• Busy

    Mid Devon Advertiser
    17 February 2017

    Last week I was out and about right across our vast constituency. In Christow I visited the local Primary School and met with Head of Teaching and Learning, Andrew Swainson and members of his excellent team. Christow Primary has made great progress since becoming part of a multi academy trust. Rated as ‘good’ by Ofsted, pupils at Christow are achieving above average in reading and maths at Key Stage 2 and the school has a greater percentage of children achieving at a high standard in each of reading, writing and maths than the county average. My visit to Christow was followed by a meeting at QE school in Crediton with Principal, Rupert Poole and his team including the Chair of Governors. The focus of our discussion was the proposed fairer funding changes which will see the majority of the schools in Central Devon receive a welcome funding uplift. This, on top of the £16 million extra provided to Devon’s schools from 2015 onwards is helping to address the historic underfunding of our rural schools a issue on which I have campaigned for a decade. Whilst Christow is one of the gainers, QE is currently on course for less funding (around 1%) and there are several issues around this that I will be taking up directly with the Schools Minister when I meet him on 27th February. I will also be raising the points discussed with me when I met with South Dartmoor College, Okehampton College and Okehampton Primary. I am determined that we fully support all our schools and that the great standards achieved by so many of them are maintained and improved upon – at QE the proportion achieving at least five GCSE’s at A* to C (including English and Maths) is well above both the national and local average and 96% of pupils now stay on in education or enter employment straight after completing their GCSEs. These kind of results do not happen by accident and all of us owe a great deal to our dedicated hardworking teachers. It was also good to spend time discussing a wide range of issues with constituents at my local surgery. I have held over 250 of these since becoming an MP. In Okehampton I was delighted to present a cheque provided by the local Waitrose to the ‘Growing our Future’ project. This donation came as part of Waitrose’s ‘Community Matters’ scheme which sees a thousand pounds a month donated to local good causes as voted for by the store’s customers. Since the scheme was established in 2008, Waitrose has donated £28 million to charities with Waitrose Okehampton having given £100,000. It was good to catch up with Mike Bestwick the Okehampton store manager and to discuss future trading conditions. ‘Growing our Future’ is a not-for-profit, artist-led community garden initiative. One of the initiatives developed by the project demonstrates the life cycles of food; with food grown in their garden, cooked in the local school with waste food composted onsite ready for the next planting.