Learning at St Mary’s Church in Wales Primary School is fun and fast-paced. KATHARINE SKELLON finds out more.
CHILDREN at St Mary’s Church in Wales Primary take pride in the things they do.
Trophies, awards and photographs of school life are displayed in the main reception area, proudly highlighting the school’s achievements and dedication of its pupils.
The corridors and walls are decorated with inspiring quotes from the school song, artwork and projects by pupils. Every corner of the building is put to good use acting as reading corners and including an area for working with Lego.
It has been a busy term for staff and pupils who have welcomed visitors from a school in Tanzania, planted poppies and created a wildflower meadow to mark the 100th anniversary of the First World War and performed in a concert.
School head teacher Darren Jones, who has been at the helm for 15 months, said the key to learning is to make it interesting, enjoyable, stimulating and fast-paced.
He said: “Children of all abilities are challenged to go to that next step in learning.”
One of the school’s newest areas is the library.
Mr Jones explained: “It used to be a music store room until January.
“We transformed it into a library and stocked it with books funded by the PTA and one of our dinner ladies kindly painted characters such as Harry Potter on the walls for different age groups.
“The children want to come in here and are excited about reading.”
In a nearby classroom, pupils are making Newton metres to measure friction and force. At the end of the week they will use them to weigh trainers. They have also made model fairground rides, yachts and windmills.
In another they are using laptops to carry out research for a project about machines and famous inventors.
The school has extensive grounds which include a woodland area, wildflower meadow, wildlife garden and an outdoor area outside each foundation class. The school has won two Green Flag awards and is constantly working on projects to improve the grounds and extend habitats, with a plan to create a bog garden.
Nursery and foundation phase pupils relish being able to visit dens in the woodland area for storytelling that were created by Key Stage 2. Each child has a full set of waterproofs and their own wellies so that they can go outside whatever the weather.
“The outdoor environment is perfect for developing literacy, numeracy and writing skills across the curriculum,” Mr Jones added.
Last month the school welcomed teachers Dr Edwin Shunda and Johnson Lugoye from Tandau Primary School in Tanzania as part of a school twinning project set up by teachers and twinning co-ordinators John Meredith and Linda Webb to develop links between classes of children from different cultures.
Mr Meredith, RE co-ordinator, said: “The visit has been a success and the school twinning link has now been firmly established.
“Dr Shunda is keen to teach their school about biodiversity and conservation projects similar to those in St Mary’s.
“Johnson Lugoye was especially interested in the numeracy and literacy teaching methods and is keen to start these methods in his school.”
Mr Meredith, Ms Webb and Jake Webb first visited the school in August last year, with funding from the British Council, to share ideas and form as many links as possible.
St Mary’s has since pledged to help Tandau School to improve its teaching resources and has been teaching pupils about life and school in Tanzania as part of their lessons.
Mr Jones admitted that life at the school, which has close links with local churches and the community, is always busy.
“It is a very productive time at St Mary’s. I have a team of dedicated and enthusiastic staff who are striving to give the children of the local community the best education possible.”
“We are striving to improve standards throughout the school and look forward to welcoming two new teachers in September.”
When asked what he hopes pupils will leave St Mary’s with, he replied: “To fulfil their potential academically and be confident. To have a range of skills that will prepare them for life in the 21st century and the ability to learn new skills.”
At the end of term the school will bid farewell to its longest-serving teaching assistant. Carolyn Morgan, who began working at the school 36 years ago, said she will be sad to leave.
“I’ve seen a lot of changes over the years and have taught the children and grandchildren of former pupils. It has been really rewarding and enjoyable. I’ve never wanted to work anywhere else,” said Mrs Morgan.
Mr Jones added: “She has been devoted to life at St Mary’s and will be sorely missed.”
As the school year comes to a close pupils are preparing to take part in the annual sports day and end-of-year assemblies.
FACT FILE: St Mary’s Church in Wales Primary School, Intermediate Road, Brynmawr, Blaenau Gwent.
School headteacher: Darren Jones
Deputy headteacher: Alison Chaplin
Chairman of Governors: Alan Williams
Pupils: 260 - aged three to 11-years-old
St Mary’s Church in Wales Primary School was last inspected in June of last year.
The inspector Peter Mathias reported that teaching is good across the school and that it has a very positive and supportive ethos.
Pupils have good opportunities to learn about ecological issues and global citizenship and standards in classes at the end of key stage two in literacy and Welsh are good.
Pupils are enthusiastic and well motivated. Mr Mathias said the school is a safe and caring community where pupils’ personal and spiritual development is given high priority.