Vital support for village pupils

19th November 2004 at 00:00
Milburn primary in Cumbria has 26 pupils and just one full-time member of staff - Brian Convey, its headteacher.

Mr Convey works with one other teacher, who is nearly full-time (0.8), and an art and a music teacher who both come in six hours a week. A supply teacher takes the children for PE.

He has been at the village primary for 14 years and is convinced that networks are the way ahead for schools like his.

Milburn is already in a local six-school network, which has provided pupils with dance, drama and music projects and residential visits.

The six were the first in the country to apply for funding this autumn under the primary strategy learning networks scheme. Mr Convey hopes to set up video conferences to share resources and do collaborative work.

Video conferencing could be used to link schools, for example, to invite an author to start workshops and publish the collaborative work on the internet.

Another idea is to have a parent who works as a German and Spanish translator to give an introductory language lesson over the video conferencing system.

"There are a lot of other things we want to get going, but one of the big problems is the cost of transport," said Mr Convey. "What you have got here are fairly isolated communities.

"By pooling our money we have been able to use artists and purchase resources which would be beyond us on our own."

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