Once threatened with closure, Ponthir Church in Wales Primary School, is now seeing pupil numbers growing, as CATHERINE COOK discovered.
PONTHIR Church in Wales Primary School is going from strength to strength.
Situated in the village of Ponthir, about half way between Caerleon and Cwmbran, in 1975 the school moved from an older building near Llanfrechfa Church to purpose-built accommodation on a new site, although originally the building was designed for infants only.
The school was renamed Ponthir and in 2006 it returned to its original voluntary aided status.
The building is on a single level and set within attractive grounds with two playgrounds, surrounded by sports pitches and predominantly private houses.
Head teacher Ceris Spooner has been in post for the past five years and has seen some considerable changes in that time.
She said: “In the past the school has been threatened with closure, but fortunately that is no longer the case.
“Our intake numbers are steadily growing – although we haven’t quite met our maximum number yet, so if any parents are interested please contact me.
“We are one of the few schools in Torfaen whose numbers are continuing to grow.
“The LEA (Local Education Authority) is extremely supportive and has provided new windows, new wiring throughout the school and additional toilets in the demountable classrooms”
On the day of my visit, work was being done in the grounds to provide a new disability access outside the school.
“This is being funded by the LEA,” Mrs Spooner told me.
“All children will now be able to access our new meadow that has been designed and planted by the pupils themselves.”
The reception class and Year One were also outside planting red, white and blue flowers in the Jubilee Garden.
The school has recently had outdoor play equipment erected, funded by the Friends of Ponthir, which is primarily a fundraising association which supports the school and aims to advance the education of its’ children.
Year Five and Six pupils told me it did not take long for the equipment to be put up and all the pupils were excited about playing on it.
Gwent Music Support Service has provided a peripatetic teacher, Finn Hunter, who comes to the school and instructs reception class and Years One and Two.
On the day of my visit, pupils were preparing a ukulele demonstration to be performed for the whole school.
Members of staff are also keen to keep up to date with the latest training courses.
Mrs Spooner said: “Cerys White has just completed a sign language course and Robin Townley is undertaking an 11-week course to learn Welsh.
“One of our teaching assistants, Angela Lewis, has successfully gained a qualification in IT and studied in her own time.
“All my staff are hard working and, as we are a small school we work very much as a team.
“I consider myself very fortunate to have staff who go the extra mile and double up with duties if necessary.”
The school also has supportive governors who take an active interest in improving school life for the benefit of the staff and pupils.
Mrs Spooner and a fellow teacher recently took part in a London Trekathon, walking around all the Olympic venues – a total of 26.2miles. They have previously participated in other marathons and raised hundreds of pounds so far.
Mrs Spooner said: “It all helps to stimulate an interest in the Olympics for the children and, in fact, our sports day this year will be having an Olympic theme.”
Ponthir tennis team won the South East Wales Division for the Junior and Senior Class and there is a variety of seasonal sporting clubs on offer for the pupils.
“We are also one of the first schools in Torfaen to win Fair Trade status,” Mrs Spooner proudly added.
The school’s mission statement is ‘together we care, learn and grow’ and this is underpinned by an appropriate set of aims that are clearly laid out in the prospectus and which reflect the school’s Christian foundation.
Head Teacher: Ceris Spooner
Assistant head: Tina Davey
Teaching Staff: Four
Support Staff: Five
Children on roll: 101
Chairman of Governors: Ken Jacob
Inspection report● All learners, whatever their aptitude, ability or social or ethnic background make good progress through the school and fulfil their potential.
● Standards in the key skills of listening and speaking are outstanding across the school and learners make good progress in their reading abilities.
● Bilingualism is generally well developed and all learners have a positive attitude to learning Welsh.
● Learners’ behaviour throughout the day is exemplary.
All are friendly and polite and relate well to each other, staff and visitors.