23 October 2018

Hill West’s Best Practice Showcased in The Parliamentary Review

By Emily Bolton, assistant headteacher, Hill West Primary School

The start of this academic year has been a celebration of success at Hill West Primary School with headteacher, Dr Beth Clarke, publishing an article for The Parliamentary Review: A Year in Perspective.

The Parliamentary Review combines political commentary from MPs, ministers and leading journalists with essential guides on best practice from leaders. While The Parliamentary Review allows for in-depth reflection on how legislation has impacted organisations across the UK, it also serves an important resource for policy development. The prime minister’s foreword sets the scene for legislative development over the coming year alongside vital insight from both the private and public sector across a range of policy departments.

Hill West Primary School is one of 14 West Midlands representatives in this year’s Parliamentary Review, highlighting best practice in primary education. In the article, Dr Beth Clarke examines the benefits that working within a multi-academy trust can bring and her belief that primary education needs to be as aspirational and challenging, while retaining exciting and enriching characteristics.

The West Midlands edition of the Primary Education Parliamentary Review is a real celebration of best practice from across the region, each article focussing on different aspects of leadership and the conditions for effective learning. What comes through strongly from all articles featured in this edition, is the importance of collaboration.  Being part of the growing ATLP is a privilege and is highly beneficial for all involved. Dr Beth Clarke states in her article:

All children deserve the very best education and as such, it is our obligation to help others, realising that the benefits are reciprocal and our own schools get better in turn. As our MAT expands and welcomes new schools to our organisation we have much to gain as well as offer and I know that exciting times lie ahead.”

The release of The Parliamentary Review was marked by an annual gala in the Palace of Westminster. This year, Stuart Lackenby (acting deputy headteacher at Hill West) and I were fortunate to be invited to attend this gala evening.

The gala evening took place on Wednesday 10th October at the House of Lords and was a great opportunity to talk with other representatives from the West Midlands edition of the Parliamentary Review as well as leaders from other sectors including the business sector. Lord Pickles, co-chairman of The Review alongside Lord Blunkett has stated that now more than ever it is “critical that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones” and that this year’s Review is the perfect platform for delivering that.

During the evening, alongside the opportunity to network with other leaders of best practice, there were two speakers, former England Captain and Rugby World Cup winner Jonny Wilkinson and Journalist Andrew Neil. Political journalist and commentator Andrew Neil talked all things politics during his speech at the Parliamentary Review gala. Neil highlighted the need for business and politics to come together and detailed the impact of the current Brexit plan.

Jonny Wilkinson was a true inspiration, referencing World Mental Health Day and how his life has been affected by success and injury. His address began with “I set my goals lofty high” which is as relevant in sport as it is in education. Wilkinson believes that there is no meaning or in built power in objects or status by saying: “I started to realise that who I am is just assumptions, conclusions, beliefs and definitions I have made and none of them held any more weight than the idea that there was happiness and the end of the rainbow I was chasing.”  This resonates with the words of Dr Clarke who believes that all leaders must have courage of their convictions, making decisions based on their own morals and values.

Finally, Wilkinson recognised the significance of having your own identify and beliefs by saying, “The power is there, you can respond to anything and all you have to do is let go of how well you think you know yourself. The only way to lead is to get to know yourself.” As a leader, there are never truer words than to know yourself, only then can you be successful in leading change in your school.

Through the success of Dr Clarke’s article in this years The Parliamentary Review and the visit to the House of Lords for Stuart Lackenby and I, the staff at Hill West are feeling extremely positive at the thought of this next academic year.

Attending the event at the House of Lords was a fantastic opportunity, not only for me as a leader but also as a representative of Hill West and the ATLP. The chance to discuss the current climate us school leaders find ourselves in with businesses as well as schools has given us the necessary networking to make links with other sector leaders, predominantly in the business sector. I am really looking forward to working alongside businesses to ensure that our children leave Hill West ready for the next stage of their lives.

Stuart Lackenby said:

To be included in such a distinguished publication as ‘The Parliamentary Review’ is nothing short of an honour for the Hill West community. As Dr Clarke’s article rightly states, we are privileged to be part of an extended, dynamic school community which is aspirational for both our children’s and staff’s success. Being able to share the passion we have for our school, with the other leaders attending the gala, was truly a highlight. The event also gave ‘pause for thought’ and the opportunity to reflect on where our journey could take us next, to ensure our children continue to get the best education possible.’’

Hill West Primary School’s article can be viewed here: