Gaer Primary School is settled near the bottom of the Gaer, one of the most densely populated wards in Newport.

The school is the amalgamation of the former Gaer Infant and Junior schools – which officially merged in 2015.

Walking in and around the Grade II listed building, the corridors are light and spacious, with lots of plants dotted on the windowsills.

It’s clear to see that staff at the school have put a lot of time and effort in opening up smaller spaces, with old cupboards turned into sensory spaces or reading areas.

The nursery area is also very spacious, with corners set up to resemble jungles or areas for children to play in.

Head teacher Alex Smith has been at the school since 2014. He said this academic year began with real excitement, as the brand new early years building was completed and opened ready to accommodate the school’s youngest learners.

He said: “During the on-going development of the new early years building, the school has successfully managed to prioritise learning, importantly maintaining a very high standard.”

Over the previous two years the school has worked in partnership with the local authority and the main building contractor (BAM) to ensure that the school now has 21st Century accommodation for the children.

Speaking about the refurbishment, Mr Smith said a lot of work was carried out by his co-workers to set it up.

He said: “The staff worked extremely hard during the summer break to ensure that the learning environments were set up ready for the children to return at the start of the academic year. They all deserve a considerable amount of credit.

“The school has focused on developing ‘communication friendly’ and inviting spaces. The neutral décor, natural theme and low lighting provide a calming and homely ambiance, which has made a significant difference to the learners.”

Walking around the school, there are many colourful displays from the children to show events they have taken part in. One of these was the Urdd Eisteddfod where children recently won nine first place awards for their artwork. The art included handmade puppets and a robot made out of a variety of materials.

Another thing Gaer Primary has is school ambassadors – who have been elected by the school for the past two years and take part in different projects around the school. There are four school ambassadors who are the head boy, head girl and the deputy head boy and girl.

Most recently the ambassadors have worked in collaboration with Logogogo to design a brand new football kit for the school teams.

They have also been busy working with the community to promote safe parking at the school.

Every morning they wear fluorescent ambassador jackets and speak to parents and visitors about the importance of safe parking.

As well as the ambassadors encouraging safety, new banners on safe parking are fitted to the school railings, with the winning design chosen through a school poster competition.

“All the children across the school could enter,” said Mr Smith.

“Then the winning entries from three children were chosen and an amalgamation of the three entries was made before the final banner was made.

“The ambassadors are here every morning, they give up their own time – 20 minutes before school – to chat to parents and look at the parking. It’s made a big difference.”

The school has had a variety of programmes and projects that took place across the year, with one of the most prominent projects being the Year 1 expressive arts wedding project.

The project saw pupils learn about what marriage is as well as the steps and process towards organising a wedding.

Not only did the project make children more aware of family life, it also gave them a chance to get involved with their parents and guardians.

Every week, on a Thursday afternoon, parents joined children in class to work collaboratively towards the wedding preparation.

The school decided to host their own version of a “wedding” in April this year, with two of the Year 1 children being chosen to be the bride and groom. The children, parents and staff dressed up as if the event was a real wedding and attended the ceremony with a real reverend at St Martin’s Church – a short walk away from the school.

After the event there was an after party at the school, with a Beauty and the Beast style wedding cake, a buffet, Disney songs and dancing.

A wedding album was also created and will be given to each child – which Mr Smith said will “capture the project and serve as a fond memory for years to come”.

He said: “The context has captured the imagination of both the children and the community. It is a pleasure to see parents engaging in learning activities alongside the children.”

Another award the school recently renewed was its Platinum Eco Status Award from Eco-Schools. The award signifies the work the school has done to be eco-friendly.

The school takes part in many events, including World Water Week, where the pupils dressed in green and had a visit from D?r Cymru Welsh Water to learn about water efficiency.

During the day, the eco committee planned rich and varied tasks for all classes to engage in.

Mr Smith said: “We are delighted to have achieved the highest eco schools award- Platinum Status. This demonstrates our commitment to raising environmental awareness with our children. For the third successive year we decided to launch our planting season with a ‘Green Day’.

“This gave our children the opportunity to learn about water efficiency and sustainability through growing our own produce. As a school we were keen to ensure that our older children work alongside our younger children for part of the day.

“The children all wore green to help make this a high profile occasion.”

When looking around the school, it is plain to see why the children enjoy coming to school. The environment is friendly, and the colourful corridors and spaces combined with friendly staff make it accommodating.


Number of pupils on roll 464 Age of pupils: 3 - 11 Chair of governors: Hannah Berry Last Estyn report: January 2012 when it was Gaer Junior School

Rating: Current performance - adequate. Prospects for improvement - good