SET right in the centre of Newport in an old listed building from the 1900s, sits St Woolos Primary School and Nursery.

At the moment, the school has approximately 326 pupils from the ages of three to 11, sixteen teachers who are both full time and part time and eleven support staff.

In their latest Estyn report from January 2015, the St Woolos’ performance was rated as “good”, and praise was given to the school for pupils making “positive progress in the standards they achieve and in their levels of wellbeing.”

The school has been run by head teacher Heather Vaughan for the past 16 years, who believes the school is unique due to the progress the students make and the facilities it offers to them.

Mrs Vaughan said: “We’re in the centre of Newport, it's an old building, it looks very traditional. I think you come up Stow Hill and you look at the building, it said education is important on the front of it at the time.

“I think that even now it sends out that message and that’s the message we give to our children as education can change and it can change pupil’s futures really.”

When asked to describe the school, Mrs Vaughan said she would describe it as a microcosm of society, as the school is a complete mix socially and culturally.

More than 43 languages are spoken in the school and staff take into account the need to appreciate other cultures and religions.

Mrs Vaughan said: “I think it’s an incredible school.

“We haven’t got a modern building but we have modern ideas inside and that’s it really.”

Mrs Vaughan also describes St Woolos as a “very progressive school” due to the way children can get lots of different ideas through variations of learning.

“We take the most of every opportunity we can and we look for opportunities,” she said.

“Because we’re in the city centre we have lots of opportunities and we have a great link with the community and local businesses.”

As well as having a strong community link, the school regularly keep in touch with previous pupils and get many to come in to discuss what line of work they are in.

“One of the things that works really well for us in our area is that we run a really successful aspiration project where we have people coming in from the world of work to talk about their jobs,” said Mrs Vaughan.

“What we want our children to do is open their eyes to the world of work and the world of opportunities, but we also have some people who come in who have started their own business and that shows children that they can entrepreneurs themselves,” she added.

The school has regular enterprise weeks for children in the foundation phase and key stage two, where children can research projects and see what it’s like to almost run their own business.

A lot of the items are made by the children themselves, which are sold at an after school shop, and any unsold items are then sold at the school’s Christmas and summer fairs.

Mrs Vaughan said: “It teaches them about the whole process of spotting a gap in the market, creating a product, selling it and when they have the shops they have roles to do such as a cashier, they’re the shop assistant, they’re the security, different roles.

“We want to replicate what happens in the outside world.”

As well as having a tight-knit relationship with the community, the school also keeps a close relationship with pupil’s parents, and many families take part in extra activities during and after school hours.

Many families of the children at the school used to go there themselves so there are able to come in and visit the school to see what it look likes today.

“Parents help us in a range of ways, they support us when we’re going on trips and they come in to tell us about their jobs, and if there’s something special that we need help with we ask them as well,” said Mrs Vaughan.

“What we do is have support from parents in a range of different ways where they can show their strengths and also their ability because lots of parents work and they can’t come in everyday, but they can do small things to help the school at home.”

As well as traditional values, staff make sure that the children also know that it is okay to make mistakes while learning, so they aren’t afraid to try and do things again.

The school is currently putting emphasis on digital learning, and has various activities to keep the children up to date with certain skills.

At the moment staff and pupils work with a training partner to develop their iPad skills where children create trailers using iMovies, and have an area set up for photographs as well as a large green screen area in the upstairs hall.

In the summer, St Woolos held an Apple regional training school event for teachers in Newport and South Wales to see what pupils and staff had been doing so far and to help their schools develop digital competence.


Motto: Celebrating achievement for all in a caring environment

Head teacher: Heather Vaughan

Chairman of governors: Paul Glover

Number of pupils: 326

Age of pupils: three to 11 years old.

Last inspection: January 2015

Estyn rated the school’s current performance as “good” as it “provides a range of relevant and interesting learning experiences for pupils.

It was also rated as having “good” prospects for improvement because the school’s initiatives are purposeful and have a positive effect on improving pupil outcomes.