Yew Tree Community School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Yew Tree Community 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 Yew Tree Community 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

Promoting reading for pleasure
Bringing Shakespeare to life
in Stratford-upon-Avon
The future of children is at the heart of everything head
teacher Shaukat Islam and his dedicated team do at
Yew Tree Community School. The school has become a
model school and many institutions look to it for inspiration
and support. Based in a highly deprived area, children enter the
school well below what is typically expected of their age, but go
on to achieve above average standards. With closely integrated
support made available for staff and students alike, Shaukat
ensures that the pupils emerge from their education as rounded
young people who are well prepared for secondary education.
Following successful outcomes in 2016 for disadvantaged pupils, 2017 was an even
greater cause for celebration. 75 per cent of disadvantaged pupils achieved the
expected standard at Key Stage (KS) 2 and 25 per cent achieved the higher standard.
Likewise, 78 per cent of all pupils achieved the expected standard and 22 per cent
achieved the higher standard. This was due to our “whole school” approach in
raising standards with strong quality-first teaching across all yeargroups.
Our curriculum
Our early years curriculum at Yew Tree Community School enhances the children’s
experiences, providing them with the best starting point to become confident
learners, good communicators and happy children. The curriculum offers real-life
experiences and exciting topics that develop their understanding of the world.
Our curriculum is focused on developing personal and social skills and language.
Communication, literacy and basic maths lessons are delivered by highly trained
»Head teacher: Shaukat Islam
»Heads of school: Christine
Lane and Maureen Carroll
»Based in Aston, Birmingham
»Type of school: Community
non-denominational school for
children from nursery to year 6
»No. of pupils: 420 with 78
part-time nursery places
»No. of teachers: 30
»No. of teaching assistants:
10 supported by pastoral,
administration and site staff
Yew Tree Community
Highlighting best practice
staff, ensuring all children progress,
even from a very low starting point,
to becoming school-ready. Parents
are vital in supporting their children’s
education, the parent partnership
beginning in nursery with workshops
that develop important basic skills.
Learning through play is important
and staff have been trained to
understand that play enhances the
children’s capacity for learning and
developing higher order thinking
through modelling spoken English and
good questioning. The outdoors is
stimulating for children to explore and
develop independently with a focus on
the characteristics of effective learning.
Rigorous timetabling maximises pupil
time and the most effective use of
additional adults. Group teaching,
ensuring quality-first education, is one
of our most effective strategies in the
administration of English and maths
in groups which account for individual
pupil needs.
A team of highly trained teaching
assistants deployed across KS1 and
reception target areas such as phonics
and focused reading, ensuring that
children are consistently taught the
skills they need. This guarantees that
children make good progress towards
early learning goals and are capable
of achieving in line with national
standards by the end of KS1. Children
subsequently begin KS2 able to
access the curriculum, and with basic
literacy skills mastered in KS1 children
can easily access challenging texts,
enabling teachers to focus on key
reading skills like inference, clarification
and summarising.
At Yew Tree Community School, we
provide a rich and engaging curriculum.
A wide range of trips and visitors are
used to enhance learning. Performances
are well attended and a valuable way
of celebrating children’s success and
enjoyment of the curriculum, as well
as developing their self-confidence and
ability to articulate their understanding.
British values of respect for all faiths
and cultures are promoted across the
curriculum and embedded in everything
we do. We ensure that a breadth
and depth of subjects are taught,
encompassing progression of key
subject-specific skills. The curriculum
is carefully planned, monitored and
reviewed to ensure every child receives
excellent teaching in all areas.
Assessment accuracy is ensured through
a high quality of teaching and leadership
which rapidly moves learning forwards
and enables teachers to tailor the
curriculum to the needs of the children.
The principles of “Talk for Writing” are
enshrined in this. Reading, writing and
oracy underpin every lesson and have an
immense impact on spoken and written
outcomes in all subjects.
School-to-school learning and
sharing best practice
We strongly value school-to-school
learning, which guides our approach
to learning from the best practice of
other schools and sharing our own.
This way, we build a self-sustaining
school-led approach to the professional
development of strong leadership.
YewTree always shares its best
Discovering together in
At Yew Tree
School, we
provide a rich
and engaging
practice in the teaching of phonics,
English and mathematics. We facilitate
this ourselves or through partnerships
and in recent years through the
Birmingham Education Partnership.
Yew Tree is a Talk for Writing training
centre; hundreds of teachers from
around the West Midlands and beyond
visit Yew Tree to observe the teaching
of writing based on the Talk for Writing
approach as developed by Pie Corbett.
Furthermore, we have been able to
support 30 schools on the Transforming
Reading Project, in partnership with
a neighbouring school (St Matthews
C.E.), sharing our successful, consistent
and established approach to reading.
Leadership of teaching and
As a wide leadership team, we have
established a clear vision and sense
of direction for the school. Leaders
have been trained to prioritise,
focusing their direction on staff
requiring support. They know what
is going on in classrooms through
continual meetings with staff. As a
result, leaders have a clear view of the
strengths and weaknesses of their
staff and know how to build them up
through a programme of evaluation
and support. The growing leadership
team supports and motivates teachers,
because all teachers and leaders have a
Monitoring is robust, ensuring
classroom direction is focused and
providing support and growth,
which leads to stronger teaching and
outstanding pupil outcomes. Leaders
are provided with guidance on how
to monitor books, looking for good
learning, identifying where support
is needed and the actions that need
to be taken. On a weekly basis, we
meet in subject teams which develop
the moderation skills of all leaders.
Leaders regularly moderate with
the teachers, ensuring school-wide
consistency. As a result, teaching and
learning are constantly improving and
pupil outcomes have improved year
on year. As a team, leaders have been
supported to identify good teaching
and identify areas for improvement, as
well as how to give effective feedback.
The areas for improvement inform the
leaders’ action plans.
The future
Yew Tree Community School gained
academy status and formed a multi-
academy trust (Inspire Education
Community Trust) in June 2016 and
Inspire is now an approved academy
sponsor. This will focus our energies on
supporting individual schools that need
our support going forwards. We look
to the future of education and our
place within it with optimism.
We look to
the future of
education and
our place
within it with
Celebrating the history
of Birmingham
Focused learning: self-
correction following

This article was sponsored by Yew Tree Community 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 The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister