A school that encourages its pupils to ‘live life to the full and reach for the stars’ St Andrews Junior School in Newport is one that strives to bring out the best in its children as SOPHIE BROWNSON discovers.

ARRIVING at St Andrew’s Junior School, just before its amalgamation with St Andrew’s Infant school later that week, it is clear from the acting head Lesley James’ welcome that the staff are immensely proud of their school.

“We love the atmosphere and ethos within our school,” Mrs James said.

“Our children are like any other children; they question, challenge, compete and collaborate as they learn but they stand apart by the way they really do try to treat everyone with respect and courtesy while they are here.

“We have good days and better days but each day adds to the experiences that help our children to become the responsible adults of the future.

“It doesn’t matter which language they speak or which country they come from when they join us, they soon feel at home and proud to call themselves St Andrew’s Junior School children.”

Taking me on a tour of the school, Mrs James shows me a map on the wall displaying the many nationalities within the school.

The school is proud to have 19 different nationalities throughout years three to six and has 55 children who speak languages other than English; with the recent Estyn report commending the school on its inclusive approach to learning.

“The schools Estyn report said ‘St Andrew’s Junior School is a superb example of an inclusive community that values diversity, raises aspiration, ensures equality of access and challenges stereotypes,’ and that is a high accolade and seems to borne out by the fact that many people bring their children to us through recommendation,” she added.

The school is proud of its variety of clubs and sports teams with golf and chess among the activities showing the range of enrichment available.

Mrs James added: “We meet the needs of all our pupils and provide a rich curriculum that allows sporting success.

“We have football, tae kwon do, gymnastics, dance, rugby and athletics – not bad for a school with a tiny yard as its outdoor area.”

Introducing me to the schools golf and Year 4 teacher Dave Godsall, Mrs James shows me on to the yard which has been adapted to feature golfing greens.

“We decided to introduce golfing club just before the Ryder Cup,” Mr Godsall said.

“The pupils are learning more than just golf skills though, they are learning etiquette.

“The club is predominantly after school starting in the spring time as the weather is better, but we do teach it in years five and six PE lessons.

“It has been a real success and the children have been up to the Celtic Manor to play on the golf course.”

Alongside the sporting clubs, the school runs more academic clubs such as chess taught by James Llewellyn.

The club which runs throughout the school sees pupils take part in inner school tournaments.

“It is a great game for them to play,” said Mr Llewellyn.

“In order to win they have to think.”

Showing me around the classrooms it is clear this is a school with heart, as pupils and staff alike have a good working relationship with one another.

Teacher Graham Lewis, was leaving that week ahead of the schools amalgamation but said that he would miss the school immensely.

Chatting to pupils it is clear they enjoy the school such as pupil Jade Howell,10.

“I enjoy going to school,” she said.

“I do football after school, the teachers help us; they teach us different stuff like proper kicks.”

Meanwhile pupil Dayle Davis, 10, is delighted after being crowned the Bard on March 7, after entering a writing competition for the Eisteddfod for writing on the personification of the River Usk.

Pupils engage with the school on the school council and eco committee, led by Ceri Brown, where the school has reached its green flag award.

The school council has taken a leading role in many of the schools charity activities including a bake off and a toy swap to raise money for their chosen charities.

The acting head said these groups help to encourage children to take responsibility for the way they behave.

Discovery Club is another way to encourage responsibility within the pupils as they can choose to stay after school to receive help with their homework during two sessions a week.

The school follows the primary curriculum and is looking forward to the amalgamation.

“We are looking forward to the amalgamated school and the benefits it will bring to three to 11 education,” Mrs James said.

The schools chair of governors councillor Roger Jeavons added: “St Andrew’s Junior school has always been a pupil-orientated school and the staff really believe in the pupils ability, hence the motto reach for the stars.

“This amalgamation will allow a smooth flow of education from reception to Year 6.”

Fact file:

Acting Heads: Lesley James and Anthony Moses

Pupils on roll: 217

Ages: Seven to 11

Motto: We are proud of our school. In this school we care for one another, we show this by treating each other with courtesy and respect at all times.

Chairman of governors: Cll Roger Jeavons

The Estyn report in 2010 said:

Standards of performance are high at KS2

An inclusive ethos raises pupil’s aspirations and they are proud of their school.

The promotion of pupil’s well being is excellent

The partnership of parents and community is strong and the school is well led.