St Edmund Arrowsmith Catholic High School

Highlighting best practice as a representative in The Parliamentary Review

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 Edmund Arrowsmith Catholic High School is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Concert band practice for the
music showcase
Headteacher Mark Dumican
with students
St Edmund Arrowsmith Catholic High School are committed
to going beyond measurable outcomes, focusing on
embedding values-based teaching into their curriculum. To
help to support this, they have created a balanced curriculum
that caters for each individual’s skills. This is supplemented
by a broad extracurricular offer, which caters for all pupils.
Headteacher Mark Dumican discusses their commitment to
developing the values of their students and how they have
adapted to severe budget pressures.
There is something to be said for being consistently “good” over a very long period
of time and nurturing values that are inculcated in every generation of pupils. Our
aim has always been to inspire every pupil to want to make the world a better
place. This aim sits above all others in defining an education for our pupils. Our
Catholic faith is central to everything we do, and our pupils are asked to be living
witnesses to that faith and develop the values that come with it. We reveal who we
are in the hundreds of mundane everyday interactions in our school community:
opening doors for each other, being polite and courteous along the corridors,
taking care of each other and offering help when needed.
We have always been judged “good with outstanding features” by Section 5 Ofsted
inspections and as “an outstanding Catholic school” by Section 48 archdiocesan
inspections. Our academic record has always been consistently very good,
irrespective of the latest headline figure that the Department for Education may
use, demonstrated by our positive progress eight scores, which we have attained
each year since the introduction of the measure in 2016. Beingasuccessful school
»Headteacher: Mark Dumican
»Established in 1961
»Based in Wigan
»Type: Secondary school
»No. of pupils: 1,212
St Edmund Arrowsmith
Catholic High School
Highlighting best practice
over a very long period is a result of
having extremely supportive parents,
together with all members of staff
and the governing body putting each
individual pupil at the centre of all our
thoughts, actions and words.
The importance of developing
We have a clear vision for what our
education should be like, and it is
not consumed by the measurable
outcomes that the accountability
system in our country is obsessed by.
In this system, there is an overemphasis
on measurable statistics, which
supersedes any skills- or values-based
acquisition. Of course, good GCSE
grades are vitally important, but
equally so are the values we transmit
to our pupils when we are helping
them to attain those grades. Every
school leader in the country will be
hoping that the new inspection regime
is not dominated by data conversations
but instead uses them as a starting
point to enter into an intelligent
dialogue about what secondary
education should be trying to achieve.
Our school community aims to create
an environment where pupils are
encouraged to relate well to others,
be a key part of any team, empathise
and sympathise when others need it,
be kind and charitable to others who
are less fortunate and offer forgiveness
to others when they have been hurt.
We want our pupils to have the ability
to bounce back from adversity and
forge strong, positive relationships
with everyone they meet. We also
want them to develop a joy of learning
that will stay with them for the rest of
Conversations about how each
individual pupil can be the best
version of himself or herself take place
all around the school, all the time.
These conversations include academic
progress but also include whether
they show respect, compassion, good
manners, patience, generosity and
love because they are all crucially
important in determining whether
each pupil will make a positive impact
in the world.
Catering to each pupil’s skills
Our curriculum offer has always been
broad and balanced, with a wide range
of learning experiences. It is our belief
that all pupils have God-given gifts
and talents that should be nurtured so
that they can shine in whatever area
they choose. Pupils receive equal praise
and encouragement for achievements
across all areas of school life. Pupils
entering into GCSE examinations or
equivalents should be doing so with
enthusiasm for the subjects because
they have shown aptitude and talent
in Key Stage 3, not because it will
help a particular headline measure for
Our academic success is firmly rooted
in the principles of quality-first
We are committed to
teaching our students
values alongside the
In this system,
there is an
on measurable
any skills- or
teaching that provides a stimulating
environment. We have recently
launched “research eddies”, our version
of staff inset days, where we create
different academic reading groups
that staff sign up to before discussing
the classroom practice explored in
the research papers. We only wish to
implement classroom strategies that
are based on sound practice, proven
through extensiveresearch.
Our pupils would describe our
behaviour code as strict, and they are
right. We expect our pupils to behave
well so that they can learn in a safe,
productive and inspiring environment
where they will be happy.
Much time and effort is invested in
extracurricular opportunities for our
pupils, so much so that I would run
out of room very quickly if I were to
list them all. Just one example is our
sporting opportunities, where we have
pupils who compete locally, nationally
and internationally in a host of sports,
as well as many pupils who just want
to experience team sports – all levels
are catered for. Former pupils currently
represent England in rugby league,
women’s football and women’s
volleyball and represent Ireland
Tackling a funding deficit
The primary challenge we face is
funding. For the last three years, we
have been facing a £270,000 real term
cut to our budget. To try to cope with
this, we have made reductions in our
support and teaching staff and have
made every efficiency saving we could
possibly make. This has meant we have
delayed a deficit budget for as long as
possible when the inevitable happens.
Unless our budget increases, we will
be faced with the impossible decision
to go into deficit or fundamentally
change our curriculum offer. These
issues are primarily caused by the
massive discrepancies in pupil funding
across the country: per-pupil funding
in London schools can be almost
£3,500 higher than pupils attending
our school.
We have a famous saying: “you never
leave St Edmund Arrowsmith”, as we
understand that the values we teach
our pupils over their five years here
will help to shape the types of adults
they develop into and that those values
will never leave them. We work on
the basis that the values of the gospel
are everlasting, so, whatever the
educational landscape looks like, we
must continue to promote them above
all else. If we are successful, we will
succeed in inspiring our pupils to make
the world a better place.
Former pupils
England in
rugby league,
football and
and represent
Ireland in
Open air feast of Saints
Peter and Paul

This article was sponsored by St Edmund Arrowsmith Catholic High School. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.