Pupils at Raglan Voluntary Controlled Primary have plenty to shout about as they settle into their a new state-of-the-art building at the start of term. KATH SKELLON found out more.

THERE is an infectious enthusiasm for learning at Monmouthshire’s newest school.

Raglan Primary has only been open for a fortnight but is already a hive of activity with every corner of the newstate-of-the-art building in use.

The vibrant and welcoming school is bursting with motivated and enthusiastic pupils who immediately settled into life in their new home, just a stone’s throw from their former site.

Staff wasted no time in decorating many of the walls with colourful and eye-catching artwork and a range of projects undertaken by the pupils.

With its high ceilings, skylights and bi-fold doors, the children get plenty of natural light and space that is filled with interactive white boards, the latest technology and vast outdoor learning and play areas. These area can be reached via bi-fold doors which first lead to an indoor area used for arts and crafts, before pupils step outside into an undercover outdoor area allowing play in all weathers. This covered area runs along the side of the whole building.

The impressive one-storey eco-building was part funded by the Welsh Government’s 21st century Schools and Education Programme and built as part of the council’s 21st Century School programme.

It offers a fully flexible learning environment for its 215 pupils through plaza learning.

Its three open plan plazas, instead of classrooms, provide a way of teaching that differs from other schools.

Headteacher Jeremy Piper, who has been at the helm for eight years, said: “It is such a privilege to have a newly-built school.

“The best thing for me was the first day of term when all the children walked in and were not phased by being in a new building.

“It is their school and I am lucky to be its headteacher but I am looking after it for the pupils and their families.”

He added: “Monmouthshire council has given us the opportunity to work with the contractor Morgan Sindall to develop it and make it the school we needed.

“The whole site has to work for learning.

“The children have had an input and had the opportunity to meet with the builders.”

Mr Piper said its innovative design enables staff to develop cross-phase, cross-class and cross-curricular learning opportunities more effectively to meet the needs of all pupils.

He said: “The learning environment is designed to be flexible, allowing us to adapt the learning environment to enable even more innovative and exciting ways of learning to be developed.”

The Plazas are currently known as plaza one, two and three but will soon be re-named by the children. Its furniture is portable and can be taken outside in minutes.

“The whole design of this school is about bringing the indoors outdoors,” Mr Piper added. “We are very lucky to have such beautiful surroundings in Raglan.”

The site also boasts learning boards that are curved and acoustic as well as a projector that can project onto smart screens.

Mr Piper said his staff are well-prepared for the new style of learning, having spent the last year planning how they will teach in the new environment.

The school’s hall, which features lighting and a PA system, is set up for all kinds of activity. Its design includes a partition wall which opens up to create storage space and a backstage area for use during performances. Another room located close by is a servery used for school meals as food is not cooked on site. This also doubles up as a cookery suite for the children to use during after-school clubs. Healthy eating is an important aspect of school life and pupils enjoy cooking with produce and herbs grown on site in the vegetable planters.

In the creative zone, pupils can take part in activities such as music, drama and dance. There is a multi-purpose room can be let out for community groups but used by pupils during the day.

Music is a big part of life at Raglan Primary with many children learning instruments.

The headteacher said: “Gwent Music Services provide music lessons and reception pupils learn to play the violin or cello which they can continue through individual lessons as they move through the school.

“I run the school choir and the cluster choir. We perform at the annual Raglan Music Festival and also have a 70-strong orchestra.”

The school offers a range of after school clubs from mindfulness to bushcraft, cookery, netball, football and tag rugby.

The school is eco-friendly and was proud to receive a platinum Eco Flag in the summer – the highest award in the initiative.

“We harvest rainwater which is used to flush the toilets and used for external taps,” Mr Piper said. “The roof is covered in solar panels with an element of that going back into energy saving.

“The monitoring system is due to be installed on the network so every class and child can use an icon on their laptop to monitor what is being used at that time.”

The grounds of the new school provide a blank canvas for pupils and staff to put their mark on it. From a large playing field to a playground featuring outdoor play equipment, a friendship stop, vegetable planters and plans to develop a willow hide and establish a log circle.

“It’s all about the children being able to come out and use the environment,” added the headteacher.

“A brook runs the whole length of the site and the school has adopted this section which is behind the fence and accessed via a gate.

“We are working with Natural Resources Wales and Monmouthshire council looking at biodiversity and understanding habitats.

“Each child has the use of a laptop. They are really robust and can be taken outdoors to use as part of their learning.”

Mr Piper said it’s currently a busy time for the school with the harvest festival and Children In Need fast approaching.

When asked what he hopes the children leave Raglan Primary with, he replied: “These children are going to be members of a global citizenship so when they leave here it’s about having the skills to be able to fulfil whatever they want to do.

“Some want to be a musician, teacher, carpenters, if they have a belief, if we can equip them with the skills to achieve those dreams then we have done our job.”

Last Inspection

The school was last inspected by Estyn on its former site on Chepstow Road in 2010. The inspector found the school to be a good school with many outstanding features. Pupils display very good standards of behaviour and respect toward their peers and adults alike. Learning experiences and links with the community and the leaderships skills of the senior management team under the direction of the headteacher are also outstanding features. The report also praised; pupils progress in their learning and the excellent range of sporting, musical and cultural extra-curricular activities provided both during and outside the school day.


Raglan Voluntary Controlled Primary School, Station Road, Raglan.

Headteacher: Jeremy Piper

Deputy Head: Marc Bowen

Pupils on roll: 215

Ages: four to 11

Chair of Governors: Dr Cheryl Morgan

Opened: September 2015.