A NEWPORT primary school has proudly spoken of its Christian values and close links with the community.

St Mary’s RC Primary School is nestled behind houses on Queen’s Hill.

The Roman Catholic school opened in 1900, but was originally located on Stow Hill before later moving to its current location.

Donna Evans, who is head teacher, said that one of the school’s many strengths is its “close” relationship with the community.

“I first started at the school as a teacher a few years ago,” said Mrs Evans. “I know the teachers very well and the pupils and their families.

“The school had been a separate infants and primary school before amalgamating in roughly the late 1980s. And then it’s been a primary ever since.

“After being a teacher I became acting head teacher before becoming head teacher. I know the school inside out.

“From the very start we’ve been a close knit school with excellent links with the community, This is one of our strengths.”

The head teacher said the community and pupils helping to draft a new mission statement for the school is an example of the existing warm relationship.

She said: “We re-wrote our mission statement a couple of years ago. We wanted to re-write it to allow our pupils to have their say. We want our pupils to make an impact.

“They, with the community, re-wrote our statement to ‘Together We Inspire, Empower, Achieve with Christ in Our Heart’. What they achieved together was remarkable.”

The school still follows Christian values and Mrs Evans said that “Christ is at the centre” of all the school’s activities.

“We live by this and Christ is at our centre of everything we do. There is a local priest who comes in to school and visits the children and talks about Roman Catholicism.

“Jesus runs through everything we do in the class room to the playground. There are bibles in the classrooms and posters throughout the school showing these things.

“The whole school follows a Gospel ethos. There is something special here because of that.

“The school has always been Roman Catholic. Interestingly, in the past, there used to be nuns as head teachers and teachers.”

Mrs Evans believes that the school has “many things” to offer pupils, including a new library.

“Making our pupils happy is very important to us,” said the head teacher. “We give the pupils a broad curriculum and I know 120 pupils have music lessons here which is impressive.

“We also encourage our pupils to make as much use of ICT as possible. Even though it’s a digital era, we thought having a new library would make sure reading carries on.

“It’s an open-planned library and designed to encourage children to make greater use of it.

“The library is just outside a couple of classrooms. Children go out there to do their work. This is just one of many great things that we offer our pupils.”

In addition to traditional forms of teaching, the head teacher said other forms are also carried out at the school.

She said: “Another way of teaching is what we’re doing with our Year Two pupils, who have been introduced to the Talk For Writing programme.

“Children do need to know the wealth and the story pattern before they write stories. They need oracy skills first before putting their ideas on paper.

“Through this programme children learn traditional stories through action. They are able to re-enact what happens.

“Basically the children learn stories with actions which helps them with their own stories and improves writing skills.

“The unit will take two weeks and it’s very popular with the children.”

The head teacher added that the school also aims to build on pupil’s knowledge of ICT.

“ICT is crucial in our day to day activities,” said Mrs Evans.

“We have made sure that ICT is integral with everything that we do. This generation of children are born into technology and it’s about improving their knowledge. We are very proud of our ICT provision and we were commended by Estyn on this.

“All of our pupils, from the youngest to the eldest, use ICT packages in their lessons. All of these things will allow our children to know a lot about ICT when they leave here.

“We also invest in technology for the school including in the Chrome Books.”

Parent Luke Johnson said: “I’ve never come across such a caring and passionate school as St Mary’s.

“They put the children at the forefront and care for them.

“My daughter used to be very shy but the teachers have brought out the best in her. We’re also Catholic so seeing Catholic values being used on a daily basis is super.”

Another parent James Pritchard added: “My seven-year-old tells me how excited she gets when they get to use the IT facilities.

“There are lots of proud achievements in this school. One of them is definitely the diversity.

“There are lots of children from lots of different backgrounds.

“My daughter’s friends are Thai and her best friend is Polish. They all learn so much from each other. I think it’s wonderful.”