Modern teaching methods are helping to prepare children for the adult world at Rogerstone Primary School as JOHN PHILLIPS finds out.
ROGERSTONE Primary in Newport uses some of the most modern teaching methods and tools to prepare little ones for the real world.
I am quickly ushered into the school’s own cafe, which serves members of the public delicious cakes and tasty sandwiches during the week.
The cafe is run by the children – with the helping hand of teaching assistant Aleana Nix.
A cohort of pupils come in every Monday, learn to use the till and prepare the food to open the doors the following day.
The idea behind it is to introduce children to a realistic working environment open to the public, while learning important literacy and numeracy skills.
Parents, teachers and pupils all come to the cafe, which gives a warm, welcoming focus to the school, in Ebenezer Drive.
Ms Nix, 43, said: “Parents come here and say it is amazing.
“It is nice for the children. They are learning social skills. They are able to speak to members of staff, parents, and also the little ones.
“I think every primary school should have something like that. It gives children confidence.”
Childminder Amanda Probert, 48, tells me: “I try to come here once a week. It’s relaxing and nice to see children come in and be happy.”
Parent Kerri Miller, 41, whose six-year-old daughter, Abigail, goes to the school, tells me: “It’s a fantastic idea.”
Year 5 pupil Henry Booth, ten, is equally positive about his stint at the cafe.
He tells me: “It’s fun. You learn how to make new food items, cookies and muffins. I find it just as good as being in the classroom.”
Another pupil, Keira Nolan, ten, said: “It gives you the chance to be in charge.”
Fellow schoolgirl Isabel Young, 11, said: “I like the cafe and working behind the till.”
And even the staff are happy about the grub. Year 4 teacher Phil Bubb, 24, said: “I come here for lunch. Bacon sandwiches are good – baguettes are good. You get freshly baked cakes. You can’t go wrong.”
The novel teaching method reflects the modern approach taken by Rogerstone Primary to help pupils bridge the gap between school and the real world.
The school is also seeking to keep up with the most modern technology available to children and their parents.
Hence, the acting head teacher Steve Rayer tells me that Rogerstone has made a significant investment to buy large interactive plasma screens, which bring up any web page and can be controlled with your hands – just like an iPad.
The boards can also be used to draw and write, like old-fashioned blackboards, and one of them can move up and down to be level with the smaller children, who sit down for story time.
Teaching assistant Victoria Ellison, 24, said: “We write sentences on it. In the afternoon we play games and they can draw pictures.”
Interactive board fan Erin Williams, five, said: “I’m colouring. I’m drawing my garden.”
Teaching assistant Ceri Barrett added: “It has made a lot of difference. Before we used to be around the laptop.
“It’s fabulous. The children absolutely love it. It’s interesting to see how many children have iPads at home and are used to touching the screen.”
The school, inspected by Estyn in December, has undergone a change of management and is currently led by acting head teacher Steve Rayer.
Mr Rayer, 45, said: “We are working very hard in raising the standards of the children.
“What the school is working on is the recommendations from the Estyn report.
“I can’t emphasise enough the teamwork from the staff and the support from the parents. The governors have been very supportive.”
Year 4 teacher Mark Coles, 34, said: “It’s great. The children are full of energy and excitement.
“The school teaches them and prepares them for the rest of their lives and gets them ready for the next steps of the comprehensive school.”
Rogerstone Primary also involves its community by letting groups hire its hall and outdoor pitch, and engages its pupils through a school council, which helps to plan events and resolve issues children may have.
Zoha Rahman, ten, the vice-chairman of the school council, tells me: “We are going to have a non-uniform day sometime in March, but we like school uniforms as well.
“Being on the school council is like taking on a big responsibility. We help each other.”
The school also has two classes for pupils with special additional needs.
Additional needs co-ordinator Mairi Dunn said: “It’s the small steps that give you significant pleasures. It’s fabulous.”
Mr Rayer added: “I love it here. I have had such a warm welcome from the school, from the pupils and the staff. I can see the potential for the school. It’s just fantastic.”
Number of pupils: 570
Acting head teacher: Steve Rayer
Chairwoman of the school governing body: Belinda Cook
School motto: Take pride in how far you have come
Following an inspection in December , Estyn found that most pupils have good social skills, behave well in class and are enthusiastic learners.
The inspectorate also found that pupils listen attentively and many speak confidently and maturely for their age, and the majority make appropriate progress and most attain the expected outcome and levels by the end of each key stage.
Estyn also found that teachers and support staff provide interesting and enjoyable learning activities that motivate pupils well.
The inspectors said the performance of the school and its prospects for improvements were adequate.
They found that members of the current leadership team have common aims for the school that focus well on the needs of pupils and the acting headteacher has enabled leaders to develop and carry out their roles fully and encouraged all staff to contribute their ideas and to share their strengths.
Estyn added that senior leaders have the necessary skills, competences and understanding to secure continuous school improvement and are developing a good understanding of the school’s strengths and weaknesses.