Quality Mark Case Study: Heron Cross Primary School

Heron Cross Primary School in Staffordshire were awarded the gold Quality Mark in the autumn of 2019. 

Heron Cross is a large two-form entry primary school with currently over 400 pupils on roll serving the town of Fenton in the south of Stoke on Trent. Fenton is an economically deprived area and many of the pupils start school with below expected levels of achievement and limited life experiences. The school is committed to raising aspirations of the children and providing a rich and stimulating learning experience across the curriculum. The assessment visit included discussions with pupils, the headteacher, subject leader and other class teachers, visits to parts of history lessons and scrutiny of pupil books and subject documentation.

Learning, Teaching and Achievement 

The children value their experience of history very highly indeed. Pupils were clear that history is an important subject which “helps us see how the world today came about and helps us show respect for people in the past.” This sentiment reflects the general values that the school aims to promote. Some children were also aware that by working hard at history a range of life opportunities including higher education and good jobs were open to them.
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The subject leader has done an impressive job in moving history forward. She is knowledgeable and has used the Quality Mark process to develop some excellent practice and taking her colleagues with her on the journey. From the headteacher outwards, history has a very high status and reputation across the school. In addition to having time to deliver effective history to meet the requirements of the national curriculum there is an extra whole school history topic in the spring term where the school immerses itself in a different historical period each year. To date these have included the Victorians and World War Two and for spring 2020 the focus will be on the Tudors. Staff, pupil and parents dress in period costume and all curriculum subjects are linked in to the work.
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The curriculum is very clearly planned with exceptionally strong links to literacy in all years. Links to other curriculum areas appear frequently to underpin a high quality learning experience for all pupils. All of the history is supported by the progression document and this comes into its own when the whole school topic is taught in the spring term. The opportunity of all classes covering the same historical period requires the considered use of the progression document to ensure that there is no duplication of content and also that the work planned for each of the year groups is progressively more demanding. The history curriculum covers all statutory content with history topics in the autumn and summer terms with the additional whole school theme in the spring as an extra allocation.
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History is a strong component of the rich curriculum on offer at Heron Cross. There is a clear educational philosophy shared by all staff and this leads to a range of learning opportunities being implemented. The richness of the classroom and corridor environments is remarkable and staff use this very well indeed.
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Final Comments

History provision at Heron Cross is striking. The school is a genuine oasis of learning within the local community and the staff have worked incredibly hard to develop this. The richness of the learning environments throughout the school is impressive. The history curriculum is well thought out, developments have been strategically planned by the enthusiastic, knowledgeable and dedicated subject leader supported by senior leaders and very effectively implemented by all staff. There is a whole school commitment to the subject and the school has much to share with other schools in terms of its practice and commitment. The day was an absolute pleasure in seeing the positive impact of the school’s work on the education of children.

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