Helsby Hillside Primary School

Highlighting best practice as a representative in The Parliamentary Review

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 Helsby Hillside Primary School is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.


Headteacher Craig Richardson
Year 6 pupils enjoying a hill walk
during their residential in North Wales
Helsby Hillside is a one-form village primary school where
81 per cent of pupils achieved at least the expected
standard in reading, writing and maths in 2019. With
212 pupils currently on roll, the school places a large emphasis
on its rich and varied curriculum full of exciting experiences
and enrichment opportunities. Headteacher Craig Richardson
discusses with the
how they have developed a curriculum
that works and goes into more detail about their core focus.
The school was first established in 1910, before evolving to its current status as
a primary school in 1964. In the 56 years between this date and the present, the
school has had only four headteachers, one of the many qualities that sets it apart.
Prior to assuming my current role in 2009, I worked as a headteacher in Warrington.
I also work as an adviser for the local authority and as an inspector forOfsted.
Refining our curriculum
Over the 12 years I have been at the school, we have implemented a variety of
improvements. We have continued to renovate the school itself, repairing our
buildings and constructing an extension, and also focused on improving our
academic performance. While our standards have always been high, and we have
always been judged as “good” by Ofsted, our aims are higher. In our last Ofsted
inspection, in 2016, this progress was noted, and we were judged to be “good”
with “outstanding” personal development, behaviour and welfare.
Key to this positive progress has been our attention on our curriculum. For our
maths provision, we have implemented a system which ensures progressive
»Headteacher: Craig Richardson
»Established in 1964
»Based in Helsby, Cheshire
»No. of students: 212
»Type: One-form village primary
Helsby Hillside
Primary School
Highlighting best practice
development of basic number
knowledge and skills. Children
use concrete apparatus to support
their understanding alongside
pictorial representations to complete
calculations and solve problems.
Together with a new, clearer
calculation policy, this forms the basis
for our maths planning, and our
teachers then adapt and develop these
foundations as they see fit, using a
range of resources and strategies to
design and provide a curriculum which
meets the needs of our learners.
We use the Pathways to Write and
Read systems, produced by The Literacy
Company. This provides us with a
robust structure across the entire school,
with units of work sequenced from
the early years into year 6. This allows
our teachers to measure progression
effectively and assess accurately and
means our students can build on their
prior understanding. This has provided
added rigour to our English curriculum.
Alongside these two structured
schemes, we have built a team of
experienced and highly skilled teachers
who consistently deliver outstanding
lessons. In order to ensure our students
maximise these opportunities, we have
high expectations for behaviour and
attitudes, and these are fulfilled by
A broad focus
The core curriculum is supported
by an extensive and broad range of
other subjects. With the new Ofsted
frameworks, this breadth has become
even more essential. We have looked
closely at every subject and are now
implementing a curriculum which
maps out the key knowledge our
students must have at every stage of
their development. Subject leaders
have considered best practice and
advice from experts in their particular
subject and provided CPD and training
for all staff so that teachers have the
knowledge, skills and understanding to
teach all of the subjects effectively.
We are now working with our local
partnership of schools, Frodsham and
Villages Schools’ partnership, to fine-
tune our curriculum plans. Primary
subject leaders are also working with
high-school colleagues to agree on the
essential learning that pupils need to
have acquired by the end of their time
in primary school. We therefore ask
our pupils to share what they enjoy
most about each subject and reflect
on what has helped them learn. Our
curriculum is constantly evolving, but
the core principles remain the same.
We understand that what we learn
today provides the foundation for
what we learn tomorrow and have
worked hard to create clear end
points for our pupils to reach for and
A commitment to enrichment
The breadth of our curriculum is
supported by our range of enrichment
programmes. Our students are active,
and we attained the School Games
Platinum Mark for our exceptional
performance in sport and PE. We
organise regular activities, including
“Get Active” sessions and daily
walks or runs. We have also attained
the Artsmark Gold, and our music
provision, including our school choir
A whole school walking
demonstration against
climate change in Helsby
We have built
a team of
and highly
teachers who
and band, is strong. Our students
perform at local and county events,
helping to contribute to both the local
and wider community.
Key to this approach, and something
which separates us from many other
schools, is that these opportunities
are often offered very early in the
academic year. In year 6, many schools
organise out-of-class enrichment
opportunities such as school plays and
week-long residential visits after the
statutory assessment tests. By doing
them earlier, we develop improved
relationships between staff and pupils
and increased confidence.
Our aim is to give pupils a real sense
of achievement and success aside
from their academic results. Indeed,
even just before the SATS, we do not
narrow our curriculum. In the week
before their exams, year 6 pupils enjoy
a trip to Chester races with the British
Horseracing Education and Standards
Trust looking at maths in action in the
real world. This boost to confidence
pays off over the longer term, and
when our students do come to sit their
exams, they experience little anxiety.
Our culture is defined by a continual
drive for improvement, and this will
not change as we move forward.
In order to prepare for our next
inspection, especially considering
the new Ofsted framework, we are
continuing to work hard, studying
our curriculum and trying to find
improvements. We are also using
our successes, in writing for instance,
and applying them to new fields and
subjects. If we are able to refine our
provision further, while ensuring all of
our students are prepared for success
in high school and beyond, we are
confident we can continue to move
towards becoming “outstanding”.
The 2020 coronavirus pandemic
brought similar challenges to Helsby
Hillside to those faced by schools
nationally. We worked hard to identify
the needs of all pupils, particularly
the most vulnerable. This included
contacting all children and families. We
prioritised minimising risk to all staff
while providing support to the children
of key workers and vulnerable pupils.
We had 100 per cent attendance from
staff during the school “closure”.
Upon the wider reopening of school
in September, we were ready with
a range of safety measures in place
including enhanced hygiene and
hand washing, staggered start and
finish times and changes to break
and lunchtimes. When challenged
with sending home class bubbles
this term, we have provided two live
lessons each day which maintained
our children’s learning. Attendance
for remote learning was very high.
Ninety seven percent of year 6 pupils
accessed all the live lessons. Feedback
from parents has been very positive.
Throughout the lockdown and since
reopening in September, effective
communication has been key. Our
school community has pulled together
to maintain our rich and varied
curriculum and to ensure our children
continue to enjoy school and to learn,
laugh and play.
Our culture is
defined by a
continual drive
and this will
not change as
we move
KS2 Christmas
production: performing
and celebrating pupils’
talents are a big part
of enrichment activities


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

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy