About the School
West Down is a small rural school on the edge of the village of West Down, near Ilfracombe.
The main school building retains the traditional Victorian exterior, but the interior has been well modernised. This includes one classroom / dining hall, one smaller group room, cloakroom and toilets, and the school office, library, resources area.
Two further new classrooms with cloakroom and toilets are linked to the main building with a covered way. We are also lucky enough to have a modern, adjoining Community Room where the
Pre-School and other activities are held.
The School has a good, enclosed playground as well as a large adjoining playing field and nature area which is used as an outdoor classroom.
Our staff work closely together as a team and maintain good links with the other Primary Schools in the Ilfracombe Academic Council, and with Ilfracombe College, to which most of the children transfer at the age of 11.
At West Down School we aim for high standards as well as promoting the family atmosphere which is one of the attractions of a small, rural school. Parents and grandparents are encouraged to play a full part in the life of the school. With the small numbers in our school, we are able to get to know children very well and respond to their individual needs and abilities.
West Down School was named as a "nationally outstandingly successful school" in Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools' Annual Report of 1997, among only 74 other Primary schools in England and Wales. It also featured as one of the Sunday Times top 250 state schools in 1999, 2000 and 2001. Ofsted inspectors again praised it highly in November 2000, and the following year it became a Beacon School.
The Governors have also adopted the aims expressed in the Devon Curriculum Statement:
The Devon approach to the curriculum will help all pupils:-
- To develop lively, enquiring minds, together with a willingness to ask questions and to argue rationally;
- To think and to act creatively and with imagination;
- To gain knowledge, skills and understanding appropriate to a fast-changing world, so they may be self-reliant and adaptable;
- To acquire in particular the enabling skills of literacy and numeracy;
- To develop an understanding of the past which will help them to live successfully in the present, and to plan intelligently for the future;
- To grow in confidence and independence, and to experience the value of co-operation;
- To understand the feelings of others, to respect their values and to consider thoughtfully their own attitudes, values and beliefs;
- To achieve their true potential, and to take pride in that achievement, while taking pleasure in the achievement of others.
The teaching staff place great emphasis on working as a team, constantly reviewing the curriculum they offer the children in the light of changing demands from the Department of Education and suggestions from Governors, parents and the community, whilst maintaining their professional overview as trained and experienced educators.
The curriculum we offer at West Down School is broad, balanced and varied. We know that children learn in different ways and at different rates and we try to encourage each pupil to achieve their best at whatever level that may be. We cover the National Curriculum in the four core subjects of English, Maths, Science and ICT (Information and Communications Technology), and the foundation subjects of History, Geography, Design Technology, Music, Art and Design, and Physical Education, together with Religious Education.
We firmly believe, however, that education is not concerned solely with academic achievement: we also aim to develop children's personal, social and moral understanding and physical well-being, as well as their knowledge of citizenship.
Staff work closely together to plan units of work which provide the appropriate curriculum for each age-group. Teaching approaches are adapted to the needs of the pupils and to particular subjects. Sometimes the class will be taught as a whole, as in subjects like Music and PE, for example, sometimes in groups and sometimes individually.
Because we know the children in our school so well, we are able to assess their progress very carefully, by means of National Assessment Tests (SATs) and regular teacher assessment.
Not all children progress at the same rate, and sometimes pupils may have difficulties in some areas of the curriculum or may be particularly gifted. In these cases our Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator is able to prepare an individual education plan for them to follow.
We follow the government's guidelines for homework, which, as well as set work, may include activities such as practicing handwriting or mental arithmetic, or learning spellings or tables.
The following is just a brief summary of the main content of the curriculum taught at our school. We have Key Targets for each year group in all subjects, which we hope that the average child will attain by the end of the year. Parents are given a copy of these at the start of the school year.
The Governors have adopted Devon County Council's policy that children should be admitted twice during the school year: those whose fifth birthday is between the beginning of September and the end of February will be admitted in September, those whose fifth birthday is between the beginning of March and the end of August will be admitted in January.
They will normally stay with us until the September after their 11th birthday, when they transfer to the Secondary sector - our local school is Ilfracombe College.
Parents are asked to register children under school age as soon as possible to help us with our forward planning.
All parents of children registered with us receive a copy of our regular half-termly newsletters telling you about school activities - to which you are most welcome. We have a Prelude to School Programme which involves your child in a gradual introduction to full-time education through visits
to the class they will be joining.
These start the term before they are due to come to school, with a few afternoon visits towards the end of term. We will write to you with suggested dates and times shortly before they make their first visit, and you are very welcome to stay with your child for as long as you wish, until they are happy for you to leave them at school.
After these visits your child will probably be very willing to come to school full-time, but we have found that young children often get very tired when they first start school so we suggest that they attend until 12 noon for the first week, then stay to dinner the second week and go home at 1 pm, and stay full-time from the third week. This usually works very well, but it is only a suggestion and
if you feel happier with any other arrangement, please let us know.