St Augustine's Academy

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by St Augustine's 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 St Augustine's 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

Headteacher Amanda Howes
Preparing our classrooms
for school reopening
St Augustine’s Academy is a one-form-entry, Church of
England primary school situated in the Dunstable area of
Central Bedfordshire with approximately 170 children on
roll. It is in an area of high deprivation, with over 40 per cent
of pupils disadvantaged and a similar percentage having special
educational needs. During the last six years, it has undergone
many challenges including several changes of headteacher, and
the transition to become a single academy, a Church of England
school and a primary school. The Coronavirus pandemic of the
last few months has brought its own challenges. However, as
Headteacher Amanda Howes details below, the determination
to see the community thrive during this time of adversity has
kept the school focused and determined.
Supporting our community
Throughout lockdown, we remained open for vulnerable children and those of key
worker families. This included during school holidays.
We knew from our involvement in the SHEU (Schools and Students Health
Education Unit) survey that, for our pupils learning at home, access to computers
was minimal. Therefore, we provided workbooks, exercise books and coloured
pencils, with additional resources available on request. Teachers also wrote letters
to the children, and a “Home Learning Checklist” was issued to help structure
home learning. We even sent home mindfulness colouring, depicting our school
scripture, as a reminder of our vision and a source of encouragement.
»Headteacher: Amanda Howes
»Established as an academy
»Based in Dunstable,
»Type of school: One-form-
entry Church of England
primary school
»Number of pupils: 169
»Ofsted: “Good”
St Augustine’s
Highlighting best practice
To maintain contact with families,
a weekly school newsletter was
produced. This was communicated
through our school website and app,
and placed in the windows of our local
pharmacy and newsagents so it could
be read by the whole community. It
contained mental health and well-
being contacts, links to home learning
activities, prayers, school updates and
general advice (e.g. how to apply for
free school meals). It also contained
details of weekly home challenges for
pupils. Our newsletters were soon full
of photographs of children working
from home, which helped everyone to
feel spiritually connected despite being
physically apart. Our local authority
and diocese also used some of our
resources to assist other schools.
Many families in our community have
recently struggled for food. Therefore,
each week, staff and volunteers could
be seen with a trolley full of bagels,
milk vouchers and cereals (provided
by Magic Breakfast) delivering to our
families in need.
Mobile phones were purchased for our
family support worker and SENDCo
who, along with the deputy head
and me, used them to keep in regular
contact with families. Our parents and
carers were appreciative of our efforts.
As a result, home–school relationships
have been positively affected and are
now, we believe, the strongest they
have been.
School reopening
During school closure, we operated
with a skeleton staff (our governing
board decided to ensure that all
vulnerable staff were able to work
from home, even when school
reopened to more pupils). While
working from home, staff upskilled
their learning through a range of
courses, as well as developing the
school’s curriculum. This included the
writing of Knowledge Organisers (to
support teaching and learning), new
schemes of work and policies.
Even though schools were able to
open from June 1, 2020, we decided
to use the first two days to train staff
in new protocols, update safeguarding
training and ensure they were
emotionally ready for the children’s
return. Many had not been in school
for several weeks, and they valued and
appreciated these two days.
Our Risk Register for reopening left
no stone unturned. In preparation for
Bug hunting in Forest
Experience Days bring
the Curriculum to Life
The joy of outdoor
Each week,
staff and
could be seen
with a trolley
full of bagels,
milk vouchers
and cereals
(provided by
delivering to
our families
welcoming back pupils, classrooms
were stripped of furniture and
resources, leaving only those needed
to accommodate ten pupils; two-metre
distancing lines were taped along
corridors and painted on pathways,
chain-link fencing divided the school
field into “bubble” sections, an
outdoor sink was installed and toilet
cubicles were allocated. Our school
certainly looked very different when
we had finished.
It was wonderful to see approximately
60 pupils return to school on
June3, 2020, although we had
hoped for more. Our pupils showed
remarkable and surprising resilience
and adaptability. Although we made
provision for one-to-one conferencing
for those requiring mental health
and well-being support, this was only
needed by two children. We found,
however, that pupils’ stamina had
been severely affected. During the
afternoons, children of all ages were
seen falling asleep at their desks.
The general atmosphere was calm and
purposeful. Tiny classes, and the need
for a higher degree of pupil autonomy,
benefited both staff and pupils. They
were happy to be back, and the sound
of children’s laughter filled what had
been an almost silent building once
again. Staff working from home found
it increasingly difficult to be away from
school, but daily “round up” emails,
staff support social media groups and a
weekly staff prayer meeting, via Zoom,
helped everyone feel connected.
Looking to the future
Three years ago, the current leadership
team inherited a school where pupils
had attained 0 per cent combined in
their Key Stage 2 SATS. We worked
hard to raise expectations and
standards and were delighted to obtain
a “Good” Ofsted outcome in June
2017 despite poor prior performance.
You can imagine the frustration we
now feel knowing that some of our
pupils, who we have worked so hard
with, and despite our best efforts, will
have regressed in their learning as a
result of being out of school for six
months and for a variety of additional
reasons, most of them socio-economic.
Moving forward, we are determined
that deprivation will not lessen the life
chances for our pupils. Our curriculum
will continue to evolve and be shaped
by their needs, and we aim to close the
attainment gap once more, through
catch-up. Outdoor learning will be
high on the agenda as many of our
pupils live in flats with no gardens.
A focus on mental health and well-
being for all will also take priority.
But most of all, we will continue to
live out “The St Augustine’s Way” by
following the Christian values at the
heart of our school, and holding fast
to our Golden Rules, “Show Respect”,
“Be Kind” and “Try Our Best”. We
aim for our vision to be seen in
every aspect of our school, from the
welcome received when you walk in
the door to our curriculum and the
strategy of our policy writing. We hope
that our community will always say
StAugustine’s is truly a place “Where
We All Shine”.
forward, we
are determined
deprivation will
not lessen the
life chances for
our pupils
Autonomy in the

This article was sponsored by St Augustine's Academy. 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