From firefighting to filling supermarket shelves and working in a bank, children at Malpas Court Primary School have been given an insight into their futures. John Phillips reports.
CHILDREN received a shot in the arm as their school welcomed major UK companies and learner providers as part of an initiative to inspire pupils.
It was akin to a mini careers’ fair as the primary schoolchildren rubbed shoulders with bank workers, firefighters, representatives from high-street chains and the University of South Wales.
Malpas Court Primary School in Whittle Drive, Newport, staged the Inspire to Aspire day, which fits well with its ethos and motto: Nurture, Aspire, Achieve.
Held just before half term, the event acted as a kind of eye opener helping children get some inspiration for their potential future careers.
Ann Johns, 57, a head of learner services at Coleg Gwent, said on the day: “It is great to see youngsters having an opportunity to see different careers they can aspire to.”
Organisations present at the event included the RSPCA, Sainsbury, Tesco and the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, who were on hand with a fire engine in the school gardens.
The school may have a cohort of future firefighters including Gabriel Seager, six, who had the chance to climb into the appliance.
He even tried the hose reel and said: “It’s fun.”
Malpas firefighter Adam Place, 32, told the Argus: “For me it came later in life. I found out an office job was not for me and I was one of the lucky few to get in the first time.
“You have to be fit and get the grades as well. Children always wave at us and we enjoy them liking what we do.”
Deputy headteacher Gill Benson helped to organise the day.
She is standing down this summer after 22 years at Malpas Court.
She said: “It has been a privilege to be part of the school.
“Our core business is about the wellbeing and development of children.
“Certainly at Malpas Court, it is at the heart of what we do.
“Children need to have dreams and aspirations and ambition.
“So many of them do not know what’s out there.
“What we’re aiming to do is to give them information so that they can make informed choices.”
Walking through the corridors of the school last Friday, I discover that Malpas Court has an international feel with links with countries including Germany, China and India.
Around one in ten pupils – 11 per cent – have English as an additional language, the head teacher Debra Guy tells.
I find out that links with Germany in particular had gone from strength to strength since a British Council backed project called Comenius Regio was launched at the school last September.
Visits to Wales and Germany have taken place, also with the aim of raising aspirations.
Mrs Guy said: “Activities such as cooking clubs, stadium visits, camping trips and today’s Inspire to Aspire careers’ event have already made an impact on both pupils and parents.”
We catch up with two pupils of Czech descent drawing in a corridor overlooking the school’s gardens. One of them, Ingrid Horvathova, ten, explains why she enjoys art: “You can experience feelings.”
During our visit, children also learn to make their own sandwiches to take home, under the supervision of staff including teaching assistant Bonny Jones.
Ms Jones, 57, said: “It’s about healthy eating – what’s good to eat for them and what’s not good for them.”
Mrs Guy tells me that events run in partnership with Communities First include accredited healthy cooking courses for children and their parents with other projects planned including first-aid training.
The school did well following its last Estyn inspection in October 2011 and the inspectors highlighted that pupils’ literacy skills were developing well.
I find out that children use modern tools including desktop computers as well as tablets to develop literacy and numeracy skills.
The Argus found pupil Riley Kent, six, playing with a game similar to Angry Birds to help him learn how to count.
He said: “I can’t wait to get to 100.”
The school also features an indoor gym to get active and a dedicated sensory room to chill.
The facility kitted out with dimmed lighting, mirrors and sensory play equipment cost around £5,000.
Additional educational needs co-ordinator Dawn Webb, 43, said: “It is really good for children who have behavioural problems and to have time to relax. You can forget about it all.”
One of the pupils, aged 11, said: “It’s fun. I like the nice things on the walls.”
Other special areas of the school include a reading corner in a corridor and the gardens where children will start a planting programme called Green Shoots in June.
Mrs Guy, 49, said: “If we can just sow the seeds by the time they leave us, we will feel that we have achieved an awful lot.
“It fits in with our motto. Hopefully after today, children are going to have an idea of what they can potentially achieve in their lives.”
Head teacher: Debra Guy
Chair of Governors: David Mayer
Number of pupils on the roll: 180 pupils
School Motto: Nurture, Aspire, Achieve.
An Estyn inspection report published in 2011 highlighted that the school’s current performance was good because:
• At the end of key stage 1 pupils consistently performed according to expectations in terms of the level of challenge facing the school;
• Pupils at the end of key stage 2 performed above expectations in all subjects in
2011 compared with those of other schools in their family;
• The achievement in terms of the pupils’ learning and progress in lessons across
the school was strong and pupils’ literacy skills were developing well;
• Pupils’ understanding of global citizenship and their appreciation of diversity are
• Pupils with additional learning needs are making good progress and the children are extremely polite, work together effectively and behave well.
Estyn also found that the school’s prospects for improvement were good because:
• The headteacher has successfully developed a strong vision for the future, the quality of team work is good, and staff and governors are working well together in taking the school forward;
• In addition the school is responding well to local and national priorities and a professional learning community is helping to improve standards effectively.