Holmer CE Academy

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 Holmer CE Academy is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.


Headteacher Rachel Maund
Capturing imaginations
through story telling
Holmer Academy believes that with pastoral care and
support, alongside aspiration and opportunities, every
child will flourish. Located in the north of Hereford, it
has been on its present site since it opened in 1857. Pupils
currently attend from north of the city as well as surrounding
villages. Headteacher Rachel Maund describes how the school’s
high aspirations along with the positive nurturing ethos have
created a culture where everyone succeeds, ensuring the best
possible progress and outcomes for its pupils, resulting in their
end of key stage attainment securing them a position in the top
percentages of schools, for three consecutive years.
When I became the headteacher of Holmer Academy four years ago, my thorough
knowledge of the school put me in the advantageous position of being able to
build upon previous strengths while having a deep understanding of the direction
we needed to take. A number of systems and structures had been implemented
and now the school was ready to be guided to the next level.
At first, I wanted to create a culture of aspiration among staff, pupils and their
families. We needed to nurture an ethos in which everyone was encouraged,
supported and believed they could be successful. I challenged staff on how they
wanted their own learning to develop and then opportunities were put in place
to facilitate this. My role is to constantly challenge and support staff as learners
themselves, thus creating an environment of continuousdevelopment.
»Headteacher: Rachel Maund
»Founded in 1857
»Based in Hereford
»Type of school: Primary
»No. of students: 410
»No. of staff: 53
Holmer CE Academy
Highlighting best practice
I also set about creating an atmosphere
in which every child believes they
can achieve. If a child is failing to
understand a concept, struggling to
master a skill or finding any aspect of
learning challenging, we seek to ask
the question why. This leads to a series
of professional conversations, where
different approaches and ideas are
thrown into the pot. As a result, a child
may be guided and supported along a
different learning road in their journey,
ultimately ensuring they still reach
Aspirations changed quickly, and
this was achieved in part by building
confidence and raising self-esteem.
Staff can often be heard in the
classrooms, corridors, lunch hall and
playground praising children for their
success, be it singing in assembly,
demonstrating a school value, playing
for their Saturday football team or
helping a younger child. Positivity
is contagious, and the children can
be heard complimenting their peers
on their achievements, which has
again boosted their confidence
Next came the implementation of
learning behaviour. With the children’s
confidence high and believing in
themselves, we wanted to give the
children the tools to be lifelong
learners. As a school, we recognised
that for the children to fulfil their
aspirations, they needed the tools to
be learners well after they left primary
school. Within classrooms, while
frequently hearing conversations about
knowledge or skills, you will now hear
conversations about resilience, co-
operation and teamwork. The children
have learnt to be the driver in control
of their learning, where nobody
fails; instead, they just try different
ways that don’t necessarily have the
In conjunction with raising aspirations,
I knew we needed to give our
pupils wider opportunities. Living
in Herefordshire, although idyllic in
so many ways, our pupils do not
necessarily have access to experiences
and resources readily available in larger
conurbations. For the children to be
aspirational for themselves, we knew
we needed to whet their appetites and
provide them with a taste of what the
world had to offer.
We set about creating opportunities
with the aim of every child finding
something that interested them and
igniting a spark within them. We have
employed a full-time sports coach who
enables all children to be part of a
sports team of some description; we
run 17 extracurricular clubs a week,
free of charge to pupils, ranging from
gardening, yoga and cooking to chess,
computer animation and football; all
children in Key Stage 2 learn to play
a musical instrument; pupil premium
pupils are taken to visit the local
university, and throughout the school
there are a range of trips and visits
to develop children’s life experiences.
Through offering a wide range of
opportunities to pupils, we have
helped them find something to aspire
to, which in turn has motivated them
as learners.
Pirates ahoy on HMS
quickly, and
this was
achieved in
part by
and raising
The third point of the triangle that
has helped to lead the school to the
successful outcomes over the last three
years, along with raising aspiration
and developing opportunity, was
facilitating time for school, home and
family to work together to support
each other. I wanted the school to be
supportive to families and for families
to be able to approach the school, with
us all working together. I, the deputy
headteacher or a member of the senior
leadership team, greet the children
by name, each morning at the school
gate. This has helped parents and
carers see us as approachable and has
enabled us to get to know ourfamilies.
We have run a number of joint learning
sessions where parents and children
work together to develop a skill such
as reading comprehension, fractions,
online safety and spelling rules. This
has enabled the parents to work with
us and continue to support learning
at home. We have recently created
our Butterfly Room – a beautiful
multisensory room – where both
children and families can be supported
together. As services to support the
wider family are diminishing, we
look within our school to provide
many of the support services parents
and families would have previously
accessed within the community – an
enormous challenge but one I know
we will find a way tofulfil.
Going forward, the educational
landscape is constantly changing and
the roles we fulfil within schools are
ever increasing. We are no longer
purely educators: we now wear
many other hats such as counsellors,
support workers, financial advisors
and carers – all new skills that we are
rapidly needing to learn and acquire.
Within a forward-thinking aspirational
educational setting, I know that
Holmer will continue to look outward,
learn and develop the necessary skills
and expertise.
Within a culture where success
is constantly celebrated, there is
unrelenting positivity and an ambience
that permeates the belief that you
can and will succeed, meaning all of
our learners will continue to grow
and flourish. Through combining
aspirations, opportunities and
continuing to work together, our goal
is for all of our children to leave their
primary education with ambitious
dreams and the confidence, self-belief
and skills that will enable them to
achieve great things as they continue
their journey through life.
Within a
culture where
success is
there is
positivity and
an ambience
permeates the
belief that you
can and will
meaning all of
our learners
will continue
to grow and
An aspiring artist


This article was sponsored by Holmer CE Academy. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.