IN THE heart of Liswerry staff at one local school are like a close-knit family. MELISSA JONES finds out more how children at St Andrews Infants School reap the rewards of this.

ON arrival at this Gwent school, the children were eagerly awaiting the Argus photographer’s arrival.

The pupils were keen to show the large outdoor space to its best advantage, which was developed in the last few months.

The youngsters relished being underneath the willow structure, using play equipment and the sandpit canopy, all recent additions at the school for their inquisitive minds to explore further.

The Foundation Phase pupils enjoy getting their hands into the den-making box, which provides natural materials for outdoor use.

Various extracurricular activities take place throughout the week, such as cooking classes, while there is zumba, a form of exercise which has taken off recently, for the local community.

The Newport-based school has worked hard towards getting its second Green Flag and a recycling project was part of this, working in partnership with Wastesavers where pupils brought in batteries, clothes and Christmas cards.

The children have also had a visit from Fairtrade Fred the superhero, to help farmers overseas.

Reception learned about bananas, and ecoschools coordinator Kate Thomas said they have meetings each term to discuss ways to do as much good locally for the planet as they can.

The staff are also committed to encouraging children to live a healthy lifestyle, having fruit and milk at break times and recycling on site.

“We are very big on healthy eating and exercise,” head teacher Deborah Lambert explained.

“We’ve done lots of assemblies on it and we have a gymclub and Welsh country dancing club here.”

Making the learning experience as varied as possible is a key aim for staff at the school, who happily chat together.

Mrs Lambert said they were all encouraged by their last inspection report, in meeting the needs of pupils.

She said: “Teaching was at least good, if not excellent and there is very good care, support and guidance here. We are in the process of refurbishing a nursery, ready for September and also we are getting large play equipment for our reception.”

Recent outdoor trips include a trip to Caerphilly Castle, attended by 120 pupils, to give them firsthand historical experience to tie in with a recent project, a visit to Wentwood Forest to learn about animals and the environment, while years one and two headed to Noah’s Ark farm park in Bristol for a similar project.

The school tries to bring real-life situations into the children’s education, as the head explains.

“We speak to our learners, they talk about what they want to know about families for instance,” Mrs Lambert said.

One recent example was explaining how different religions approach having a new baby in the family.

In addition, the school is most proud of having strong links with outside agencies.

These include Social Services, health and speech therapists, which means the varying needs of each child can be met at the school.

Such is the space in the building there are a number of rooms for multi-agency working and an educational welfare officer for the Liswerry cluster is based at the school.

It was also a pilot for Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) friendly schools in Newport.

“That shows we provide inclusive education and meet the needs of all pupils irrespective of whether they have a learning disability or an additional need,” said Mrs Lambert.

Next door to the school is the junior building and all pupils feel they play a part, as younger pupils often join the older ones for assemblies and concerts.


Praised in inspection

THE school’s most recent inspection was in March this year and its performance was rated as ‘good’.

It said the wellbeing of pupils is promoted and staff have a good understanding of how to keep pupils healthy and safe.

The leadership and management of the school was praised, along with its provision for teaching Welsh and the quality of teaching.

“School rules are procedures promote a safe, caring and respectful environment,”

it said.

Further on, it added: “The school’s ethos reflects its fully inclusive policy where pupils from different backgrounds are integrated smoothly into school life.”


Fact file

South Wales Argus: St Andrews Infant School, Lliswerry - Head teacher Deborah Lambert
  • Head teacher: Deborah Lambert, pictured right
  • Deputy head: Dawn Brown, pictured left
  • Number of pupils: 237 plus nursery pupils
  • Age range: Three to seven
  • Head of governors: John Davies
  • Year school opened: 1903 – remodelled in 1998
  • Motto: Learning together to achieve lifelong success

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South Wales Argus: St Andrews Infant School, Lliswerry