Breakthrough in fight to save Musbury School

12:47 03 February 2014

Acting head of Musbury Primary School John Montgomery celebrates the good news with some of his pupils. Photo by Chris Carson.

Acting head of Musbury Primary School John Montgomery celebrates the good news with some of his pupils. Photo by Chris Carson.

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Pupil numbers rise again at village primary which is to formally federate with Sidmouth

Closure-threatened Musbury Primary School has been given a new lease of life.

The school is to federate with Sidmouth Primary School whose executive head, Paul Walker, has been helping to run Musbury for the past term.

The future of the school has been in doubt since pupil numbers dropped to single figures.

The previous head left the school six months ago and it began a management partnership with Sidmouth.

Now that will be formalised in the new Two Valleys Federation which will come into operation after half-term.

Pupil numbers have already started rising again at Musbury – from just four in July to 14 now - but Mr Walker said it was vital to recruit more from the local area.

“We want Musbury to be, once again, first choice for all the families in our area because of the first-class education we aim to provide in a family setting,” he said.

He was given official backing this week with the release of the latest Ofsted report, following an inspection at the beginning of term.

It concluded it required improvement because the variable teaching over the past two years meant too many pupils did not achieve as well as they could.

But lead inspector John Laver said: “The current leadership recognises the inconsistencies which have been typical of the teaching for some time and is addressing them.

“Teaching expertise brought in from outside the school has helped to address some of the weaknesses.

“The current leadership has a very accurate understanding of the school’s strengths and weaknesses.

“It is committed to pursuing excellence and the school’s planning for improvement focuses on the appropriate priorities.

“The improvements already made demonstrate the school can improve further.”

Sidmouth Primary’s most recent Ofsted report said the school’s leadership and management was outstanding while achievement, teaching and behaviour were all good.

Mr Walker said: “We are delighted to join with Musbury in the Two Valleys Federation and I believe our dedicated staff and our experience will help bring about rapid improvements.

“I am very grateful for the support I have already had from staff, parents, governors and the wider community in Musbury and I look forward to working closely with them in the future.”

The Musbury Ofsted said pupils’ behaviour was good around the school and they had a very positive attitude to learning.

“Parents are very appreciative of the high level of care and support for their children,” said the inspectors.

Local county councillor and Musbury residents Andrew Moulding said: “I have been following closely the progress that has been made since Paul Walker and temporary acting head of school, John Montgomery, have been assisting the school.

“The local community has been tremendously supportive during this period of change and I am sure that the new Two Valleys Federation will provide every opportunity for a sustainable future for Musbury Primary School.

“It is my opinion that under new leadership and shared governance, provided by the federation with Sidmouth Primary School, the school will return to its strong position, offering high-quality education to students from Musbury and the surrounding area.”

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