Peter Hicks, head teacher
Making full use of the opportunities
provided on our extensive grounds
Heron Hill Primary School is on the southern edge of
Kendal, Cumbria, occupying a site of over six acres
with mature parkland, playing fields, wildflower
meadows, a small wood and an apiary. Peter Hicks’ vision
for the school includes the provision of a broad curriculum
with numerous extracurricular activities. Pupils maintain high
performances in reading, writing and mathematics, well above
the national standard, while engaging in numerous charity and
ecological projects, which sustain a well-rounded progression
In order to fulfil the aims that we have as a school, we endeavour to be effective
and efficient in the learning opportunities we provide, so that a wider range
of exciting, relevant and interesting activities can be offered. Both within the
curriculum and as extracurricular clubs and groups, activities such as gardening
help us learn about responsibility, determination and perseverance. Each year
group takes care of its own area of garden, where fruit and vegetables are
grown, prepared and cooked in school for all to enjoy. Annual success in Kendal
and Cumbria in Bloom competitions reaps extra awards and following a visit by
Britainin Bloom
in 2017, judges stated in their report:
The gardens and numerous ongoing projects at Heron Hill School were
fantastic. The work and enthusiasm of the headteacher and chair of
governors was so infectious; to be a child at that school must be a
– Britain in Bloom judges, 2017
»Head teacher: Peter Hicks
»Founded in 1974
»Based in Kendal, Cumbria
»Type of school: Community
primary and nursery
»No. of pupils: 450
Heron Hill Primary
Highlighting best practice
Our pupils are very involved with
environmental and global learning;
currently we are engaged in a local
“Pollinator Project” to create and
maintain an insect-corridor, and
we have harvested award-winning
honey from our very own hive of
bees. Heron Hill was the first school
in Cumbria to be awarded Fairtrade
status, and enterprise projects
planned and run by pupils create
an income for children to donate to
charities of their choice. Some are
local but others are further abroad
such as “Toilet Twinning”: providing
toilets for schools inAfrica.
Spending so much time on such
activities while facing ever-increasing
pressures for ever-higher standards
may seem risky. These pursuits,
however, are of immense value, not
only when it comes to enhancing
learning, but also in building skills in
community engagement, conversation
and independence. The quality of talk
observed while children toil in their
vegetable patch at gardening club or
the care and empathy demonstrated
by a child in a bee suit sorting
delicately through a beehive can rarely
be recreated in classroomlessons.
This has to be balanced in academic
areas, of course, and we are not
averse to taking risks here too.
Where research and observation
can provide a strategy or idea for
further improvement, we grasp it.
Across school we have developed
real consistency in our approaches to
learning, so that pupils are supported
across their whole career with us
and do not have to relearn different
routines and approaches each year. All
writing units begin with an “excellent
example” written by the teacher. This
illustrates to children precisely what
is needed for their academic success
and enables the teacher to be able to
approach this task in the position of
a student. Rubrics containing success
criteria are used in all writing and
mathematics lessons, while pupils
review and reflect daily on their own
performance and next steps based on
the rubrics. Introduced in 2016, this
approach to writing led to attainment
and progress significantly above
national standards.
Further developments in 2017 are
proving to have a similar positive
impact. Pre-teach
ensures that pupils
have the knowledge required to access
a unit of work and Reactive Review
Great care and empathy being shown to our tiny friends;
beekeeping influences all aspects of the curriculum
Engaging in outdoor learning
wherever possible
The head
teacher leads
with passion
creating an
ambitious and
culture within
the school
Ofsted, January 2018
provides additional support for pupils,
who need further support following
a lesson. Core, practice or extension
learning opportunities are offered
and pupils choose, with guidance and
advice, whether more input is required
from their teachers or if they should
be challenging themselves further and
working with an increasing degree of
These high-quality learning activities
are delivered by an enthusiastic
hard-working team of dedicated
teaching staff, made up of excellent
teachers and highly qualified teaching
assistants, working together to identify
and provide what each individual
Remaining at the forefront of
education can sometimes be difficult
in Cumbria; often initiatives, grants
and national projects do not make
it so far north. In light of this, we
maintain an outward-looking attitude.
With nursery, primary, secondary
and special-education schools as
partners, we are members of the
Kendal Collaborative Partnership,
aimed at supporting all pupils across
Kendal. Our senior leadership team
and our mathematics specialist leader
in education have spent many days
observing best practice in outstanding
schools in London, informing the
development of our own approach to
teaching and learning mathematics.
This has resulted in us providing
training and support across this area.
We are also heavily involved with
initial teacher training: through the
University of Cumbria and Kendal
Primary Schools Direct Programme, we
interview prospective students, provide
placements and deliver taught sessions
for them, often leading to teaching
positions in school.
Heron Hill has a well-earned
reputation locally and has much to
be proud of. It mainly serves the
local estates but increasingly, many
families choose to bring their children
to the school from across the town
and outlying villages. In September
2017, reception was oversubscribed
and the introduction of the 30 hours
funded childcare in 2017 has filled
our nursery and created a waiting
list. The vast majority of children who
attend our nursery go on to join the
main school and we find that their
early experiences with us benefit their
transition into reception. Our project
and challenge for the future is to find
the funding to enable us to extend the
nursery provision to allow us to take
greater numbers and provide further
opportunity for pupils to “learn, play
and grow together”.
Our resilient children
enjoy school and its
opportunities – in any
The school’s most recent
performance information shows that
all groups of pupils, including those
who are disadvantaged, achieved at
levels which were higher than those
seen nationally, both at the expected
and the higher levels in the Key Stage
2 national tests
Ofsted, January 2018