Last week I busy right across the constituency. I spent time at Ashburton Library and post office to discuss the vital work that they do to facilitate the paying-in of cash from local businesses – especially important given the town’s loss of her last bank. Ashburton Post Office has become a vigorous and lively hub right at the heart of the community and is an exemplar for what can be achieved when people work together and draw on local resources and creativity. I also spent time focusing on local schools. There are 46 state schools in Central Devon – so getting around them is an important challenge. My pretext for last week’s visits was to meet the primary school children who provided my winning Christmas card designs this year. The competition is generously sponsored by EJ & W Glendenning of Ashburton – who do an immense amount to support the local community. At Tedburn St Mary Primary I was delighted to present the overall winner award to Joseph Stanbury, age nine, whose striking and colourful depiction of the Houses of Parliament adorns the front of my card. Tedburn is rated Good by Ofsted and is achieving above both the national and local average for pupils who achieve Level 4 or above in reading, writing and maths by the end of Key Stage 2. Andy Keay and his dedicated team are doing a great job and should be proud of their achievements. At Hatherleigh Primary I met 10-year-old Liam Voaden and presented his prize for a wonderful picture featuring a festive tractor. I also addressed the pupils and took questions. Hatherleigh is also ranked by Ofsted as Good with the school setting high expectations for its pupils. Caroline Boother and her team do an outstanding job – a ‘Good’ from Ofsted represents a higher bar than in the past with the Government having raised the standards in recent years. At Doddiscombsleigh Primary School I was pleased to meet up with Rosie Long, age 9, and provide my award for her colourful design featuring Christmas puddings and candy sticks. This great school is also rated as Good with parent surveys supporting this assessment. The school has an enviable record of 100 per cent of pupils achieving level 4 or above in reading, writing and maths by the end of Key Stage 2. All the winning designs for my card can be viewed at www.melstridemp.com. Schools were very much to the fore in Parliament last week too with the Secretary of State making a key announcement on future school funding. For many years I have campaigned hard to press government to improve the financial support for our schools and in the last Parliament we increased funding for Devon schools by 4.7 per cent in 2015-16 compared with the year before. This is in addition to the £2.5 billion pupil premium being targeted nationally at less advantaged pupils. Last week’s announcement will see the schools in our constituency receiving further additional funding support.