SCHOOL OF THE WEEK: Happy pupils at Cwmbran's Blenheim Road Primary
6:02pm Thursday 10th October 2013 in News
Blenheim Road Community Primary School. School of the Week. Acting Headteacher Tracy French outside the School. (1296552)
Happy children are the key to successful learning as SOPHIE BROWNSON discovers at Blenheim Road Community Primary School, Cwmbran.
ARRIVING at Blenheim Road Community primary School it is immediately obvious that this is one happy school.
Greeted by smiling acting head Tracy French, I am immediately given a tour around the school while Mrs French explains how the school’s success is down to both the hard work of staff and students alike.
“We are very proud of our staff.
“Our standards have been raised though their hard work and there are now systems in place to make sure that the children know exactly what to do to move them forward.
“They have all worked really hard in all areas, and the children are so well behaved and are really engaged in their learning.”
The school which has plans to improve the infant and junior school site by 2015, is very focused on developing the children academically as much as they can to make as much progress as possible in their learning.
Mrs French explains how the school now has intervention plans funded by the Pupil Deprivation Grant (PDG) in place as well as a catch-up literacy plan, taught by Julie Elliot, to ensure that children who are struggling have all the help they need to learn.
The school also has also recently invested in modern technology including iPads so that the children have the best available learning sources and so the teachers are able to access the curriculum to improve learning.
“All the teachers to have iPads to assist the children's learning by acting as an assessment tool,” Mrs French added.
As well as the latest technology, children respond well to good old fashioned encouragement from ‘Star Pages’ where children who do good work are rewarded by teachers with star stickers which are collected.
Teacher Kay Morgan said: “This really helps to move their learning environment forward.”
Alongside star pages, the school also encourages children through ‘target setting’ where foundation phase pupils have their own targets displayed on a card and hung from the classroom ceiling.
The children also have a ‘target badge' which they must fill with stars as they improve.
Once they manage to fill their badge with ten stars then they will be rewarded with a prize.
Other forms of encouragement include noises such as “whoosh” and claps such as “the tomato ketchup clap” which help to make learning exciting.
“They just love it,” Mrs French added.
It’s not just the teachers and pupils who make the school run so well - the school’s caretaker John Todd looks after the school two sites ensuring that the school is a safe learning environment.
“He is amazing,” Mrs French added.
“Ever since he joined the school 12 months ago nothing is too much for him.
“He created a pond for the children which had tad poles in it and from this they were able to learn about the life cycles of frogs.”
The school also has a head boy Jake Sutcliffe, ten, and head girl Kiera McCarthy, ten, who were voted in to their position by their teachers, with responsibilities such as prize giving in award assemblies.
The school likes to ensure that pupils are aware of how the impact on the environment by having an Eco Team run by Marie Galeozzi.
The team of 20 are currently working towards achieving their Platinum Eco flag, since they started eight years ago -the highest level to be achieved by an eco school.
The pupils explained that this was achieved by having ‘litter patrollers’ and waste warriors’ switching off the lights and making sure that the yard was clean by collecting rubbish from around the classrooms.
As part of the school’s 'Challenge Week', year six pupils had to reduce waste by weighing wasted food, and putting the skins in waste boxes to make compost, as well as checking the boiler with caretaker Mr Todd at break and lunch times.
Healthy eating is important to the school with children enjoying a ‘fruit tuck’ at break times.
“The Eco School began along with the healthy eating where we initially introduced healthy eating and snacks, and it just spread with children looking at the environment and community and looking at what we can do better as a school.
The schools literacy skills are improved by literacy programme Read Write Inc, which aims to teach literacy through the phonics which is carried out every morning.
Children are able to improve their writing skills in mixed year groups, by applying letters and sounds to build up words and then progress to writing them.
“The programme is run across the school, depending on the pupils ability.
“All the teachers can deliver the programme and it has been very successful in the school.
"It engages the children and by doing so they reap the benefits,”Mrs French added.
Literacy co coordinator Deb Dufty said: “The pupils have doing fantastic work.
“They are engaged in developing their learning and both the staff and students are enjoying it.”
Other clubs include cookery, football, art, country dancing and chess.
Pupils have the option to be part of the schools every first Celtic band, supported by the Gwent Music Service, where they can learn to play instruments such as the harp.
The initial lessons were on penny whistles which are taught by Scott McKeon, which pupils performing in school assembly.
One of the impressive things about the school is that the pupils themselves design and create the school's website, www.blenheim-roadschool.co.uk.
Under the tuition of Anne Phillips, pupils have formed a website team to manage and monitor the website which includes information about the school as well as games for them to play.
The school has 22 values, depicted in a graffiti mural on the school wall, and every month the school has a new value which feeds throughout the school.
Mrs Dufty added: "The children here are so enthusiastic and they enjoy learning so they learn more."
ACTING HEAD: Tracy French
CHAIRMAN OF GOVENORS: Steven Edwards
PUPILS ON ROLL: 190
AGES: Three to 11
NUMBER OF TEACHERS: Eight
MOTTO: “Learning and caring together we will achieve.”
SENIOR LEADERS: Elizabeth Thomas and Emma Ross
LAST ESTYN REPORT
• The schools last Estyn report in 2010 showed that the school’s standards in English and Maths have improved in most classes and are now good.
• Pupils have also progressed in science and are able to use scientific terms accurately in their descriptions and accounts.
• The school also teaches Welsh as a second language with standards improving throughout the school, with pupils able to ask and answer questions and express personal information, both orally and in writing.
• Strategic management is also good with a clear management structure in place enabling all staff to be fully aware of their roles and responsibilities.
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