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St Mary's in Dilwyn is a thriving example of a free school
Updated 1:09pm Tuesday 6th May 2014 in News
AFTER a successful fight for survival St Mary’s C of E Primary School in Dilwyn, the first Free School in the county, has now been up and running for four terms.
In that time the number of pupils has risen from 16 to now over 40.
So what does a free school offer and why is St Mary’s attracting children from such a wide area of Herefordshire?
The school has three experienced lead class teachers who are responsible for teaching literacy and numeracy throughout the school. In addition, all the children are taught by specialists for music, French, physical education and forest school.
In key stage two, the junior children also receive the expert knowledge and enthusiasm of specialist teachers in geography, history and science. All the children benefit from a broad, balanced curriculum with a particular emphasis on the beautiful, outdoor environment around the school.
Einstein, when asked how you make a child intelligent, answered:“Read them fairy tales." When asked how you make them more intelligent, he answered “Read them more fairy tales."
With this aim in mind St. Mary’s has developed a new reading policy, this includes planned reading sessions in each class, with the younger children reading every day to teaching staff.
This has brought about a reading revolution, whereby the large majority of pupils are now reading at levels well above those expected for their actual ages. Furthermore, at St Mary’s the staff are able to provide programmes of individual support to help any child encountering difficulties.
At St. Mary’s the staff and governors always seek to enrich the learning of the children. Recently, two specialist maths teachers have been appointed for one morning a week, to provide additional expertise for the children in years five and six.
This has been much enjoyed by the children, has further raised standards in mathematics and is valuable preparation for SAT’s at the end of key stage two.
Meanwhile in key stage one, topic work in history and geography has been extended through the use of the new school minibus to explore the Black and White Trail and to visit Clun Castle, Stokesay Castle and Acton Scott Historic Working Farm.
St. Mary’s encourages active and exciting learning and this is particularly evident in Science, with Head teacher Peter Kyles, recently involving the older children in making their own volcanoes.
In the infants the focus has been on living things with all the children fascinated by hatching chicks and ducklings in an incubator.
St. Mary’s School, is very much a part of the local community, the village setting is used regularly for field work in history and geography. The children always enjoy participating in village events such as maypole dancing at the village show and contributing to the living history time capsule. Pupils also learn from the knowledge and expertise of local residents in a wide range of areas including spinning, dance, drumming and guitar.
St. Mary’s C of E Primary School is a caring, family school, where individuals are appreciated and nurtured. The school is well supported by parents, governors and the local community. New children have been welcomed, and have settled happily into the warm atmosphere. Now the school is looking forward to an exciting future, with great enthusiasm amongst the children about the latest plans to develop the environmental area and wildlife garden, with a large new greenhouse, potting shed, hen house and raised beds for growing vegetables.