Shaftesbury Primary School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Shaftesbury 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 Shaftesbury 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
Highlighting best practice
Shaftesbury’s junior leadership
team celebrates the news of its
“outstanding” Ofsted on and
around the school’s ark
Shaftesbury English co-ordinator
Ms Kicman runs a phonics
workshop for parents and carers
Shaftesbury Primary School is a large multicultural, inner-city
school in Forest Gate, London, where there are over 40
languages spoken. Rated “outstanding” by Ofsted in 2016,
the school champions a comprehensive curriculum underpinned
by strong leadership and management. Head teacher Geoff
Hadlow provides insight into the school’s effective recruitment,
how the school has addressed the challenges inherent in a
multicultural pupillage, the curriculum, and the importance of
an environment conducive to education.
A decade ago, Shaftesbury Primary was a leaderless school with under-
achieving children and disaffected staff with low expectations. The monolithic,
triple-decker Victorian building was depressing inside and out. The journey to
becoming an “outstanding” school has been long and, at times, erratic. In 2013
for instance, the Ofsted team and their draft report said that we had become a
“good” school.
The decision we found out some five weeks later was that the judgment had been
downgraded back to “requires improvement” (RI). The school jumped from RI to
“outstanding” following our 2016 inspection. Now, Shaftesbury is a well-led centre
of excellence, where our multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and happy children achieve
highly – a testament to our team of high-quality staff, who teach a well-designed
curriculum with confidence in the students.
The school currently nurtures high-quality relationships, especially with parents and
carers, and a bright, stimulating environment.
»Head teacher: Geoff Hadlow
»Based in Forest Gate, Newham
»Type of school: Community
primary school
»No. of pupils: 678
»Ofsted: “Outstanding”
»EAL: 90 per cent
»Over 40 languages spoken
Shaftesbury Primary
Building an effective team
If a school’s staff is populated by
“professionals” who are unaware of
what children can really achieve, who
will undermine sound educational and
professional working practices, who
demonstrate dismissal towards pupils
and their parents and carers, then the
journey to excellence is going to be
challenging for a new head teacher to
a school. Such was the state of mind
of Shaftesbury’s staff. Changing this,
when obstruction, disruption and
passive aggression was the attitude
towards the school’s leadership, I knew
wouldn’t be easy or quick to improve,
and that it would come about through
changing thestaff.
I began a policy of finding the best
newly qualified teachers I could at my
first opportunity, and have continued
to recruit resourcefully. I managed to
recruit a deputy head, who shared
similar values, and an assistant head
teacher I knew and trusted. The
deputy left to take on their own
headship after just two years, as
did the following deputy. The third
deputy head lasted 13 weeks in post.
He had hidden the fact that he was
a trustee for an academy chain and,
during our Ofsted inspection in 2013,
he made a clandestine attempt to
sabotage the outcome. From that
time, we have only chosen our leaders
from within.
With time, the newly qualified teachers
(NQTs) who didn’t leave went on to
become good, experienced teachers
and coordinators, gradually taking
the school to a tipping point where
the effectiveness of the teaching staff
meant that children’s achievements
and standards in school had been
raised. Following the blow of the 2013
moderated inspection result and the
shock of knowing that we had a fifth
columnist in our midst, the mindset
and resilience of the new teaching
team meant that we could regroup
quickly and continue the journey
towards “outstanding”.
Partnerships with the Tollgate Teaching
Alliance and the University of East
London meant that we could annually
invite tranches of PGCE students,
sometimes 40 at a time, to spend six
weeks in school on teaching practices
in the autumn terms. Leaders and
teachers in school would flag up those
students who showed real promise
and then we would invite them back
to undertake their third practice with
a view to appointing the best three
This gradual improvement in the
effectiveness of teaching reflected
the same gradual improvement in the
effectiveness of the governing body.
Whereas the governing body had
been a factionalised group with little
interest in the day-to-day workings of
the school, over time we were able
Shaftesbury’s debating
team attends the launch
of the 2017-18 Debating
League at Westminster
parents and
carers of
come from a
range of
ethnic and
faith groups
Highlighting best practice
to find governors with the passion
to engage with the school daily and
Multicultural challenges
The multicultural parents and carers
of Shaftesbury come from a range
of ethnic and faith groups. Many are
recent migrants. They have a reticence
about coming into school and taking
part, so it has been our practice to
reach out. I greet the children, parents
and carers at the gate every morning
and bid them farewell every afternoon.
The teachers join me in the playground
at these times. I do my best to greet
every adult and child who passes. I
particularly try to make eye contact
with every mum in a hijab or niqab,
every dad and new parent. I feel more
like a holiday camp rep than a head
teacher some days, but the quality of
the relationships that we have with the
parents and carers is superb.
Our parents’ evenings, faith
assemblies, parent classes and fairs
are always very well attended and
the quality of our relationships means
that these events have a beneficial
impact upon pupils’ attendance and
achievements, which are arguably
proportional to the amount of parental
input that theyreceive.
Our students and the
The evolution of our curriculum and
its effectiveness has been a process
of continual improvement. Alongside
this, however, was the introduction of
teaching phonics in the “Ruth Miskin”
way, our focus on teaching spoken
English and the development of strong
core subject teaching that lit the blue
touchpaper. Shaftesbury’s curriculum
has been devised by Shaftesbury’s
teachers and our phonics offer is
modified to best suit our pupils and to
get children free reading quickly. Our
wider curriculum engages, stimulates
and attracts our pupils, but all teaching,
even the foundation subjects, has many
links to the skills of the core subjects.
As the Ofsted report rightly noted,
every new topic across the school,
including in the early years, is
introduced by pupils sharing what
they already know and what they are
interested in finding out. Moreover,
learning is enriched by many visits,
such as to museums, city farms
and an Africa centre. Accordingly,
our pupils thoroughly savour their
learning and attain a comprehensive
range of skills, knowledge and
All leaders in the school work
industriously to ensure that all pupils
and staff live and learn by the “five
Cs” – care, courtesy, commitment,
cooperation and consideration.
Consequently, we have been able to
foster a cohesive learning environment
underpinned by a set of shared values.
In addition, our passionate inclusion
team ensures that all our pupils who
are struggling with their learning
are afforded the means to quickly
catch up with their peers and make
All leaders in
the school
to ensure that
all pupils and
staff live and
learn by the
‘five Cs’
Shaftesbury pupils carry
out science observations
in the schools specially
landscaped garden

This article was sponsored by Shaftesbury 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 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