The Heath Academy Trust

a primary multi-academy trust, leading learning in east Dorset

Children share their love of reading across Europe

Dorset school children have shared their love of reading with teachers from across Europe.

The pupils at Three Legged Cross First School, part of Heath Academy Trust, welcomed 17 teachers from Sweden, France, Italy, Bulgaria and Romania for a special three-day visit.

It was the culmination of an Erasmus project which saw Three Legged Cross team up with other European schools to share best practice in the teaching of reading.

And the children at Three Legged Cross demonstrated just how inventive education can be when it comes to engaging and inspiring them.

Across the three days the youngsters treated their visitors to drama performances led by the Treehouse Theatre Company, book illustration workshops hosted by Horrible History’s illustrator Martin Brown and a trip to Corfe Castle – not only a site of historical significance but also a famous literary location.

Justine Horn, CEO of Heath Academy Trust and headteacher at Three Legged Cross, said: “Our joint Erasmus project with other schools in Europe was funded by the EU and centred on promoting a love of reading for children.

“Over the last two years we have visited each other’s countries to share good practice and learn about differences in cultural approaches to all aspects of education.

“We were delighted to welcome the teachers to England and show how we encourage our children to have a love of reading.”

The pupils will now write their own books inspired by the activities they took part in.

These books will be made available online to the children from all the other Erasmus partner schools.

Village children receive early years’ education boost

Children in a small east Dorset village now benefit from an all-through Early Years education across one setting.

Sunbeams Nursery in Alderholt is now officially part of St James’ CE First School, giving local children a seamless transition from pre-school into their primary education. 

By joining up, both establishments can share best practice in the Early Years curriculum and children’s progress as they start their education journey.

Headteacher of St James’, Jo Hudson said: “The nursery has always been on our site and we have worked closely for a long time.

“The next logical step was to work collaboratively to ensure that children’s earliest experience of school is the very best it can be. 

“Since formally becoming part of St James’ we have improved the nursery’s facilities, including a new child friendly kitchen area for cooking activities and improved access to the Forest School.

“We’ve also changed the timetable to provide more structure so that children benefit from early teaching in reading and phonics delivered by trained Early Years teachers.

Children at the nursery now get to enjoy weekly PE sessions led by the school’s expert coaches – as well as enrichment experiences with all pupils, such as yoga, climbing wall sessions and celebratory days.

CEO of Heath Academy Trust, to which the school belongs, Justine Horn, said: “We are delighted that the nursery has now become fully embedded in the education we can offer to the children of Alderholt.

“St James’ is not only an Ofsted-rated Good school but is also very much at the heart of a wonderful and friendly community.

“Everyone at the Trust and St James’ is committed to offering every child an individualised learning experience from the earliest days of their education.”

Anyone interested in looking around both the nursery and the school can contact for more details.

Children bring festive cheer to the end of term

Hundreds of children from one Dorset education trust have brought festive cheer to the end of term.

The six schools of Heath Academy Trust have been busy staging their Christmas nativities and shows to delighted families.

Oakhurst First School in West Moors travelled through the ages from ancient Rome to the 21st century in its show called ‘How Christmas Came to Be’.

Children from all year groups – including the Nursery – took part, performing as Romans, Vikings, Cromwellian soldiers plus traditional nativity and Christmas characters.

Over at Three Legged Cross First School the children performed ‘Nativity Rock’ – an uplifting version of the traditional story with a number of new songs which were performed with actions.

St Mary’s First School West moors nativity and christingle.

St Ives Primary staged two shows, with its younger children performing in ‘A Midwife Crisis’ and older pupils giving laugh out loud performances in Pirates of the Curry Bean.

For St James CE First School in Alderholt it was a very traditional nativity for its nursery and reception children while pupils in Years 1 to 4 staged a show called ‘It’s a Cracker’.

At Sixpenny Handley First School the staff and children staged a nativity at the local church, led by its reception and year 1 children, while Years 2 to 4 children performed in a pantomime version of Aladdin.

And at St Mary’s CE First School the children showed how festivities are celebrated around the globe in their production of ‘Christmas Around the World.’

Year 4 children have also been singing Christmas carols to residents of care homes and creating Christingles for a special service at St Mary’s Church, in which the school’s reception children also performed the nativity.

Three Legged Cross First School nativity 2019.

Heath Academy Trust CEO, Justine Horn, said: “This really is a magical time of the year, which our children and parents love.

“I’d like to thank all the staff whose hard work makes these unforgettable moments in a child’s life possible.”

Rachael relishes role at rural school

One of Dorset’s smallest rural schools has welcomed a new headteacher to spearhead its role in the village community.

Sixpenny Handley First School in North Dorset – which has just 89 pupils – is now led by Rachael Musselwhite.

And Rachael’s first mission is to develop stronger links for the Heath Academy Trust (HAT) school with the village community.

She said: “It is a privilege to join Sixpenny Handley School and work alongside a fantastic team of parents and teachers.

“I’m looking forward to working with them all to ensure the best possible outcomes for our pupils.

“We are very lucky to be at a school in such a beautiful and friendly setting. I’m keen to further develop links within the community – I very much see my role as helping children discover their role within village life.”

Rachael, who was previously deputy headteacher at fellow HAT school, St Ives Primary, is also a keen sportsperson and musician and will be encouraging more participation in both.

Sixpenny Handley First School makes the most of its smaller classes and outdoor environment promoting a curriculum that puts learners at the centre of all it does.

It has four classes from Reception to Year Four, with each class averaging just 23 pupils.

CEO of Heath Academy Trust, Justine Horn, said: “We are delighted to have someone of Rachael’s calibre lead this very special school.

“To be a pupil at Sixpenny Handley First School is to be very privileged indeed.

“The small class sizes ensure children get lots of attention and in addition they go to a school in a very beautiful setting with large outdoor areas.

“We very much welcome people to come and visit the school and see for themselves how special it is.”

Sixpenny Handley regularly hosts tours of the school, which are led by its Year 4 pupils, followed by a discussion with the headteacher.

The school is also inviting the local community to attend its nativity service on December 10, its pantomime on December 12 and carol service followed by mince pies and mulled wine on December 18.

More details can be found on the school’s website at

Public Health Advice

Latest Public Health documents for schools are available here:

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Latest COVID-19 advice

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Our schools continue to follow the trusted advice from the government and Public Health England. The government action plan detailing how it is tackling the COVID-19 virus is below:

Schools are receiving a daily update from the Department of Education regarding the COVID-19 strategy for schools. We will follow this advice in order to best support the health of our learners and our community.

The government is now asking that you follow the latest advice regarding anyone with a new cough or a raised temperature. This is available here:

Our schools continue to follow the hand washing recommendations and as a result the children are washing their hands many times throughout the day.

The updated advice for educational settings is available here:

Latest COVID-19 advice

Our schools are following the latest NHS and Public Health England advice to combat the spread of infection. Each day, all schools are receiving a daily update with the latest information.

The Department for Education has launched a new helpline to answer questions about COVID-19 related to education. Staff, parents and young people can contact the helpline as follows:

Phone: 0800 046 8687
Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday)

The government has stated that no school should close in response to a suspected (or confirmed) COVID-19 case unless advised to do by Public Health England.

The best way to tackle the challenge posed by Coronavirus is by following public health authorities’ advice, for example on hand washing, and reducing the impact and spread of misinformation by relying on information from trusted sources, such as that on and

This video shows how to wash hands thoroughly:

The government has published an action plan on how it proposes to tackle the COVID-19 virus, please click on the link below:

The latest information is published at:

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