Llantilio Pertholey Voluntary Controlled Primary School is a vibrant and active school where pupils strive to achieve together as Kath Skellon found out.

IT’S a new era for staff and children at one Abergavenny primary school, having welcomed a new headteacher.

Joanne Bayton is relishing her new post at the helm of Llantilio Pertholey primary.

Since becoming headteacher in April the former acting head of Glyncoed in Ebbw Vale has immersed herself into school life and within the close-knit community in Mardy.

Mrs Bayton said she feels very lucky to have joined the thriving school and admits she has fallen on her feet in her first headship.

“I am very lucky. We have amazing grounds here which are used by the children as often as possible.”

With her first full school year underway she is keen to put her plans for the coming months into action.

“It’s an exciting time and there is plenty I would like to do.”

She is keen to build on the foundations built by her predecessor, David Evans but said she won’t introduce too many changes at once.

“The parents have been fantastic and behind me one hundred percent.”

“There have been lots of different challenges but I’ve enjoyed getting to know staff and pupils.”

“My staff are all fantastic and I have an excellent relationship with parents.”

“We have also recently appointed a new chairwoman of governors.”

“The schools in the Abergavenny cluster are very supportive of each other so it has been a fantastic start to the school year.”

It is a busy day when we arrive to tour the school.

From pupils taking part in the Kerb Craft road safety scheme to the infants taking advantage of new play equipment provided by the PTA and the reception classes learning in the forest school area every corner of the school is in use.

Mrs Bayton admits that no two days are the same.

“It is a joy to come to work every day. I really look forward to it.”

“We have a busy term ahead in the run up to Christmas and are already looking ahead to the 25th anniversary of our building next year.”

“We want to mark our quarter of a century history.”

The school enjoys plenty of outdoor learning areas from two play areas with a range of equipment, to a playing field, forest school area and a wildlife pond.

The pond, which measures around four metres by four metres, was the result of several years fundraising and planning.

Tracey Pugh, the school’s eco co-ordinator said the children were delighted to have a pond again after the previous two were vandalised.

It is now home to fish, dozens of frogs, snails and other wildlife. The pond and security fence cost £10,000 to put in place and was funded through events such as sponsored sleepovers and a swim-a-thon. The Rotary Club of Abergavenny was instrumental in providing a £3,000 grant.

Mrs Pugh explained that the school’s eco-committee chose the fish for the pond themselves and that the children use it for activities such as pond-dipping and learning about nature.

The school proudly flies its Eco Flag joining an elite group of eco-enthusiastic schools in Wales to achieve the highest Eco-Schools award having gained the Platinum accoladeaward. Beaming with pride Mrs Pugh said it is the result of eight years of hard work by the Eco Committee.

The school is celebrating having won a silver award in the ‘Best Kept Village School Grounds in Gwent, in the large school’s category.

Back inside the school the children are making good use of all areas of the building from the corridors to classrooms and working diligently at their desks.

It’s a hive of activity as numeracy teaching assistant Mrs Jones works with a small group of children in an area away from the classroom, while members of the orchestra are practising playing the recorders in the music room.

Mrs Bayton said Simon Oram, who leads the school choir, is assisted in music lessons by Gwent Music Support and some of the parents.

After-school clubs are popular at the school with the choice of activities such as food and fitness, learning Welsh and the ukulele.

The school has close links with St Teilo’s Church in Llantilio Pertholey and its vicar the Reverend Julian Grey, who regularly visits the school to take an assembly.

“We visit the church for concerts and nine Year Six pupils were confirmed at St Teilo’s in the summer term.”

“We also have volunteers from the church who come and run a knitting club.”

The children play an important role in school life and have their own school council – grilling Mrs Bayton with their own questions during her interview for the headship.

At the end of the summer term the school received Community Friendly status – becoming the first school to do so in Monmouthshire.

“It’s about the way that we communicate with the children, making sure teachers talk to pupils a way they understand,” Mrs Bayton explained.

“We use visual timetables in class and make sure our instructions are clear. We also recognise that some children are visual learners and some are auditory learners.”

The school has an active PTA which fundraises for new equipment, trips and disco’s. The children play an active role in helping to fund their trips by holding events such as a sponsored sleepover.

Recent events have raised funds for Comic Relief, Macmillan and by donating items from the PTA’s lost property to Syria.

There are a number of initiatives that have been introduced at the school ranging from healthy eating to Read-Write Inc.

Technology at the school is constantly evolving with iPads in use and smart boards and lap tops in every classroom.

Mrs Bayton is a firm believer is good communication and has introduced a new school text messaging system which enables the school to instantly send messages to parents if needed.

Staff also use a platform to set homework for the children, which they can access from home.

“We have a good website and I write a weekly headteacher’s blog. The school is on Twitter and the PTA has a facebook page.”

She said the school has seen excellent performance, particularly in the foundation phase which shows a ‘year on year’ improvement.

“We are aiming to get more of our children to the higher levels for the end of this academic year.”

When asked what she hopes her pupils will leave the school with she replied: “It’s about giving them skills for life, a sense of achievement and a life-long desire for learning. I want them to be happy and confident individuals.”


Llantilio Pertholey Voluntary Controlled Primary School

Hillgrove Avenue, Mardy, Abergavenny.

Headteacher: Joanne Bayton

Assitant heads Simon Oram and Melissa Toombs

Chairwoman of Governors: Mrs Helen Arnold- Richards

Ages of pupils: Four to eleven

Pupils on roll: 203

Last inspection

The school was last inspected by Dr Peter David Ellis in 2009.

In his report Dr Ellis described the school as a very effective school with many outstanding features. He said learners make very good progress and teaching is consistently good. The provision is of a high quality and the school is very well led and efficiently managed. Inspection evidence indicates that all learners, whatever their aptitude, ability or social or ethnic background, make good progress through all classes and that the school adds significant value to their achievement. Nearly all fulfil their potential and reach or exceed the targets set for them.