St Michael Catholic Primary School & Nursery

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by St Michael Catholic Primary School & Nursery'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 Michael Catholic Primary School & Nursery 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

Headteacher John Lane
Each child is a unique
God-given gift
According to John Lane, Headteacher at St Michael
Catholic Primary School & Nursery, the school’s mission
is to provide “Excellence, Enrichment, Enjoyment” to
every pupil that attends. This, John explains, is underpinned
by a Catholic ethos and fundamental belief that each child is a
unique God-given gift to the world. This is why, he says, it is the
school’s privilege and responsibility to support parents to help
each pupil flourish academically, socially and emotionally.
As schools look forward to having all of their pupils back to a ‘new normal’ this
September, school leaders will be forced to think innovatively and may need to rely
on the community they serve for support. In our current recession, this will be a
bigger challenge than ever but it is possible to achieve if the school community is
fully supportive of the school’s mission.
Visitors and past pupils often comment on the nurturing, caring family we are,
and I am proud that we are a school where children feel loved and safe enough
to take risks with their learning, allowing them to become both perseverant and
hard-working. We must be doing something right – seven of our current staff are
What makes our school distinctive?
I was recently asked what our school’s “unique selling point” was. Apparently,
successful schools usually have a characteristic that makes them distinctive. We
don’t seek to do one thing better than anything else – we genuinely try to do
everything well because of our mission to provide excellence for every child.
»Headteacher: John Lane
»Established in 1953
»Type of School: Voluntary
aided Catholic primary school
»Based in Ashford, Middlesex
»Number of pupils: 473
»Ofsted: “Outstanding”
»Twitter: @StMichaels1953
St Michael Catholic
Primary School & Nursery
Highlighting best practice
Werecognise that each child is unique,
so while one may have a particular
passion for sport, another will excel
in science, and another in history. We
would be doing them a disservice if
we did not teach every subject to the
same high standard. Therefore, it is our
mission to provide excellence for all
pupils through a fantastic curriculum with
a wide range of opportunities in order
to develop their passions andtalents.
All children deserve the best start
to their education through brilliant
early years provision, so in 2016 we
established a school nursery. It provides
15-hour places for up to 60 children
aged two to four years old. Our teacher-
led nursery is very much part of the
school, sharing our ethos, our building
and our school grounds. Since 2016,
about half of the 60 children that join
our reception classes have attended our
school nursery, and the impact has been
clear. Those that have attended our
nursery settle quickly with a confidence
that inevitably rubs off on the children
that have joined us from another pre-
school setting. This is beneficial for both
groups, and their outcomes at the end
of reception have improved each year.
Excellence, Enrichment,
Our most important focus is what
happens in the classroom – teaching
and learning. Like all schools, we
want our children to achieve well,
and we have been very successful in
ensuring the academic excellence of
our pupils for many years. The early
years are incredibly important, but
as our pupils progress through their
school life, their knowledge, skills and
Our curriculum is designed to meet
their needs and tap into the local
context to make learning engaging
and relevant to their lives. We are
very close to Heathrow, and many
of our families are employed at the
airport or work in industries that rely
upon it, so we learn about planes in
year 1. Runnymede is also nearby, so
our year 3 pupils learn all about the
Magna Carta. We have also invested
in our resources at school to enrich the
curriculum. We now have dedicated
learning spaces including The Lab for
science and technology, The Studio
for music lessons, The Hut for art and
food technology and The Imaginarium,
which is a fully interactive, immersive
classroom that can transport children
to anywhere imaginable, inspiring
creativity across all curriculum subjects.
Parents as Partners
School leadership is multifaceted and
often challenging, never more so than
over last six months, as schools dealt
with the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite
the severe challenges faced, I was
incredibly proud of how our school
community pulled together and worked
There is something for
everyone at play time
Children love outdoor learning in
our new EYFS playscape
The school’s
mission is to
Enjoyment” to
every pupil
that attends
to keep all of our staff, our pupils and
their families safe whilst also providing a
comprehensive home education package
throughout. We began to reopen more
widely from June 1 and by the end of
term in July, 232 (50 per cent) of our
pupils attended school each week. They
will all return to school this September.
The latest Ofsted framework has,
once again, raised the bar of what is
expected for outstanding schools such
as ours. Recruitment and retention of
outstanding staff is a particular challenge
for our school as we sit just outside
the Outer London area. Headteachers
can’t make excuses, however, and
these challenges have to be overcome,
meaning we often have to think outside
the box to ensure we remain successful
and our pupils flourish. One key to
success is having strong relationships
with parents, and I believe we have got
this right at St Michael’s.
We see parents as the primary educator
of their child, and it is our job to work
in partnership with them to ensure
their child flourishes. Our parents are
incredibly supportive of the school. They
have bought into what we are trying
to achieve and can see the benefits
for their children. That means they
are willing to support our fundraising
efforts that have enabled us to improve
play provision and refurbish some of
our learning spaces. They appreciate the
nursery provision and the wraparound
care that we now provide which
provide an invaluable service to them
and a welcome revenue stream to the
school to counteract the budgetcuts.
We hope that the government’s promise
of improved school funding materialises
and helps alleviate financial pressures so
we can be less reliant on the generosity
of parents. We hope too that more
investment in mental health and social
care services is forthcoming so that
the most vulnerable families can more
readily access the expertise they need.
Article 31 of the UN Convention on
the Rights of the Child sets out the
right for every child to play. About
20 per cent of a child’s school week
is spent at play – play should provide
excellence, enrichment and enjoyment.
We worked with the Outdoor Play and
Learning organisation (OPAL) and are
now a flagship school for our play time
provision. Children have access to the
whole school site and are trusted to use
the grounds and the resources wisely,
managing their own risks as they play in
the sandpit, with Lego, in our Bug Hotel,
on the climbing frames or in the Peace
Garden. The traditional playground
games of football and basketball are
also available for our children, but there
is now something for everyone. Our
lunchtime supervisors have a great time
as “play workers”, and our children learn
to negotiate, communicate and develop
stronger relationships with each other.
Our teacher-
led nursery is
very much
part of the
sharing our
ethos, our
building and
our school
The Lab inspires practical,
investigative learning
We use all kinds of resources to
play with - even tyres and bricks!

This article was sponsored by St Michael Catholic Primary School & Nursery. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster