St Antony's Catholic Primary School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by St Antony's 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 St Antony's 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
Head teacher Angela Moore
proudly poses with award in
“The Annunciation of the Birth of Christ” in song
and dance by the children in the cast in “The
Christmas Story: The Hand-Maid of the Lord“ 2017
St Antony’s was originally established in 1862 by Ursuline
nuns. Head teacher Angela Moore was appointed as the
first head teacher of ethnic minority heritage at this school
in October 2013, and formally took up office in January 2014.
Between 2009 and 2013, St Antony’s was languishing near
the bottom of the borough’s league tables in the lower sixth
of schools within the area. Angela’s solution to this challenge
was to focus predominantly on pupil progress. She therefore
made strategic and fundamental changes to the structures and
curriculum, ensuring that the pupils – particularly those at the
end of Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 – would make accelerated
progress in all core areas.
By June 2014, the school had moved from the bottom of the borough’s league
tables to the top. The school had made a meteoric rise to fourth in the borough
over the first two terms under my leadership, and I had every intention for us to
continue to sustain this level of progress.
What made the difference?
Changing the narrative, the culture and ethos of the school – getting children
and staff to take on a “can do” attitude instead of allowing the established
defeatist mindsets to continue to thrive. This approach demanded re-thinking
and unlearning alongside fastidious but collaborative work with all stakeholders.
I had established with governors, parents and staff the philosophy that raising
»Head teacher: Angela Moore
»Founded in 1862
»Location: Forest Gate, Newham
»Type of school: Voluntary aided
Catholic primary school
»No. of students: 487
»Copious amount of after school
clubs, vast provision of resources
enabled through self-sacrificing
and dedicated staff
St Antony’s Catholic
Primary School
Highlighting best practice
expectations and raising the bar was
the way forward for all abilities. We
accepted that changing the thinking
that being on the SEND register was an
excuse to underachieve, and started to
dispel the myth that being “deprived”
was naturally linked to low attainment.
At the time, approximately 25 per cent
of the 472 pupils of the school met
the criteria for free school meals (FSM),
well above the national average. This
was going to be a serious challenge –
but one we were willing to take on.
I set about getting the staff at all
levels to buy into the fact that raising
attainment had more to do with
building self-esteem and self-worth
than merely putting strategies in place
to drive standards. In light of this
concept, the head and leadership team
began to work more on the “affective
domain” to raise the children’s cognitive
abilities. We started to get children to
“believe they can achieve”, while giving
them strategies to make this happen:
we used the performing arts to build
confidence in our children through new
programmes and initiatives established
by Master Chan and his team.
One of my major challenges from
the very outset was to get the whole
staff to buy into the new vision for
the school which was inextricably
linked to the fact that St Anthony’s is
a faith school. Therefore, we should
never shy away from taking “leaps of
faith” – holding fast to the precept
that “with Christ all things are indeed
possible!” Our ethos became one that
was palpable; this was encapsulated
in our school vision: “to be an engine
of real and sustainable change
within the community”. The change
we wanted to establish most was
“change from within” each individual
in the school.
This vision was shared with the
children and they got to understand
it fully through small group work,
discussions in assemblies, circle time,
school council meetings and class
debates. They were asked to voice
what this would demand of them
individually and how this would
directly impact on their learning and
behaviour. Alongside the children
generally accepting and understanding
this new precedent, they got their
parents on board – the majority
of whom supported the changes
implemented – even daily early
morning booster classes at 8 o’clock
for years 5 and 6.
It’s all smiles from head
teacher Angela Moore
and her leadership
team as they receive the
award for being named
in the top ten schools
in the country from the
Mayor’s representative
Cllr. Canon Ann Easter
Progress in
writing and
above the
standard and
in the highest
10 per cent
Raise 2017
The school’s accelerated progress
plan was built on the “ordinary
magic of hard graft”, focusing on
key aims – agreed on by governors,
staff and parents – which formed our
“whole school priorities”. These were
»Development of an effective
leadership team inclusive of SLT,
SMT and governance underpinned
by effective CPD and focused
»Raising achievement and attainment
in reading, writing and maths;
»Improving the quality of teaching
and learning;
»Developing an environment which
enhances and supports learning.
All these changes did not come
without a heavy cost, however; there
was an exodus of staff within the first
year of my tenure as a result of the
demand for 100 per cent commitment
to the new thinking and approach
as well as the establishment of
non-negotiable aspirational targets
and outcomes for all children from
nursery to year 6. I lived my mantra of
“walking by faith”; therefore, where
others saw peril my governors and
I saw possibilities. We were able to
secure a new cadre of experienced,
creative teachers alongside newly
qualified teachers that brought fresh
outlook to the school. We also took
the visionary step of appointing
specialists in maths and English in
2014 to further drive standards.
Staff turnover stabilised and we now
have a hard working teaching and
learning team who are child focused
and result oriented. Our leadership
team is currently our “dream team”,
as they effectively model, manage and
monitor securing high standards which
we have now come to be known
for. The leadership team supports
and challenges all staff to empower
Staff are reflective yet also critical of
their own performance and recognise
how to shape their practice in order to
raise standards for the children. One
of the main outcomes of the changes
made was the change of culture in the
school; the children are now used to
being challenged and find enjoyment
in their learning. Our inspirational
curriculum lead, Miss Wade, ensures
that the children’s learning has depth
and breadth and fosters cross curricular
learning. Our hard working SENCO,
Miss Baptiste, with the head changed
the structure of the SEND provision
to include the teaching of life skills
such as sewing, cooking, baking and
cycling in the afternoons for our high
needs pupils. We extended our out of
hours learning provisions from being
limited to five after school clubs to
45 clubs including dance, drama and
performing arts, orchestra, cooking
and baking, fencing, karate, French,
Spanish, debating, junior theology,
publishing art and animation.
Our school is currently the top school
in the London Borough of Newham
(DfE league tables 2017) and among
the top ten schools in the country.
St Antony’s Catholic Primary has
become synonymous with high
achievement, but our main challenge
moving forward is to sustain this level
writing and
progress was
in the top 20
per cent
nationally for
at least two
years for all
pupils: middle
prior attainers,
high prior
attainers and
Ofsted data
benchmarking 2017
“Many Cultures...One
School” – Black History
Month theme depicted
by the children in their
cultural costumes

This article was sponsored by St Antony's Catholic 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