Devon school's fortunes change after 'truly turbulent' time

Bere Alston Primary Academy celebrating Ofsted success -Credit:Bere Alston Primary Academy
Bere Alston Primary Academy celebrating Ofsted success -Credit:Bere Alston Primary Academy

A school rated 'inadequate' in 2019 following an Ofsted inspection has been upgraded to 'good'. Bere Alston Primary Academy was praised for the "warm, secure relationships" that staff foster with pupils and parents. The school was inspected by Ofsted on March 5 and caters for children aged two to 11.

Head of School Gareth Bemister said the 'inadequate' rating was devastating for the school five years ago, adding: "Many pupils left and the trust in the school was diminished."

In the new report, Ofsted said: "Pupils enjoy attending Bere Alston Primary Academy. They say that the school's values, promoted through 'give me 5', help the school to be a happy, safe place to learn.


"Pupils respond positively to the school's high expectations. Children in the early years settle into school life well. Staff support them to learn the school rules and routines quickly. This prepares them well for key stage 1.

"Throughout the school,pupils are polite and well-mannered. They are enthusiastic about learning. Pupils listen attentively in lessons. Staff take time to build warm, secure relationships with pupils and their families. This helps pupils to learn well in a nurturing environment. Pupils feel safe."

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Reacting to the positive upgrade, Mr Bemister said: "Our school has been on quite a journey over the last few years but we are all determined to raise standards and make this a special place for the children of the village to attend. The school was labelled 'inadequate' by Ofsted in February 2019.

"This followed a truly turbulent time for the school and its community. The Ofsted grading was very damaging to the school. Many pupils left and the trust in the school diminished. First Federation Trust, a multi-academy trust, took over the school after this Ofsted grading, appointing my predecessor, Katy Rooke-Bruce, as Head of School.

"She and her team worked tirelessly to 'steady the ship' and get things back on track. Despite further setbacks for Katy and her team, namely the COVID-19 pandemic and the chaos that ensued from this, Katy was able to make significant strides towards school improvement.

"I became head in September 2022 and virtually the entire teaching team had changed. The school had also dropped to four classes for the first time in its history.

"Upon arrival my team and I made it clear that we want to be at the heart of the community with the community and our heart. We set out to reconnect with the community, put the personal development and citizenship of the children at the forefront of all that we do and to start to rekindle the magic that once made Bere Alston Primary such a special place to attend.

"This Ofsted inspection is a big step towards this, validating the work that has taken place over the last 5 years. Our Nursery and Early Years department was given a glowing reference during the inspection. Our inspector described it as 'the jewel in the crown'. Magic happens as soon as our pupils come into our school at two years old. We aren't finished yet though! Together, we march on!"