The Grange Primary School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by The Grange Primary School'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 Grange Primary School 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

Highlighting best practice
Larissa Thorpe, head teacher
Pupils celebrating the school’s
“outstanding” Ofsted rating
The Grange Primary School (TGPS) is an Ofsted-rated
“outstanding” school formed in 2014 after an amalgamation
of both Grange Lane Infant and Grange Lane Junior
schools. With a wealth of knowledge and experience between
the staff, the school provides a safe, happy, caring and
stimulating learning environment with the child at the core
of all that it does. Head teacher Larissa Thorpe explains the
importance of leadership, management and teamwork in
crafting an outstanding school.
In June 2017 our school was rated “outstanding” in all areas of the inspection
framework by Ofsted. When one considers the fact that the school amalgamated
less than three years before being inspected, oversaw a new school building project
and moved into it a year before the inspection, one can be extra proud of this
accomplishment. Achieving this judgement demonstrates the level of commitment
that we have to our children’s wellbeing, welfare and education. Our school
serves a locality of severe deprivation and as such faces a great deal of complex
issues. Accordingly, academic and social development is central to the day-to-day
success and progress of our children, aiming to make a significant difference to our
children’s lives and the community in which they live.
My philosophy has always been one of my work speaking for itself, one of leading
by example no matter how hard or onerous the job/task might be, one of listening
but also one of strong moral compass. What is more, my philosophy is one of
»Head teacher: Larissa Thorpe
»Amalgamated in 2014, but
the previous school had
existed since the 1950s
»Based in Scunthorpe, North
»Type of school: Local authority
two-form entry primary school
»No. of pupils: 427
»Ofsted: “Outstanding”, June
2017 – very first inspection
»Based in an area of significant
deprivation, in the country’s
top 10 per cent for most-
deprived localities
»Children make phenomenal
progress from their individual
starting points
The Grange Primary
extremely high expectations of myself
and all who work with me and one
of not shying away from the facts,
good or bad. In addition, it is one of
standing for what I believe in, one of
backing all my choices with a carefully
thought out and analytical approach,
with justification for the choices I
make, one of being a straight talker
and, above all, one that is child-
centred all round.
I had to demonstrate “quick wins”
to establish trust among the staff
and I needed staff to get on board
with whatever I did, to not only yield
positive outcomes but to do so at
a rapid pace. This meant results-
driven, strong, uncompromising,
forward-thinking, dynamic,
inspirational leadership, with rigour
and accountability as its foundation.
Teamwork had to be at all levels,
pupils included.
For me, leadership and teamwork
are intertwined. Strong, direct,
strategic and effective leadership, at
all levels, is one that sits comfortably
in our organisation. Hierarchical
leadership, although it has its place
and at times comes to play, is not
one that governs daily. Charismatic
leadership style, in my opinion, is
something that you cannot teach – it
is a style that you either possess or you
don’t. Characterised by the way you
are with people, making them feel
valued, important, at ease, listened
to and want to work for you is an
attribute that manifests time after
time, unconsciously. I have a clearly
conveyed message to all staff which
is that we are all working towards a
common purpose aimed at improving
children’s outcomes.
Effective communication is important,
as well as mutual trust, integrity,
conviction and respect. This trust
and professional respect is fostered
through regular conversations within
a culture of genuine openness and,
if appropriate, with an informal
approach. A strategic calendar,
providing a clear, concise plan, in place
at the start of the year, outlining the
various stakeholders and activities
including monitoring, evaluation and
data analysis for each month ensures
that we remain focused throughout
the year. Appraisals are honest and
non-judgemental, reflecting on
practice and receiving constructive
comments in a non-threatening
fashion. Targets are set proportionately
to the individual’s role; however, Iinsist
on one personal development target
– if we expect pupils to learn and
become life-long learners, we as adults
should also practise this.
Awe and wonder –
collaboration in maths
Assimilation of wind
power and the energy it
Strong, direct,
strategic and
leadership, at
all levels, is
one that sits
comfortably in
Highlighting best practice
Our school’s staff remain our valued
resource in terms of teamwork
and I have adopted a wellbeing
development programme, using a
holistic approach that ensures personal
vision and professional responsibilities
are balanced.
Emotional intelligence comes into play
where relationships and the school’s
progress are concerned. Developing
quality relationships with staff to the
extent that they feel supported, valued
and want to work and grow is built
into the foundation of how I choose
to work with others. Being skilled at
utilising a wide range of interpersonal
qualities, such as empathy, trust,
respect and openness, has been
instrumental in sustaining staff and
building a succession plan.
Although usually diplomatic in
my approach, my vision is clear,
expectations are uncompromisingly
very high, and I am not hesitant to
challenge under-performance, using
effective interpersonal skills – the truth
is the truth.
Individually and collectively, staff here
possess a bank of leadership styles and
allow the context of a given situation,
coupled with understanding individual
staff, to determine which one to use.
We balance our drive with a degree of
patience and open-mindedness.
Engaging all parties, including
governors, in all aspects of the school’s
strategic direction and applying a
“contributive” and democratic form of
leadership – as and when appropriate
– rather than distributive or delegated
form, guarantees ownership/
autonomy. Indeed, working in isolation
is not my norm as collaboration is my
favoured approach, thus I am not shy
to enlist help if needed. Networking
effectively with a variety of external
agencies supports some of our pupils’
diverse needs.
The importance of building leadership
capacity and the difference this can
make has identified potential in
certain staff. The nurturing of these
core people has resulted in the school
having great leadership capacity and
a strong succession plan. Trust in
others to lead, and my keenness to
grow leaders, means that running this
establishment is not just down to one
person; all can lead.
With a “can-do” culture that is deeply
rooted, having infectious, positive
attitudes, being innovative and full
of outward thinkers and risk-takers,
our school has developed into a
“no blame” organisation, with staff
encouraged to try new ideas. This is
an establishment that is open and
transparent all round, that views
constructive criticism as an opportunity
to improve and one where others’
perspectives are sought and considered
in making an informed decision.
To work here, you need the stamina
to hack the pace. Yes, we are
“outstanding”, but complacency has
no place in our organisation – the drive
continues; our children deserve the
very best.
We balance
our drive with
a degree of
patience and
Instilling values in

This article was sponsored by The Grange Primary School. 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