A HEADTEACHER has spoken out in defence of Woodlea Primary School after concerns were raised surrounding its special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) provision and end of Forest School.

Grandfather of a former child at the school, David Pennell said that after his grandchild was found to be “very dyslexic”, the “school SEND and the class teacher promised to take this into account”.

But, after achieving “zero out of 30 words” in a class spelling test, Mr Pennell said it “reinforced their view that they were always going to be bottom of the class”.

He added the school is “too small and does not have the resources to care for children with learning difficulties”.

However, parent Beck Chatfield, whose child has an SEN plan in place and regular visits from a speech and language therapist, said: “I can say hand on heart that this would still be in the process of happening if it wasn’t for how much the new headteacher and special educational needs coordinator have pushed for this to be put in place.

“If your child left before the new headteacher started, then I’m not really sure you’re in a position to judge the school as it has improved immensely since September.”

Headteacher Joanna Mumford told the Herald they “strongly believe in every student’s right to an education and we ensure that the curriculum is adapted to each student’s needs and abilities”.

“We work closely with parents and carers, the local authority and specialist organisations to ensure that we are reflecting the most recent best working practices in what is a constantly changing environment,” she added.

In a separate letter to the Herald, a reader – who asked to remain anonymous – asked why Woodlea has “decided to stop teaching Forest School”, and called for it to be “put back into the school day”.

They said the Forest School leader “declined a new contract as not being viable at the time”, but the “interim head decided not to negotiate and put the funds elsewhere”. She reportedly “even offered her services for nothing”, but was “declined by the new head”.

In response, Miss Mumford said “curriculum, staffing and budget challenges meant that we could only offer it to two classes a year”.

But, a new outdoor learning model, FOX (Fabulous Outdoor Explorers) is now in place, allowing all year groups to learn outdoors.

She added: “Our new uniform of comfortable tracksuit bottoms and wellie boots for outdoors, and slippers for indoors, means that we can take the class outside in minutes and the children love it.”