Praise for Otterton school

PUBLISHED: 02:01 07 July 2008 | UPDATED: 09:15 10 June 2010

I had not even noticed an article concerning the latest Ofsted report of Otterton Primary school published in the June 5 edition of the Exmouth Journal, but my attention was drawn to it following a friend's question to me about how the school was performi

I had not even noticed an article concerning the latest Ofsted report of Otterton Primary school published in the June 5 edition of the Exmouth Journal, but my attention was drawn to it following a friend's question to me about how the school was performing. Their take on the article was that, contrary to their previously held perception Otterton was a great village school, that standards had fallen.In spite of a heading of "Good school" for the article you printed, the report that followed seemed to imply that this school was anything but good. The article commenced by highlighting the three areas of improvement the Ofsted inspector had managed to suggest to the school, namely raising standards in English, improving writing - especially for boys, improving marking and guidance on how to improve work and becoming more aware of the multicultural nature of modern British society. It then went on to state the school of 90 children has above the national average of children with learning difficulties and/or learning disabilities. Is it because bad news sells more and you were trying to sensationalise the bad points?Why not start with a positive and quote the good stuff first? For example, the inspector wrote to the children as followsl This is a good school which prepares you well for the next stage of your education.l Your enjoyment of school is outstanding and your behaviour is excellent.l Your personal development is good and you have a good understanding of how to live healthily and safely.l Your headteacher, teachers and governors lead and manage the school well and make sure that the care, guidance and support you receive is good.Furthermore, why did the writer point out the fact that the school has above the national average of children with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, but omit to include the remarks made by the inspector that "provision for pupils with learning difficulties and disabilities is good. Teachers and teaching assistants work well together to ensure that pupils requiring extra help are well supported and make similar good progress as other pupils."This school had only good and outstanding marks in its report. I am sorry, but the article was really disappointing and certainly did not, in my opinion, put this level of achievement across at all. In fact I would question whether any new prospective parents in the area would have read this article and thought they would choose not to send their children to this school based on the totally negative comments that were made at the start of the article.So, to set the record straight, if you are considering this school for your children, I would like to highlight the plus points and refer readers to the full Ofsted report which can be downloaded from the internet. Apart from the fantastically caring staff and sound leadership of an excellent head, please take heart from some of the past achievements. In 2007, Otterton C of E Primary was listed in the Best of the Best SATS results - one of only 255 primary schools in the whole of England to achieve 100 per cent in all the Key Stage 2 SATS tests for English, maths and science. Only six primary schools in Devon were even listed and Otterton school was second out of the whole of Devon. And, although there is no special fuss made about choice of secondary schools, and no special provisions made to cater for children who want to sit the 11+ from a class of 14 children in 2007, all four children who sat the 11+, passed (28.5%), and went on to the grammar school - in my book that is quite an achievement and in no small way a tribute to the teaching received at the school. I should also point out that three out of the four were boys. Perhaps their level of English and writing was not so bad after all!I sincerely hope that this puts across the positive side of the school - I am only sorry that your writer could not have focused their article in a similar way in the first place. It is hard enough for rural schools to sustain themselves in times of constraints on funding, but articles such as yours will do nothing to help their position and could seriously damage their viability in the future by putting off prospective pupils.Fiona Cameron Jones, (mother of four past and present pupils at Otterton school),4 Isca Road, Exmouth.

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