Last week I was busy right across our vast constituency - one of the largest in the country and covering 125 parishes. In North Tawton, I officially opened the town’s new modernised Post Office. Following the retirement of former postmasters Nigel and Rosemary Davies, after 16 years of outstanding and dedicated service, the branch is now operated by Andrew Bayley, who also runs the successful Post Office in Crediton. There are 49 Post Offices here in Central Devon and each lies at the heart of its local community. I have pushed hard to maintain the important services they provide up in Westminster and the Government has committed £20 million to strengthen and support small rural branches on top of the nearly £2 billion that has been invested nationally since 2010 to modernise and protect the Post Office network. The new service in North Tawton is now open seven days a week, with earlier opening times. It now also offers banking services for personal customers and small businesses. It is a great example of where change can bring even better opportunities and services than before. Not all chance involves less - sometimes it means more.
In Ide I dropped into chat to the hardworking volunteers who run the local community store. Business is brisk and this cheerful local community hub is doing really well. I also had an enjoyable visit to Ide Primary School, which this month became the most recent school in the constituency to convert to an Academy. Rated as “Outstanding” by Ofsted, Headteacher Sharon Tarr and her team are doing an outstanding job; as demonstrated by the number of pupils meeting the expected standard in reading, writing and maths at Key Stage 2 far exceeding both the national and local average. They deserve great credit for all they are doing. Teachers change lives and here they leading the way. The academies programme is an integral part of the Government’s education policy to raise attainment for all children and to bring about sustained improvements to all schools. Nationally in 2010, one in three young people left primary school unable to read, write and add up properly. The academy system makes it easier to put in place better teaching, leadership, curriculums and accountability, which helps to drive up standards. A total of 1.4 million more children are now in good or outstanding schools compared to seven years ago and I am delighted that no less than 92% of Central Devon primary schools are now ranked as ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted.
In Okehampton, I met with the Chair of Governors of Okehampton College, Ian Courtney and others and discussed fairer funding for Devon schools. I have campaigned hard over many years on this issue and I am pleased that the Government is now taking action with a national funding formula for schools due to be introduced from 2018-19. The Government is currently seeking views on the details of our proposals. Further details and information on how to respond to the consultation can be found here: https://consult.education.gov.uk/funding-policy-unit/schools-national-funding-formula2/
More from Mel at www.melstridemp.com