A PRIMARY school has been praised for its innovative approach to working with poorly behaved children at a national education conference.

Ghyllgrove Infant School, in The Gore, Basildon, was singled out for mention by Dave Hill, who is the new president of the Association of Directors of Children's Services.

Mr Hill, who is also Essex County Council's executive director for people commissioning, was giving his inaugural speech at a presidential reception in London.

The Basildon school was praised by Mr Hill for setting up a specialist unit to help children from across the county who were at risk of being excluded.

He said: "In Essex I recently spent time at Ghyllgrove School in Basildon.

"I spent the morning with inspiring staff who have developed a special unit in the school called the Ark.

"The Ark has worked with more than 50 children in the past two years at risk of exclusion from school, they take from all schools in Basildon and further afield in Essex.

"They work intensively with the pupil, their family and the host school. Of the fifty plus children only one child has been permanently excluded.

"The sting in the tail of this inspiring story is that they are all infant aged children between the ages of four and seven years."

In his speech, Mr Hill went to offer cautious against Government proposals to convert all schools to academy status.

He said: "The hundred year link between local authorities, standards and governance in schools should not be deconstructed without the most careful thought and consideration."