St George's CE Primary 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 George's CE Primary School is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Headteacher Rebecca Keitch
Exploring and learning
through play in reception
Based in Great Bromley, Essex, St George’s is a Church of
England primary school with very close links to St George’s
Church. With a strong Christian ethos at the heart of
the curriculum, it aims to provide a safe environment in which
children can flourish. Headteacher Rebecca Keitch discusses
the school’s progress in greater detail and explains how it has
adapted to the unprecedented challenges of 2020.
When I joined St George’s as head in 2016, I knew I was taking on a successful
school with high expectations of its pupils. My challenge has been to find the right
way forward for the school, building on its many strengths and further enhancing
children’s learning.
Values, attitudes and the power of yet
As a small school, we work together in a tight-knit community. Our staff know
each child individually and the children get to know each other well, learning
together in mixed-age classes. There is much to unite us, not least our school
values – be respectful, be a good friend, be compassionate, be responsible, show
As the head, I take seriously the challenge of demonstrating these values in my
daily interactions and decision-making. Each child, member of staff and parent is
respected as an individual with their own talents, strengths, ideas and difficulties.
While it is impossible to please everyone at all times, it is crucial to show respect
and humanity to all. Compassion sometimes feels in short supply in today’s world.
I firmly believe that compassion and empathy are attitudes to be encouraged and
»Headteacher: Rebecca Keitch
»Founded in 1863
»Location: Great Bromley, Essex
»Type of school: Church of
England primary
»No. of students: 117
St George’s CE
Primary School
Highlighting best practice
nurtured. In many different ways,
we give children the opportunity to
consider the opinions and feelings
of other people, both known
“I can’t do it … yet” is the mantra
of our school mascot, the Yeti, who
encourages our pupils to persevere
in the face of a tricky challenge.
We know that learning does not
always come easily, and we celebrate
children’s personal achievements
and progress. We promote a positive
can-do mindset and highlight the
importance of attitude, recognising
that learning is not easy but requires
determination. This gives us the
vocabulary to talk to the children about
how to move their learning forward,
acknowledging their difficulties and
setbacks without creating a fear
Community, creativity and
critical thinking
Our biggest challenge is to maintain
the quality and variety of provision in
the face of the funding pressures felt
by all schools. We try to protect our
children and families from the impact
of budget cuts, relying increasingly
heavily on goodwill and donations,
especially from the PTA. I am
concerned about the sustainability of
small schools like ours, working hard
to do the best for their communities
under increasing financial difficulty.
We are a community made up of
unique individuals, and we celebrate
what makes us different too. A big
part of this is teaching children to think
for themselves and reflect critically on
their ideas, actions and learning. This
extends to staff, too.
One of my first priorities as head
was to ensure teachers felt confident
and trusted to exercise their own
professional judgment. Teachers are
always encouraged to think critically
about their practice to ensure they
are making the most of every learning
opportunity. I was also committed to
developing a more creative curriculum
for our pupils. Attainment in the
core subjects, English and Maths, is
important – our children need to be
Performing the Haka!
Our school
values – be
respectful, be a
good friend, be
be responsible,
show courage,
well-prepared for Key Stage 2 SATs and
life beyond primary school. But it is vital
that this comes as part of an exciting,
broad curriculum which inspires a love
of learning. We now have a vibrant,
engaging curriculum, utilising cross-
curricular links wherever we can.
Our latest venture is to implement
Philosophy for Children through the
Community of Enquiry approach.
This is a particular passion of mine
and is something I had practised in
my own classroom for years. Over
the past few years, we have been
laying the groundwork for introducing
Philosophy for Children. Children are
now encouraged to be more active
learners, and our classrooms are full
of dialogue and debate, with children
expected to think for themselves. They
are becoming skilled at recognising
their own strengths and areas
Philosophy for Children involves the
children learning to ask and explore
big questions as a group. It creates
a safe, structured environment in
which children can tackle some
fascinating, and sometimes difficult,
issues. Recent enquiries have included:
should animals be kept in captivity?
What makes a home? What makes a
The aim of the Community of Enquiry
approach is to work together to
explore the question, clarify meanings
and challenge assumptions in order
to reach a better understanding of
the issues at play. It helps children to
develop skills such as active listening,
conflict management and examining
assumptions and prejudices. It is
more than an airing of opinions; it is
a collaborative endeavour which can
lead to significant shifts in thinking.
We are excited about taking this
initiative further, developing and
honing the children’s skills as reflective,
thoughtful members of the local and
global community.
The challenges of 2020
Since writing the original text for this
article, we have been experiencing the
unprecedented challenge of the global
coronavirus pandemic. Although St
George’s remained open throughout
the lockdown period for children of
critical workers and vulnerable families,
the vast majority of our children and
parents had to adapt to learning at
home. This has undoubtedly been the
biggest challenge of my headship to
date, but the hard work and dedication
of the staff have made me feel even
more proud to lead at St George’s.
Teachers gave exceptional support,
guidance, reassurance and feedback
to their pupils and parents throughout
the extended period of school closure,
as well as working in school and
juggling their own family lives.
At the time of writing, we are two
weeks into the new school year. It is
great to have all the children and staff
back in school, and we are settling into
new ways of working. The underlying
values of compassion and kindness
are more important than ever, and, if
anything, we feel we have a deeper
connection with our families, having
worked closely with them through
such a difficult time for all.
While it is
impossible to
everyone at all
times, it is
crucial to
show respect
and humanity
to all
Collaborative learning in
Key Stage 1 Maths

This article was sponsored by St George's CE Primary School. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.