This week Catherine Cook ventures to Magor to see what the Church in Wales school there has to offer.

MAGOR Primary is a voluntary aided Church in Wales school for boys and girls aged three to 11 years.

There is a warm welcome, both from children and staff as you enter the school building.

There is a smart school uniform in evidence, with the school badge declaring ‘The best tools are the tools of learning’.

A group of children were having rugby practice during my visit which was being taken by Undy rugby academy.

The academy has been working closely with Magor School for approximately four years after expanding their work out from the Undy area. The teams are mixed gender and split into two groups. Years 2-3 learn tag rugby and Years 4-6 play contact rugby.

They are growing from strength to strength and last year were finalists in the Newport School Christmas tournament.

The new enclosed playground has secure fencing all around.

Headteacher Gareth Atwell says: “During bonfire night last November, Magor Churchmen used the playground to hold a fireworks display here.

Naturally it was a safe environment and we had a well attended evening for parents, community and of course children.”

Once a month a group of pupils attend the ‘Munchies Club’ in the Ebenezer Baptist Chapel.

At the club they meet local senior citizens, many of whom are retired teachers, who talk, share experiences, play board games and learn a variety of skills such as flower arranging.

Because of this regular gathering the school has won an intergenerational award for the area of Monmouthshire.

The groups of children are rotated so everyone has a turn.

“Some of our children haven’t got a grandparent or possibly they live further away and this is a chance both for adults and children to share a special time together,” says Mr Atwell.

“The orange juice and biscuits which they have on their visits are an incentive of course.”

One of the children told me they love going to the Munchies Club as they enjoy playing board games, colouring and just having fun.

This is just one of the schemes where the school plays an active part in the community. In fact one of the comments in the latest inspection was: “The school is an integral part of the community and this helps prepare learners well for participation in the community and the workplace in later life.”

That inspection report also highlighted ‘positive working relationships, high expectations, a lively pace, rigorous planning and organisation, a good range of teaching strategies and excellent use of praise to nurture success’.

Every child in reception class gets either a cello or a violin to learn for the whole of the academic year.

A teacher from Gwent Music Service comes in to teach the children,”

says Mr Atwell. “And many carry on learning an instrument after the year is completed.

Also they often go on to join other musical groups in the area.”

Magor school has an extremely supportive PTA which not only is in charge of selling the school uniforms but also provides refreshments whenever there is an event and help to raise funds for the school.

“The PTA has raised many thousands of pounds for us enabling us to purchase such things as staging for the main hall, interactive white boards and new playground equipment,” Mr Atwell says.

There is a school trip arranged to visit Bristol Zoo which will link in with the reception class topic of ‘Cold Places’.

Nicola Thomas and Lisa Clarke are both reception teachers and told me the children will be having a polar experience at the zoo.

“This includes a talk from an Arctic explorer, touching and feeding the penguins and experiencing being inside a cave” says Mrs Thomas. “Pupils and adults alike are very much looking forward to the trip.”

Mr Atwell showed me a scheme being used throughout the school called ‘Maths Makes Sense.’ There have been very positive results from this scheme which is a very hands-on approach to maths.

“The practical maths starts with the reception children and by Year 2 pupils are actually doing fractions,” he says.

“As the children progress though the school obviously the work gets more demanding and includes ratios and negative numbers.

“We feel the pupils make a better connection to numeracy when they physically can make a connection.”

One of the Magor teachers is now a Maths Makes Sense trainer and goes into other schools to advise and train other schoolteachers.

“Reading and writing are the basics for life along with numeracy”

said Mr Atwell, “without them we would all be scuppered otherwise.”

“All my staff are dedicated to their profession and give freely of their time.

“Whenever we have school events they are always here helping out and when we did our production of High School Musical last year, every school year and department became involved.

“It was a real team effort.

“Our philosophy is that the children always come first.”

Fact file

Head Teacher: Gareth Atwell,

Deputy head teacher: John Tarren

Number of Teaching Staff: 16 Support Staff :16

Pupils on roll: 357

Age Range: Three to 11yrs

Head of Governors: Rector Marc Lawson-Jones

Inspection report

The report of February 2010 noted:

● Nearly all learners demonstrate good standards of behaviour and show appropriate respect for others.

● Attendance is above average for primary schools in Wales and the figure for similar schools.

● Nearly all learners progress well in their personal, social, moral and wider development.