Friendly and ambitious, Eveswell Primary School in Newport aims to bring out the best in its pupils as SOPHIE BROWNSON discovers.

THE bright yellow railings which adorn the school entrance are the first thing I notice when I arrive at Eveswell Primary School in Newport.

Entering the school, I am greeted by smiling head teacher Cathy Barnett, who has been in the role since 2002.

“Our motto is ‘inspire, achieve, respect’, and that permeates everything we do,” she said.

“To inspire other people – that’s what it is about – that’s really important to us and lots of our assessments have aspects of this.”

This is shown in the school’s recent Estyn report, which deemed it to be excellent in all areas.

Taking me around some of the classrooms where hundreds of children are hard at work, Mrs Barnett explains the importance of the ‘Your Voice Team’ in the school which looks to provide all pupils with a say in what the school does.

“The group is made up for Year 5 and Year 6 pupils and they assist on aspects of the mission statement, look at the curriculum and put in extra things relating to things like maths and English, as well as liaising with other children.”

Alongside this, Eveswell has an active school council and PTA which carries out fundraising events.

The school is divided into four houses, named after colours in Welsh, which provide pupils with an incentive to achieve by offering them the chance to win a trophy at the end of the year.

Other awards include the school’s three green eco-flags which recognise the eco-committee’s hard work and ensured the school reached its platinum flag.

“Our school is the 10th in Wales to get a full set of healthy school awards,” Mrs Barnett added.

“In the summer of 2011 we reached that and it was excellent for us.”

Through the school’s focus on being a healthy school, staff ensure the pupils lead a healthy lifestyle through providing exercise facilities, promoting all health policies and running clubs such as gardening club, forest skills club and breakfast club.

“We make sure we address all aspects of health and wellbeing which ranges from fitness to environmental and mental health,” the head teacher added.

“We are all about promoting good citizenship.

“The breakfast club is very well supported and we see 55 to 70 children attend every day.

“They all enjoy it and see it as a social time – it’s a nice start to the day.

“I just like the way they all come in and chat to each other. It is all very civilised.”

Leading me out onto the yard where Year 5 and Year 6 girls are practising football with teacher Andrew Strickland ahead of that afternoon’s tournament, Mrs Barnett explains the importance of having a range of extracurricular activities which are provided both during break times and after school.

Pupils have the option to take part in 26 different clubs including a first aid club, choir, dance and various sports including cricket and football as part of the social and wellbeing focus of the school.

“We want to change stereotypes and teach them the importance of being a good citizen,” she added.

“It’s things like girls’ football, we ask them to question.

“Recently in Year 2, we did a project on toys where we looked at how they were marketed and they could see how the boys’ toys were all blue.”

Going back inside, Mrs Barnett shows me the school’s ‘talent board’ which celebrates the achievements of the pupils.

She explained that the school makes a point of having very high standards and expectations in all areas.

Popping into classrooms it is evident that the school takes an interactive approach to learning with many projects reflected in sculptures and interactive wall displays such as castles and ‘talking spots’ where teachers can record a question which can be listened to when pupils press a button.

Certain classrooms also have a ‘project corner’ where pupils can create a space focused on what they are currently learning.

The importance of real-life skills is also a focus, with pupils taking part in a weekly first-aid club to allow the children to know how to react in an emergency situation through learning life-saving skills such as the recovery position, with pupils then being assessed by a health and safety officer.

As I watch, the children perform mouth-to-mouth and chest compressions on a dummy with club teacher and first-aider Joanne Biddiscombe.

“We had a child a few years ago who choked and a little girl knew what to do because of the club,” Mrs Biddiscombe said.

The practical approach to learning also extends to wildlife, as in one classroom I am shown a number of eggs in incubation as part of a project to hatch chickens.

Technology also plays a big part in learning, as all of the pupils are given the opportunity to put their learning into practice through interactive educational programmes on iPads and computers.

Looking ahead, Mrs Barnett added: “Our hope for the future is to continue to give them a range of experiences to make learning exciting and to maintain high standards.”

Fact File:

Head teacher: Cathy Barnett

Deputy head teacher: Richard Taylor

Chairman of governors: John Routley

Pupils on roll: 510

Ages: 3 to 11-years-old

Motto: Inspire, achieve, respect

Estyn Report for January 2014:

The 2014 Estyn report showed that the schools current performance is excellent and that the school's prospects for improvement were also excellent.

Pupils make very good progress from their starting points.

Pupil’s literacy and numeracy skills are extremely high.

Learning expectations are highly effective.

The quality of teaching is outstanding.

The school has strong procedures for self-evaluation.

Through the very good use of coaching and mentoring, senior leaders develop a highly consistent and effective approach to teaching and learning.