Southmead school throws off special measures in style

Joseph Bulmer

SOUTHMEAD Primary School in Braunton has been praised by Ofsted inspectors after being removed from special measures three months ahead of schedule.

Following a visit in March, inspectors declared Southmead was now a “good and improving school” while Devon County Council’s director for learning and schools, Judith Johnson, said it was “the best report from a special measures school I have ever seen.”

The school was judged to require special measures in June 2009 but under headteacher Gill Gillett it has continued to improve.

“With the full support of the governing body, the headteacher has worked with great care and determination to bring about the necessary improvements,” said the Ofsted report.

It also highlighted “typically good and sometimes outstanding” teaching as well as the high standards of pupils’ behaviour and their positive attitude towards their school.

It said some improvements remained, including continuing to improve pupils’ progress in mathematics and matching all teaching to that of the best in the school.

Mrs Gillett said when the school first went into special measures she had been in post for a few weeks:

“The staff were very upset and determined to do something quickly to turn the school around,” she said.

“I asked them to work as a team, because it would have been very easy for everyone to blame each other, but they didn’t, they stayed together. We have all worked as hard as we could to achieve this fabulous result.”

Chairman of governors Jasmine Chesters added: “I found the report outstanding and the school wouldn’t have achieved it without Gill, but all the staff have been fantastic and the children have really put their souls into it.”