Pupils at Blaentillery Primary School are Leaping to Success both inside and out of the classroom as KATH SKELLON found out.

IT may be a small school but Blaentillery Primary is a hive of activity.

“From cookery classes, to reading, playing sports and a trip to Cardiff, no two days are ever the same,” explained head teacher Judith Cleaves.

As we walk along the corridors decorated with the pupils’ impressive art-work you can’t help but notice a bright green frog.

“We chose frogs as our logo and the motto ‘Leaping to Success’ because Cwmtillery Lakes are on our doorstep and we regularly take the pupils there as part of their outdoor classroom work,” said Mrs Cleaves.

There is much to shout about at Blaentillery.

Years 3 and 4 helped to put on a production as part of a ‘Night Out Young Promoter’ project with Blaentillery Young Promoters helping them book the actors for Once Upon A Time and organise a raffle.

Over in the nursery the children are busy working on a seaside project ahead of a trip to the aquarium in West Wales, while others are in the classroom studying a rang of subjects from reading to writing and maths.

The school is also preparing for its annual summer fete in which the children run their own stalls selling plants and cakes they have brought from home or made.

“This helps with their business skills and confidence and they really enjoy it,” added Mrs Cleaves.

In the classroom, Mrs Cleaves said literacy is improving all the time.

“We are using the Read- Write Inc approach and have introduced Talk Homework which encourages the children to talk about a different topic each week, which helps improve their writing skills.”

‘All Skilled Up’ is another initiative aimed at addressing boys literacy skills. The project with Cardiff City Football Club has seen the children visit the club.

“We are always trying to think of innovative ways of making the curriculum relevant to children.”

Another initiative proving to be a success is an attendance award whereby the children are given certificates for good attendance.

Outside when they are not taking advantage of the ‘Chill Out Zone’, which is a much-loved area and focal point of the school where mini beast hunts, storytelling and tomato growing all take place, the children are playing sports as part of the curriculum and after-school clubs.

The school recently took part in a local swimming gala and next week, three pupils will travel to Brynmawr Senior School for the finals of the Town Olympics, competing in the javelin, long jump and running.

“It’s a busy term, having marked the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and nowpreparing to welcome the Olympics,” said Mrs Cleaves. “It’s an exciting time for us here.”

Planned trips in the coming weeks include a residential visit to Cardiff where they will see the castle, Techniquest, the Welsh Assembly and the Millennium Stadium.

“It’s a chance for them to experience urban life and to mix with other children of the same age from local schools. “They stay in a hostel where they are encouraged to speak Welsh and the experience does help with their transition in moving to the comprehensive school.”

The children are actively involved in making decisions through its school council and are helped by the Friends of Blaentillery parent group which works tirelessly for the benefit of the children in fundraising. “They hold regular cinema nights, discos, fetes and raffles.

There is such a community spirit here,” said Mrs Cleaves. “We want to give them life skills and a ‘can do’ attitude to take them forward and to be able to compete in the 21st century.”


Address: Blaentillery Primary School, Bridge Terrace, Cwmtillery, Blaenau Gwent.

Head teacher: Judith Cleaves

Chair of Governors: Cllr Glyn Smith

Pupils: 60, aged three to eleven School opened: 1897

After-school clubs receive praise

MICHAEl Ridout, who carried out the last inspection in 2009, found that pupils made good progress in their personal, social and wider developments.

He said the pupils develop a strong sense of right and wrong, fair play and are considerate, caring and courteous towards others.

Mr Ridout found pupils to be well prepared for taking part within the community and praised the range of after-school clubs.

Learning experiences are successfully enriched through planned visits to places of interest both locally and further afield and the school does much to ensure that pupils gain an appropriate grounding in the skills essential for them to engage in lifeling learning and contribute to community regeneration in later life.