Wombridge Primary School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Wombridge 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 Wombridge 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


When national strategies
weren’t engaging our children,
we designed a curriculum that
Pupils cook once a
fortnight, with ingredients
grown at school and
explore challenges such as
how to feed nine billion
people by 2050
In 2010 Wombridge Primary School was consistently at the
bottom of performance tables, dramatically overspending
and had lost sight of its core purpose. Twenty-five per cent
of the school’s population had SEND at a level which required
the involvement of external agencies.In the previous year there
had been 17 reported assaults against staff by children and 96
pupils had been excluded from the school in the previous three
years. In ten years the school had been led by five different
headteachers. Current Headteacher Neil Satoor discusses how a
change of attitude helped turn the school around.
The school was in a disadvantaged area, but disadvantage was being worn like
a badge of honour. We needed a different way of thinking, a new curriculum
and a commitment to a vision that would lift aspirations. Sixty-six per cent of
students live in some of the worst conditions in England and Wales, and 40 per
cent live in households where there has been unemployment for three generations.
The catchment area records some of the worst figures in England for teenage
pregnancy, obesity and alcohol-related hospital admissions. Currently 20 per cent
of students have witnessed or been exposed to domestic violence.
Today, end of Key Stage 2 performance is in line with or above national average in
reading, writing and maths and since 2010, 126 of our children have finished year
6 with a GCSE in computing. We have been awarded the BIG national anti-bullying
award for the last six years. Apple recognises us as one of the most innovative
schools in the world. We have been awarded both Regional Training Centre and
Distinguished School status, as a centre of excellence for the use of IT. In 2017, we
»Headteacher: Neil Satoor
»Based in Telford, Shropshire
»Type of school: Maintained
»No. of pupils: 245
»No. of staff: 26
Wombridge Primary
Highlighting best practice
were awarded Farming Champions
of the year by the NFU and
and we are currently working
with Harper Adams to gain recognition
for our pupils’ environmental science
curriculum via a GCSE in agriculture
and land use.
What changed?
We have had a balanced budget for
the last nine years and while our DNA
hasn’t changed, attitudes certainly
have. We began with a clear focus on
resilience – the core group of staff who
believed in their vocation, the pupils
who wore their uniform with pride and
had good attendance, the parents who
supported and believed in the staff and
the autistic child determined to stay in
mainstream education.
We started to imagine what we could
achieve if we demanded a safe, happy,
well-resourced and aspirational school,
disrupting the cycle of low expectation.
Our local reputation limited our
relationship within the authority, so
we built links with educational settings
and industry further afield. When
national strategies weren’t engaging
our children, we designed a curriculum
that would.
To reconnect our pupils with the core
purpose of education and safeguard
them for the future, we focused our
curriculum around the question –
“what do you want to do when you
grow up?”. We wanted to hold onto
our inclusive values, while building a
new reputation and demonstrating in
the long term that inclusivity provided
students with aspirations and the
expectation that they can contribute
meaningfully to the wider world. If we
could change the reputation of the
school with new partners through a
curriculum that interested the children
and introduced them to exciting
careers, we knew we could create
positive change.
Within ten minutes of the school is
rural Shropshire, one of the most
productive agricultural areas with a
food industry supporting over 47,000
jobs. Therefore, we developed our
own farming and countryside award.
We visit the farm every term and
participate in farming awards. Pupils
cook once a fortnight with ingredients
grown at school and explore
challenges, including how to feed 9
billion by 2050. This is a great way
of explaining that they are in control
of their consumption which, in turn,
teaches them to make positive health
choices in the future.
We are surrounded by the M54
corridor, with industrial estates
filled with international companies
employing thousands of workers
built upon innovation and the use
of cutting-edge technology. This
triggered our focus on computing. As
one of the first schools to offer iPads
and MacBooks, we soon introduced
our children to industry standards
in specialisms such as photography,
theatrical production and coding. We
gained Regional Training Centre status
and began to attract international
visitors. In 2012 our first cohort of
year 6 pupils passed their GCSE in
IT. By embedding outdoor learning,
We embedded outdoor
learning, environmental
science and computing
throughout the
Since 2010
126 of our
children have
finished year 6
with a GCSE
in computing
environmental science and computing
throughout the curriculum we
improved aspirations and developed
an enthusiastic application of skills in
literacy and numeracy.
Understanding wellbeing
We have always ensured a strong
focus on wellbeing. Our vision is
“Lead the way to life”. By providing
positive and empowering role models,
explaining the value of hard work
and showcasing the range of job
opportunities, we are continuously
nurturing a can-do attitude, resilience
and self-belief. Our pupils can make
a meaningful difference to a world
that will need individuals who can
overcome challenges, think differently
and display self-discipline and
Throughout our journey we have
reflected on the process by which
we develop and build positive brain
health, looking at how our pupils and
staff overcame substantial challenges.
We are all used to looking after our
bodies, developing our physical health
and celebrating physical and cultural
diversity. We haven’t excluded a
single pupil for seven years because
we’ve become excellent at identifying,
analysing, tolerating and celebrating
each other’s different ways of thinking,
feeling, communicating and facing
challenges. We used the five pillars of
brain health to develop a deliberate
curriculum of critical thinking, risk
taking, challenge attack and social
We still have the same percentage of
children with SEND on roll today as
we did in 2010, many of whom are
on the autistic spectrum or display
neurological differences to the
“norm”. Mental health is a growing
concern for all of us, so teaching
has been informed by assessment
against academic needs, but also by
assessment against the way our brains
are functioning and our social needs.
Many of the jobs and challenges we
will face in the future will be different
exponentially to those of the past.
In the future we will be relying upon
social communication, collaboration
and critical thinking. By nurturing a
school culture over the last decade that
has at its core a culture of celebrating
“neurodiversity”, we will be well
placed to ensure our pupils will grow
into empowered, tolerant and resilient
young adults, able to keep themselves
safe and happy and able to lead their
way to life.
Mental health
is a growing
concern for all
of us, so
teaching has
been informed
by assessment
needs, but
also by
against the
way our brains
and our social
The DNA of the school
hasn’t changed but
attitudes certainly have


This article was sponsored by Wombridge Primary 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 Elizabeth Truss.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss

Even by the standards of the day –this has been one of the most exciting and unpredictable years in British politics.

The leadership election we’ve just seen marks a huge moment in our country’s history. This government is taking a decisive new direction, embracing the opportunities of Brexit and preparing our country to flourish outside the EU.

As international trade secretary, I’ll be driving forward work on the free trade agreements that are going to be a priority for the government. Free trade isn’t just an abstract concept bandied around by technocrats. It is crucial for a strong economy and for the ability of families to make ends meet. Free trade benefits people in every part of our country, as British firms export to new markets and people doing the weekly shop have access to a wider choice of goods at lower prices.

The essence of free trade is in the title: freedom. It’s about giving people the power to exchange their goods without heavy government taxation or interference. Commerce and free exchange are the engine room of prosperity and social mobility. I’m determined to tackle the forces who want to hold that back.

One of my priorities is agreeing an exciting new free trade deal with the US, building on the great relationship between our two countries and the Prime Minister and US President. But I’ll also be talking to other partners including New Zealand, Australia and fast-growing Asian markets.

And with the EU too, we want a friendly and constructive relationship, as constitutional equals, and as friends and partners in facing the challenges that lie ahead – a relationship based on a deep free trade agreement. Our country produces some of the world’s most successful exports, and the opportunity to bring these to the rest of the world should make us all excited about the future. It is this excitement, optimism and ambition which I believe will come to define this government.

For too long now, we have been told Britain isn’t big or important enough to survive outside the EU – that we have to accept a deal that reflects our reduced circumstances. I say that’s rubbish. With the right policies in place, we can be the most competitive, free-thinking, prosperous nation on Earth exporting to the world and leading in new developments like AI. To do that, we’ll give the brilliant next generation of entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed. Since 2015, there has been a staggering 85 per cent rise in the number of businesses set up by 18 to 24 year olds – twice the level set up by the same age group in France and Germany. We’ll help them flourish by championing enterprise, cutting taxes and making regulation flexible and responsive to their needs.

As we do that, we’ll level up and unite all parts of the UK with great transport links, fibre broadband in every home and proper school funding, so everyone shares in our country’s success.

2019 has been the year of brewing economic and political revolution. 2020 will be the year when a revitalised Conservative government turbo charges the economy, boosts prospects for people across the country, and catapults Britain back to the forefront of the world stage.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss
Secretary of State for International Development