A NEW headteacher is appealing for residents to send their children to his village school as it enters a bright new era.

Gareth Bemister, head of school at Bere Alston Primary, a First Federation Trust school, is optimistic that his pupils have a promising future as he rebuilds the school’s reputation following a downgraded Ofsted report and some maintenance needs due to covid.

Gareth’s is confident his vision of attracting more pupils and fostering renewed community links is achievable with a virtually all-new team behind him: ‘I have a wonderful teaching team supporting me. They are all enthusiastic and often in their new roles or first teaching jobs. Most are new to the school because the old team left for other positions in other areas of teaching and learning and nothing to do with the Ofsted report. There are a few of the old team remaining and I value their advice for continuity.’

He praised the long-serving teaching assistants whose passion and knowledge was ‘remarkable’ and who have been through tough times, but ‘embraced’ the current challenges.

A lot of work, led by former head of school Katy Rooke-Bruce, her leadership team and the First Federation Trust rapidly improved standards of teaching and learning to provide firm foundations on which to build since an ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted report in 2019, said Gareth.

He said the school had great potential including attracting more Bere Alston children: ‘I’d really need the number of children to be higher. The role fell after the 2019 Ofsted report and some village children are going to other schools. It’s our job to convince parents why it makes sense to attend their local school.

‘We are remote, but have big advantages and I’m keen to reconnect with the community as key to ensure we are back at the centre of village life and families value and are proud of us.’

The school has a thriving foundation unit and nursery with capacity for a lot more use.

In his first role as a headteacher this term, Gareth has ambitions to ensure the school and village make the most of the premises and large underused plot of land with disused vegetable planters and a seated picnic area.

He is engaging with the village; encouraging use of the school sports hall, taking part in the village Remembrance parade and laying a wreath, links are forming with the churches and villagers will be invited to form a school committee.

Mel Perkin, chair of the school ‘friends’ group, said: ‘This is a fantastic school. My children attend, it’s like a big family. They do so much for them. There are new exciting plans which we support.’