Westminster Radio Ltd

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Westminster Radio Ltd'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 Westminster Radio Ltd 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 SamanthaJackson
Through the implementation of a strong middle leadership
team and a total reinvigoration of the curriculum,
Berkswich Church of England Primary School has been
able to achieve dramatic improvement, going from “requires
improvement” to “outstanding”. They have focused on
connecting the curriculum to ensure all skills are applied in
different subject areas and have promoted the core subjects
through the use of quality texts. Having achieved their own
turnaround, they now work with other local schools for mutual
development and the sharing of best practice. Headteacher
Samantha Jackson tells
The Parliamentary Review
When I became headteacher in September 2014, the school was going through
a radical period of change. A large amount of work needed to be completed in
order to improve all aspects of school life. Development was slow and we set about
changing all elements of the school structure: the daily systems and processes that
underpin the entirety of the school experience. We installed rigorous monitoring
and evaluation systems and developed an inspiring curriculum that was designed to
engage all of our pupils.
Prior to joining the school, I had worked as a deputy headteacher at an
“outstanding” school and had worked as an adviser for maths and school
improvement for the Stoke-on-Trent local authority. I used this experience to
support our own transition, and our efforts have been clearly rewarded: we have
managed to go from being judged as “requires improvement” to “outstanding”.
»Headteacher: SamanthaJackson
»Established in 1969
»Based in Stafford
»Type: One-form entry primary
»No. of pupils: 220
Berkswich CE Primary
Highlighting best practice
New values propelling change
Key to this change has been
implanting a shared vision and a
shared system of values. This has been
based on championing excellence and
celebrating difference, ensuring that
every one of our stakeholders, from
staff to students, are the best they
can be. We studied how our children
learnt and aimed to develop their
resilience: looking at learning through
failure while encouraging the taking
of chances. This involved changing
the culture of the school, and our
newly established values were used
to propel this shift in attitudes. The
main focus for all students is now to
accelerate and become the best they
can possiblybe.
Supported and shaped by the work
of our deputy headteacher, the
curriculum has been overhauled and
made far more adventurous. We have
also focused on the development
of critical thinking and independent
learning. We have now instigated a
creative, connected curriculum that
seeks to combine all elements of
learning together, ensuring skills are
applied beyond just their subject.
Forinstance, English skills are used
in science writing, and what children
learn in geography will be applied
in their maths lessons. Core lessons
take place in the morning and are
structured around rich texts, especially
in English. These high-quality texts
help to drive writing, spelling and
punctuation, which is also applied
in other subject areas. All learning
commences with a “hook”, designed
to engage and immerse children in
a multitude of opportunities, many
of which relate to meaningful, real-
Sharing and developing our
best practice
We also work hard to share these
innovations and our wider best
practice. This is supported by our high-
quality in-house training, which we
subsequently share with other schools,
supporting them to identify areas in
which they can improve. This creates
an opportunity for mutual growth: they
can study our methods and we learn
through engaging in widerdialogue.
Our training is facilitated by highly
skilled subject leaders. These leaders
are accountable for the progress and
subject knowledge of other staff and
this development is sustained by deep,
detailed training sessions. Training
is always practical and hands-on,
allowing teachers to immediately apply
what they have learnt to their day-to-
day role.
In order to sustain and continue
the progress we have made, we
have also created a rigorous and
accurate monitoring system. Whereas
previously, the entire system was top-
down, our success has been based on
developing inspiring and accountable
middle leaders. This started with a
solid recruitment process that focused
on only bringing in the right people.
Our middle leaders now work to make
sure their subjects shine, something
which was initially lacking and that
was highlighted during our initial
Ofsted inspection. The governing body
has been reinvigorated and we have
set up clear progression channels for
staff. This helps to create leaders for
the wider education system and if
staff do leave us, other schools will
certainly benefit from their training
and expertise.
To ensure our staff are properly
supported, we have looked closely at
their work-life balance and workloads.
We have created a working party
with our human resources providers
to study this area more closely. As
children are at the heart of all that we
do, the wellbeing and mental health
of our pupils is paramount. We have
invested in emotional literacy support
assistant training (ELSA) and we also
support children’s emotional needs
through our involvement with the
HOPE project.
The primary challenge we face, and
one that is faced by schools around
the country, is budgeting. Because of
the way funding is distributed, we do
not have access to a variety of funding
streams and so we have had to be
very creative with staffing and the way
we deploy our budget. As a Church
of England school, we do organise
fundraisers but the money earned
always goes to charity. We manage to
supplement our income with school-
to-school support, and our highly
trained teachers visit other schools to
share training and best practice. By
focusing on promoting wellbeing, we
have managed to avoid any significant
issues surrounding recruitment.
As an outstanding school, we do
feel pressure to perform but these
pressures are never passed on to the
children. We ensure learning remains
fun and the success of this is shown
by our results; we are in the
100 performing schools in the country
for a second time.
As we look ahead, we are targeting
further school-to-school support and
working with other likeminded primary
schools in the locality. Despite the
progress we have made, we are always
looking forward and even though we
are now ranked as “outstanding”, it is
essential that we continue to look for
further improvements in an innovative
and strategic manner.


This article was sponsored by Westminster Radio Ltd. 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 Michael Gove.

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