18:20 Wednesday 09 January 2013

Primary school issues denial of exodus rumours

Written byJOSHUA TAYLOR

A VILLAGE school has moved to dispel rumours it has lost a damaging number of pupils following an inquiry into teaching standards.

Needwood Primary School in Yoxall Road, Newborough, has lost seven pupils during the past year, but education chiefs have insisted its future is not in jeopardy.

Forty-six children attend the school, according to October 2012 figures.

But head teacher Michelle O’Dell said the school was preparing for an above-average intake of 15 new pupils this September.

It hit headlines in 2011 when the Church of England and Staffordshire County Council, which jointly run the school, launched an investigation after allegations were made against a teacher on ‘child protection’ grounds.

The teacher and chairman of the board of governors were suspended while the investigation was concluded, but both were later cleared of any wrongdoing.

The formal inquiry found all members of staff ‘acted in good faith’ and that ‘no individual culpability’ had arisen. The probe was launched after allegations were made by a parent, but the exact nature of those claims has never been revealed.

There have been rumours, however, that the adverse publicity caused by the investigation has marred the school’s reputation and caused some parents to remove their children.

Miss O’Dell, however, told the Mail the school was now in a ‘period of growth’ and was expecting ‘substantially more’ pupils to start this September than in previous years.

Staffordshire county councillor Ian Parry, the authority’s cabinet member for education, finance and transformation, said he had no fears about the school’s future.

He said: “Needwood Primary school currently has seven pupils fewer than last year.

“It is normal for schools to experience a fluctuation of pupil numbers throughout the school year due to pupils moving out of or into the catchment area.

“The county council has no particular concerns over pupil numbers at the school.”

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