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 Leonard's CE Primary School is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.
St Leonard's CE Primary School
ST LEONARD'S CE PRIMARY SCHOOL | 1
BEST PRACTICE SPONSOR 2021
St Leonard’s is a Church of England primary school based
in Streatham, South London, that is also part of the
Southwark Diocesan Board of Education Multi-Academy
Trust. Serving its community for more than 200 years, the
school aims to provide high-quality outcomes for all of its
students based in the context of the Christian Faith. Below,
Headteacher Simon Jackson discusses what has been a very
difficult year for the education sector and explains how St
Leonard’s has been able to adapt and thrive.
Socrates claimed: “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on
fighting the old, but on building the new.” At St Leonard’s, challenge and
change dominated the past year. We must now seek to renew our spirit so that
we can continue to meet the needs of the future.
We understand that the events of the past year will have a lasting impact upon
everyone. Therefore, it is important that we take time to reflect and reset before
deciding on what is most important to prioritise in the years ahead.
Prior to the pandemic, the focus within education was on curriculum, its breadth
and depth. Since then, the enormous effort to develop capacity and expertise in
delivering learning online is subject to scrutiny from the public, the media, the
inspectorate and government. We have embraced this challenge as an
opportunity and can see enormous potential in the capacity of technology to
benefit all stakeholders. While implementation of the laptop distribution scheme
ST LEONARD'S CE PRIMARY
»Location: London Borough of
»Type of school: Church of
»No. of students: 337
St Leonard's CE
A consistent learning environment
is key to the school's success
Headteacher Simon Jackson
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
2 | ST LEONARD'S CE PRIMARY SCHOOL
was slow, 93 per cent of our pupils
regularly engaged in learning at school
or online during lockdown.
The ability for a learner to pause a
recorded lesson so that they can
practise or refine an element of their
work means that the pace of learning
can be more personally effective.This
experience has also undoubtedly given
parents a greater insight into the
challenges that teachers and schools
face on a daily basis, and moving
parent consultations online has been
highly effective in achieving positive
engagement between home and
Similarly, the pandemic did not stop us
from performing all of our Christmas
productions, including live streaming
online to families with relatives from
across the globe. While there has been
justifiable concern about the potential
disconnect between home and school, this is
one example where outreach has been
highly effective and beneficial for extended
All should acknowledge that the teaching
profession has had to undertake a significant
learning curve in the glare of the public eye
and not all comments have been either
informed or helpful.
There is a time for engaging in conversation
about the benefits of different types of
online provision, considering when live or
recorded lessons may be best, for example.
The midst of the pandemic was not the time
to have it. Stating opinion as fact is never a
means for establishing truth and, as a
profession, we deserve better.
Getting on track
Moving forward, it is right that society
prioritises the needs of children and young
people. This places schools at the heart of
any national strategy. We should pause to
consider the best options, and a far greater
number of education professionals, including
teachers on the ground, should be included
There are two elements to the phrase catch
up that need exploring before responding.
The first is pace and the second is direction.
There is a fine line between urgency and
panic. The government has a duty to support
the profession by calmly engaging to review
knowledge and experience gained as well as
lost in the past year.
Through necessity rather than choice, a
number of sectors will be seeking a new
direction in the months ahead rather than
getting back to where they were. The
education sector should take a similar
At St Leonard’s, we will consider a
curriculum review for every cohort based on
the number of terms and years pupils have
remaining at the school.
in the glare of
the public eye
recorded or live
streamed at Christmas
ST LEONARD'S CE PRIMARY SCHOOL | 3
BEST PRACTICE SPONSOR 2021
We will identify gaps that need filling
as well as new opportunities to acquire
knowledge and practise skills that will
benefit them in the future. The world
has changed; schools must also. This
needs planning rather than rushing.
Included in any consultation should be
a thorough review of all exams, testing
and inspection requirements. The
pandemic has exposed a weakness in
the system. In order to make progress
and achieve success, there needs to be
trust between government, people,
profession and inspectorate.
Open and honest conversation
Our approach to leadership
development has been key to our
success . We hold an annual vision
evening for all staff and governors
when we reflect on progress made and
share future priorities. The staff
appraisal process is aligned so that
individuals can see their place within
the improvement plan. The leadership
culture is supported and developed in
two other key ways.
Firstly, senior and middle leaders work
each term alongside other local church
schools with Andy Buck, and we
subscribe to Leadership Matters. This
has been invaluable in developing
ourselves individually and collectively at
different levels. We have a culture of
engaging in coaching conversations
where leaders develop the skills to
overcome challenges. Our senior
leadership team regularly reflect on
leadership during our weekly meetings.
Since joining the Southwark Diocesan
Board of Education Multi- Academy
Trust, there has been a huge increase
in the number of professional
development opportunities available to
staff, ranging from national
professional qualifications to subject
leader meetings, conferences and
moderation work with other trust
schools funded by our trust
Taking the decision to become an
academy within the SDBE MAT was
certainly the right one for our school.
There needs to be a similar sense of
challenge and collaboration in
conversation between the profession
and government. From our
perspective, many of us do not feel
heard or understood by politicians.
Today’s school leaders and teachers
have not been able to shake a label
that belongs in the 1970s and 1980s.
The behaviour of a minority is used as
an excuse for ignoring the moderate
majority who are committed to doing
their utmost for the benefit of pupils
and the profession.
The children of St Leonard’s in the
1860s had an education shaped by the
Industrial Revolution. The children of
today need an education inspired by
the challenges of this pandemic not
judged by it. We need to focus on
what children and young people need
rather than simply giving them what
we received in a modern way. That
involves all of us daring to do things
differently – together.
has been key
to our success
St Leonard's, July 1868
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review
This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.
In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.
We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.
With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.
And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.
As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.