The Meads 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 The Meads Primary School is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Headteacher Richard Jenkins
Children in year 4 presenting
their projects on UK landmarks
The Meads Primary School in Luton have committed
themselves to providing children in a deprived part of the UK
with the sort of experiences that will raise their aspirations.
Headteacher Richard Jenkins believes that too many children
subconsciously hold the view that their surroundings determine
their future. For this reason, he has created an atmosphere in
which children learn to master themselves, their emotions and,
ultimately, their futures. He has also sought to bring parents on
board with their child’s education. Doing so, he believes, will
elevate the prospects of many of Luton’s young people.
Knowing our strengths and weaknesses
We’re a larger-than-average three-form-entry primary school catering to pupils aged
between four and eleven years old. At present, we have roughly 570 pupils and are
particularly ethnically, culturally and linguistically diverse. Our pupils have roots all
over the world – the Asian subcontinent, eastern Europe, parts of Africa and the
Caribbean, and so on. They speak between them some 31 languages. This diversity is
without question a source of strength and enrichment for our school and community.
However, we do have the social and economic difficulties that come with being in
an area of high deprivation like Luton. The number of pupils in our school who are
in receipt of pupil premium floats at around 30 per cent, and many of our children
come from broken homes or other marginalised backgrounds – asylum seekers, for
example. These are real and serious challenges, and we as a school feel a duty to
tackle them.
»Headteacher: Richard Jenkins
»Founded in 1963
»Located in Luton
»Type of school: Community
primary school
»No. of pupils: 565
»Holds the International Values
Education Trust Values Based
Education Mark
The Meads Primary
Highlighting best practice
Adaptation and diversity: year 3 trip
to Tring Museum of Natural History
Sports day: a community
event enjoyed by all
Too many
children in our
area are not
given the
of social
mobility – too
many feel that
their lot in life
is determined
by their
One of the main points of attack is
raising aspirations for everyone. Too
many children in our area are not given
the opportunities of social mobility –
too many feel that their lot in life is
determined by their surroundings. We
want to provide our students with a
window to a wider world, but we also
want to provide them with the route
to a more prosperous life. Thus, we’ve
worked exceptionally hard over the last
four years to raise outcomes as well as
aspirations. Only by combining the two
goals can we succeed in our aim of
providing opportunities for all.
Creating independent and
autonomous learners
To do this, we’ve established values
that underpin and permeate everything
we do. Whereas most other schools
might come up with just a few
core values that pupils and staff are
expected to bear in mind, we have
new ones every month. Essentially,
we ask staff, children, parents and the
wider community to vote for 24 values
that should reign for the next 24
months. Each new month, therefore,
has a new value. The advantage of
this approach is that school values are
never distant from memory. Moreover,
we are in a better position to ask
students to exemplify this in their
everyday lives, even during the holidays
if they so wish. These values can
be, for example, honesty, empathy,
responsibility, fairness, peace, and so
forth. I introduce them in an assembly,
which then sets the tone for the rest
of the month. Our school is partitioned
into houses, through which we reward
pupils on the basis of their behaviour
and their demonstration of values,
both individually and as class groups.
Children are given tokens for showing
their values, which they can use to vote
for one of three charities chosen by
our school parliament. A fundraiser is
organised for the winning charity each
term, thereby demonstrating to the
children the value of good behaviour
and showing them the benefits that
can be reaped not just for themselves,
but for the whole community.
Our staff deliver practical lessons on
how a particular value can be shown
every month, and we talk about values
as much as we can, including through
our newsletter. To help with this, we
often draw quotes from inspirational
figures. We want these lessons to have
real and lasting impact.
We also teach our children to know
themselves by educating them about
the brain and its various parts. We
teach them, for example, about
the amygdala (the more primitive
and emotional part of the brain)
and the prefrontal cortex (the more
deliberative and intellectual layer
of the brain) and their roles. This
is not only valuable in a scientific,
knowledge-acquisition sense, but
also allows children to have greater
mastery over themselves and their
emotions – to regulate themselves
and their behaviour in order to learn
successfully. After all, to control
oneself, one must know oneself.
Bringing parents on board
We also believe that it’s important
to maximise everyone’s potential,
whatever their ability. We ask parents
to come in and meet the teachers
to discuss and share information
regarding their child through the use
of a structured conversation. This
allows for a more informed approach
to the child’s learning. This fits in with
our more general ambition of involving
parents in the learning process. The
most successful of these attempts
has been bringing parents in every
term to accompany their children in
class for an hour. Ultimately, we want
parents to build the habit of being
involved with their child’s work, as
studies have shown that improvements
in attainment are greatest when
parents help. This has been beneficial,
with somewhere between 70 and
80 per cent of parents engaging in
Nothing short of our best
Our motto – “We are The Meads –
Getting Better Every Day at Everything
We Do” – is a guiding philosophy for
the future. We aim to become the
best provider of primary education in
Luton. For this reason, we introduced
a scheme called “88 Things to Do
Before I Leave The Meads”. This is a
list of goals for our children to tick
off – some being modest, others more
difficult. They can be anything from
going on a trip via train to visiting the
opera. We want all of our students to
experience the wider world and feel
that they can aim high. Only then can
our students truly aspire to improve.
By bequeathing our students these
memories and experiences, we will
equip them to harness their full
potential and achieve their hopes
We also
believe that
it’s important
to maximise
whatever their
The Meads, where
everyone is a superhero

This article was sponsored by The Meads Primary School. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.