Minister praises Bythams Primary for success

Amelia Blake (7) and Isabella Marriott (6) from  Bytham's primary school winners  in a story writing competition run  at John Lewis's Queensgate EMN-140611-140107009
Amelia Blake (7) and Isabella Marriott (6) from Bytham's primary school winners in a story writing competition run at John Lewis's Queensgate EMN-140611-140107009
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A primary school has won praise from the Minister of State for Education for its “very high standard” of achievement in phonics.

Bythams Primary was among the top two per cent of schools in the country out of thousands, where all its Year 1 pupils gained 100 per cent in phonics checks.

In a letter to the headteacher Richard Clarke, MP Nick Gibb said: “I’m writing to convey my warmest congratulations to you, your staff and pupils for the very high standard of achievement in this year’s phonics check.

“The Department of Education wants to ensure every child develops a firm grasp of phonics, so I was obviously delighted to see your results.

“To be the top 2 per cent of schools with 100 per cent of pupils achieving the expected standard in the check is a tremendous achievement and points to a high standard of phonics teaching in your school.

“You have ensured every Year 1 child in your school has a firm foundation for reading, from which they can develop further reading skills and become increasingly sophisticated readers.”

Phonics are the building blocks of reading and helps children learn decode written words by sounding them out. With the sounds representing written letters children are taught to blend the sounds together to make words.

Phonics checks are carried out by teachers, moderated by the local education authority, and the results sent to the Department for Education.

Headteacher of the 82-pupils school Mr Clarke said: “As soon as children enter the school in early years, we try and encourage a passion for reading through actions and sounds so it is fun. Children respond to it very well.

“We also have phonics workshops for parents so they can support their children at home with the right sounds and actions.”

Bythams school’s 16 Year 1 pupils got 100 per cent achievement during checks last year, too.

Mr Clarke said: “The staff work very hard and are passionate about making sure the children have fun learning.

“We could not have done it without the support of the parents and the hard work and enthusiasm of the children.

“We are a small school so we did very well to get such a result.”

Staff, too, were praised by the Secretary of State, who concluded his letter saying: “Thank you for your work in this vital area of a child’s early development. And congratulations to you and your staff for your hard work and professionalism.”

Two pupils from Bythams Primary were runners up in the John Lewis story-writing competition. Amelia Blake,seven, was national runner up and won £25 of books, plus £150 books for her school.

Her story was about a boy called Jake who was in a wheelchair who went shopping and pressed level 13 in the lift. It took him to Dino-land where his lucky locket was stolen by the Dino King. They had a battle and Jake won his locket back.

Amelia said: “I wrote about a person in a wheelchair because people in wheelchairs have quite a hard time and I feel quite sorry for them.”

Isabella Marriott,six, was the local runner up and received a framed certificate and John Lewis teddy.

Her story was about two leaf-eater dinosaurs who followed footprints to a cave where two meat eaters were. They had a big battle and the leaf-eaters won. Isabella said she wrote it because she “loves dinosaurs”.

Both stories will be displayed in John Lewis Peterborough branch’s cafe Place to Eat. The competition was part of the group’s 150th Birthday celebrations run with their chosen charity Barnardos.