Charity gift helps school flourish

AN unexpected gift from a local charity has given a village school the chance to flourish. Head teacher of Cookley and Walpole Church of England Voluntary Controlled Primary School John Wood said he and his staff were thrilled when the Halesworth Lions Club donated £100 from the Walpole Bygone Rally.

AN unexpected gift from a local charity has given a village school the chance to flourish.

Head teacher of Cookley and Walpole Church of England Voluntary Controlled Primary School John Wood said he and his staff were thrilled when the Halesworth Lions Club donated £100 from the Walpole Bygone Rally.

"It has given us the opportunity to buy some child-sized tools and some plants, and we are busy planting flower borders all round the school," he said.

"The children love it.


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"One lad raided his hamster's food for sunflower seeds to plant, and another brought in a whole potato plant, with potatoes on the end of it, which lots of the children had never seen.

"We are really pleased with the money from the Lions. Finances for schools are really tight, and a gift like this is a godsend."

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Mr Wood teaches the key stage 2 children in the 42-strong school. He is an enthusiastic gardener himself, and his enthusiasm seems to have inspired the children who were willing to give up some of their lunch hour to demonstrate their skills.

He said: "I love being with the kids so I try to spend 80% of my time teaching. I have been here 23 years, and once or twice thought I ought to find another job, but I love it so much I can't bring myself to leave."

He has one other full-time class teacher, and classrooms assistants and student teachers from Lowestoft College.

The school draws children from a wide area. Most are out of catchment, and only one or two come from Walpole itself, as the pretty village is a favourite with retired people and weekenders.

But the school, with its happy, friendly atmosphere, idyllic location, lovely grounds and very good Ofsted report last year, is a popular choice for parents, and they are willing to travel out of Halesworth or from as far as Peasenhall to send their children to the small school.

Mr Wood said: "A small school is more flexible than a bigger school, and it is easier to adapt things to suit the individual child. In mixed age classes the well able can work with the older children, and the less well able with the younger ones. Some of our top year 4s are working at the level of year 5."

An Ofsted report praised Mr Wood's leadership and management, and was pleased with the standards achieved in all subjects.

The children move on to Halesworth Middle School, and have been doing group activities with children from the other Blyth cluster schools, Wenhaston and Bramfield, so the children get used to working in bigger groups and make friends with children with other schools beforehand.

The active School Association, which works hard to arrange fundraising events for the school, will be holding a school barbeque on July 18 for pupils past and present and their families, complete with bouncy castle and games.

"I always look forward to seeing our leavers at the barbeque," said Mr Wood. "I always feel sad when they leave, and it's great to see them again."

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