A VILLAGE school is celebrating a transformational Ofsted grade after several years of suffering a poor reputation due to a previous report.

Bere Alston Primary School has now been awarded a ‘good’ grade, having been labelled ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted five years ago under a previous head.

The school, under two subsequent headteachers, has been working hard to improve the grading and change the resulting view by parents that they would sometimes prefer to send their children instead to neighbouring schools - such as Buckland Monachorum.

Gareth Bemister, Bere Alston headteacher welcomed the improved grading as justification for all the hard work by staff and children and the First Federation Trust which governs the school.

He said: “This is a big turning point and validation for our school. The school was inspected in February 2019 prior to becoming part of the First Federation Trust and was graded ‘inadequate’.

“I am delighted for the community that the school has had this latest recognition and can begin to rewrite the rhetoric for the school. This is a good school; it is warm, inspirational, safe and unique. Ofsted agreed.

“Now we have had this validation, together as a community we can continue to make magic for the youngsters of Bere Alston and further afield.”

Bere Alston School pupils mark their 'Good' Ofsted report.
Bere Alston School pupils mark their 'Good' Ofsted report. (Bere Alston Primary School)

He said the Ofsted inspectors were ‘impressed with the feeling of family and community within the school. They thought the early years and nursery provision were very special, labelling them the jewel in the crown’.

Gareth, who has been at the school as the new head since September 2022, said: “We are proud of our safeguarding routines and these were clear during the inspection. What pleased me most, though, was that the inspectors understood that we are on a journey with the school. They bought into a greater vision of growth, what are aspirations are and how, at the centre of all of our plans, is the personal development of the children.”

Commenting on the previous inadequate grade, Gareth said:  “This was extremely damaging to the school and to the community. When I arrived in 2022, the school was still feeling the impact of the Ofsted grading, and still does (until now).

“Whenever prospective parents are looking at local schools, or people are looking to move to an area, they will look at the latest Ofsted grading. I have had many conversations with prospective parents regarding the labelling. It has been damaging in so many ways.”

He said his predecessor Katy Rooke-Bruce, worked ‘tirelessly’ to bring some stability to the school after the ‘shock’ of the ‘inadequate’ labelling and made ‘significant strides’ forwards with the school.

Gareth added: “When I started in September 2022, virtually the entire teaching staff changed. Those that were still here were able to maintain the consistency that had begun to be established whilst embracing the change that comes from a new head of school and teaching team.”

The school has also been reinvigorating links with the community by taking part in events such as the remembrance parade and service.

Bere Alston School children celebrating their Good Ofsted grading.
Bere Alston School children celebrating their Good Ofsted grading. (Bere Alston School.)