Cornwall has more than 230 primary schools: a mix of academies, community and faith schools. Generally of a good standard and small by UK comparisons, the biggest have intakes of 60 into reception whilst most take only 15. For these smallest of schools, reception class is usually standalone, with mixed year groups thereafter. Parents we spoke to praised this mixing of abilities and ages with an overall consensus that it allows every child the breathing space or academic challenge to learn at their own pace. There are only a handful of schools that are oversubscribed, so you can usually be sure to gain a place. Our article on primary school admissions sets out the application process and advises on the best ways to build a thorough understanding of your preferred schools.
Primary Schools in Penzance
Lifestyle choices are echoed in the wonderful primary schools in this area. Mousehole School is set just off the picture-perfect harbour and is the centre of the vibrant village community. St John’s Catholic in Camborne is an academic superstar catering inclusively for all faiths or none, whilst Nancledra School near St Ives is popular due to its outdoor focused educational approach.
Primary Schools in Truro & Falmouth
Mount Hawke Academy in St Agnes is the shining primary school star in this area with Grade-Ruan CofE Primary in Helston hot on its heels in terms of academic results. In central Truro you have the highly popular and often over-subscribed St Mary’s CofE, whilst in Falmouth it’s hard to look beyond the pastoral care of St Francis CofE Primary School.
Primary Schools in North Cornwall
Tregadillet Primary School is a wonderful rural school in North Cornwall that performs well academically; another highlight is the idyllic riverside setting and outdoor focus at Mawgan-in-Pydar Primary School near Newquay. Nearer to the magnetic Padstow, you have the popular St Kew ACE Academy in Wadebridge.
Primary Schools in St Austell & South East Cornwall
Saltash is spoilt for choice with three Ofsted ‘outstanding’ primaries: Sir Robert Gefferey’s CofE Primary School has its own community farm; Sandy Hill Academy is one of the biggest primaries in the county and usually oversubscribed due to its strong academic results. Gaining a nursery place here can secure your admission to the school. Gorran Primary, just outside picturesque Gorran Haven, is a popular choice for its gentle pastoral care.
State primary schools for children with special educational needs in Cornwall
Many Cornish primary schools have good SEND provision but some shine with strong local praise or specific SEND units: Burraton Community Primary School near Saltash has a long-established Eden base for 20 children with complex needs, housed in extensive purpose-built classrooms, including a sensory room and calm spaces. Gulval School in Penzance has links with a Child Development Centre on the same site and benefits from their expertise; Roskear School in Camborne has a specialist support department for hearing impairment.
There are some fantastic state-run special schools which are all-through. These include Nancealverne School in Penzance, which has personalised learning programmes for 3–19-year-olds with moderate to complex learning difficulties. Oak Tree School in Truro, which specialises in working with children with autism and a range of moderate learning difficulties. Red Moor School in Lanlivery near Bodmin, offers specialist provision for children aged 5-18 with social, emotional, mental health and communication difficulties.