IT was first thing on a Monday morning when we visited Merley First School but they don’t believe in slow starts to the week.

As we entered the building the school was alive with the sound of a Samba band and more excitement was to come.

The school was receiving a visit from Dorset Fire and Rescue Service and Reception children were beside themselves about the arrival of eggs they intended to hatch into chickens.

Sally Birley, who has been head teacher at the school for nearly 10 years, is keen to ensure children are fully engaged in their learning through stimulating, hands-on lessons.

And the friendly, family atmosphere ensures they are all happy to be there.

Find out why pupils, parents and staff love their school

Despite being in Merley and having a Wim-borne address, the school comes under the Borough of Poole.

It has 302 pupils between the ages of four and nine who tend to move to Broadstone or Allenbourn Middle Schools when they leave.

The school is full but feels spacious due to airy rooms and a beautiful outdoor area giving the children plenty of space to play and learn.

Around 60 per cent of the children live in the catchment area with others travelling from far and wide. The school was rated outstanding when government insp-ectors last paid a visit and it’s easy to see why they were impressed.

“When people come in they always comment on how friendly, welcoming and caring the school is” said Mrs Birley.

“We have exciting learning through topics and children really enjoy being here.

“We have high standards and a lot of outdoor space which we can utilise for learning and play.”

Mrs Birley is particularly proud of the school’s peer mediation system which sees older pupils in Years 3 and 4 trained to help younger pupils and their peers if they experience any difficulties.

Fundraising is under way to build an outdoor classroom, including a stage area.


Merley First School
Address: Oakley Straight, Wimborne BH21 1SD
Telephone: 01202 888455
Email: merleyfirstschool
Head teacher: Sally Birley
Number of pupils: 302
Age range: 4-9

Ofsted report
Overall grade: Outstanding

Inspectors said: “Through excellent leadership and management the curriculum and teaching are both of high quality.

“Excellent attention is given to providing for pupils’ needs and interests and setting very high challenges.

“Pupils achieve exceptionally well in important aspects of their personal development.

“Pupils are well cared for including thorough, effective procedures to keep them safe and free from harm at all times.”