It has been a long time since I wrote to inform our community of developments at the school, but there are certainly many things to write about now. Our school continues to perform well, and the Governors continue to be encouraged by growing numbers and exciting developments.

School performance:

At our most recent meeting of the full Governing Body in February, we heard that pupils are performing well, and they are making good progress. In addition to their academic experience, pupils at our school have opportunities to be involved in a wide range of extra activities. Since September, pupils have had the chance to sail on the River Exe, visit Buckfast Abbey and the Norman Lockyear Observatory, been to the theatre, welcomed children from other schools to share our facilities, been to the cinema, celebrated harvest and Christmas in real style, and been to @Bristol, among others. Pupils have also taken part in sporting events, and we are proud to report that our swimmers won the cup in a recent gala between local primary schools. There are certainly many things for our pupils and staff to be proud of!

Since September, our school roll has grown from 153 pupils to 175 in January. It is predicted to grow further, to around 185 by September. It is very encouraging that so many pupils and their families are choosing our school, and we would hope to accommodate as many children from the village as possible, but we are conscious that pupil numbers are a concern to some parents. We shall be able to accommodate all pupils in more evenly sized classes, by making full use of all spaces available to us, and Governors are working hard to explore all possibilities for more room.

Governors have heard from the Parochial Church Council that consideration is being given to the Church Room site, abutting school downhill. No decision has been made as yet, but we are hopeful that the PCC and Governing Body can work together to provide an exciting new facility for pupils in the near future.

School Development Planning:

Our 12 month School Development Plan aims to give attention to strong planning and monitoring of learning throughout the school, incorporating a wider range of learning styles, and encouraging staff to broaden their skills, whilst identifying and supporting pupils who may be struggling with the core curriculum. Governors are pleased that teachers are planning collaboratively, and making increasingly effective use of pupil assessment and tracking. A huge amount of work goes into making learning accessible and stimulating, whilst also monitoring and supporting our children, so our thanks to the staff for all their hard work.

Parents and visitors to the school will have noticed several physical changes to the site which have taken place recently. Since September, the Nature Garden has been enhanced with a permanent wooden shelter (now thatched), and a woven willow fence around the pond. Our sincere thanks go to Class 1’s teacher, Emma Thurlbeck and her partner, Jonathan for all their hard work and devotion to the outside area, and to Emma and Chris Winter and their friendly thatcher, who have worked so hard to provide such a beautiful shelter for the children. Thank-you all.

School house is also having a face lift, with new fascia boards, gutters and drainpipes, insulation, re-pointing and gleaming paintwork. The school rents this building from the Church of England, and we are grateful to John Lupton for putting these improvements in motion. The toilets are also to be improved, and we hope that the pupils will appreciate our attention to this important aspect of school life!

Budgets and Academy status:

Readers will be aware that the coalition Government is keen for schools to be offered the opportunity to opt for Academy status. This would mean an independence from the Local Authority, freedom for Governors to manage the school budget and curriculum, and to make important decisions regarding the direction taken by our school. Governors have considered this opportunity very thoroughly, looking into every aspect of converting our school to an academy, but have decided that, at the moment, we should remain as we are. It would be prudent to wait to see how this year’s budget is affected by cuts, how other schools manage the transition to academy status, and to find out more about the benefits, or otherwise of such a decision in the long term. We shall review this situation on a regular basis.

We are yet to be informed of this year’s budget, and financial planning is not easy with such short notice before the start of the financial year, but we are sure that there will be a reduction in funds available to us this year. The Finance Committee are monitoring the situation closely, and we shall endeavour to manage our expenditure prudently, whilst also trying to maintain current levels of performance.

Victoria Laney-Hubbard

Chair of Governors

For information, the current membership of your Governing Body is as follows:

Victoria Laney-Hubbard (Chair) Parent Governor

Margaret Turgoose (Vice Chair) Community Governor

Tony Priest Headteacher

Marlene Johnson LEA Governor

John Lupton (Buildings Chair) Foundation Governor

Geraldine Farnell Foundation Governor

Vanessa Simpson Foundation Governor

Diane Adams (Curriculum Chair) Parent Governor

Emma Winter Parent Governor

Phil Hope (Finance Chair) Community Governor

Kate Hannah Non-teaching staff Governor

Jo Callan Teacher Governor

Sarah Watts Parent Governor

Emily McGrath Parent Governor

Elaine Fisher Clerk