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Last Updated: Friday, 21 January, 2005, 13:26 GMT
'Bullying' claim school praised
Cefn Saeson school, Neath
The report was compiled be a team of 13 Estyn inspectors
Inspectors have praised a Neath school for how it tackles bullying, after it was criticised by the parents of an ex-pupil who died after taking an overdose.

A team from Estyn visited Cefn Saeson Comprehensive, two months after Laura Rhodes, 13, died in an apparent suicide pact with a friend, who survived.

Her parents claim she had been bullied.

Inspectors called the quality of support, care and guidance at the school 'outstanding'

We are very proud of the grade one and 'outstanding' comment about the nature of care and support at the school
Peter Jones, deputy head teacher

In the report published by Estyn, inspectors said all staff showed a genuine concern for the best interests of pupils and gave readily of their time.

"Relationships amongst pupils and between staff and pupils are both very good," said the report.

"All pupils interviewed are confident that they would know where to seek help and support it they had a problem in school.

'Relationships'

"The school has effective measures to eliminate oppressive behaviour including bullying, sexism and racism and the diversity of pupils' backgrounds is recognised and valued by staff and pupils."

Peter Jones, deputy head teacher at the school, said staff were very proud of the report.

Laura Rhodes
Laura Rhodes was a former pupil at Cefn Saeson Comprehensive

"We are particularly proud of the comments regarding the relationships at school that they (the inspectors) said existed in all 93 lessons that they observed," said Mr Jones.

"We are very proud also of the grade one and 'outstanding' comment about the nature of care and support at the school.

"People visiting the school always make a point of commenting on the friendly atmosphere."

Laura's parents Mike and Yvonne claimed Cefn Saeson failed to take their daughter's bullying claims seriously enough and called for all schools to be required to record how problems were dealt with.

They said Laura had become increasingly isolated and withdrawn after joining the school.

Letter

She was referred to Bryncoch pupil referral and had not attended Cefn Saeson for 13 months prior to her death.

In a letter released after her funeral Laura wrote of being verbally and physically abused over her weight and speculation about her sexuality.

Days before her death Laura and a friend, Rebecca Ling, 14, had sparked a police hunt after going missing but were found in Bath.

After returning to Neath the girls took an overdose of tablets, although Rebecca survived.

An inquest into Laura's death is set to take place later in the year.

After Laura's death, the student council at Cefn Saeson issued a statement denying the school had a bullying problem.

The Estyn inspection was carried out between 15 and 18 November.

It also found pupils achieved higher grades in external examinations than would be expected in similar schools, said overall the quality of teaching was good and said attendance rates had improved greatly since its last inspection in 1999.


SEE ALSO:
Pupils deny school bullying claim
30 Sep 04 |  South West Wales
'Suicide pact' girl's tragic letter
22 Sep 04 |  South West Wales


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