Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Sacred Heart Catholic Primary 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 Sacred Heart Catholic Primary 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

Lorraine Dolan-Walsh
School council meet half
termly and are actively involved
in developing our school
Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School was judged as “requires
improvement” by Ofsted between 2014 and 2018. During
this period, there was a clear message from the Merton
local authority and the Catholic diocese that the school required
new experience and expertise. It was on this basis that Lorraine
Dolan-Walsh was appointed headteacher in January 2019.
Lorraine tells
The Parliamentary Review
how changes in working
practices, setting high standards and a consistent approach led
by teaching staff have improved the school’s performance.
My predecessor was an interim headteacher, with a proven track record in turning
poorly performing schools around; together with a governing body committed
to supporting change, they were able to make the changes required. In February
2018, the school achieved an Ofsted rating of “good”. I had worked at Sacred
Heart for seven years much earlier in my career, so to return as headteacher in
January 2019 was really exciting. I was also cognisant, however, of the journey
that the school had been on, which was key to my ambition to drive progress and
construct a credible and strategic plan, building on the efforts of my predecessor.
Building a reputation
Sacred Heart is situated in an area with high competition from other schools and
there had been a fall in pupil numbers, alongside a community view that Sacred Heart
was not a school of choice. The process of improving the reputation of the school
continued with my appointment. Our governors clearly understood the importance
of reputation and worked hard with school leaders to embed a culture of open
»Headteacher: Lorraine
»Founded in 1930
»Based in the London Borough
of Merton
»Type of school: Voluntary
aided primary
»Number of students: 321
»Number of staff: 39
»Recent accolades: Primary
Science Quality Mark, Eco Silver
Award, Gold Sports Award
»Partnerships: Merton LEA Peer
Review, Teach Wimbledon,
Merton Catholic Headteacher
Deanery, West Wimbledon
Headteacher Cluster, Attain,
»Ofsted: “Good”, February 2018
»Section 48 – “Outstanding”,
November 2019
Sacred Heart Catholic
Primary School
Highlighting best practice
My vision is to achieve excellence, through:
»The highest expectations for all of our staff, pupils and parents.
»A real sense of respect and dignity in relationships that we
ourselves model, supported by our values, Faith, Hope and Love,
»An expectation that teaching is consistently good or outstanding,
supported by professional development and our shared
commitment that we are life-long learners and reflective
»Fostering a love for learning ourselves and through our delivery of
teaching to achieve our school motto “Learning in Love”,
»A constant desire to improve pupil outcomes in all year groups, and
importantly leave no child behind,
»Outstanding leadership at all levels,
»Increased pupil numbers to acknowledge our shared excellence,
ensuring our school’s financial stability.
communication with stakeholders. The
governors appointed an experienced
national leader of governance as chair
to further suchchange.
The school had significant financial
challenges, but it has always been
important to balance the books. This
led us to make hard decisions and
continues to impact upon what we
invest in, especially as we ambitiously
consider the school curriculum over the
coming years.
When I joined the school, it was
struggling to fill a published admission
number (PAN) of 30 in reception;
some year groups were operating with
two classes and some with onlyone.
Thelongest-serving teacher had
worked at the school for only four
years, and the leadership team were
inexperienced. Staff had seen rapid
change under previous senior leaders
who had now left. I needed to ensure
that Sacred Heart’s vision “to be
outstanding in all areas of learning,
pastoral care and faith formation”
and core values of “Faith, Hope and
Love” permeated our culture as we
Communication and strategic
I place great value on open and regular
communication with staff, pupils,
parents and prospective parents.
I identified that the community
was great at celebrating existing
strengths and identifying next steps,
but this needed to be embedded
more and built upon. Pupils at Sacred
Heart are well behaved, caring and,
importantly, enthusiastic about their
learning. Parents, staff and governors
are supportive of the school. In my
first two terms as headteacher, I
conducted anonymous surveys with
our staff, children and parents, with
the commitment that this would take
place each year and would feed into
our school development.
Setting our future direction
Our governors and leadership team
worked in partnership towards an
exciting three-year development plan
using stakeholder findings and taking
into consideration the educational
landscape ahead. It was devised
around three areas of excellence,
and these continue to be shared with
staff, pupils and parents: excellence
in teaching, learning and curriculum;
excellence in well-being and pastoral
care; and excellence in leadership.
In terms of our focus on excellence in
teaching and learning, I am working with
Children are proud of
Sacred Heart and love
their learning and school
Sacred Heart’s
vision “to be
outstanding in
all areas of
pastoral care
and faith
all staff to develop a clear understanding
of what constitutes excellent teaching.
The new Ofsted framework gives us a
great opportunity to focus on the quality
of education. Middle leaders are in the
process of developing and strengthening
foundation curriculum areas and their
leadership of these, but in a sustainable
and consistent way, supported by me.
In a recent pupil survey, 98 per cent of
children responded that they enjoyed
coming to school and felt that their
lessons were exciting and interesting,
thus articulating our school motto
“learning in love”.
I have placed well-being and pastoral
care at the heart of our school
development plan to recognise and
value the role of children, staff and
parents in our school, underpinning
our Catholic values. A new PSHE
curriculum was introduced with a focus
on mindfulness and emotional literacy,
which has been highly appreciated by
pupils, staff and parents.
Excellence in leadership
The focus of excellence in leadership
now drives our plans for distributive
leadership, the achievement of
new accolades and development
of external partnerships at Sacred
Heart. In 2019, we achieved the Gold
Award for PE, the Silver Eco Award
and Primary Quality Science Award.
As a school we are increasingly
working in partnership and learning
with others. As part of excellence
in leadership, the headteacher and
deputy head are involved in a local
peer review partnership to ensure that
we are using professional reflection to
Our governing body, staff and pupils
are committed to making excellence
in leadership a real strength. A great
success that has further strengthened
our personal development at Sacred
Heart has been the growth of pupil
leadership at the school. We have
developed a wide range of pupil
leadership roles, from headship and
deputy headship team, eco, prayer and
music roles, to sports, school council,
playground and media leaders, and our
children can clearly see the impact of
their work within our school.
We have now expanded our reception
classes so we can return to two-form
entry, ensure financial sustainability
and share excellence with more
children within our community. We
have a stable and committed staff and
in our November Section 48 inspection,
we were awarded “outstanding”.
In a recent pupil
survey, 98 per
cent of children
responded that
they enjoyed
coming to
Pupil Leadership team
representing Sacred
Heart at a local library
Christmas Literary
Year 6 Head and Deputy
Leadership team

This article was sponsored by Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster