SCHOOL OF THE WEEK: Ynysddu Primary School

South Wales Argus: ANYONE FOR TEA? Ella Carpenter, Elisha Colyer and Zak Hackland, all four, in the nursery school Buy this photo » ANYONE FOR TEA? Ella Carpenter, Elisha Colyer and Zak Hackland, all four, in the nursery school

Ynysddu Primary has a new look and a new deputy head teacher. CATHERINE COOK reports.

Ynysddu Primary School in March 2011, the building’s reception and grounds have been transformed and a newdeputy head teacher has been appointed.

The reception area nowhas a comfortable seating area and wall-mounted flat screen showing photographs of the pupils at work and play.

Deputy head teacher Alex Edwards is a newaddition and has already made an impact.

Newhead teacher John Farmer told me. “Alex has arrived with fresh ideas and there is a great rapport between us which makes my job all the easier.”

Work has also been done to the grounds, as well as inside the building, making it a suitable environment for disabled pupils.

“We nowhave refurbished disabled toilets plus a ramp access to the nursery building and full disabled access to the rest of the site,” Mr Farmer said.

Caerphilly Council Groundwork staff have laid pathways around the school, making access to all areas easier especially in inclement weather.

Within the nursery building there used to be a Mother’s and Toddlers group but due to demand and gauging the interest from the community, Ynysddu nowholds Stompers Playgroup in the same building, with its numbers increasing all the time.

“We find that parents use the playgroup around their work commitments and it has proved very successful. We listened to the needs and demands of the community and have fitted Stompers in around these needs,” said Mr Farmer.

The nursery building is shared by a community youth club after school hours who agreed for an graffiti artist to decorate the playgroup walls with decoration suitable for three-year-olds. The results are impressive, to say the least.

“By attracting three-yearolds and now16-year-olds, we are involving the whole community on our site. The older members can nowtake pride and ownership in their building.”

Alarge proportion of the school budget has been invested in technical equipment including iPods, iPads and flat screen computers.

“Our initiatives with the new literacy scheme are well embedded and having an impact,” said Mr Farmer. “And we find that by using technology we are able to engage pupils with learning more readily, especially the boys. There is a significant upward trend in our core subjects and together with guided reading groups we are making significant strides.”

Health and fitness are a prominent part of the curriculum.

Ynysddu Primary has received anAward for Active Marc. This reflects the good practice for health and sport.

There is an active school PE and sports council with two pupils having been accepted as bronze ambassadors within the Caerphilly catchments.

“The governing body have arranged for a tennis coach from Caerphilly Sports Development to come and train with the pupils this term. It seemed relevant at this time with Wimbledon and the nation supporting Andy Murray.

Tennis was getting a lot of coverage.

We also have a number of sporting initiatives throughout the school year including football, cricket and cycling proficiency,” Mr Farmer told me.

Within the grounds are raised flower beds, allotments and a polytunnel.Anewwooden outdoor classroom has been built where children can hear stories, read and have their break time refreshments. The classroom is festooned with handmade decorations made by the children, which look very inviting and stimulating.

Years 1&2 were involved in an Amazon rainforest project with pupils making models of frogs and other creatures.

Within the classroom were two Cwmcarn High School pupils on work experience.

“We also welcome pupils from Pontllanfraith Technical College and YstradMyanch College to come to our school for training purposes and to enable them to gain a variety of qualifications,” said Mr Farmer.

Outside the classroom were two class guinea pigs looked after by the children.

“It helps to teach them about nurturing and makes them responsible for looking after pets,” Miss Edwards told me.

“We even have our own veterinary surgery complete with dressing-up clothes and medical equipment which all promotes imaginative play.”

After-school clubs at Ynysddu include a computer club for children and parents to learn together; a book club (“which has improved reading considerably by the use of electronic books” said Mr Farmer); a gardening club where pupils have sold their own produce at the school fete to raise monies – “we also distribute produce to the older members of the community throughout the year and at harvest time”; a folk dancing club and a cookery club.

The local community also uses the school for Zumba classes two evening a week, circuit training classes and the youth club who are on site for two evenings.

“We have seen a significant amount of change within the last 12 months, all to the good, and we continue to strive for excellence in all we do,” said Mr Farmer. “The community is extremely supportive and plays an important part in our school life and we are proud of our successes.”

●A new Estyn inspection report for the school is due to be published next month.

Factfile

Head teacher: Mr John Farmer

Deputy Head Teacher: Miss Alex Edwards

Teaching Staff: 6 Support: 9 Children on Roll: 93

Age Range: 3-11

Chairwoman of governors: Mrs Helen Davies

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