School in suicide tragedy praised

The school at the centre of a bullying row after a former pupil apparently committed suicide provides "outstanding" care and support to learners, according to inspectors.

Pupils at Cefn Saeson comprehensive, in Cimla, Neath, "are confident they would find help and support if they had a problem in school", says its Estyn inspection report, published this week.

Inspectors visited the 843-pupil school last November, two months after the death of Laura Rhodes. Laura, 13, from Neath, took an overdose of painkillers. Her parents said she had been bullied at Cefn Saeson, and released a letter she had written about her experiences. She left the school in June 2003.

But Estyn inspectors concluded relationships between pupils and pupils and teachers were very good, and that the quality of care, support and guidance provided by the school was outstanding.

Effective measures were in place "to eliminate oppressive behaviour including bullying, sexism and racism".

Peter Jones, deputy head, said the school had considered requesting a deferment of the inspection, but had been confident about the positive relationships between pupils and staff.

He added: "We are glad we went ahead and had what we thought about the school validated by independent inspectors. The support we've had in these difficult months has been very moving."

Estyn says the school has made progress since its last inspection, particularly on teaching and assessment. But some shortcomings remain, such as its self-evaluation and review procedures which failed to pick up on problems in information and communications technology and religious education identified by inspectors.

A date has still to be set for an inquest into Laura's death.

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