A BUSTLING school which aims to promote Welsh in everything they do – that is Ysgol Panteg Primary School.
The school, in Station Road, Griffithstown, was opened in 2010 to respond to the demand for Welsh medium education in Pontypool, Griffithstown, Sebastopol and New Inn.
Head teacher Euros Jones said: “Our school has grown very quickly – in six years, we have grown from 36 pupils to 349, which shows the demand for Welsh medium education in this area.
“Torfaen County Borough Council have responded to this need by giving us this new school, which has a capacity of 420 pupils.”
Mr Jones explained the school used to be located across two different sites and the new building was only opened in February this year.
“This place is built for 21st century learning. We have excellent facilities, both indoors and outdoors,” said Mr Jones, who was appointed as head teacher in September 2015. “This is an excellent space.
“We have a teaching kitchen, which is used to develop scientific knowledge and life skills such as cooking.”
He said what makes Ysgol Panteg unique is its Welsh ethos and the fact they want to promote Welsh in everything they do.
The head teacher said they are fully involved in anything they can do to promote the Welsh language within the Pontypool area.
“For instance, our singing group will be competing at this year’s Urdd Eisteddfod, held in Bridgend,” he added. “In the foundation phase, it is all in Welsh. English is introduced in Key Stage 2, when there is a mixture of subjects being taught in English and in Welsh.
“English is the first language of the majority of our students, we give them the chance to be immersed in the Welsh language.”
The school, which has around 30 members of staff including teaching assistants, launched their Welsh language charter earlier this week – which is a Welsh Government scheme to promote the use of the Welsh language.
They encourage children to make Welsh part of their everyday lives, not just in the school and, for instance, they have a Welsh music artist of the week.
“We are also a very friendly school where we encourage each other,” continued Mr Jones. “We pride ourselves on the way our staff work with the children and we ensure that every child reaches their full potential.
“We identify their talents and we give each child the chance to grow.”
The last Estyn report for the school was published in January 2015. It found the school’s current performance was “good” and that so were the school’s prospects for improvement.
The report said the current performance was good because nearly all pupils make “firm” progress, because provision for the Welsh language is “excellent” and because teaching is “effective and stimulating”, amongst others.
“We have lots of iPads and laptops,” Mr Jones continued. “I am lucky I have very young teaching staff who are very up to date with technology.
“They are used to technology, just like the children. Technology is part of their life, so it is part of the school as well.”
The head teacher said the school’s link with the community is “excellent” and that they are involved with Pontypool Community Council.
“We have taken part in Pontypool’s inter-schools Eisteddfod and in the Schools Environmental Quiz last year,” he said. “We have really good links with Panteg Hospital, where our students go to entertain patients.
“We are always fundraising, like most schools. We take part in Children In Need and Red Nose Day.
“Because we are a young school, we have lots of things happening.
“This year will be the first time we will have leavers and we are excited to have a leavers’ ceremony for the first time. We are a bustling school, we are very active – there is always something going on.”
Mr Jones said extracurricular activities provided in the school include hockey, football, rugby, Urdd club – a Welsh language youth group - reading club, netball and gymnastics.
He said their parents’ group is also “excellent” and that the support they give the school is “great”.
“They raise money through events like discos and the Christmas fair,” he continued. “They are very active and supportive of the school and they want to use the money they raise for the children.
“For instance, each class was recently given money from the PFA to give each class the extra sparkle.
“It gave them the opportunity to develop the class’ individuality.”
Mr Jones said being the head teacher has been a “great” learning experience for him.
Motto - Meithrin Meddyliau Craff (‘Nurturing inquisitive minds’)
Head teacher - Euros Jones
Chairman of governors - Lisa Bowen
Number of pupils - 349
Age of pupils - 3-11
Last inspection – January 2015