Village school that has to fit all sizes

12th October 2007 at 01:00
Delaware primary in Cornwall is a village school without a village, said headteacher Jo Grail. Situated in the middle of fields, the 200-pupil school has shaped its curriculum and services to respond to those living in the surrounding hamlets.

"The issues we have to deal with are caused by rural isolation," she said. "People have to travel 18 miles to work in Plymouth, so they are leaving first thing in the morning and arriving back late at night.

"We have responded to the needs of those families. Centrally-driven initiatives assume one size fits all that's not what schools are about. Schools need to be responsive at a local level. We are open potentially from 7.45am to 9pm for 48 weeks a year because around here there is nowhere else for families with children to receive health services or childcare. In a town, this is not a problem."

Maisie Windsar, 10, said: "It's a really nice school because we have clubs in the afternoon. I go to art club and netball club."

Mrs Grail (left) developed links with Callington Community College, which provides specialist teachers who cover planning, preparation and assessment time. The curriculum is divided into half-term projects but there are spaces to allow teachers to respond to local events such as the traditional Cornish scarecrow competition.

Tracy Lane de Courtin, parent and governor, said: "Teachers ask the children, 'How can we make it a good day for you?' I think that is what primary schools should be doing."

Photograph: Jim Wileman

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