St James Catholic Primary School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by St James 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 James 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

Academically, we are one of the
highest-performing schools in
the North West
We have a reputation for our
outstanding commitment to
pupil development
Situated in the suburb of Orrell, Wigan, St James’ Catholic
Primary School has, under the leadership of Headteacher
Gary Hayes, adapted to the changing educational landscape
in order to further develop its reputation within the local area and
wider afield. Having just completed a journey to become a full
two-form-entry school through major expansion works, Gary
The Parliamentary Review
that the school is now equipped
with both buildings and an environment that is fit for purpose.
Despite being one of the most poorly-funded schools per pupil in the local authority,
we have an outstanding reputation for not only our academic standards but also
our commitment to the wider development of pupils. This is something that we’re
especially proud of.
Academically, the school is one of the highest-performing primary schools in not only
the local area but also the North West. While all attainment and progress measures
are positive, maths progress is a particular jewel in our crown – by that measure,
we have consistently ranked in the top two to three per cent of schools nationally.
Teaching and learning
Key to our success are effective teaching and learning strategies that allow all
pupils to make consistent progress as they move through the school.
Senior leaders set the tone by ensuring that we are focused on key strategies.
We work on the principle of undertaking central targets well and adopting them
»Headteacher: Gary Hayes
»Founded in 1848
»Based in Orrell, Wigan,
Greater Manchester
»Type of school: Voluntary-
aided primary school
»No. of students: 420
»The school is near the border
with West Lancashire
St James Catholic
Primary School
Highlighting best practice
consistently across the school, rather
than automatically taking on every
new initiative that comes along.
Strengths and development
Our development priorities are also
accurately identified and resourced,
while also being supported by a robust
CPD programme for all staff. Strong
governance not only supports the
school with its strategic thinking but
also ensures that the school is held to
the appropriate levels of challenge and
We are clear on our strengths and
areas for development. Our rigorous
process of self-evaluation identifies
areas for development, and we
precisely identify what would be the
best way to address each.
The strength of the home–school
partnership underpins our effectiveness
as parents continue to fulfil their
role as first educators of their
children. Clear communication exists
within a climate of mutual respect,
which ensures that expectations
are supported by a clear, consistent
message that is delivered to pupils,
both in school and at home.
Community links
A strong parents, friends and school
association raises much-needed funds
for the school through events such as
the summer and Christmas fairs, which
are always well supported by the
school community.
Our parish links are also positive, with
numerous school–parish events taking
place throughout the academic year.
Our school is also used as the base
for the monthly parish sacramental
preparation programme for pupils
in year 4 and their families. This
leads to pupils taking their first Holy
Communion in the summer term.
Enriching programme
Despite the increased pressures
brought about by external
accountability measures, our senior
leaders have maintained their
commitment to a broad and balanced
curriculum. Notwithstanding the
timetable pressures resulting from
the requirement of the Catholic
Church’s Social Teaching Bishops’
Conference for schools to dedicate at
least ten per cent of teaching time to
religious education, we ensure that
all foundation subjects are given high
levels of importance.
A clear programme of enrichment
opportunities – through visits,
workshops and talks – helps to bring
these subjects to life. We also make
good use of the skills and work-
based opportunities offered from
within our community, including an
annual enrichment day for all year 5
pupils at Edge Hill University as well
as workshops at BAE Systems’ nearby
premises for all year 4 pupils.
Life beyond St James
Our commitment to wider life beyond
the school also adds to the success
story. Separate residential trips for
pupils in years 4, 5 and 6 aid personal
development and team-building skills.
We are also a very prominent musical
school, with a large and vibrant choir –
the biggest in our area.
Non-core subjects such
as music are celebrated
– we hold a biennial arts
exhibition and music
concert with the WOWS
group of primary schools
Visits, workshops
and talks help pupils
to develop important
skills for later life
the school is
one of the
primary schools
in not only the
local area but
also the North
Not only do they represent the school
at local and regional music events,
they are also a key part of our annual
“Spring Song” event that showcases
a flavour of the huge musical talent
within the school. Year 4 also undertake
a weekly session of instrumental tuition
that gives all pupils a chance to develop
an appreciation of music through some
less familiar instruments – such as
samba drums.
We do not seek to work in isolation
and embrace a school-led improvement
system. As part of the WOWS group
of 17 primary schools and one special
school, we work collaboratively to
develop and share good practice. An
innovative collaborative marking and
feedback project has received DfE
recognition, having been published as
a model of good practice.
The WOWS group of schools also
have a longstanding commitment
to pupil celebration activities and
organise a number of interschool
curricular and sporting events.
Spearheading this are a biennial arts
exhibition and music concert, which
are each held once in every other
year. These are major events that are
celebrated across all the schools; over
500 people were in the audience at
the latest concert.
Education is ever-changing
Recent years have also seen the
Archdiocese of Liverpool respond to
the changing educational climate. The
development of the Archdiocese of
Liverpool Primary School Improvement
Trust has allowed us to access an
evolving school improvement service
and numerous innovative teaching and
learning projects while also achieving
significant financial savings.
Similarly, the local authority in Wigan
has responded to the changing
educational terrain and financial
constraints by moving to a school-
led school improvement consortium
centred on five localities. I am the
school improvement lead for the
Wigan South consortium and, along
with other leads, oversee improvement
on behalf of the local authority.
Developing productive
members of society
By the time pupils leave us at the end
of year 6 to transfer to high school,
they are confident, independent, well-
rounded learners with the necessary
key skills to access the secondary
curriculum and are prepared for life
beyond that. All pupils understand
that as St James’ pupils there are
certain expectations of them and
that there is a St James’ way of doing
things. This ethos that underpins our
success is strong and is the result of
many years of hard work by all in the
We are a very proud school, and we are
aware of our long and distinguished
history. Through highly effective
leadership and the support of our
school community, we are convinced
that there is a very bright future ahead.
to wider life
beyond the
school also
adds to the
success story
Our sporting prowess is well known; we are one of the leading lights
in school sport within the North West.
We run a number of teams in the traditional school sports such as
football, rugby league and netball, but also have teams for tri-golf,
swimming, athletics, hockey, rounders and badminton. We have had
a number of appearances at both the Greater Manchester winter and
summer Games as representatives for Wigan.
We make judicious use of our sports premium funding to support
efforts in this area; a wide and varied menu of school sports is only
possible as a result of the outstanding commitment of school staff.
The jewel in our sporting crown is cricket. Utilising our close links with
the thriving junior section at the nearby Orrell Red Triangle Cricket
Club, we have over 50 pupils that play club cricket on a regular basis.
This has enabled us to develop a reputation as the most successful
cricketing state primary school in Lancashire with numerous junior
county titles won in recent years. We are the only state primary school
that has entered the Lancashire Schools Cricket Association Hardball
competition and have reached the final of the main competition twice
in the last three years.

This article was sponsored by St James 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 Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss

Even by the standards of the day –this has been one of the most exciting and unpredictable years in British politics.

The leadership election we’ve just seen marks a huge moment in our country’s history. This government is taking a decisive new direction, embracing the opportunities of Brexit and preparing our country to flourish outside the EU.

As international trade secretary, I’ll be driving forward work on the free trade agreements that are going to be a priority for the government. Free trade isn’t just an abstract concept bandied around by technocrats. It is crucial for a strong economy and for the ability of families to make ends meet. Free trade benefits people in every part of our country, as British firms export to new markets and people doing the weekly shop have access to a wider choice of goods at lower prices.

The essence of free trade is in the title: freedom. It’s about giving people the power to exchange their goods without heavy government taxation or interference. Commerce and free exchange are the engine room of prosperity and social mobility. I’m determined to tackle the forces who want to hold that back.

One of my priorities is agreeing an exciting new free trade deal with the US, building on the great relationship between our two countries and the Prime Minister and US President. But I’ll also be talking to other partners including New Zealand, Australia and fast-growing Asian markets.

And with the EU too, we want a friendly and constructive relationship, as constitutional equals, and as friends and partners in facing the challenges that lie ahead – a relationship based on a deep free trade agreement. Our country produces some of the world’s most successful exports, and the opportunity to bring these to the rest of the world should make us all excited about the future. It is this excitement, optimism and ambition which I believe will come to define this government.

For too long now, we have been told Britain isn’t big or important enough to survive outside the EU – that we have to accept a deal that reflects our reduced circumstances. I say that’s rubbish. With the right policies in place, we can be the most competitive, free-thinking, prosperous nation on Earth exporting to the world and leading in new developments like AI. To do that, we’ll give the brilliant next generation of entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed. Since 2015, there has been a staggering 85 per cent rise in the number of businesses set up by 18 to 24 year olds – twice the level set up by the same age group in France and Germany. We’ll help them flourish by championing enterprise, cutting taxes and making regulation flexible and responsive to their needs.

As we do that, we’ll level up and unite all parts of the UK with great transport links, fibre broadband in every home and proper school funding, so everyone shares in our country’s success.

2019 has been the year of brewing economic and political revolution. 2020 will be the year when a revitalised Conservative government turbo charges the economy, boosts prospects for people across the country, and catapults Britain back to the forefront of the world stage.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss
Secretary of State for International Development