The Burgate School and Sixth Form

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by The Burgate School and Sixth Form'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 The Burgate School and Sixth Form 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 David Pover
Senior students at the opening
of their ‘Soul Space’
The Burgate School and Sixth Form make it clear that
they want every student to enjoy their learning and
feel valued for who they are. As a medium-sized 11-
18 comprehensive school with a sixth form, they provide a
broad and engaging curriculum which is designed around
student choice, offering a diverse range of subjects at GCSE
and A level. Lessons are delivered by a highly qualified team
of professional teachers and support staff who are committed
to offering the highest quality of education to the students.
Alongside this, headteacher David Pover says that they offer
a creative approach to learning that inspires curiosity, builds
collaboration, helps develop resilience and encourages
flexibilityof thought.
Situated on the outskirts of Fordingbridge in Hampshire, with Wiltshire and Dorset
in close proximity, our catchment area is extensive, stretching beyond Salisbury to
the north and approaching Ringwood to the south. We also serve many outlying
village communities within this area, and students reach the school on well-
established bus routes. This tri-county location comes with its own challenges. For
example, with many students attending local schools through parental choice,
so much rests on our Ofsted judgment and school league table placing. In our
competitive corner of Hampshire, surrounded by other comprehensive schools,
free schools and independent schools, and with the grammar school system on our
doorstep, we have to be the very best we can be.
»Headteacher: David Pover,
who joined The Burgate as an
NQT in 1992
»Founded in 1956
»Based in Fordingbridge,
»Type of school: Standalone
academy for students aged
»No. of students: 975
»No. of staff: 130, with 71
teachers and 59 support staff
»Motto: “Learning for Life”
school in Hampshire
The Burgate School
and Sixth Form
Highlighting best practice
Learning for life
At the Burgate, we have a longstanding
ethos centred on individual students
– we believe that “every Burgate child
matters”, and we encourage each
and every one of them to reach their
full potential. We have a culture of
high aspirations for every student and
are committed to raising standards
in a safe, supportive and friendly
environment. We want our students to
become independent learners, as well
as confident and responsible young
people, thereby achieving our motto
of “Learning for Life”. Most students
continue into our sixth form, which is
a place where young people develop
academically, socially and emotionally.
The sixth form has always been a
great place to study with an excellent
reputation locally.
Third-best-performing school
in Hampshire
While we have previously been a little
out of sync with Ofsted’s agenda,
having had three inspections since
2011, it appears that this level of
scrutiny has helped drive a desirable
outcome. Following a data-driven
“requires improvement” judgment,
rather than lament the fact, we
decided to roll up our sleeves and
get on with the job of achieving the
necessary “rapid” improvement.
When last inspected on our 2016 data,
we had a Progress 8 score of –0.34; in
2017 we were “average” with –0.04;
and in 2018 we celebrated an “above
average” score of +0.33. This places
us as the third-best-performing school
in Hampshire and the best-performing
non-selective school in the local area,
including Salisbury. We are particularly
proud of our female students, who
achieved a progress score of +0.58,
which outranked students at local
grammar schools.
Additionally, we have worked
incredibly hard with students in
need of pupil premium, and they
have closed the progress gap with
all students nationally – a great
achievement. We must also mention
our sixth form, which consistently
performs above average and has again
been placed in the top 25 per cent of
all 16-19 providers nationally in 2019.
Our vision is for every
student to enjoy their
At the
Burgate, we
have a
ethos centred
on individual
students – we
believe that
Burgate child
How was this rapid
improvement achieved?
The published data validates the
culmination of two years of hard work
by both students and staff, who were
committed to achieving the very best
educational outcomes. The school has
proven that a well-taught and high-
quality curriculum has motivated its
students to achieve the best-possible
results for their future. We believe that
for a high-performing school, a relentless
focus on consistency is required.
We have embedded straightforward
blueprints for our staff, outlining high-
quality teaching and learning, purposeful
marking and feedback, and clear
expectations on student behaviour.
After two years of concentrating on
the things that make a difference
and keeping our approach direct and
simple, this has resulted in a dramatic
improvement in results. Moreover,
our students tell us they are happy at
school, and their attendance is above
the national average. I would hope
to see in future greater recognition
for the success of mainstream
comprehensive schools considering the
relative challenges they face, as the
majority of newspaper league tables
focus on independent schools, and
lists of the top 100 state schools are
dominated by selective schools.
Just as we celebrate all of our recent
successes, and with reinspection
looming, we learn that Ofsted’s new
framework will shift the focus from
headline data and will instead look at
how schools achieve their results. It is
encouraging to hear that while chief
Ofsted inspector Amanda Spielman
recognises that performance measures
are as good as they have ever been,
curriculum and behaviour are to be
prioritised above actual examination
outcomes. I support this vision and
hope this continues to be recognised
in a target-driven environment – I very
much intend the Burgate to be on
board with this new methodology.
Expectations, not rules
Our current initiative looks to change
the mindset and shift the emphasis on
how we approach student behaviour –
which is a main focus in the new Ofsted
framework. It is epitomised by having
no school bell and no long lists of rules
and punishments; instead, we simply
have expectations of our students. We
expect our students to be respectful,
safe, punctual and ready to learn. Our
students thrive on this responsibility,
and while mistakes will be made, our
hope is that they will learn from them,
fulfilling our motto. As a dynamic and
forward-thinking organisation, we
are continually looking to build on
our success. Collaboration to improve
learning and teaching and consultation
on change will help ensure the ongoing
success of our students. Although I
believe that the Burgate already provides
the best local education for girls and
boys, our desire to be one of the top
comprehensive schools nationally
continues with great enthusiasm.
Our journey towards this outcome
passed a significant milestone with
our reinspection in May 2019. Ofsted
judged the school to have significantly
improved to “good” overall
effectiveness with “outstanding”
leadership and management, personal
development, behaviour and welfare.
Our sixth form college was also judged
as “outstanding”.
We have
incredibly hard
with students in
need of pupil
premium, and
they have closed
the progress
gap with all
The school motto
underpins all we do

This article was sponsored by The Burgate School and Sixth Form. 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 Professor The Lord Blunkett.

The Rt Hon Professor The Lord Blunkett's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Professor The Lord Blunkett

A new Prime Minister, a new Education Secretary and, as we're all painfully aware, a deeply uncertain future. It is in this context that the education service continues to deliver for individuals, communities and of course for our nation. 
There is no doubt whatsoever that the education service as a whole, schools, post 16/Further Education, and yes, lifelong learning, needs the most enormous injection of cash. Independent analysis shows that there has been at least an 8% average reduction in the amount of spend per pupil in our schools. Those damaged most by this have been pupils with special educational needs, whose voices are sadly rarely heard. The necessity of urgent action was underlined in July by the report of the all-party House of Commons Select Committee on Education. They could not have been clearer about the need for substantial funding and a long-term 10-year commitment. 
At the same time, there are a number of reviews taking place. One of them, in relation to post-16 qualifications, is in danger of a classic mistake by politicians and officials who have little or no understanding of the complex territory they're dealing with. Namely, the ridiculous proposition that BTEC National Diplomas might be set aside because 'T Levels are the gold standard'! 
I'm in favour of T Levels, but in the right context and for the right outcome. They are intended to be extremely focused specialist qualifications in defined areas of employment. When and if they eventually take off – there is predicted to be just a thousand students in 2021-22 taking up the qualification – they will not replace the BTEC, which has been the workhorse providing a general and high-quality education for decades. The BTEC has equipped young people for a variety of opportunities in a very changing employment market where the development of artificial intelligence, robotics, and changed working practices makes confining the choice of vocational pathways to one narrow focus, frankly ridiculous. 
Meanwhile, her Majesty's Opposition continue to throw out titbits which do not give, as yet, a very clear idea of what, if elected, Labour would do in office. What is needed is positive proposals. Abolishing this, that or the other – assessments/tests for those leaving primary school, for instance – is not the same thing as a very forward-looking agenda for radical improvement in standards and equity between those who can and cannot afford additional help for their children.  
There are a handful of Labour Party members, supported by some people who ought to know better, who have decided that a full-frontal assault on private education would be a good idea. For those worried about this, stop worrying. A party that put this in its manifesto wouldn't get elected, and if by some fluke it did, it would be challenged in the courts to the point where all the contradictions would be exposed for everyone to see. 
Just contemplate one simple fact. 20% of secondary schoolchildren in the borough of Hackney attend private schools! Yes, Hackney. This is because a large number of parents, some of whom scrape the money together, are sending their children to private education in London which happens to be the area of England with the best academic outcomes from state education. What's more, very large numbers (again, particularly in London) pay for private tutors. At the last estimate 40% of parents in London had at some point over the last year paid for a tutor for their child!  
Perhaps therefore an opposition party, hoping to provide unity rather than division, opportunity for all rather than a futile class battle against educational privilege, would seek ways of ensuring that those who can't afford tutors have the kind of support outside school that would put them on equal terms. 
One thing is very certain, no government would be able to stop parents buying additional tutoring for their children.
So, a practical agenda for equalising opportunity, for investing where it's needed most, for transforming the pipeline from school through college, apprenticeships, or university, is a goal worth fighting for. A positive way of linking business and education through political decision-making, with the delivery by excellent professionals in the education service, to the children of today and the economy of tomorrow. Surely that is a much more progressive and less negative way forward for both government and opposition. 
The Rt Hon Professor The Lord Blunkett