, we
had only 38 children on our roll – a
strange scenario for a school made for
a far-larger student body.
We initially had three teachers,
three teaching assistants and a chef
alongside site and office staff to serve
our pupils. But starting so small proved
to be a blessing; it gave me control in
creating the school I wanted. I knew
what skills I wanted fostered in pupils,
so could select teachers specifically for
“RPA” are not only our school’s initials,
but serve as our motto. The letters
represent an acronym for Respect,
Pride and Achieve. RPA applies to
everyone here, from pupils to staff. We
want all to show respect for all, to be
proud of all and achievetogether.
The RPA ethos manifests at the
interview level. Teachers must enjoy
working with pupils and value their
input. If a pupil feels valued, they will
eagerly come to school, be happy,
thrive and ultimately achieve. We do
not necessarily hire teachers with a
proven academic standing, but look
for potential in new teachers, training
and developing them through the
Trust Learning Alliance for Professional
The Greenwood Academies
It doesn’t feel like we have been open
for only three years, this journey has
been made smoother through the
support of the Greenwood Academies
Trust (GAT). In the early days I
invented many entirely new systems
as I filled in the school’s “canvas”,
but there were some systems already
extant I could rely upon, thanks to
GAT. I used brochures from other
GAT schools to show prospective
parents what we could be and used
these schools as templates from which
to pick and choose the kind of ethos
and curriculum I wanted for Rushden
Primary Academy.
GAT was especially important in
helping win parental support. It was
initially difficult to persuade families
to send their children to a school that
did not yet exist. I personally went to
nurseries to meet children and had
to ensure they would have the same
experience as other children going
into established schools. GAT
assisted in convincing an original 38
families to take a leap of faith; to
recognise we were a “safe bet”.
Within six months of opening, our
reputation had grown, with word
spreading from those first brave
families on the wings of the trust’s PR
across Rushden. This eradicated the
lingering sense of the unknown, and
now in our third year our numbers
have increased to 200 pupils with full
year groups in EYFS and year 1.
Evolution of a school
We couldn’t hit the ground running.
We needed to evolve – and a good
principal will always look for ways
to improve. After three years I can
assert we have a firm foundation and
are constantly growing. Our results
reflect our excellent provision – year2
Key Stage 1 statistics are above
The children enjoy
collaborative learning
RPA are not only
our school’s
initials, but
serve as our
motto. The
letters represent
an acronym for
Respect, Pride
and Achieve
Highlighting best practice
the national average, early years is
above national with a good level
development, and we have a 95 per
cent success rate with phonics. For
this last accolade we even received a
letter from the minister of state for
school standards congratulating us
on being in the top eight per cent of
The challenge of setting up a senior
management team was mitigated
by my senior education adviser, who
facilitated engagement in idea-sharing
and professional dialogue with other
trustee managers. We also brought
in a maths adviser and phonics
specialist from the Learning Alliance
to ensure our curriculum was exciting,
stimulating and fit for purpose. It
would have been daunting to create
a brand-new school in isolation, but
thanks to the trust’s support I can
now share what I have learnt with
other schools both in the locality and
as part of GAT.
Areas of focus
We are driven to ensure our children
have good skills in literacy, numeracy
and phonics, as well as a significant
PE provision – crucial considering
issues surrounding mental health
and obesity. We ensure our pupils
are given skills in both academic and
holistic areas, providing skills that can
be used even after their time with us.
I am lucky to have an excellent team
who share my drive and ambitions for
our children and their families.
As a three-year-old school we only
have pupils up to year 4, but intend
to become a two-form-entry school
expanding to year 6. As funding is
based upon pupil numbers, our role is
a perennial issue, and I look forward
to when we naturally become a fully
funded, full-capacity school. At that
stage we will be able to look back
upon our progress from a point of
completion, and plan our next step
forwards. For, like all good schools, we
are constantly evolving.
We are continuously bringing in
new children and I have come to
appreciate that we will continue to
develop, getting better with each
passing year as our numbers expand
and we learn from our pupils and
trustee partners alike. We eagerly
await our first Ofsted; I am confident
that with the devotion and dedication
that has formed the bedrock of
the past three years, we will see a
Like all good
schools we are
“Mighty things from small
beginnings grow” – John Dryden
Summer 2014 – before breaking
ground on the new build


This article was sponsored by Rushden Primary 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