West Ashtead Primary School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by West Ashtead 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 West Ashtead 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


Headteacher Ruth Hall
Do fish have teeth
and other questions?
West Ashtead Primary School has been serving the
local community for over half a century. Currently,
a team of 15 members of teaching staff helps to
educate over 270 pupils, with the school having one-form
entry at Key Stage1 and two-form entry between years 3 and
6. Headteacher Ruth Hall tells
The Parliamentary Review
about the broad range of opportunities available to pupils.
Our focus as a school is to ensure that the education we provide has the child’s
best interests at heart. We ensure that the values of curiosity, creativity and
motivation are observed in each and every one of our lessons. We have a broad
curriculum, with specialist teachers for French, games and music, to ensure that
every child receives the best standard of education possible across all subjects.
Most of our lessons are heavily enquiry based and we provide a lot of hands-on
experiences that our children may not be privileged to encounter elsewhere. We
recently took the year 3 children to Billingsgate fish market where they handled
many different varieties and learnt how to fillet a fish before cooking it. These life
experiences are invaluable to our pupils and we believe that they help to build
a curriculum that fosters an understanding in the children of the world and the
opportunities beyond the school.
»Headteacher: Ruth Hall
»Founded in 1964
»Location: Ashtead, Surrey
»Type of school: Community
»No. of students: 272
»Parents engaged in and
supportive of children’s
West Ashtead
Highlighting best practice
Every child benefits from a trip, visit
or special experience every term.
We offer cookery and woodland
experiences, while all children in year
3 and above are offered the chance
to attend a variety of residential
trips. These experiences develop the
children’s independence, confidence
and social skills, which in turn helps
them become rounded individuals.
We are currently looking forward
to our Enterprise week, and have
recently held a very successful STEAM
week, in which our children were
able to explore scientific concepts,
use and apply their knowledge and
take part in art and design projects.
The older pupils attended career
talks from engineers, scientists and
game designers to inspire them,
and younger children had ducklings
and chicks to nurture. We were also
lent a humanoid robot by a local
independent school, and many other
visitors helped to engage children in all
facets of science.
We have a strong tradition of
effective transitions at West Ashtead.
Historically, transitions from nursery to
reception are successful, as are those
from year 6 to secondary. We take
in an additional 30 children into year
3 each year and this transition has
become a priority over the past few
years. We recognise that it may be
very hard for some children to leave
a small infant school and join with
30 other children who already know
our school and staff very well. We
arrange sessions where the children
play and socialise together and staff
observe them closely. We meet with
their infant teachers and find out
their strengths and interests and
discuss next steps. We aim to learn
about the whole child and allocate
their new classmates, teachers and
teaching assistants based on this
crucial information. We run a special
project at the beginning of year 3
to ensure that all our children are
comfortable and confident in their
learning environment. They are then
ready to fly for the rest of their time
with us. We also run several events for
new parents so that they have a clear
understanding of what West Ashtead
offers and what their children will
experience, and in order that we can
socialise with the parents.
Can we find evidence to
show that the Thames is
a clean healthy habitat?
How can I make tortellini
from flour, egg, spinach
and ricotta?
creative and
Leadership on many levels
We prioritise the formation of
leadership skills in our children and
believe it is important that they
learn a range of skills to equip them
for their move into senior school,
and eventually into the real world.
Roles such as friendship and science
ambassadors, playground leaders
and pupil librarians alongside
school council and house captains
give our children the opportunity
to experience leadership in
Our house captains have a high
profile around the school, helping
to organise school assemblies and
parent tours, and we have recently
held a very successful
Great British
Bake Off
-style competition. Involving
children in school activities wherever
possible allows us all to discover
the sheer range of talents they have
Our staff have an absolutely
superb sense of teamwork. They
have tackled the many challenges
presented to them and have
emerged stronger for it. I am proud
of a team whose members are
highly intelligent and academically
minded. They have put a lot of hard
work into creating vibrant learning
environments built on intellectual
rigour, and they give careful
consideration to the experiences we
offer in terms of their relevance and
benefit to our children.
Primary challenges
There are always challenges to be
faced. At times, we must deal with
immediate day-to-day issues, which
hampers our ability to concentrate
on the bigger picture – arguably a
more important focus. Occasionally,
we have also been held back by
external challenges and pressures,
which can be frustrating for allofus.
We sincerely hope to continue
providing an excellent learning
environment for our children, while
further strengthening experiences
and opportunities. Through several
years of plate-spinning, we have
been able to provide a standard of
education of which we are most
proud. We believe that through
a combination of hard work and
perseverance we will overcome
any future challenges and continue
to deliver an exciting primary
experience for all our children.
In the coming years we hope to
tailor our offer even more precisely
and to provide an education for our
children that keeps them curious,
creative and motivated.
Lots of hands
on experience
What work did people
do during the Great Fire
of London?


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

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster