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Class act 3: Ethos

Niddrie Mill Primary recently received a glowing report from Her Majesty's Inspectors. Particularly notable was its ethos, which they described as being "very positive". No mean task for an area in which the term "positive" is more often than not simply a euphemism for programmes aimed at offsetting the effects of poverty and deprivation.

So how does the school do it? "Through team work, creating an encouraging environment and having high expectations," says Carol Simpson, the headteacher.

Staff are of the "highest calibre", Ms Simpson says, and parents are very much considered part of the same team. Personal and social development for pupils is given the highest of priorities. "If the children feel good aboutthemselves they are more receptive to learning," she adds. "It is a school where there is very little shouting. The children can take anything to the staff and we listen to them. If there is an incident every child has their say.

"We have a high priority on telling the truth - and 90 per cent of the children do. It's to do with building up self-worth and making them feel they are being fairly treated."

Well-decorated surroundings also help build up self-worth while a uniform, using the school colours, adds to a sense of belonging. Designer labels, and the internecine rivalry they provoke, are forbidden. "There is a corporate image that helps make people feel proud to belong to the school," Ms Simpson says.

Such is Niddrie Mill's success that requests to enrol at the school are helping to boost its roll : numbers have increased from 176 to 240 in the past three years, and there are 30 children in the nursery. But nothing stands still. "We are never complacent and are constantly reviewing practice," Ms Simpson adds.

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