A SCHOOL which prides itself on the children’s wellbeing and happiness.
Malpas Court Primary School is a fully inclusive primary school set in its own extensive grounds. The school caters for children aged three to 11-years-old and prides itself on creating an atmosphere where children, staff, parents and visitors feel welcome.
Head teacher Debra Guy has been at the school for many years and was acting head until 2007 before becoming head teacher.
She describes being the head of the primary school as a “really rewarding position that always offers up something different”.
The school’s latest Estyn report, which came out in January this year, rated the school’s current performance as ‘good’ with its prospects for improvement as ‘good’. The report states that pupil’s wellbeing, including their behaviour “is very good, and the school provides care, support and guidance of high quality”.
It also says the school gives pupils “a rich and diverse curriculum” and “develops their awareness of sustainable development and global citizenship very well”.
At the moment Malpas Court has around 226 pupils, but the amount frequently changes due to new arrivals and children in nursery.
It is also a curriculum pioneer school which means that it is working with Welsh Government and other curriculum pioneer schools to develop and to pilot a new curriculum for Wales.
The school has a learning resource base for children from the wider area – who are not just in the catchment area – who have certain needs and speech or language impairment. Around 55 per cent of children in the school currently have additional learning needs. Also just under 50 per cent of the children are on free school meals.
“There’s lots of difficulties that we have to cope with as a school with children coming to school, but they love being here,” said Mrs Guy.
“There’s so much respect here and respect for the staff. We are one big family.”
Malpas Court offers yoga and wellbeing sessions for the children, to try and help with their learning. The sessions are currently for Key Stage Two children, and in the sessions they learn yoga positions and breathing techniques.
Miss Rochelle Francis, the Year 2 teacher, said the children have a specific yoga session each week.
She said: “The mini yoga is actually a 15 minute programme which is utilised to however you need it. We’ve seen the calmness since they started it. We started it in January and you can see the impact. There are learning to do things quietly as they do the poses and meditation where they have a timer and colour in silently for five minutes. It’s teaching them that they are not allowed to speak and they are just breathing.”
Wellbeing for the children is important but Mrs Guy also stresses that the school offers wellbeing to staff members as well.
Mrs Guy said: “If we haven’t got the wellbeing of our children then they are not going to be in the right frame of mind to work. Wellbeing is a high priority at Malpas Court, not just for pupils but for staff as well.
“We have lots of staff here and once a week we choose a member of staff for You Are Amazing once a week, and we say why they are amazing. All members of staff will say why that person is amazing and we have a You Are Amazing folder in the staff room. We also have mindfulness sessions for staff. We need to make sure they are supported and have what they need.”
The school is also the fourth school in Newport to achieve the National Quality Award (NQA) award for Healthy Schools, which was awarded to Malpas Court in November 2016.
“That covers so much and it just shows really that we are a school that looks after wellbeing and makes sure the children are healthy and know how to stay healthy to be able to carry on learning,” said Mrs Guy.
Malpas Court has a lot of partnerships with the British Council, which enables teachers and pupils to do a lot of international work to support the children in their awareness of global citizenship. Mrs Guy said the partnership helps the children to understand other countries, cultures and languages but also prepares them for life.
The most recent project undertaken by the school is the Erasmus project where Malpas Court Primary is twinned with schools in Spain and Greece. Pupils have recently come back from a visit to Spain which is the first time the school has had pupils go abroad for the project, which focused on sustainability.
“It was a huge learning experience for the children in the amount of skills they learnt just by travelling to Spain was amazing,” said Mrs Guy.
“The process we undertook in those children to apply for the international ambassador for Malpas Court Primary was a brilliant experience. We advertised the position to all Year 5 and 6 children.
“It was strict criteria like job requirements and they had to write an application saying why they thought they were the best person to represent Malpas Court Primary School. Their parents had to support them and be their referee. We had the interviews at the Civic Centre and the chair of governors was there as well.”
The school will be doing the same next year but will be travelling to Greece so children can reapply to go abroad and take part in the project.
To go with the international theme, the school has an international ‘pow wow’ session on Fridays. Mrs Guy invites the children before lunch to come to her and chat about things in the classroom. They taste food from different countries such as croissants from France, paella from Spain and other food items.
“It’s just my way of making things different,” said Mrs Guy. “We don’t eat massive meals as it’s just before lunch but we try things and it’s nice for them.
“It’s good for them to learn about different foods but they are also able to chat about any problems. They can also suggest improvements to the school as well.”
The school also does a lot of work on the growth mind set, which encourages children to keep trying at things and not to give up. There are several noticeboards and posters up around the school and in each classroom which give positive messages to the children.
“We tell them to carry on, to persevere and be positive. Speaking to the children now you see that they are beginning to say ‘I can do it, I can have a go,’” Mrs Guy said.
"It’s changing their mind set. Each classroom has a growth mind set and came up with their own motto.”
To sum up the school, Mrs Guy said she believes the school has a lot of experiences to offer their pupils and that wellbeing and happiness is at its core.
MOTTO: “Where children learn to live and live to learn in an ever changing world.”
Head teacher: Debra Guy
Chairman of governors: James Harris
Number of pupils: 226
Age of pupils: three to 11-years-old
Last inspection: January 2017