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When school is part of the family

In reply to your article "Service with a smile" (TES, October 13) I would like to comment that this work is not just necessary in the more deprived areas of our inner cities.

As headteacher of a mainly middle-class infants school, I am aware that the school is taking over the role of the extended family in raising young children. It is to the school that the young mothers turn for advice, comfort and help when problems arise with their young families. To cope with this change in role over the past two years, we have become a community school and work very closely with social services, school health and dental officials, health education workers, the police, and any other outside agencies with responsibility for the early-years child.

We arrange speech therapy, dental appointments etc, and act as marriage guidance councillors. Without the school and the dedication of my staff, the young mother in our community would be isolated. Recently we held a "positive parenting evening" in which representatives from the above associations were present to give a talk and answer questions. We also hold subject eveningsdays to help with "parents as educators", and encourage parents to help in school.

We have a very active parent-teacher association and many of our recent improvements have been funded by the parents.

A 1990s' school must take its position as the centre of the community, not only for the children in its care, but for the whole families who require support systems, whatever their social economic situation. Only when a child is settled emotionally and physically, can the quality of learning increase and the achievements soar.

JEAN HANNAM

Headteacher Bodnant Infants School Marine Road Prestatyn Clwyd

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