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

Headteacher Dee Raynor
St Mary’s RC
Primary School
Based in the parish of St Ambrose Barlow, St Mary’s Roman
Catholic Primary is a one-form entry school, including a
full time nursery, with over 230 pupils on roll. Since its
last Ofsted Inspection, in 2008, the school has been judged as
“outstanding” and in its last RE inspection, in 2018, it was also
judged as “outstanding”. Headteacher Dee Raynor explainsmore.
At the heart of our school is our mission statement, the writing of which involved our
staff, governors, parents and children. We decided to include five core values: Love,
Respect, Faith, Inspire and Achieve. We have our own school motto, as StMary tells us:
“God is love and He loves us as we are.” Our behaviour policy is based on these
values, and every day our children recognise these core values in themselves and
each other.
Ethos and core values
We are particularly proud of St Mary’s Catholic ethos and our core values that
are at the heart of our teaching and learning. Our curriculum is engaging and
innovating, which embraces the community in which we live. To ensure all our
pupils have access to a wide range of learning experiences we have a school
pledge. This includes all the exciting experiences our pupils will enjoy while they
attend St Mary’s RC Primary School.
We enhance our curriculum by visiting local establishments such as museums, art
galleries and sports events and welcoming visitors to our school. Our pupils enjoy
working alongside artists, musicians, historians, scientists, poets and authors.
»Headteacher: Dee Raynor
»Founded in 1975
»Location: Greater Manchester
»Type of school: One form entry
Roman Catholic primary school
»No. of students: 237
St Mary’s RC Primary
Highlighting best practice
Wealso organise a number of
residential trips, with our year 6 and
year 3 classes both going away for a
weekend, promoting teambuilding
and a sense of community. We
organise a host of activities outside of
the classroom, including our weekly
forest schools programme. We are
fortunate to have such fantastic
grounds surrounding our school. Over
the years we have created two large
playgrounds, an outdoor chapel, a
field, an outdoor gym, a football pitch,
a climbing wall, a ball wall, areas for
forest school and den building, an Eco-
Club veg garden and a reading area,
which help to support a wide range of
learners and learning styles, ensuring
our curriculum caters for all.
Alongside embedding creativity and
out-of-classroom activities into the
curriculum itself, we also organise a
wide range of extracurricular activities.
Whether this be sport, for which we
have achieved the Platinum Schools
Games award, or our wide range of
after-school clubs, these activities
support the full range of interests
that our students have. We listen to
our School Council for ideas of which
extracurricular activities they would like
to see running during and after school.
A focus on wellbeing
To ensure a successful curriculum, we
have knowledgeable and passionate
subject leaders. We have created
clear systems which allow my staff
to lead their subjects confidently and
therefore provide the highest quality of
teaching. All of our teachers have their
own subject-specific action plans, and
I actively encourage them to pursue
awards and recognition for their efforts
and improvements. We are proud of the
awards and accreditation our subject
leaders establish for their subjects.
We always allocate time outside of
the classroom to lead their subject
within school time to ensure they have
a healthy work–life balance. After
all, productivity is directly linked to
happiness and wellbeing, and so by
giving our staff all the resources they
need, we can guarantee our continued
standard of teaching.
This focus on wellbeing also extends
to the children and is directed by our
pastoral lead, who we have given a more
central role in the last 12 months. To
ensure wellbeing is addressed, we offer
a Time to Talk programme which invites
students to speak to our pastoral lead if
they have any concerns or worries. This
makes sure the children are listened
to and are in the right frame of mind
for learning. Many interventions are
offered, such as art therapy, resilience
building, managing my emotions and
circle of friends to ensure all pupils are
happy in school. Our pastoral lead also
completes Early Help assessments with
parents to help parent wellbeing also.
We have also adapted our systems to
improve our communication channels
with parents. We have upgraded our
website and email service and have
established a school app and up-to-
date social media channels. As well as
keeping parents informed on all school
developments, this really helps to
strengthen the bond between the staff
and the stakeholders, strengthening
the school community.
Digging into a creative
Our curriculum
is engaging
and innovating,
embraces the
community in
which we live
Finding the right staff
I first joined the school in 2001 as
deputy head, before taking over
as head teacher in 2009 when my
predecessor retired. Before our
“outstanding” Ofsted judgment,
we had been judged as “good”
since 2005. In order to achieve
“outstanding” status, we made a
number of changes, something made
more challenging by a number of long-
serving staff retiring during this period.
Initially, I found it difficult to recruit
a permanent deputy, especially after
becoming an “outstanding” school,
but since 2016, we have established a
permanent senior leadership team.
One of the biggest challenges we have
faced, especially a few years ago after
the retirement of various staff, was
recruitment. Whenever we advertised,
we received few applications, and it
was difficult to find the right staff. With
our focus on the wellbeing of our staff,
we ensure they are able to manage
their workload effectively while still
enjoying their work. Beyond our school,
recruitment is an issue for the wider
profession, and this is a key reason
why we have focused on training up
new teachers, taking students from
The University of Manchester and
developing our CPDprogramme.
In order to spread the benefits of
the changes we have made, we are
looking to expand the sharing of our
practice. Currently, we have worked
alongside some local schools but
we are looking to expand beyond
our immediate area, and we have
recently become involved with the
Schools Partnership Programme
through the Education Endowment
Foundation, contributing to SEND
and maths teaching, and the use of
vocabulary throughout the curriculum.
This involves the conducting of
peer reviews, with neighbouring
headteachers and deputy heads
coming in to study our provision as
peer reviewers. In addition our own
staff act as improvement champions
conducting research and visits to gain
new perspectives on our approach.
Within our strong network of schools,
we have organised a weekly meeting
in which staff can share their own best
practice and report back on what they
have learned from other schools.
Overall, as we move forward, we are
aiming to continue to strengthen
our creative curriculum, empower
our teachers and make sure that the
education we are offering is at the
highest level it can be.
creativity and
activities into
the curriculum
itself, we also
organise a
wide range of
Another forest school

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