Stanchester Academy

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Stanchester Academy'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 Stanchester Academy 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, MP
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles, MP

Highlighting best practice
Principal Amy Joynes
Student leadership
is a priority
Stanchester Academy is a rural secondary school in South
Somerset that received a “good” Ofsted rating in 2016
following a series of “requires improvement” inspections.
Amy Joynes, in her second year as principal, explains that
the recent success is a result of an unrelenting focus on an
exceptional learning climate. The leadership’s goals have not been
solely focused on examination results, but equally on the personal
development of every student on the roll. Amy believes that this
is the bedrock that will ensure this progress is sustainable.
Stanchester Academy has been on an incredibly challenging journey. Having worked
at the school for ten years I have seen our community voting with their feet against
the school, and staff morale at rock bottom. Since its change to academy status in
2011 the school has gone from strength to strength. In 2017 we saw rising numbers
of students on the roll, improved local perceptions, a community willing and
proactively supporting the school, and a staff body who are proud of their school.
It has been vitally important for me to share key messages with parents in order
to achieve the success the school now experiences. I often explain that I am also
a member of the same community and choose to raise my own children within it.
Iam passionate about the community and the school.
Creating a sense of community has been a major goal over the last 18 months and
I knew that with community cohesion, the improvement agenda would flourish.
This sense of community right across the school would also instil a collegiate
approach to teaching enabling us to drive our performance agenda forward. I have
introduced various whole-school events over the last two years and to consolidate
»Principal: Amy Joynes
»Academised in 2011
»Based in south Somerset
»Type of school: Rural
secondary school for students
aged 11-16
»No. of students: 558
»Ofsted: “Good”
Stanchester Academy
our growing ethos of unity, this year
I have introduced community service
days where our school community
can give back to our local and wider
community. We are also hosting our
first community festival, celebrating
the place of our school within its
community and the important place
the arts can play in our society.
My idea of community reached far
beyond the activities of our students
and included our staff too. Our staff
have thrived on transparency and
openness. They fully understand and
appreciate the challenge and pressure
we have been under to increase our
role in order to effectively manage
our finances while continuing to
provide an outstanding curriculum
offer. Small schools can provide an
exceptional ethos, but lack of finance
makes this an incredible challenge. It
is two years since I started the drive
for a
community school and our
students now comment on the sense
of community within our school as the
thing they are most proud of.
During the two years prior to becoming
principal I led our middle leaders through
the toughest of times to improve our
outcomes. We all learnt that student
commitment was the single most
important influence on their outcomes.
Stanchester had a scheme which aimed
to address character development –
the 5Cs (caring, creative, challenge,
collaboration and critical thinking). From
the moment I first became principal I
worked with the middle leader team to
change our approach to year 11, based
on introducing commitment as the
sixth C and relaunching the scheme
to ensure it underpinned all we were
about. The result:
»The highest GCSEs the school had
ever experienced
»An increase of 13 per cent in the
number of students achieving a C
equivalent (grade 4) in English and
»A reduction in the gap between
disadvantaged and non by 15 per cent
»French and Spanish grade C and
above rising by over 30 per cent
»40 per cent of students achieving an
A* or A in history
»Positive progress 8 with 23 per cent
of the year group not having all the
P8 subjects
The whole staff body understood
that if we could instil a sense of
commitment early and really focus
our attentions on developing key
character traits leading to outstanding
independent learners, we would be
producing incredible young people
and would be enabling them to access
examinations with much greater ease
and confidence.
At this point our head of sport, Adrian
Reynolds, along with our CPD lead,
Sarah Todd, became key drivers in
the use of the 6Cs across the school.
Our PE department combined the
6Cs with the My PB programme from
the Youth Sports Trust – focusing
lessons not on skills but on personal
development with an elite pathway
for our sportsmen and women. The
drive for developing character traits
and the success seen in PE led to a
curriculum change for year 7 and a
different approach to lessons, rewards
Creativity is a key focus
To receive
for school
the incredible
distance we had
travelled and
the trajectory
we are on
Highlighting best practice
Our transition curriculum, led by
associate leader Gemma Glentworth,
is built around character development
with students learning through themes
and assessing themselves against the
6Cs. The aims: that they will have the
character and personal attributes to be
fully prepared for the rigours of GCSEs
before they embark on a formal Key
Stage 4 and, most importantly, they
develop a love for learning and are
inspired through new experiences and
There have been enormous challenges
to this shift, not least from subject
leaders whose buy-in has been critical
but whose concern for the coverage of
their new GCSE frameworks could have
been a significant barrier. The collegiate
culture among the staff, recognised by
Challenge Partners, meant we were able
to work together under our collective
belief, to overcome these barriers:
“A clear sense of vision and direction
permeate the academy. Leaders at all
levels subscribe to the philosophy ‘to
be the best’ and all staff are proud and
keen to be part of the journey.”
The development of the 6Cs as a
bedrock for success and to help
bring our community together has
reached far beyond year 7. We
have continued to provide a wealth
of extracurricular and enrichment
experiences for all students – holding
on to our curriculum enrichment
days; completing World Challenge
expeditions to Zambia, Ecuador and
Malawi; competing in Ten Tors and
whole-year-group entries to the Duke
of Edinburgh’s Award scheme; a
surfing academy; and increasing PE
provision to enable coverage of health
and wellbeing within the curriculum.
But also within the curriculum our
students are able to communicate the
value of character development and
how it has positively impacted on their
education and their progress.
Our success is not solely down to our
focus on the personal development
of our students. Our success has
been driven by a staff team who
have an exceptional work ethic. A
five-year ethos for curriculum, for
careers education and for personal
development has been critical. The
sense that we are all “in it” together is
recognised by everyone who visits and
is valued – we have achieved the sense
of community that we set out for. The
challenge for our school could not be
greater but the culture we have created,
to be the best for our students, means
that staff are rising to that challenge.
They are all a part of that journey –
literally, with all staff assigned to an
element of the school improvement
plan, working together in CPD hubs on
priorities and evaluating the impact of
those priorities with student groups.
This approach to CPD, to student voice
and to quality assurance has been
ground-breaking and the effectiveness
was seen in October when we
received our first external review of
“outstanding”. An “outstanding”
for school improvement strategies
demonstrated the incredible distance
we had travelled and the trajectory we
are on.
Stanchester is not only thriving but
is driving change and celebrating a
focus that is not solely on academic
attainment but on the future lives of
the children of our community.
Small schools
can provide an
Collaboration between
students and staff is a

This article was sponsored by Stanchester Academy. 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 The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister