St. Bernadette's Catholic Primary Voluntary Academy

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by St. Bernadette's Catholic Primary Voluntary 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. Bernadette's Catholic Primary Voluntary 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

A budding artist at work
Head teacher, Mark Strong, with pupils from year 6
in front of a mosaic depicting an appearance of Mary,
the Mother of God, to our patron, Saint Bernadette
St Bernadette’s mission statement and core values, centred
on the teachings of Jesus Christ, lie at the heart of daily
life in our academy. Gospel values permeate the academy
and influence and drive all that we do. St Bernadette’s is well
regarded for its distinctive Catholic ethos, high standards of
behaviour and excellent academic achievements. Head teacher
Mark Strong discusses the academy’s overarching Catholic ethos
as unequivocally influential in the running of the academy,
referencing its positive connotations on the quality of work, and
on the depth of pastoral care.
Opened in 1954 to serve the growing Catholic community of Scunthorpe,
StBernadette’s converted to academy status in 2012. Historically serving a mainly
White-British catchment area, over one third of our pupils are now classed as
having English as an additional language. Pupils are drawn from a variety of
ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds and have a wide range of abilities. Their
harmonious assimilation within our school community demonstrates the inclusive
nature of our academy.
Upon entering the academy, our children are welcomed into a loving, caring and
nurturing environment, beginning a journey with us through which they will mature
and flourish (both intellectually and socially). Although the majority of pupils enter
reception well below the expected standard, by the end of year 6 our results
are consistently well above local and national averages in all areas. Furthermore,
all progress scores under the latest performance measures have been extremely
positive. Disadvantaged pupils and those with English as an additional language
»Head teacher: Mark Strong
»Founded in 1954
»Based in Scunthorpe, North
»Type of school: Catholic
»No. of pupils: 326
»Age group: 3-11 years old
»Deprivation indicator: 0.23
»Pupil premium: 57 pupils
»Special educational needs:
28 pupils
»English as an additional
language: 117 pupils
»Number of first languages
spoken by pupils: 14
»Ofsted: “Outstanding”
St Bernadette’s Catholic
Primary Voluntary Academy
Highlighting best practice
perform exceptionally well, and in 2016
we won a pupil premium award for
consistently outstanding achievement.
Having worked at the academy since
1998, I commenced my tenure as head
teacher in September 2015, a time
of significant change in education.
I had a new curriculum to embed,
while simultaneously striving to raise
standards and to fill the void of “life
after levels”. Despite the academy’s
“outstanding” status, I felt there was
still much to develop and achieve: in
this regard, immediate and long-term
priorities were quickly established.
Moving forward with focus
I created two assistant head teacher
positions, thereby enabling greater
distribution of roles and improving
effectiveness. The leadership team,
representing all phases of the
academy, carry most of the key
responsibilities and are pivotal to
our success. Indeed, our school
improvement partner has highlighted
our distributed leadership model as a
fundamental strength of the academy.
We have an absolute focus on
ensuring high standards of teaching
and learning. This focus is supported
through a rigorous monitoring and
professional development cycle, taking
account of the academy development
plan’s key objectives, with challenging
appraisal targets linked directly to this.
The appraisal cycle now involves termly
reviews, allowing leaders to respond
rapidly to any issues identified and to
provide appropriate support.
Our newly developed assessment system
delivers more effective data on progress,
curriculum coverage and identification
of gaps in learning. Questions raised by
data are tackled through robust pupil
progress meetings, leading to improved
targeting of intervention work.
We invest in quality professional
development through the Diocese
of Nottingham, North Lincolnshire
Council and other providers. Effective
systems to share best practice have
also been developed, enabling us to
harness fully the significant strengths
within our own team.
The link with our school improvement
partner is highly valued, providing us
with independent scrutiny, expertise
and robust challenge. This has been a
significant factor in driving us forward,
particularly in the rigorous analysis and
usage of data and the development of
accurate, evidence-based self-evaluation.
Our pupils enjoy learning through an
engaging and vibrant curriculum. Over
recent years, we have successfully
raised the profile of reading, while
the introduction of Pie Corbett’s Talk
for Writing approach has brought a
clear methodology to the teaching
of writing. In mathematics, a mastery
approach is used, coupled with a
regular problem-solving focus.
Pupils also enjoy the knowledge-
and skills-based topic work of the
international primary curriculum.
Homework is used to reinforce learning
and drive up standards, with fun half-
term projects which all the family can
engage in. The curriculum is enhanced
through trips, including a residential
visit to Robin Hood’s Bay, a wide range
of sporting and musical opportunities,
and other extra-curricular activities.
Pupils experiencing the
great outdoors at Robin
Hood’s Bay
Our values are
the bedrock of
our academy,
providing the
foundation on
which all else
is built
To help develop character, our pupils
are entrusted with important roles,
such as prefects, playground buddies
and sports leaders. Our chaplaincy
team have a significant role regarding
the Catholic life of the academy,
while the academy council debate and
contribute to decisions on key issues.
Our parents are invited to a wide variety
of events, which are always very well
attended. We ensure that they are kept
well informed at every stage of their
children’s education, from home visits
prior to their children commencing
nursery or reception, through to a year
6 SATs informationevening.
Our governing body works very
hard and we are blessed to have
their outstanding support. Led by a
committed chair of governors, they
provide a broad range of expertise and
purposeful challenge to all leaders.
Challenges faced
»As one of the lowest-funded
academies per pupil in our local
authority, our budget remains a
constant and significant challenge.
Undoubtedly, with more equitable
funding, more positive change could
be actioned.
»Our outdated building urgently
requires significant investment for
refurbishment and much-needed new
facilities. I have established a clear
vision and plan for what is required.
»As part of a diocesan restructuring
programme, our multi-academy
trust is set to expand significantly,
spanning Lincolnshire and
Rutland, with much set to change
operationally from September 2018.
Striving for excellence
I am currently leading an exciting
rebranding process, including the
launch of a new website, helping us
to improve further the effectiveness of
our communication with our families
and the wider community.
The pace of change at the academy in
recent years has been rapid, with much
still to achieve, but I am confident in
the ability of my dedicated staff to rise
to every challenge.
We are passionate about delivering
the high quality of education that our
children deserve. We will continue
to strive for excellence in all that
we do: developing well-mannered
young people with a love of God
and neighbour who are academically
successful, well prepared for the next
phase of their education and possess a
keen desire to play their part in society
for the service and good of others.
Come what may in the world of
education, our dedication to the
children and families whom we serve
will never change.
A strong sense
of commitment
to the
mission ensures
that pupils are
prepared to fully
contribute to
their Christian
within and
beyond the
Diocesan Canonical
Inspection Report
Left: Focused support
contributes to our children
making excellent progress
Right: Collective worship,
led by pupils, is integral
to fostering our Catholic

This article was sponsored by St. Bernadette's Catholic Primary Voluntary Academy. 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