ENTHUSIASTIC fund-raising governors and parents play an important part in the success of St Mary's school - while chocolate keeps up the energy levels of hard-working teachers.
Viv Earwicker, head at the Church of England first school, said parents' fund-raising gave staff more time to teach. "It means we can provide the pupils with extras, such as day trips and new playground facilities. But our secret is a good sense of humour and lots of chocolate to keep us going."
The 90-pupil school in Washington, West Sussex, is in a wealthy commuters' village at the foot of the South Downs, but pupils come from a range of backgrounds. It is the second time it has been identified by the chief inspector as particularly successful. Following its Ofsted inspection in November 2001, the school's "rich and varied curriculum" was cited as exceptional. The enthusiastic head, above average standards, a committed governing body and hard-working teachers were also praised.
"We strive to make the curriculum relevant and meaningful to the children," said Ms Earwicker. "Last week Year 1's topic on clothes was made more fun when the local policeman dropped in to talk about his own uniform. He returned later to do fingerprinting as part of a Year 2 project on patterns."
The school is also not afraid to be creative and unorthodox. "The literacy and numeracy hours were abandoned last week so children could play in the snow and this led to some superb poetry and artwork."