Whatfield: Small school wins big Ofsted boost

Pupils and staff from Whatfield Primary School celebrate their recent Ofsted report

Pupils and staff from Whatfield Primary School celebrate their recent Ofsted report

A Suffolk primary school with just 37 pupils has proved that good things come in little packages.

Whatfield Primary near Hadleigh is being hailed as an example of how small schools can work at their best after it received a ‘good’ rating from Ofsted.

In his report, lead inspector Robert Greatrex described it as a “small school with a can-do attitude” and singled out the students’ social development as “outstanding”.

Headteacher Lynne Golding said it was gratifying to get official recognition from the Government inspectors. In the latest round of inspections, nearby Monks Eleigh Primary School, which also has less than 40 students, was judged inadequate and was told special measures were required to bring it up to scratch.

Ms Golding said while there were challenges involved in running a small school, she believed there were also some benefits to having fewer students.

She continued: “One of the things the inspectors praised us for was the pupils’ social development.

“Because we are a small school, the children – who are aged from five to 11 years – learn to mix with other students outside of their own year group so socially they learn to be very tolerant of each other.

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“Also because we only have 37 students, the whole school gets to take part in extra curricular activities – such as going to the cinema during national film week or taking part in cookery lessons – together. We are a tight knit team here and everyone wants to work for the kids.”

This year, after Whatfield’s key stage two football team came out top in Suffolk’s annual ‘Small Schools Tournament’ and students got through to the finals of a big gym competition, the Friends of Whatfield School purchased new kit for every pupil.

Ms Golding said the main challenge now was to get enough new students signed up to ensure the school’s future. An open morning will be held at the school in Rectory Road on November 22 from 9.30am to 11.30am.