MP heaps praise on after-school club

Friday 16th March 2007 12:00 am

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CHILDREN at a popular after-school club in Fernhurst welcomed a special visitor on Monday afternoon. David Willetts, MP for Havant and shadow education secretary, visited the Oscars club at Fernhurst Primary School to see the activities and facilities on offer. Oscars, which has been running for more than 10 years, has an Ofsted category of "good" and is led by Irene Spratley and Shenda Searle. The club is open between 3-30 pm and 5-30 pm during term time and from 9 am to 4 pm during school holidays, when it is used by around 24 children who either go the school or live in the area. Children at Oscars have the opportunity to take part in a wide range of activities, from arts and crafts to sport and cookery. An advantage of the club being held at the school is that the children can also make use of the school's IT equipment and extensive outside grounds. Mr Willetts spoke to children painting pots and making clay models of aeroplanes during his visit, and also sat in on a choir rehearsal. He told The Herald: "Schools come in all shapes and sizes, but often the smaller schools can provide the best education. "It was great to see the children enjoying themselves in the after-school club and I wanted to show my support for small schools in rural areas". Margaret Edwards, headteacher at Fernhurst Primary School, said: "Oscars demonstrates our philosophy that real learning is not limited to a 9 am to 4 pm schedule, but happens wherever children are engrossed in a range of activities under the care of sympathetic adults". She went on to say Fernhurst could become an "extended school", offering vital community services. Ms Edwards said: "As with many other rural schools we are rich in commitment, energy and enthusiasm. It would greatly encourage us if there was a national fund for small rural schools to help us with community projects which extend our facilities and help local communities to thrive in the 21st century". Mr Willetts was accompanied on the tour by Chichester MP Andrew Tyrie, and both men also used the visit to praise the efforts of councillors in delivering quality local government to the Chichester area. During his visit, Mr Willetts said: "The government's approach to local government since 1997 has been to impose ever- increasing burdens, along with more acute financial pressures, which has made it increasingly difficult for councillors to deliver services to residents. "Despite all the pressure from government, Chichester District Council continues to be rated as an 'excellent' authority by the National Audit Office, a beacon council for delivering value for money for its residents. "It is political leadership that has delivered this, translating impregnable burdens from Whitehall into delivery on the ground: meeting the needs of local residents."