David Laws, education minister, wrote to West Croft Junior School in Bideford to congratulate them.

A Bideford junior school has been praised by a government minister for its work with disadvantaged pupils.

Education Minister David Laws has written to West Croft Junior School to confirm it is one of the most improved schools in the country for the attainment and progress of its disadvantaged children.

And Mr Laws has confirmed the school has won £1,000 in the 2015 Pupil Premium Awards with the chance to compete for a top, national prize of £100,000.

Last year the Gazette reported how the school went from requiring improvement to good with some outstanding teaching in just two years.

Mr Laws has told headteacher Andrew Brierley: “You are one of the most improved schools in the country in terms of the attainment and progress of your disadvantaged pupils since 2011.

“It is clear that you and your staff have provided your disadvantaged pupils with a good start in life and prepared them well for secondary school.

“I would like to congratulate your staff, governors, parents and pupils for their hard work and success and thank you for your leadership in making such a difference to the future success of your pupils.”

Mr Brierley said: “This is a fantastic way for the school to start 2015.

“We were delighted with the conclusions of the Ofsted inspectors when they reported before Christmas.

“But to receive this praise from Mr Laws is really the icing on the cake.

“I look forward to the next phase of West Croft’s development with such a committed, professional team of colleagues.”