Wavendon Gate School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Wavendon Gate 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 Wavendon Gate 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
Our pupils’ writing is much
improved, and they now show a
real pride in their work
Even superheroes need to
learn to write
In November 2013, a year and a half after head teacher Andy
Cox started at Wavendon Gate School, Ofsted graded the
school as “requires improvement” in all four categories.
Andy states that, as a team, they had to be positive about
the difference that they had to make; he agreed with their
recently appointed deputy head that this was an opportunity
that would allow them the mandate needed to make lasting
improvements. Furthermore, Andy discusses the steps taken
to drive improvements at Wavendon Gate School in line with
feedback gleaned from previous HMI inspections.
Ofsted left us with a lot to do. Our key issues, to be resolved within two years, were to
»improve the quality of teaching to be consistently good or better
»raise attainment in writing
»raise attainment in mathematics
»improve pupils’ behaviour
»clarify and develop the roles and responsibilities of senior leaders so as to bring
about high-quality teaching and learning across the school.
A key stage leader with great potential had already been appointed and was about
to take up his post. Governors agreed that we could advertise for an assistant head
post; we’d already had some discussion about this change to our staffing structure.
We took a chance, hoping that we might make a good mid-year appointment,
despite Ofsted’s recent judgments. We were delighted to appoint a very strong
candidate; when asked at interview why she had applied, given our current
»Head teacher: Andy Cox
»Founded in 1999
»Based in Milton Keynes,
»Type of school: Community
primary school
»No. of students: 415
»No. of staff: 59
»Ofsted: “Good”
Wavendon Gate
situation, she replied that she knew
our deputy and me and had faith in
our ability to make the difference.
We knew that HMI would visit within a
few weeks and needed to show some
rapid improvements. On a training day
at the beginning of the spring term,
we focused on the quality of teaching
and pupils’ behaviour. We looked at
where things worked well and where
they did not, drawing up some non-
negotiable guidelines which everyone
agreed to implement immediately.
These included motivating and
engaging pupils better, with less
teacher talk from the front and pupils
settling quickly to their tasks.
When the HMI visited at the end
of January, he remarked: “Pupils’
behaviour has improved. Behaviour
in lessons and around the school
is calmer. Some specific concerns
about poor behaviour and attitudes
to learning in some classes are
being addressed effectively through
improvements in the quality
Subsequently, we finalised our school
plan which focused very tightly on
Ofsted’s key issues. Our deputy
adopted a vital role of checking that
we kept working on the issues in the
plan, without getting sidetracked by
other tempting initiatives.
The plan was challenging but
realistic, with clear timescales and
responsibilities. We monitored its
impact every term and reported this
to our governors and the LA, who
had faith in our capacity to make the
improvements needed – although they
met with us on a termly basis to check
we were still on track.
By the end of the summer term
2014 we could see that things were
already much better. We and our
LA colleagues judged the quality of
teaching to be good or better, with
marked improvements in assessment
for learning, behaviour management
and pupils’ attitudes to their learning.
The quality and quantity of writing
were improving and we were seeing
better progress in maths owing
to regular mental maths sessions,
greater challenge and an emphasis on
questioning and reasoning. Behaviour
was much better in classrooms, in
and around the building, and on We believe in teaching
a rich and varied
Pupils’ good
attitudes and
make an
to their
Ofsted report, July 2015
Highlighting best practice
the playground. Bolstered by our
key senior appointments, we re-
organised our leadership roles and
responsibilities, giving leaders increased
accountability for smaller teams, with
our deputy and assistant head teaching
for at least half of the week in the
area they led. This helped leaders to
develop, support and challenge their
teams, and provided regular and on-
going opportunities for them to lead
by example.
Our 2014 results were much better for
foundation stage, year 1 phonics and
year 6, with impressive improvements.
However, while our KS1 to KS2
progress was better than average
overall, in writing it was still not good
enough, as were our KS1 standards.
We knew that these could leave us
vulnerable in a reinspection, so they
became our key areas of focus in our
2014/15 school plan.
Ofsted returned in the last week of the
summer term in July 2015, just over a
year and a half after their previous visit.
We were able to show the difference
we’d made and our school at its
best with a real team effort in which
everyone pulled together. This time
we were delighted with the outcomes
and a securely good report which did
2015/16 saw a period of consolidation
to ensure that our improvements had
been secured across the school and
to work on the new key issues Ofsted
had left. These were about ensuring
consistent practice regarding high
expectations, a good match of work
to all abilities, pupils’ handwriting and
presentation, and further improving
the impact of marking.
It took us a while to adapt to the
different demands of the revised
year 2 and year 6 assessments in the
summer of 2016, and our results were
disappointing. However, year 6 results
improved demonstrably in 2017, with
pupil progress much stronger and well
above average. 2016/17 was a difficult
year for us. Our very capable and
much-respected assistant head was
diagnosed with cancer in June 2016
and passed away at the beginning
of the summer term in 2017. A few
weeks later another member of staff
also died from cancer. Difficult as it
was, we all kept going; the children
deserved nothing less.
2017/18 sees us working again on
consistency. We have a number of
very capable teachers who have
returned part-time from maternity
leave, and currently have job shares
in four classes. We’ve had to look
carefully at our communication and
our expectations to ensure that
pupils in these classes have a similar
experience to those elsewhere in the
school. Our monitoring of behaviour
shows continued improvements; lesson
observations and book scrutinies
demonstrate high-quality work in
a wide range of subjects. We are
now a popular and well-respected
primary school where parents are
overwhelmingly satisfied with the
education we provide for their children
– in our summer 2017 survey of over
one hundred parents, 98% said they
would be happy to recommend us to
lasting success
through the
of individuals’
social and
character and
One of our regular
opportunities for parents
and grandparents to
come and see what the
children are learning –
this is our popular dads’
reading day with picnic
and play


This article was sponsored by Wavendon Gate 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 Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy