Beautifully refurbished and bursting with life, Lliswerry High School in Newport is paving the way for high-flying pupils to achieve success, as SOPHIE BROWNSON discovers.
ARRIVING at Lliswerry High on a bright September morning I am amazed at the school's sheer size.
Home to over a thousand students from across the east of Newport, the school is currently undergoing an impressive refurbishment to provide students with the best possible facilities.
The latest phase of refurbishment began in June and is transforming the building, providing the students with new facilities that include two new canteens, and modern sixth form facilities.
As part of this the Lliswerry Leisure Centre area is being transformed into a dance and drama studio, with PE changing facilities and state of the art music Jampod learning centre.
These compliment the outstanding sports facilities including a large sports hall and use of the Gol centre for pitches throughout the day.
“This is a really exciting time for the students in the school” Headteacher Alyson Mills told me.
“The whole school is going to benefit from the redevelopment which we hope will be completed in the new year
“The sixth form students have really got involved in the development and have chosen the colours for the common room –teal green!”
As Mrs Mills and Deputy Headteacher Phil Grimes show me round the school which was originally built in 1974, I am impressed by the high standards of behaviour amongst the pupils.
The school adopts a “firm but fair” approach to learning to ensure mutual respect between teachers and students.
“We try to build good working relationships with the children,” Mr Grimes said.
“If they are comfortable with you then they are more likely to engage in lessons.
”It is all about mutual respect.”
Chatting with the Headteacher, I learn that the pupils’ talents are varied but many lie within the performing arts with the school putting on an impressive annual production.
“We do one big production a year, a summer showcase with a GCSE art, drama and music display, and an annual Eisteddfod, which the students really enjoy,” Mrs Mills said.
“The next production is Oliver in early spring, which will see all the students get involved.
“We have adapted our curriculum to meet the needs of the pupils.”
The school offers a broad curriculum offering traditional subjects alongside new subjects such as photography in the new Applemac Suite.
“We know what our pupils are good at and we want to play to their strengths.
“We have our biggest sixth form this year as our results have gone up so much that three quarters of students are able to accesspost-16 courses, which supports our academic profile.”
Continuing my tour around the school I pass large monitors on the walls which are used to display BBC news, the times of activities going on in the school as well as the values of the school incorporated in to a package called ‘Lliswerry Learner,’ which ties into the school motto “Learning for Life”.
“Lliswerry Learner is all about the skills that you need in life to be successful,” Mr Grimes said.
“Posters have been designed by pupils to encourage them to achieve their goals and have long term targets.
“We also have a theme of the week which we bring in to assemblies and it runs as a vein that goes throughout the school during the week.
“The Lliswerry Learner came about as part of a staff consultation during which staff put forward what they believe to be the main attributes of a good learner.
“We put these to the pupils and they came up with some more ideas as well.”
Wandering around the school I see that each corridor has a subject themed bilingual frieze which identifies the subjects and livens up the corridors.
“We have red for Welsh, blue for English , green for Geography, lime green for Maths, and Pink for R.E - to name a few,” Mr Grimes added.
While other corridors have themes such as Welsh sporting and music stars.
Mrs Mills takes me in to a popular year 12 media class taught by Steve Jones, where students were being taught about the symbolic role of music in film.
Pupils at the school can also access courses at other institutions within Newport East to offer them a wider range of subject options, with mini buses taking them to schools such as St Julian’s for French and a variety of courses.
The school also has a strong school council.
“We have a very active school council with a strong learner voice,” Mrs Mills told me.
“This is their school and they only have one chance at it, so we want them to make sure that their chance is the best possible one and that they have the equipment that they need.
The school ensures this by offering students the chance to take part in a number of extra-curricular activities such as The Duke of Edinburgh Scheme led by the Assistant Headteacher Bob Morgan as a way of developing their skills and improving their employability.
As part of the extra-curricular activities, pupils have the opportunity to broaden their learning experience by participating in many sporting fixtures, choir and drama and trips such as the ski tour, year seven London Trip and the history and languages trip to France.
The school also provides support to pupils whose first language isn’t English with over 30 different languages in the school.
In KS4, one year courses run for mixed classes of year ten and 11 pupils to enable them gain a qualification in the year, allowing them to choose a different course the following year.
High flying sixth form students include Jamie Parsons who achieved 11 A* and 1A, Joe Davies who achieved six A* and 5A’s, and Dan Cork, who achieved 3A* and 8A’s at GCSE.
Mrs Mills puts it down to the hard work and determination of both students and teachers throughout numerous revision sessions after school and in school holidays and the support of parents throughout their child’s time at school
“Our aim is to look after each individual,” Mr Grimes said,
“We set them all targets to allow them to strive to reach their potential and guiding them towards achieving them.”
Head: Alyson Mills
Deputy Head: Phil Grimes
Chairman of governors: Steve Richardson
Pupils on roll: 1,050
Motto: ‘Learning for Life’
ESTYN REPORT 2013
The last Estyn report showed that the good features of the school include:
•A significant reduction in numbers of those who leave without qualifications.
•Effective support for pupils with additional learning needs including those who speak English as an additional language.
•An effective working partnership that has contributed to improving pupils’ wellbeing and increased the range of options in key stage four and the sixth form.
•A good learning environment is provided where each pupil is valued as an individual and enabled to contribute to the life of the school.
•All pupils receive equal access to everything the school provides and there are good arrangements to ensure pupils with disabilities are not put at any disadvantage.