A school with a difference, SOMERTON PRIMARY in Newport puts pupil participation and enjoyment above all else, as reporter SOPHIE BROWSON discovers.
TUCKED away in the heart of the community Somerton Primary School provides a welcoming home for the learning of its pupils.
Entering the school grounds on a bright sunny morning I am greeted by smiling head Fiona Rutledge who is buzzing with the schools latest achievements.
Leading me straight into the schools magnificent garden, Mrs Rutledge shows me the pupils hard work in securing the Newport in Bloom’s Silver Leaf Award for a developing garden and the sustainability work the eco committee have been carrying out.
“We are aiming for the Newport In Bloom Silver Gilt Award for a thriving garden next year,” Mrs Rutledge said.
“All of the children take part in Newport in Bloom, with activities like growing the tallest sunflower, decorating plant pots and creating a garden on a dinner plate.
“We like to take part as it provides an enjoyable learning experience and helps to develop literacy and numeracy skills.”
The eco committee led by Lisa Rowlands is thriving with the pupils currently working on an eco greenhouse encompassing more than 4,000 bottles donated by the pupils themselves.
“We are really pleased and proud of Mrs Rowlands and the work of the eco team along with the parents in gaining the green eco flag for the second time,” Mrs Rutledge said of the garden.
“We have been working with Newport City Homes in putting up the eco green house, and they have provided us with manual support and have contributed to the schools efforts to build links and networks.”
Somerton, which has been an eco school for the past five years, recently held its annual summer fete which saw children decorate teapots donated by the Celtic Manor, and make bags in the style of Laura Ashley as part of an effort to raise funds and develop pupils’ entrepreneurial skills.
“We managed to raise more than £300 for the fete, now in its second year, and it is going from strength to strength,” the head said.
“We always have the support of parents and it is a big thing for us to engage parents with learning between home and school.”
This link between parent and child learning is introduced into the school from the start, I discover, when Mrs Rutledge introduces me to the nursery class.
The head explains how parents come in to weekly ‘language and play’ sessions in nursery where they engage with their children through art based projects.
Throughout the school children learn literacy skills through the Nessy Phonics Programme which support their phonic knowledge and reading.
Welsh language also remains a big thing in the school with children taking part in weekly classes and children interacting in Welsh at certain times including ordering from the tuck trolley at break times.
“We are always trying to promote healthy eating throughout the school with healthy lunch boxes and providing the children with water and milk,” Mrs Rutledge said.
The school have a healthy tuck trolley which comes out every break time offering children the opportunity to purchase fruit using 25p fruit tokens from their fellow pupils.
As part of the schools healthy approach, pupils take part in a variety of sports and clubs including netball and football, where the school is celebrating after both teams have achieved sporting successes.
“The netball team led by Laura Johansen, came second in the Lliswerry Netball Tournament while the football team came first in their tournament representing England against the Lliswerry Cluster where they competed against Maindee Primary, St Andrews and Lliswerry Primary school.
“We focus on cluster-based working with other schools across the area.
“We are all about enthusiasm, enjoyment and participation through the cluster working.
“It is helping us go from strength to strength.”
As part of this cluster-based working, children are supported throughout the transition process form primary to secondary school.
“We have a transition day where children meet their new teachers as they move up a year and learn the new rules and expectations,” the head said.
The school also has an active school council and Pupil Voice where children can discuss what they would like to see implemented in the school.
Active engagement in learning is also encouraged through visitors who deliver talks.
During the day visitors Tony Davies and Dave Shankland from ADA Recycling and Safety Training were there to deliver a workshop, aiming to teach children from Key Stage Two the importance of recycling.
Music is also a big part of the school with pupils showcasing their skills in weekly assemblies.
The school is delighted after instruments have been donated by Gareth Selfe from Admiral.
“They have really helped to enhance music and we are so grateful,” Mrs Rutledge said.
“We are always looking for donations.”
Head: Mrs Fiona Rutledge
Chair of Governors: Alan Speight
Pupils on roll: 172
Motto: Learning, playing and growing together
THE last Estyn inspection took place in October 2011.
The inspection team, led by Eleri Hurley, found the performance of the school to be good with reading initiatives amongst its strengths.
In her findings Ms Hurley said many pupils communicate their ideas and opinions confidently and listen attentively in lessons. Pupils are very proud of their school and are well motivated and work conscientiously.
Teachers motivate pupils well to succeed and make progress in a caring, welcoming and orderly environment where every child is valued.