- Article Information
- Category: Good Practice
- Written by Mervyn Benford
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This news came our way from a Northumberland cluster school!
"We are a small rural school that prides itself on its friendly happy atmosphere, where children learn in a creative way. Over the past two years we have been involved with Creative Partnerships, the Government, getting professional artists to work with the children, and a recent ongoing project in which the children are designing play and learning areas on our school field. We offer a creative, flexible curriculum, which is thematically skills-based. Our topics are exciting, such as 'Treasure Island' and 'Stars in their Eyes'.
We offer weekly evening clubs in cookery, multi sports, computers and ceilidh band rehearsals. Easter holiday activities are organised by extended services. There are lots of school trips to various venues, such as The Sage, Newcastle museums, Cragside, Alnwick Castle and Alnmouth. We are actively involved in the Alwinton Show, producing exhibits of work and art displays.
Regular get-togethers with members of the local community mean pupils enjoy good relationships in and out of school. The school's friendly atmosphere and its confident and well-behaved pupils mean it is a place to be enjoyed by all. We have a monthly community lunch when villagers share lunch and a happy social occasion with the children. At the last lunch, they were asked for their views, and 100% enjoyed being invited, felt the school was part of the community, and also enjoyed meeting people of all ages. We use the village hall for functions, and the community support us with plants for the garden and by attending coffee mornings and other fundraisers.
Winning the ICT Award in 2008 for a photostory presentation was a proud achievement. The children involved attended the award ceremony at The Alnwick Garden. We were as pleased to win the Healthy Schools Award. Successfully raising 30 baby salmon from eggs (this spring,) now released into the River Tyne, was very satisfying.
We are involved with Branton, Milfield, Acklington and Harbottle First Schools. The children love our cluster days when we get together to enjoy a particular curricular focus."
OFSTED reported in 2006. The school roll was then 24. The school is beginning a new era under the new headship of the Rev Sue Joyner after the Easter holidays. She has a high quality example to inspire her and NASS wishes the school every success, not least as Professor David Reynolds of Exeter University still writes publicly that small schools cannot do the job. He offers no reliable or rational evidence but his dangerous views are welcome to Councils looking for closures.
We have reported the June 2011 success of 23-pupil Gilsland CE Primary School in Cumbria. These are not places where incomes are high and prospects favourable. It is a myth peddled by those with deep prejudices against small rural schools that they are havens of privilege and that this drives any success they achieve.
The final report "State of the Countryside" before the Commission for Rural Communities was disbanded said yet again that results in rural areas were better than elsewhere but also, for the first time in the relevant educational literature, said it could find no links with patterns of income distribution. The success of small schools is all about the relationships and these two accounts above well expose that truth.