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Philip Evans


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AXMINSTER: Village school is saved

Friday, 07 February 2014

Musbury Primary School can once again be the obvious first-choice for pupils in the area.
That was the verdict after education bosses revealed the school has been saved from closure thanks to a federation with Sidmouth Primary School.
A threat of closure had been hanging over the school for some time, but the rescue deal was revealed on Thursday, January 30th.
A Devon County Council spokesperson said: “The school is to federate with Sidmouth Primary School whose executive head, Paul Walker, has been helping to run Musbury Primary School for the past term.”
A very happy Mr Walker said: “We are delighted to join with Sidmouth Primary School in 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.”
Breathing space
The future of the school had been in doubt since pupil numbers dropped to single figures. Currently there are 14 pupils.
In an attempt to give the school breathing space and work out a long-term strategy, the school entered a management partnership with Sidmouth, which will now be formalised through the new Two Valleys Federation after half-term.
Pupil numbers have already started rising again at Musbury, but Mr Walker stressed it was vital to recruit more pupils from the local area.
He said: “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 was very recently given official backing with the release of a report by school standards agency Ofsted.
Ofsted inspected Musbury Primary School at the beginning of term and 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 added: “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.”
Local county councillor 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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