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 Warwick Road Primary School is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.
Warwick Road Primary School
Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles
1WARWICK ROAD PRIMARY SCHOOL |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE
Year 6 children writing about
Children in nursery
practising their names
Based in Batley, Warwick Road Primary School is a place
where staff work hard to ensure every child exceeds
expectations. Children flourish under a team of committed
staff who create learning opportunities that ensure all children
achieve their full potential. It aims to develop the holistic child:
empathy, compassion and respect are that which will enable
our children to become responsive, active members of society.
Headteacher Shamsa Quereshi elaborates.
Before addressing how we maintain high standards in literacy, it must first be
acknowledged that our children come from very diverse backgrounds – many, if
not most, of these children possess English as an additional language. Traditionally,
in such circumstances, standards in literacy are below those of maths. We have
worked hard, therefore, to raise the profile of writing, and, in turn, to bring
standards in line with those of maths. A series of activities have taken place in order
to achieve this.
Whole-school write assemblies are held each half-term, and the work produced is
proudly displayed on the corridor for all children to see. Termly spelling bees also
attempt to add an element of fun to a traditionally dry subject area: children rise to
the challenge, and teachers often take part, too – this allows children to see first-
hand how it is fine to find something difficult. Recently, we hosted a National Poetry
Day assembly when children from each year group wrote and performed their
own poems in front of the school. A large poetry book was created, collating the
work that the children produced. Children take part in all events enthusiastically,
and they look forward to the next. Workshops for SPAG, writing and phonics are
delivered by staff to parents, allowing them to lend greater support at home, too.
WARWICK ROAD PRIMARY
»Headteacher: Shamsa Quereshi
»Founded in 1880
»Based in Batley
»Type of school: Primary
»No. of pupils: 384
»No. of staff: 57
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
2| WARWICK ROAD PRIMARY SCHOOL
Commitment to our ethos
Perhaps the most important factor in
Warwick Road’s success with regard to
writing, however, is that of the school
ethos. The promotion of a “growth
mindset” has ensured that children
are unafraid to make mistakes. This
can-do culture has developed a love
for learning that exists throughout
the school. This is celebrated during
the weekly “Secrets of Success”
assemblies, where children are praised
for their efforts; significantly, children
are often asked to read their writing
aloud in front of their peers – this
helps boost their confidence and
assures them that their hard work will
This positive approach has undoubtedly
had an impact on the behaviour at
school, which is exemplary. As children
want to do well and better themselves,
behavioural issues are infrequent, and,
if any were to occur, they would be
promptly dealt with. Reduced class
sizes allow staff to give each child a
more individual focus – each class
holds around 26 children. Time that
would have been spent adapting the
teaching for more children is instead
spent on ensuring that quality first
teaching and exemplary marking and
feedback is taking place.
Working closely with students
Marking and feedback is of a high
priority at Warwick Road: it allows
teachers to address misconceptions
immediately so that each child knows
exactly what they need to do to
progress. It is differentiated for each
child to suit their particular needs.
Children expect next steps and do
not see them as criticism, but as
guidelines to progress. Perhaps more
important is the immediate feedback
that occurs in lessons. As teachers’
subject knowledge is strong, staff
are able to address or pre-empt
misconceptions in the classroom,
thereby allowing children to progress
immediately. Twilight sessions have
been delivered to ensure that staff’s
subject knowledge is secure enough to
Enabling children to progress further
are the child’s success criteria. Each
lesson, children are given details of
exactly what is expected of them
in that session. This not only allows
children to self-assess their own work,
but, as they are divided into Bronze
(Working Towards), Silver (Expected)
and Gold (Greater Depth), children
can see for themselves how to
progress. Linked to this are the interim
frameworks for each year group,
Year 2 children taking
part in writing booster
of a “growth
a love for
3WARWICK ROAD PRIMARY SCHOOL |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE
which are stuck in and ticked off at
the front of all English books. These
detail exactly what children in each
year group should be able to do. This
allows children to see exactly where
they stand with regard to writing,
and, again, what they need to do to
progress even further. As children
know what is expected of them, they
grow even more confident.
It is this confidence that allows children
to access high-quality texts. The SLT
worked hard to create a curriculum
that largely centres on quality texts.
This is not restricted to literature,
however. Very often, units of work are
based on picture books or provoking
video clips. This means that children
who favour different learning styles
are able to access the curriculum.
In year 6, for example, children are
exposed to difficult texts such as
by William Shakespeare and
A Christmas Carol
by Charles Dickens.
As our children love a challenge, they
persevere with the difficult language.
Writing is largely about absorbing what
has been read and making it one’s
own, so we firmly believe that children
should be exposed to the best.
This year, we are working towards
ensuring that this high standard of
writing is applied across all subject
areas. In order to achieve this, the SLT
have devised a curriculum in which
most subjects centre around the one
topic. For example, children in year 5
who are currently studying the First
World War for their creative curriculum
topic are using
, a text set
during The First World War, as the
basis for their writing unit. As both
subject areas revolve around the same
topic, children are able to apply what
they have learnt in their writing to
their creative curriculum work and vice
versa – thereby raising the standards of
writing in both.
Rigorous monitoring takes place
in order to ensure that the high
expectations we have are being
maintained. An English book scrutiny
takes place every half-term – each
with a different focus. The subject
coordinator looks at what each
individual child achieves in reading,
writing and SPaG to ensure that
teacher assessments are as accurate
as possible. Both year 2 and year 6
have been externally moderated in
the last two years, and both were
positive experiences which confirmed
that our assessment procedures are
effective. Moreover, we host our own
in-house moderations, sometimes
involving other schools, with the other
year groups, too, so that everyone
understands the process of moderation
and that everyone is aware of the
expectations in each year group.
what has been
one’s own, so
Year 4 child writing a
report about Gandhi
The Rt Hon Professor The Lord Blunkett's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review
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.