A LIVELY Welsh school which strives to and succeeds in keeping pupils down to earth and in knowledge of their roots routes.

Ysgol Gymraeg Casnewydd is hidden just out of sight near Llanwern High School on Hartridge Farm Road.

It opened its doors in September 1993 and in September 2002 a nursery opened for children aged three and above.

The school aims to focus on pupils’ wellbeing and aims to make them feel strongly about the Welsh culture, language, community and heritage.

Pupils are not taught Welsh as a second language but are taught through the medium of Welsh.

Visiting the school, it is plain to see how inviting both the staff and pupils are.

The community spirit is something that the Ysgol Gymraeg Casnewydd prides itself on.

One of the main things the head teacher Ceri Parry aims to reflect in the school is getting pupils to learn and adapt to the Welsh language, but to also enjoy themselves and not use it just for learning.

The school recently set up its own radio station which broadcasts around the building. Children can choose and listen to Welsh music but can also host their own shows.With speakers around the school, pupils can listen to the shows as well as Welsh music.

Mrs Parry said: “Because 98 per cent of our children come from non-Welsh speaking backgrounds and we haven’t got one family where both parents speak Welsh, we wanted a way that children could use their oracy skills without thinking about it. It’s a creative and fun way.”

Deputy head teacher Rhian Evans also added: “They’ve really been getting to know the language, music and Wales’s own pop culture. It’s been great for them.”

As the school is involved with the Welsh Government’s Welsh Charter – a development in which the government want to encourage further use and enhance the use of Welsh language – the idea for the radio station hit some of the school’s targets for the charter.

Mrs Parry said the idea of the radio station hit the target of listening to Welsh music and helping the pupils’ oracy skills.

“We thought, well actually rather than just putting on Welsh music let’s get a school radio and it hits two of those things (the school’s targets for the Welsh charter),” she said.

“There are speakers out on the yard so they can hear what’s going on at lunch times and when they are in the food hall. The children can learn Welsh songs and sing to them and then the older children come in and run the school radio. It’s your ICT, your oracy and then learning music and Welsh culture as they’re doing it.”

Mrs Parry has worked in the school since 2001 and was acting head for a year before becoming the head teacher of the school in January last year (2016).

She said one of her favourite things about being the head teacher of the school is that it is forward thinking.

“I think the enrichment and looking for that stimulus in writing is something we concentrate on,” Mrs Parry said.

“A lot of drama strategies to help the writing happen here. We are a pioneer school as well in science and technology. We are lucky we can trial things confidently and go off piece a bit.”

The school was recently inspected by Estyn in March this year and was rated ‘Excellent’ for its current performance and ‘Excellent’ for its prospects for improvement.

The examiner said “pupils treat each other, staff and adults with genuine respect and courtesy, work together effectively and behave excellently in lessons and around the school” and “school has a strong Welsh ethos where nearly all pupils use the Welsh language confidently and correctly.”

Mrs Parry said she thinks one of the reasons the school has been rated as excellent is because she and staff are always “striving to inspire the children”.

“We always feel that a curriculum that inspires means that your standards are there,” she said.

Wellbeing and confidence building is something that is prioritised within Ysgol Gymraeg Casnewydd and children are also taught from a young age about embracing diversity and tolerance for others regardless of their race, religion or sexual orientation.

Mrs Parry said the school teaches children to think and ask probing questions to learn and find out more, inwhich she says helps give that independent learning.

She said: “We teach children to think whatever they want to think and discuss that and be open.”

The children are taught about a wide range of historical and recent events to help them learn.

“They learn about human rights, refugees, Anne Frank, the Holocaust and Malala as well as things like the equality of genders, racism and homophobia.

“We give chances for the children to really think about the world in which they are a part of,” said Mrs Evans.

Miss Parry added: “We target homophobia and racism and it’s not an incidental kind of learning it’s like ‘look we’re going to look at this’. We do it right from reception through to Year 6.”

In this form of learning the classes look at stereotypes and how people view each other, how people are different and why it is important to understand why people are different.

As well as teaching children about racism and homophobia from a young age, the school also starts children learning Welsh from a young age as well.

Children in the school nursery learn Welsh when they start and Mrs Parry is also looking at starting up a beginners’ Welsh course later in the year for parents so they can begin learning the language as well.

The nursery also holds open sessions each Thursday where parents can bring in children from one month old up until the age of three.

The sessions aim to get parents involved in the school community and get their children used to the nursery environment before they are old enough to attend themselves.

“We have any age here – from birth up until they’re coming up to nursery age – or if they have been to nursery in the morning then they can come here with mum in the afternoon,” said Mrs Parry.

“It’s just to welcome everybody in really, get them into the school community. We want everyone to feel included, whether or not they speak Welsh, and it gives a change chance for people to get an insight into our school as well.”