ONE of the goals of Griffithstown Primary School is to become a ‘thinking school’, as CATHERINE COOK reports. Primary School is an open plan school, with every class working in pairs together with additional support staff.
“Teachers have individual skills,” said Gari Lockwood, one of the senior members of staff who gave me a guided tour, “and by having two teachers working together they can pool their skills. It really works well for the pupils and the adults.”
The light and spacious classrooms also have separate group rooms leading from the main rooms. These enable individual or concentrated group work. The children are well-behaved and polite – part of the school’s code of conduct is ‘Be kind and speak politely to everyone in school.’ Head teacher Debbie Ward was ill on the day of my visit, and the deputy head teacher Ann McGhee had taken a group of children to the Riverfront Theatre to rehearse for their forthcoming production of Macbeth.
Mr Lockwood showed me the recently refurbished hall.
It is well-equipped with stage lighting and portable staging for the many school productions and assemblies. “We have removable staging and each school year will paint and design a backdrop to suit their production” Mr Lockwood said.
There is also a new extension within the building, where we met Year 5 book club in the library.
The club meets every Friday and there are a number of groups within the club who are involved. The object of the club is primarily for pupils to enjoy reading stories.
However, each member of the group is responsible for a different aspect – there is a question finder; a summariser; a manager; and one who looks up interesting words within the story.
“This is for high-order reading skills,” Mr Lockwood said, “and promotes reading between the lines.” (No pun intended!) One of the aims of Griffithstown Primary is to become a ‘thinking school.’ “Our goal is to promote different ways of thinking and to develop further thinking and imagination,” Mr Lockwood said.
The Criw Cymraeg is a Welsh language club for Years 4 and 5. The club meets fortnightly and encourages the use of the Welsh language.
Mr Lockwood holds a Welsh assembly every fortnight for the whole school, where Welsh cakes and bara brith are often consumed. During the morning break there is a fruit lunch trolley available, where pupils can purchase fruit and healthy snacks.
“If pupils order their fruit in Welsh they have their name read out in the next assembly,”
said Mr Lockwood.
During every playtime a team of litter pickers are hard at work. Iestyn Lewis is the chief volunteer ‘picker’ and loves his job. Iestyn also did the job last year and his team are dedicated to keeping the grounds and playground free from any litter.
The nursery has an attractive and inviting quiet corner.
Teaching assistant Joanne Morgan told me it is a special place for the three-year-olds to ‘chill out’ and relax.
“It can be a long day for the children who are here for a full school day, so the quiet corner can be used to listen to a story or merely to have a time for peace and quiet,” Mrs Morgan said.
Year 1 were learning how to hand-wash clothes (surely a dying art), as cleaning week was their topic.
The children were working to a rota. Their jobs ranged from cooking, vacuum cleaning and washing.
Reception class also enjoys Forest School, where they have a log circle for sitting on and plenty of room to explore and investigate nature and their surroundings.
Year 6 have a video conference centre and the school has exchanged staff with schools in France and Germany.
The school has video links with several schools. “Forty per cent of the staff have been on an exchange where they observe and watch teaching methods in those countries,”
said Mr Lockwood.
“When the teachers come over to us we set up a special French or German day.”
Griffithstown Primary has a hard-working Parent and Teacher Association which recently raised money for a reading scheme and resources.
“They are extremely supportive and help raise funding for all sorts of things,” said Mr Lockwood. “They work hard on our sports day, school fete and Christmas events, for example.
When Year 6 pupils have their leaving party, the PTA decorates the hall and organise a disco and food.
“We are very lucky to have such a supportive association,”
said Mr Lockwood.
Relationships are great strength – report
THE last inspection report, based on a visit in June 2008, said that relationships within the school are a strength.
Pupils display a good, positive attitude towards learning.
They enjoy their lessons and are well motivated.
The standard of behaviour in most pupils is good. From the earliest age, most pupils are respectful, courteous, thoughtful and relate well to one another and to adults.
Head teacher: Debbie Ward
Deputy head teacher: Ann McGhee
Teaching staff: 12
Children on roll: 355
Chairman of governors: Alan Peploe