THE Woodlands Community Primary School is in Upper Cwmbran, where it has been since September, 2006, following the amalgamation of Woodlands Infant School and Woodlands Junior School.
The school has invested in technology such as iPads, Google Chromebooks and a digital cafe. The Year 5 class has been using the Google Chromebooks to develop their own computer programmes.
A representative of the Education Achievement Service comes into the school to help the children with the cloud-based software.
Teressa Evans-Rickets, of the Education Achievement Service, said: “We use platform games which are usually linked to a theme. They create e-cards and musical instruments which tie in with their learning.
“We use the Scratch computer programme for the children to develop their own computer programme.”
Nicola Hammond, Year 5 teacher and deputy head, said: “It’s pre-empting changes for the computing curriculum which is already in place across the border. We just want to the children to be knowledgeable in computing. It’s just forward thinking really.”
The school has invested in a digital cafe where pupils can use iPads, Apple TV and hang out on sofa’s as it also acts as a traditional library.
Miss Hammond said: “The children can work independently in here. The digital cafe is quite new and is our digital learning environment to get away from the more traditional classroom.
“We use the Apple TVs to link the iPads so that we can show the children’s work to them on the big screen. The homework club also comes in here – it’s an afternoon club where pupils can come and use the facilities if they haven’t got any computers or internet access at home.”
The digital cafe is also open to members of the community with Community First who host an IT drop-in centre at the school.
Miss Hammond said: “We have great community links. The parents can come in during homework sessions and the IT is used by members of the community. The cafe is extremely popular. Lunchtime clubs use it and the boys reading club. Its a place where parents and teachers can work together.”
The school has appointed digital leaders who are all Year 5 pupils who help support staff and pupils with IT issues. The pupils each work with three younger children to teach them how to use the laptops, Google Chrome or the iPads.
Chloe Thacker, Year 5 pupil and a digital leader said: “We work with Mr Jones to help the infants. We show them how to use Google Chrome, book apps and how to set up e-mail accounts.”
Ben Todd, Year 5 pupil and digital leader, said: “We showed them how to share work as you don’t need to be on a single computer you can access it from all devices.You can share work with friends really easily.”
The Year 5 group were all dressed in bright colours to celebrate the cultural theme of Brazil. The pupils learned about Brazil that week and made masks to represent the Rio carnival which culminated in a Brazilian dance showcase.
The school has focused on improving the pupils’ Welsh abilities with bilingual posters and signs throughout the school. The task for Year 5 pupils incorporated Welsh lessons with the week’s theme of Brazil as the children were e-mailing each other in Welsh about their ‘trip to Brazil’.
Miss Hammond said: “The children are e-mailing each other in Welsh on how they enjoyed their trip to Brazil tying in with our cultural theme. We had a space theme recently and Bethany e-mailed me about her visit to the moon, eating cheese.”
The schools last Estyn report in 2008 listed Welsh language as something that needed to be improved on at the primary.
Jaci Bates, headteacher said: “We’ve really improved the last few years on the amount of Welsh that is spoken here. At assembly we great each other in Welsh and sing songs in Welsh.
“There is also a great deal of more conversational Welsh in the classroom.”
On our visit to Year 2, the pupils were participating in a role play where children were posing as waitresses and customers in a mock up of a Chinese restaurant.
Sarah Cook, Year 2 teacher and foundation phase leader, said: “The role play is to improve oracy skills, speaking and listening and personal and social skills. The children really enjoyed it.
“They really love role playing. Even the more timid children in the class come out of their shell in this exercise. It really helps to build their confidence.”
The pupils got to vote on their favourite topic, which was Food Glorious Food, and voted for Chinese cuisine. They made examples of Chinese crockery out of salt, dough and tissue paper.
The pupils researched different Chinese dishes in order to recreate them and also learned how to use chopsticks.
Head of Governors: Paul Edward
Largest Class: 30
Motto: Learning, sharing, respectful and caring
Last Estyn report 2008
Mostly grade 2 = good features and no important shortcomings
Pupils attitudes to learning, the interest they show in their work and the ability to concentrate are good.
Pupils whatever their ability or background, take an active part in school life and their attitudes to equal opportunity issues are positive and constructive.
Recommendations included to improve provision and raise standards in Welsh second language and Welsh communication skills in key stage 2