THE Rt Hon Nick Gibb, asked MPs to write to primary schools within their constituencies, which increased the proportion of Year 6 pupils achieving Age Related Expecations (ARE) for English and Maths combined, in 2018 compared to 2017.

Kevin Hollinrake MP has duly written to some local schools, passing on the message... and national school comparison tables have just been published.

Why haven’t all schools have been thanked for their hard work? Percentage judgements are not always fair measures of how good a school is. The head of Ofsted, Amanda Spielman, understands this, but does Nick Gibb?

Ms Spielman has expressed her concern that many primary schools are focusing too much on “teaching to the tests”.

It is now hard to find a school not “teaching to the tests”, running SATs “booster classes” or “SATs clubs”. She believes that schools should focus more on personal development, resilience and well-being, developing numeracy and literacy through a broader curriculum.

Also, in many smaller schools, cohorts vary each year, so percentage judgements are almost irrelevant.

One year, 100 per cent of eight Year 6 children may achieve ARE in English and Maths combined. The DFE contacts school asking: “Would you like to be included in our publication highlighting high-achieving schools?”

The following year, only 50 per cent of 14 Year 6 children may achieve ARE in English and Maths combined. The DFE contacts school asking, “What’s gone wrong?” Nothing had “gone wrong”.

Teaching children is not like processing peas. Both cohorts were taught in the same room, by the same talented teacher, supported by the same experienced teaching assistant.

They followed the same curriculum. The first cohort had no children with additional needs whilst the second had several with very specific additional needs, ie dyslexia or dyscalculia.

They all did well. So, let’s hear it for all hard working primary teachers and ancillary staff, parents, carers, children, governors and school communities. You all deserve our appreciation. You are all doing a great job.

Nicola Johnson, Hartoft, Pickering

History of hospital

I READ with interest the article in the Gazette & Herald on January 23 describing the evolution of the Rainbow Equine Hospital.

It does not tell the whole story and does not mention a very important person involved in its set up, namely Nicki Ordidge, who was married to me at the time, and contributed greatly when we started on January 1, 1986.

The property was basic and needed a lot of work in order to make it suitable as a veterinary practice. Fortunately, Nicki had worked at The Mount as a veterinary nurse and I give full credit to her for making the practice viable.

We worked for three years without a day off, day and night on duty. Nicki looked after the inpatients, answered the phone (no mobiles or bleepers in those days), typed the monthly accounts and kept the books. Computers systems were only just being talked about.

Nicki also ran our laboratory and was my anaesthetist and chief (only) assistant during the many surgeries. How our daughter Lucy survived her first couple of years I do not know.

After three years the practice was big enough to employ a second veterinary surgeon and Ieuan Pritchard joined me. He became a partner in December 1992 and the name was changed to Ordidge and Pritchard. The practice has grown every year, thanks to the hard work that everyone has put in.

The next major change was the arrival of Alastair Nelson in 1995. He was a Cambridge graduate and the first thing they teach you at Cambridge is to think. He was also very “hands on” and practical. Alastair would only join us if we installed “state of the art” diagnostic techniques such as bone scintigraphy, computerised tomography and a modern radiography system and a new laboratory.

He bought secondhand hospital equipment, and modified its application for the horse. He could even repair it if it went wrong. That was the nature of the man. I am only pleased that he had no interest in surgery or I would have been out of a job. He wanted and was driven to turning the Rainbow Equine Clinic into a Veterinary Hospital, the best in Northern England.

Sadly Alastair died suddenly on the September 9, 2010, while swimming in York. I finally retired in 2015.

Bob Ordidge, BVSc, CertES (Orth), MRCVS

What does it mean?

JOSEPHINE Evans (Gazette & Herald, January 23) is upset that our MP voted for Theresa May’s Brexit deal. She prefers a hard Brexit, to recover our “sovereignty”.

Let’s assume for now that hard Brexit will be a moment of unbounded joy. (So much joy that, here in North Yorkshire, police leave has been cancelled to cope with it).

But what is this “sovereignty” that Josephine Evans wants back? She can’t, surely, be objecting to the UK being party to a treaty organisation. The Brexiteer proposal is to replace our single EU treaty with a multitude of new ones. Instead of one treaty, with an organisation in which we are one of the three largest voices, we would have dozens, with individual countries over which we have no control.

She says she objects to “powerful unelected EU officials”, but can that really be true? Having an elected EU government in Brussels is surely, for her, the ultimate federal nightmare.

Perhaps by “sovereignty” she means our ability to project real power in the world. But no Brexiteer has made out a remotely credible case for how our influence overseas can be increased by sitting on our own.

She certainly can’t mean an increase in the UK’s power to rule its own territories. No-deal Brexit presents massive risks of instability in Northern Ireland, renewed risk of a break-away Scotland, increased threat to Gibraltar, and gravely weakened defence and internal security.

So what on earth does she mean? She refers to the Commonwealth as “excluded by the EU”. In fact we currently trade with the leading Commonwealth countries through their treaties with the EU – and will lose those treaties by a no-deal Brexit. I fear her “sovereignty” is a right of sole control over cloud-cuckoo-land.

Dick Jennings, Malton