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Part one: Transforming Lives Through Inspirational Learning

Part one: Transforming Lives Through Inspirational Learning

Part one: Meet Kerry Darby

Kerry Darby, Headteacher of The Pines Primary School has shared with us her approach to creating an inspirational curriculum for her five-year-old school, the challenges and opportunities that arose when dealing with a unique catchment area, and stand-out moments since becoming headteacher.

How did you approach building a thematic-based curriculum for The Pines Primary School? How does this benefit pupils’ learning experience?

“As a new school, we had a completely blank canvas. It gave us a chance to look at what we wanted for the curriculum to ensure we were always meeting the needs of our pupils. The constraint with this was, at the time, we did not know much about our pupils and their needs. I spent a lot of time researching, gaining ideas from Mary Myatt’s Core Principles and decided to work backward in terms of understanding where we wanted our pupils to be at the end of this journey, and working out the journey to our goals.

“Research showed that attendance is low in this area, so we wanted to engage our pupils from day one and get them to keep coming back every day. The thematic approach makes links between different subjects within the curriculum to further strengthen their knowledge and understanding. It is all hinged around reading – which is at the heart of our curriculum (like our library which is at the heart of our school!). The staff here are good at thinking beyond the curriculum to make the learning come alive, especially considering the Creativity Collaborative project.

“Each cohort has required a different approach, so we have had to grow and adapt the curriculum with each new year group. Our Knowledge and Skills Grids set out what pupils will learn and the skills they will gain each year, with the thematic approach allowing for adaptation.”

The Pines Primary School is positioned within a unique community with a transitionary intake of pupils. How do you respond to this within your curriculum and community?

“We have some of the highest mobility within the country due to our unique catchment area. We find new pupils, the majority of whom have already been to many different schools or been school refusers, adapt and thrive with our curriculum and community quickly. Our approach reflects the school’s strapline of ‘Transforming lives through inspirational learning’.

“The pandemic was difficult as we went from having parents in all the time as helpers, to not being allowed to welcome them into the school, so we had to change our approach. However, having Rachael Cox as our Family Well-being Lead, she continues to give direct support around a whole range of matters including financial, SEND and mental health.”

As headteacher, what has been your proudest moment to date at The Pines Primary School?

“This is a hard question to answer! Wider-curriculum events where all the pupils, parents and carers and the whole community come together, like our Jubilee events last summer with everyone singing and celebrating together.

“Also, when members of the community visit our school for events such as the British Science Week and World Book Day. Seeing pupils’ enthusiasm during these special events, their thirst for learning stands out and I am so proud of the pupils, but also the staff for making this learning come alive and inspirational.

Every week, some things stand out for us.”

What advice would you give to colleagues looking to progress within their teaching career to a senior position?

“Keep learning!”

Kerry Darby became headteacher when the school opened in 2018, with the school later joining Anglian Learning in 2020. In the next article, hear from Deputy Headteacher Louise Scott of The Pines Primary School who has played an instrumental role in the ‘Creativity Collaborative’ project at the school and throughout the Trust.



Anglian Learning
Bottisham Village College
Lode Rd, Cambridge
CB25 9DL, United Kingdom


01223 340340

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