A RECENTLY amalgamated school has proudly spoken of its diversity and first-class facilities.
Cwmbran High School, which was established in 2015 following the amalgamation of Fairwater School and Llantarnam School, is situated on the former Fairwater site and consists of five buildings, including a leisure block.
Helen Coulson, who was previously head teacher of Fairwater and now of Cwmbran High School, said some disruption was caused during the merger.
Mrs Coulson said: “There was some disruption but we tried our very best to limit it.
“But with work taking place all over the site some issues did crop up.
“But we are 99 per cent of the way there now.”
The decision was made to merge the schools, following a fall in pupil numbers.
The closures also saw £6 million spent in redeveloping a brand new school.
Cwmbran High School now boasts an impressive array of facilities for pupils of all abilities.
“Many of our buildings have been totally refurbished”, said Mrs Coulson, “and this was due to the millions being spent here.
“Our one hall can be used in a variety of different ways, from drama classes and performances to assemblies.
“Some of the classrooms have undergone improvements also.
“The benefits will be felt across the school.
“We’re very pleased with the work.”
The school is also celebrating recent examination success, where a handful of students achieved top grades in maths and numeracy.
Harry Lewis, 15, achieved two A* in maths and numeracy GCSEs.
He said: “I can’t believe that I managed to get top grades in these fields.
“We got these results seven months early too.
“I think it is a result of the hard work that staff made for us to get these grades.
“They put on lots of lessons during lunch time and after school.
“I’m happy with my grade.”
Mrs Coulson added: “We’re very proud of this success and they are in line with the Welsh average. “But we are equally proud of all of our students.
“Our students are from a range of backgrounds and we take great pride in our diversity as a school.
“We live by our motto ‘Strong Together’ all the time.”
An autism unit – Autistic Spectrum Disorder base (ASD) – is based in the school’s lower school building.
Mrs Coulson said: “We are an autism friendly school.
“Because of the facilities we can offer pupils, we have children coming from all over the catchment area to come here.”
The autism base has attached to it a “life skills suite”, which includes a bed, kitchen and sitting area.
“The aim of this is to allow pupils who come to the unit to learn different skills,” said Mrs Coulson.
“Children can learn many skills in here and this will prepare them when they leave school.
“And should they wish to have time out from their schedule, they can do so.”
Round the corner from the autism unit is the Hearing Impairment Unit, which accommodates pupils who are hard of hearing.
Pupils are taught the same subjects but through sign language.
“I think this shows that we are a truly diverse school,” said Mrs Coulson.
“We accommodate pupils with different needs and they feel very much a part of this school.
The school also offers the Move Project programme, which provides assistance to children with disabilities.
“There are a range of activities that are provided,” said Mrs Coulson.
“Sometimes activities could involve the throwing of balls.
“The purpose of this group is to help children.”
A football academy can also be found on the school site.
“We have two football coaches here,” said Mrs Coulson.
“Obviously the role of this is to develop skills for the sport.
“I know that is it very popular.”
Academic success has recently continued at the school when three A-level science pupils were successful in applying for the prestigious Nuffield Science Research Project.
The placement involved pupils spending the summer holiday in a university to conduct academic research.
Evie McAndrew, who spent last summer at Cardiff University and researched landslides following earthquakes in China, now has her work being used by the Chinese government.
Chelsea Stevens, who also carried out research at Cardiff University, researched antibiotic resistant bacteria, whilst Nathan Boey, who performed research at Aberystwyth University, researched the physics of “liquid droplets confined in non-flat walls”.
Pupils are also offered a wide-ranging curriculum at the school, including a computer science module in IT lessons.
John Childs, an IT teacher at the school, said: “The skills that pupils gain in these lessons are very important for their careers.
“We have introduced some computer science content and it is quite difficult in the beginning, but the pupils are very good at it.”
Mr Childs said the IT lessons at the school are quite diverse.
He said: “We also teach coding.
“Coding is liked in my classes.
“The taught modules are wide-ranging.”
Mrs Coulson believes that the school stands out because it is “diverse”.
She said: “We are a very, very diverse school – and I cannot stress that enough.
“You can see from our school how diverse we are and we take pride in that.
“Also, look at the number of pupils we have here – it is enormous.”
The head teacher credited pupils and staff for ensuring that the school achieves highly.
She said: “It’s a team effort to achieve things.
“Everyone puts in their 100 per cent.
“The pupils and staff work really hard to achieve their end goals.
“I am thankful to all who help make this school a success.”
Cwmbran High School continues to foster close relations with the Torfaen community.
Mrs Coulson said: “We have very close links with the community and we hold many events which the public are invited to.
“The deaf choir put on a superb and moving performance and they’ve also performed at the Millennium Stadium.
“During the last term of school, we will be putting on a performance of Beauty and the Beast and I hope it is a success.”
An Estyn inspection was carried out 12 weeks after the school opened.
Mrs Coulson said: “It took place in December 2015, so not very long after we had opened.
“It said we were adequate.
“But we will strive for further success and will continue to do so.”
MOTTO: Stronger Together
HEAD TEACHER: Helen Coulson.
CHAIRMAN OF GOVERNORS: Rosemary Seabourne.
NUMBER OF PUPILS: 1,250.
AGE OF PUPILS: 11 to 19.
LANGUAGES: English, Welsh, British Sign Language, Dutch/Flemish, Filipino, German, Nepali, Panjabi, Polish, Russian, Shona, Tagalog, Tagalog/Filipino, Thai and Urdu.
LAST INSPECTION: 2015