Primary School League Tables: `It's a caring and sharing school and eve rybody works for each other. It's a team'

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The Independent Online
HUTTON RUDBY County Primary is the archetypal English village school.

The school's headteacher, Howard Ellis, and his six teaching staff cater for 174 children from the North Yorkshire village and the surrounding area. It is a well-heeled catchment area, populated largely by professional people who commute into work on Teesside, about 15 miles away.

Parents are supportive, and demand only the very best schooling for their children.

Fortunately, Mr Ellis delivers.

Hutton Rudby is one of a handful of schools at the very top of the primary league tables. All its 11-year-olds reached the required standard in English, maths and science, just as the children did the year before.

All of the pupils learn the recorder from the age of seven, assisted by a "posse of mums", and many are taught to play a second instrument.

Last year's school play - Alice in Wonderland, with music specially-written by a local musician - went down a storm.

The latest production was a rock'n'roll version of Jack and the Beanstalk.

"It's a caring and sharing school, and everybody works for each other. It's a team," said Mr Ellis, who has been head for the past six years.

The school occupies buildings in the middle of the village, and prides itself on the hard work of its staff - who put in 12 to 14 hours on some days - and its links with parents.

"There's no secret to it. Everybody - parents, teachers and children - works together. It is traditional where it needs to be, but we also learn from the best progressive methods," Mr Ellis said. Children learn spellings and their times tables and they all are assigned homework and are expected to do lots of reading at home with their parents and siblings.

"For the little ones, there is reading at home with mum and dad, and they have to learn their spellings as well. Further up the school, there are more projects."

Pupils are split by age, but teachers offer children work at different levels within their classes.

Staff are taking on board the Government's reforms of literacy and numeracy teaching, but Mr Ellis said that they had expressed concern that the creative work that is so important to the school could be lost, die to a shortage of time.

He said: "We do the literacy hour, but further up the school we have found we were getting better results before. We have been concerned that the creative aspects of English, like creative writing or poetry, could be lost. We have been asked to do it and we give it our best shot, but we will adapt it to our needs.

"It's all about working together as a team, and my teachers work extremely hard."

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