A UNIQUE school that strives for success continues to place its pupils at the heart of its activities.
St David’s Roman Catholic Primary School, which is tucked away on Caldicot Way, Pontrhydyrun, is one of two Catholic primaries in Cwmbran.
Joanne Weightman, who has been headteacher since 2016, said she is “proud” of what the school stands for.
She said: “The school stands to help our pupils become successful and excel in the areas they enjoy most of all.
“The children are at the very heart of the school.
“What is most important for us is for the children to succeed.
“They make the school what it is today, which is a welcoming and warm place.”
Mrs Weightman added that despite past events - especially during 2016 - the school continues to “aim high for its pupils”.
She said: “Unfortunately April 2016 was very upsetting for our close knit school.
“An arson attack took place and our reception class was burnt down.”
But following determination from staff members, pupils were able to return to the classroom two weeks later.
“The staff were diligent and focussed on the end goal,” said the headteacher.
“I am very thankful for all members of staff in keeping routines as orderly as possible during the time.”
The school has a wide-ranging curriculum, where pupils are encouraged to develop their passion and build upon past achievements.
“Our pupils have a good variety of subjects,” said Mrs Weightman, “and it’ll help them achieve success later.
“ICT, in particular, is integral to our learning.
“We decided to incorporate IT into lessons, so now pupils can access computers on a daily basis.
“We also teach our pupils coding and this will start from basic tasks then move to more complicated ones.”
The school also follows Christian teachings, with the school’s various activities reflecting the gospel.
Pupils are able to enter the school’s prayer room on a daily basis, for quiet reflection and to pray.
Mrs Weightman said: “The prayer room is open to all pupils throughout the day.
“Our local priest does visit the school and can offer pupils confession in there.
“Our faith is centred around all of our activities, just as our motto suggests.
“Christ is at the centre of everything we do.
“But we do have a broad range of diversity in our school.”
Twice a week, some classes are fortunate to receive a visit from Mary Peacock, 83, who has been supporting children with their reading skills for years.
Mrs Peacock said: “I help the children with their reading and I enjoy doing it.”
Mrs Weightman added that the pupils “very much” appreciate Mrs Peacock’s “tireless work”.
She said: “Mrs Peacock, like us, wants children to succeed and has given up her time for years to help them.
“She has been coming to the school for at least 20 years. Not only does she improve the children’s reading skills but she allows them to boost their confidence.”
In a bid to further pupil’s skills and interest, extra curriculum activities - including cricket, ICT, football, Welsh and craft clubs - are offered.
Karen Robinson, who is the school’s football coach, said that the football club is particularly popular.
She said: “I teach a lot of pupils football and allow them to build on what they like.
“They have played at various competitions, like at Newport County,
“We have some tournaments coming up and believe they’ll do really well.”
She added: “We want the children to find something they really enjoy.
Throughout the year, pupils at St David’s RC School also hold events to foster close links with the community.
Grandparents’ Day, which took place in September 2016, was particularly memorable, given the large turnout.
“The turn out for the day was very big,” said Mrs Weightman.
“The whole point of it was for pupils to be able to celebrate their grandparents.
“Grandparents were in for a treat when they heard the children sing hymns and read poems.”
Brenda Morris, 82, who attended the day, said it was “lovely”.
She said: “It was such a wonderful and happy day.
“I remember hearing the lovely hymns being sung.
“We were all so proud of our grandchildren and I can’t thank the school enough.
“I’ll remember that day for a long time,”
The school also places emphasis on charitable work.
More than 60 Christmas boxes were created by pupils in December 2016, which were sent to war-torn countries.
Mrs Weightman described pupils as “excellent ambassadors for the community” and spoke of her pride at the work they do.
She said: “We are very proud of our pupils.
“They are always credited for their behaviour and attitude in the local community.
“I cannot say enough times of how proud we are of them.”
The headteacher invited former pupils to maintain links with the school.
She said: “We’ve had many past pupils making contact with us.
“Soon Alessandro Cavalli will be visiting us about an upcoming expedition to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.
“It is lovely to see past pupils wanting to retain their links with the school.
“We continue to maintain an interest in our former pupils. Even after pupils leave us, we want them to know that they can always come back and receive support.”
Following an Estyn report in 2015, the school was judged to have made “good progress” and withdrawn from Estyn monitoring.
The school was also placed in strong yellow in a categorisation carried out by Education Achievement Services (EAS) in 2016, having formerly been in amber the previous year.
For more information on the school, visit goo.gl/BJDz9v or call 01633 482580.
SCHOOL: St David’s Roman Catholic Primary School
AGE RANGE: 3 to 11
STAFF members: 26
MOTTO: Learning, loving, laughing, following the footsteps of Jesus.
LANGUAGES SPOKEN: English, Polish and Welsh.
HEADTEACHER: Mrs Joanne Weightman.
DEPUTY HEADTEACHER: Mrs Marie Gunter
CHAIRMAN OF GOVERNORS: Yvonne Jones.
LAST INSPECTION: 2014.