PHOTOS: Senior MP goes back to school at Effingham primary 

Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser

STUDENTS at an Effingham primary school were surprised to gain a new classmate – in the form of a government minister

SPLASHING ABOUT: Schools minister Nick Gibb enjoys the new outdoor learning area at St Lawrence Primary School

Schools minister Nick Gibb visited St Lawrence Primary School on January 27 to open a new outdoor learning area, but could not resist taking part in some lessons while he was there.

Mr Gibb tried his hand at a spot of maths with the students, as well as taking the time to try out a watering can in the new outdoor area.

Head of school Vanessa Wallden said: “It was lovely to welcome Mr Gibb to St Lawrence. All the staff and pupils enjoyed meeting such a respected figure and learning more about his role.”

Mr Gibb originally visited the Lower Road school in 2013 to review its improvement plan and advise governors on steps to be taken, as the school announced its intentions to raise its Ofsted rating from “requires improvement” to “good”.

That rating was not yet achieved at the school’s latest inspection in October 2014, but since Mr Gibb’s original visit the academy has become part of The Howard Partnership Trust and has recruited Mrs Wallden.

She added: “We are steadfastly focused on continuing our rapid progress at the school and it was hugely helpful to get some additional advice and guidance from the schools minister.”

While at the school last week, Mr Gibb met the new leadership, teachers, parents and governors.

The school’s chair of governors Gavin Megaw told the Advertiser: “Mr Gibb said he was impressed and thought the school had made great progress.”

The day before his visit the minister, who is MP for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton, made a speech to teachers and educational experts titled the importance of school leadership.

Praising the benefits of changes brought in under the two governments he has been schools minister in, he said: “All head teachers have more power to exclude pupils whose behaviour disrupts the education of those around them, more power to move on teachers who do not meet their expectations of quality teaching, and more power to determine how teacher pay should relate to performance.

“For head teachers who lead academies the freedoms are more extensive still. They have more control over their funding, the ability to change term times and the school day, greater freedom over their curriculum, and the freedom to choose where to go to get the best services.”

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