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Best primary schools in Exeter

Best primary schools in Plymouth

Best primary schools in North Devon

Best primary schools in South Devon

Best primary schools in East Devon

Special Educational Needs

Kingswear, DevonDevon’s 410 primary schools are a mix of local authority, community, faith and academy schools and most of them are of medium to large size. Unusually, there are also four all-through state schools taking children from nursery to GCSEs and even A level. Many of the best primaries, particularly in urban areas close to the grammar schools, are oversubscribed and academic results are generally higher than the UK average. Faith based schools in the area have a variety of approaches to admissions, for many the importance of faith in securing a place falls below geographical proximity, so it is highly advised to check the oversubscription criteria on admissions before relying on attendance at church or a baptismal certificate to secure you a place at a specific school.

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 Exeter

Exeter has a fantastic selection of primary schools, performing well above the UK average academically and many receiving rave reviews from local families. St Michael’s Church of England Primary Academy sits right in the centre of the city and is a large, much-loved favourite despite being hugely oversubscribed every year.

Alternatively, there are some academic superstars on the outskirts of the city: the village of Kennford is the beautiful rural setting for Kenn Church of England Primary School, which has a staggeringly good academic profile for such a small school. In Clyst St George is Lady Seaward’s Church of England Primary School, another small, rural option with some of the highest academic results in the area or to the north west of Exeter is Westclyst Community Primary School which, together with its sister school Broadclyst Community Primary School - just two miles up the road, offers a fantastic village based, high achieving start to education.

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Primary schools in Plymouth

Many of Plymouth’s 65 primary school options are oversubscribed so be sure to check catchment areas and ask where the admissions line was drawn before getting too over excited about one choice. Ernesettle Community School is the shining jewel in the crown of Plymouth primaries, always oversubscribed, it is extremely popular with a large modern site and fantastic SATs results. Glen Park Primary has a strong local reputation and outstanding results with places surprisingly not as difficult to secure as other schools. Other popular choices include Mayflower Academy and Elburton Primary.

Best state secondary schools in Plymouth

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Primary schools in North Devon

Kingsacre Primary School in Braunton has a strong reputation for its family feel and good academic progress with Our Lady’s Catholic School in Barnstaple a hugely oversubscribed and academically strong alternative. Gulworthy Primary School in Tavistock is another very popular school with nearly half of its cohort performing at a higher level in English and maths, whilst Berrynarbor Church of England Primary School in Ilfracombe is a tiny but wonderful rural delight.

Best state secondary schools in North Devon

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Primary schools in South Devon

South Devon primaries perform extraordinarily well academically and it is easy to see that this is a grammar feeding area. There are two notably incredible primary schools for academic success: Abbotskerswell Primary School in Newton Abbot and Thurlestone All Saints Church of England Academy in Kingsbridge. Newton Abbot is also home to Canada Hill Community Primary School an enduringly popular local school. Another two worthy of note due to their popularity and results are Marldon Church of England School in Paignton and The Grove School in Totnes.

Best state secondary schools in South Devon

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Primary schools in East Devon

The most popular school by far in this neck of the woods is Mrs Ethelston’s CofE Primary Academy, just the Devon side of Lyme Regis. It has outstanding results and is a good feeder for both Woodroffe School and Colyton Grammar. Feniton Church of England School in Honiton is another favoured choice as is the wonderful gentle teaching and outdoor-led approach of Shute Community Primary School in Axminster.

Best state secondary schools in East Devon

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State primary schools for children with special educational needs in Devon

Many primary schools have good SEND provision in Devon but some shine by having specifically resourced provision. In Plymouth, the Mayflower Academy runs The Support Centre for 12 children with complex needs within a larger than average ‘outstanding’ mainstream school. In Torquay the Hearing Support Centre at St Margaret’s Academy provides for up to ten children who benefit from a specialist teacher of the deaf, speech and language therapy, as well as a soundfield system and whole-school training in BSL. At Preston Primary School enhanced provision is available in The Nest for up to 16 children with a diagnosis of autism and an EHCP. Further north, Okehampton Primary and Newport Community Primary can provide extra support for eight children with complex communication and interaction needs, including autism, who benefit from the language focus in the Communication and Interaction Resource Base.

There are also some wonderful gems of state-run special schools. The Ellen Tinkham School in Exeter is an all-through school on two sites for 3–19-year-olds with severe learning difficulties and complex needs. Its Learning to Live curriculum prepares children to achieve at an appropriate level, with some taking functional skills qualifications. It also provides a range of specialist therapies including hydrotherapy, rebound therapy and specialist physio, speech and language and visual impairment support. All enjoy its outdoor classroom and rural skills education.

Woodlands School in Plymouth is built on the same site as a mainstream primary and secondary school and has more than 80 aged pupils between two and 19 years old with physical disabilities, sensory impairment and complex medical needs. It caters for a whole range of levels with pathways of learning, covering both core academic skills and life skills. The 14-19s curriculum has a practical focus in preparing for adulthood with opportunities for work experience. 

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