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Friday, 10 August 2007

Educational Expert Pitches In

When DCC began this process, they may not have known that the village contains, and has access to, several experts on education. The council's lack of thorough research and proper preparation was perhaps due in part to their underestimation of the people they're dealing with. One such villager, whose university work and research is with an extensive range of teachers, in pursuit of the highest standards in education, wrote to DCC as follows.

In my work, I have never encountered a school which has been awarded 'outstanding' in every category of its Ofsted inspection; I understand that only one other school in Derbyshire received such a grade and there are only 13 others in the whole country. In my view, and in the views of my colleagues, it would, therefore, be a disgrace to close such a beacon of excellence.

The proposed closure of an outstanding school in order to fill places at a satisfactory school does not reflect a commitment to high standards in education which one would hope to find in a county council. Indeed, the policy of Derbyshire County Council contrasts sharply with the commitment of many other councils around the country – including East Anglia and councils in Wales and Yorkshire – who have pledged their support for small schools when confronted by the same issue of surplus primary places.

There is, I think, a myth that the effectiveness of a school is determined by its budget as well as by its size; it has been suggested that Combs Infant School is bound to succeed because of its 'privileged' position. Without doubt, a small rural school will cost more than a larger school but the demographics of a school do not necessarily dictate its success, as evidenced in the publication of 'value-added' school performance league tables. Indeed, if this were the case then Derbyshire would boast an inordinately large number of outstanding schools – given the predominance of small rural schools – but this is not the case.

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