NESTLED in the heart of a sleepy residential area is a school bursting with creativity and energy.
From the moment you walk through the doors of Pontllanfraith’ s Bryn Primary it’s quickly apparent why the school is such a pioneer for inspiring students on their journey towards adulthood.
From digital skills training, vocational workshops, internationally recognised arts projects and a focus on fitness, the school is prime example of primary education at its best.
Deputy head, Jodi Khan, leading the Argus round the school, said the school’s ethos is to “ignite as much enthusiasm and creativity” as possible.
An example of this in action is the school’s status as an Arts Council for Wales Lead Creative School, which saw the school receive £10,000 funding to run projects to promote creativity in learning.
One project involved 14 boys embarking on a roleplay quest after a mystery package was delivered at the school.
The 16-week project— which involved writing, drama, roleplay and problem solving —culminated with an enigmatic figure, The Leaf Master, visiting pupils and setting them a writing task in disguise.
The group were presented with rings, formally adopted the collective name The Brotherhood and were asked to write about their experiences.
Mrs Khan believes the project reaped “massive gains” for the pupils leading to the project being labelled as an “exemplar” by the Arts Council of Wales.
From projects involving dragon eggs being delivered to the school, to a make-shift crime scene and pirate day, this “creative approach to learning” is a key feature at Bryn Primary School.
Because of the success of these schemes, the school has also continued to receive funding to expand its innovative ideas to other schools in the county borough.
Mrs Khan said: “Although I don’t have a background (in drama) you see the impact on learning if the children are having fun.”
Bryn Primary is known locally for pioneering the Daily Mile – a scheme rolled out nationally this year across all Welsh schools to promote daily exercise and wellbeing.
Following the success of a sponsored mile run for Sport Relief, Bryn Primary, decided to keep exercise a focus, with every pupil and teacher now taking part.
The scheme involves pupils filtering outside, class by class, to run or walk laps of the school grounds — with 17 laps equating to a mile — and was the first school in Caerphilly to do so.
Pupils also receive weekly sessions on cycle safety on the roads with Caerphilly County Borough Council as part of the National Cycling Scheme.
Gerwyn Harris, of Caerphilly CBC’s environmental health team, described the scheme as a “real life experience” of riding on the roads without adult supervision with a focus on “being seen”.
While outdoors, students also enjoy luscious green grounds, a pond brimming with wildlife and are eagerly awaiting the arrival of new chicks in a custom-built coop.
Mrs Khan, said: “What we have found for the key stage two children is that (The Daily Mile) gives them a boost of energy. It has aided in wellbeing and they’re very eager to do it.”
“We (teachers) have all started running a mile every day too which has made us a bit trimmer,” she added.
Another example of the school’s innovative approach to learning is an entrepreneurial business enterprise group.
When the Argus entered the school, children were gearing up for an Easter-themed sale including crafted Easter silhouette jars, cards and Easter hampers to sell to parents and other children.
To prepare for the task, pupils undertook market research and were asked to evaluate their projects upon completion, gaining a “business minded” perspective in the process.
With the budget changing each term for individual entrepreneurial projects, students are required to adapt, think creatively and overcome challenges to see their projects soar.
In terms of digital learning, the school has 10 iPads allocated to each class which are integrated with pupils’ learning on a day-to-day basis.
A student newsroom also gives pupils a taste of both print and broadcast media, with access to a green screen to record and listen to their own reports on world events.
Allocated pupils– or “digital wizards” – are spread among classes and are tasked with sharing best practice about using apps and building digital literacy.
To become a digital wizard, students must apply and go through an interview process with other pupils — a feature that fosters responsibility, leadership and community in the school.
The school also boasts a council — with each class having two school councillors — who regularly meet to discuss issues and improvements in the school environment.
Looking forward, the school also hope to develop a new government structure in the school based on the Welsh Assembly.
Mrs Khan also credited the “creative staff” at the school, with leaders “drawing on the skills of staff and implementing them into the curriculum”.
Teaching staff boast a range of skills from ballet, music and drama specialists to the sporting expertise of teacher Kim Boaler – of the Gwent Dragons women’s team.
Looking forward, the school hopes to expand its Lead Creative Schools and entrepreneur business enterprise which “impact positively on children’s futures”.
Mrs Khan added: “All the memories I have of primary school are of the fun things like running outside in the snow, or a Year 6 teacher turning off all the lights and telling a story.
“Every day is different and I think as staff here we’re all incredibly supportive of each another but we’re very much of the opinion that pupils need to leave at the end of the day smiling.
“We don’t want this way of learning and way of life to stop when they leave primary school.
“We want them to take these skills and us them in their lives and careers as they move forward.”