APPROACHING the school down a narrow terraced street in between Cwmbran and Pontypool, it is hard to imagine that there is the space for an establishment to cater for 405 pupils at the end of it.

But at the end of Florence Place lies Griffithstown Primary School – an educational tardis brimming with educational vitality and an eager swathe of staff and students working together in unison.

At the helm is head teacher Nick Blackburn who took over at the school in April 2014 and is proud of the community ethic running through his school.

“We are a happy school and that is generated but our role in the community,” said the head teacher.

“Due to our high levels of wellbeing, standards go up year-on-year.

“We’ve gone from being a red school to a yellow school and in most subject areas, we’ve gone from the third or fourth quartile to the top.

“I take great pride in that improvement, having built a team while working with the community and governors, who have been pivotal, to help the school environment.”

One of the areas in which the school has embraced the aspect of community is supporting local and national charitable causes.

“Another way which we have strengthened our community ties is through supporting local and national charities,” said Mr Blackburn.

“We participated in a fundraiser for the NSPCC which raised £2,000 which is an impressive amount.

“We are supporting the Pontypool Relay for Life which is taking place in July also.

“The school recently received a grant from the Arts Council, which we intend to put towards developing a radio station.

“The aim behind that is to raise standards of oracy across the whole school.”

Throughout the school, colourful displays show visitors the educational themes on offer at Griffithstown Primary, covering a breadth of subjects of war-time literature, the Egyptians and the traveller community.

For the head teacher, the idea of inclusion is a core value held by all members of staff and the pupils.

“They see that we value them as individuals through their work and we also value their families, hence the display on the traveller community,” he said.

“We have around 15 travellers across the school but we integrate them fully and value them.

“We make sure they achieve and all our students are treated equally – inclusion is a key aspect of the school.

“The teachers take pride in the school and the children value the school – the behaviour among them is excellent.”

The school has developed a method of monitoring the pupil’s behaviour, based around the humble traffic light, which is achieving results according to the head.

“We also have a traffic light system for behaviour and all pupils start the week on green,” said Mr Blackburn.

“Any misdemeanour that may happen can lead the children down to yellow or red.

“There is a reward for those who remain green until the end of the week, which are handed out on the Monday and we have a range of activities available.

“This can be anything from playing bowls or tennis at Panteg House or knitting or archery or zorbing.

“The children that stay green get the full hour to do that activity and that applies to all year groups.

“Yellow pupils will have a certain number of minutes taken off their activity but the red students will have to wait for their chance to take part in an activity.

“The children have bought into the system and they want to do that activity so it has been noted, that since the traffic lights came in, the behaviour – which was already good – has improved further.

“They get a deserved reward at the end of the week for their good behaviour.”

Griffithstown Primary School has also created four in-school houses, which has helped to improve behaviour.

“One of our approaches to improving behaviour has been creation of four in-school houses, which the students are split into and receive points,” he said.

“The children receive house points as a reward for good behaviour and anything above and beyond.

“Those points are totalled each week and added up for a grand total at the end of term.

“Whoever wins gets a reward and everyone is passionate about their housing winning, for example one of the prizes was to throw wet sponges at me or a house disco.”

In terms of its education, the school is working on new scheme to create a better learning environment both in and out of the classroom.

“In an educational sense, we have made a tremendous improvement in terms of our maths teaching, which was an area of development for the school,” added Mr Blackburn.

“We are following a scheme called ‘Singapore Maths’.

“That covers a bespoke approach to teaching maths and the standards achieved have been impressive.

“It has been widely praised for the way it has helped the children with their maths and their application of maths in the real world.

“The school ensures that we have a lot of exceptional PE opportunities.

“We have a specialist teacher who teaches during the non-contact time or the PPA time, the teacher takes the pupils out to play games and that is across the whole school.

“We have a range of after school clubs and when I started here three years ago, those did not exist.

“We now have netball, football and rugby as well as hockey at certain times of the year.

“Those run alongside the clubs that go throughout the year such as Criw Cymraeg and digital leaders.

“It is about have a range of opportunities and the best quality that we can provide.

“The clubs happen after school so it is completely optional – whatever the pupils want to do, they can do.

“But it is about giving the children the opportunities to follow whatever their specific interest is in.

“We have a bespoke gymnastics club with an external providing coming in, but it is entirely the decision of the pupils.”