Scalby School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Scalby 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 Scalby 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
Michael McCluskie, head teacher
A bright future for
Scalby School
Scalby School is a coeducational 11-16 comprehensive school
in the north of Scarborough with an average ability cohort.
Twenty per cent are categorised as “disadvantaged”,
meaning they receive, or have received, free school meals. The
school is in one of the government’s designated “opportunity
areas” which is to benefit from £6 million of extra funding to
boost social mobility. While more can be done at Scalby to close
the gap between disadvantaged students and their peers, the
school has significantly improved the educational outcomes for
these students in the last three years. Former head teacher and
now CEO of Scalby Learning Trust, David Read, here chronicles
their “improvement journey”.
In 2017, the school posted its best-ever overall GCSE results. Indeed, its Progress 8
score of 0.58 placed Scalby in the top 10 per cent of schools nationally and meant
that students achieved over half a GCSE grade more per student than a school
performing at the national average. Of greatest satisfaction, however, were the
results for disadvantaged students. Firstly, disadvantaged students gained a positive
Progress 8 score of 0.05 per cent, which means that on average a disadvantaged
student at Scalby achieved half a GCSE grade higher per qualification than the
national average for disadvantaged students, placing the school in the top 12 per
cent for this measure. Furthermore, 60 per cent of Scalby’s disadvantaged students
achieved at least a grade four in English and mathematics – only slightly below
the national average for all students irrespective of background. Of note, in GCSE
English, 68 per cent of disadvantaged students gained at least a grade four, which
was above the national average for all students.
»Head teacher: Michael
»Deputy head teacher:
»CEO of Scalby Learning Trust:
David Read
»Founded in 1942
»Based in Scalby, Scarborough
»Type of school: Co-educational
comprehensive academy for
students aged 11-16
»No. of students: 1,000
»No. of staff: 125
Scalby School
Closing the gap
It is important to state that
while Scalby has been a popular,
oversubscribed school for many years,
with headline examination results
above national averages, it has not
historically been as successful with
disadvantaged students as it has in the
last two years. Indeed, in 2014, there
was a 39 per cent gap between the
number of disadvantaged students
gaining five or more GCSEs including
English and mathematics and the rest
of the cohort.
Our improvement began with the 2015
appointment of one of our assistant
head teachers, Chris Robertson,
to a new role of achievement co-
ordinator with the daunting task
of simultaneously improving results
overall while closing the gap between
disadvantaged students and the rest.
Chris started by visiting other schools
that had been successful in “narrowing
the gap” and the main piece of advice
gathered was to identify the specific
barriers to learning in our school
context, then plan to address them.
Subsequent data analysis of the 2014
results showed that attendance was an
issue for some disadvantaged students.
Low reading ages was another
problem for a number of students.
We also looked at where teachers
were successful with disadvantaged
students when other teachers were
not. This revealed two things which,
on reflection, were unsurprising. Firstly,
the more successful teachers tended
to have excellent personal relationships
with their students, and, secondly, they
thought carefully about how to engage
all students when planning lessons.
Conversations with disadvantaged
students further showed that many
did very little revision at home, and
conversations with their parents
revealed that many did not realise how
much home study was required in
order to be successful in examinations.
Three waves
Chris consequently produced a
detailed plan to address each of these
issues, linked to the pupil premium
budget. The plan had a three-wave
structure, which is often used in
schools. Wave one was provision
that all disadvantaged students
would receive in the classroom. The
fundamental part of this was that
all teachers were expected to mark
disadvantaged students’ work first
when they collected books in and,
where necessary, provide additional
verbal feedback to them afterwards.
Teachers were also expected to ensure
that they included disadvantaged
students in any classroom discussion
to keep them regularly involved. As a
teacher at the time, this seemed like a
gimmick, though I applied it the same
Success is not only about
examination results
Developing the culture
and character of
students inside and
outside of the classroom
Leadership and
are outstanding.
Senior leaders
are extremely
well focused
and have
achieved much
since the last
Highlighting best practice
as everyone else and it certainly did
make me think more carefully about
how I planned for and worked with the
disadvantaged students in my classes.
The SLT then monitored lessons
regularly to ensure that this approach
was being consistently applied.
At wave one, we purchased all the
materials for practical lessons for
disadvantaged students, such as food
for those studying catering, using the
pupil premium fund to do so. The
fund was also used to buy revision
materials for final-year students. Wave
two provision involved additional
offerings to groups of students, such
as revision classes after school. Wave
three involved personalised individual
support for students, such as a reading
improvement programme or a personal
mentor, either from a local employer
or senior member of staff who would
also contact parents as required to
establish a constructive relationship
with the family.
The leadership team created a
spreadsheet with data relating to
every disadvantaged student, to assess
their individual needs. It was decided
whether they required just wave one
provision or needed to access provision
at waves two and three, and, if so,
what. In short, there was a provision
plan for every disadvantaged child in
the school. This was also reviewed every
half-term when the performance data
for each student was produced and
their provision amended accordingly.
Other key action areas
The other key actions were to increase
the staffing of the attendance team,
which led to improved numbers in
school and the introduction of a new
literacy development programme to
address issues such as low reading
ages, enabling students to better
access examination courses. The
leadership team also made explicit
to both year 11 students and their
parents, through an information
evening, the importance of home
study prior to examinations coupled
with information on revision
techniques. Following these actions,
the summer of 2016 saw a significant
improvement in results both overall
and for disadvantaged students,
which were improved upon again in
2017 as we refined our three-wave
plan; we developed our after-school
classes for underperforming students
and directed them to these with
The school is rightfully proud of the
improvements it has made in raising
the educational outcomes for our
disadvantaged youngsters. It shows
how a school can improve significantly
with skilled, committed individuals
such as Chris Robertson and a detailed
evidence-based strategy. This can
only work, however, if the plan is
applied consistently by everyone and
the leadership team are relentless
in ensuring that it is. This makes
for continual hard work and an
unremitting focus, but when staff see
the students’ faces on results day, all
the effort is worth it.
Behaviour and
safety are
good. Students
have positive
attitudes to
At Scalby School, we pride ourselves on being a learning community
where students make progress across all of their subjects every day
and where teachers participate in weekly professional development
activities to improve their practice.
We practise our leadership skills at all levels of our school life; our
students have responsibilities to lead improvements for our school
community and our staff have opportunities to demonstrate their
leadership skills, ready for the next step in their careers.
We are relentless in our ambition to ensure that all of our students
and all of our staff are challenged and supported so that they can
maximise their potential.
Above all, our curriculum ensures that we develop the culture and
character of our students. We believe these social attributes are just as
important as academic qualifications in preparing our young people to
be responsible citizens, who contribute positively to our community.
This is what “being the best we can be” means at Scalby School.
Scalby School: a
learning community

This article was sponsored by Scalby 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 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