AS YOU walk into Kymin View Primary you are instantly surrounded by colourful displays, laughter and smiles.

The school – which boasts views of the iconic Kymin hill in the Wye Valley and expansive grounds– recently marked it’s 10-year anniversary with a party.

When The Argus visited the school in 2014, head teacher Sally-Ann Wright was only six weeks into the role. She is now gearing for her fourth Christmas at the school.

Since our last visit, the school has received ‘good’ ratings in their recent Estyn inspection, developed their stunning outdoor grounds, launched their own anti-bullying scheme and embraced Welsh Government health initiative ‘The Daily Mile’.

For their decade anniversary in September, the school had a birthday party (cake included) and were given pots of bubbles, blowing them out at the same time.

“That’s our way of releasing balloons,” head teacher Mrs Wright said.

“Because we’re an eco school we didn’t want to clutter the environment with balloons so we used bubbles instead and then the children sang to their parents.

“It was a lovely celebration in the main yard outside.”

The school’s main ethos, Mrs Wright added, is to nurture capable and confident children to be able to “take their future in their hands and run with it to be the best that they can be”.

The school originally opened as a new-build bringing together a separate junior school and infant school and taking its name from a nearby landmark, The Kymin.

Every day, pupils take part in a 15-minute run, walk or jog outside as part of the‘Daily Mile’ initiative to help keep youngsters active and engaged.

The great outdoors are fittingly a big part of school learning from planting purple crocus bulbs with Monmouth Rotary Club to raise awareness of Polio to allotment gardening.

“It was really nice to get the community involved and a large group of volunteers came to work with the children and the eco club,” teacher Lindsey Vernon said.

A Ministry of Defence (MOD) grant will help the school build a new pond – with the grant reflecting the high number of children with parents in the RAF or Army, Mrs Wright said.

When traversing the school corridors, projects and traditions leap out from wall displays and objects – from every pupil signing their handprints to say ‘no’ to bullying to an Eisteddfod bard chair and gown by the entrance.

In the main hall, the school’s 22 values – which range from respect and tolerance to honesty hope and love – are enshrined in a huge display of coloured jigsaw pieces.

Every month, the school chooses a value, Mrs Wright explained, which is implemented into teaching and reflecting her “child-centred approach” teaching style.

“We need to recognise that children learn by ‘doing’ and by ‘seeing’,” she said.

“So the learning has to be very experiential - they have to feel, touch and experience for themselves to take on that learning.

“It’s not about getting everything right and having ticks in your books, it’s about having the confidence to explore, to experiment, to feel, touch, debate and work through a problem.”

The school’s newly-renovated library reflects this ethos – bringing technology and books together by allowing children to read and also scan posters with tablets to learn facts and background information.

Or, in some cases, using a green screen to transport their plays to locations only limited by the imagination.

Arts, performance and music, Mrs Wright said, are also embraced and actively promoted, “bringing the curriculum alive” with plays, re-enactments and costume making.

Although Year 6 pupils were on a trip to Hilston Park during our visit, they recently performed a seven-chapter play exploring the history of the Romans and Celts.

With the school’s choir previously performing at St David’s Hall in Cardiff and currently gearing up for festive shows in the area, this creative streak looks set to continue.

“Every opportunity that we have to put the children on the stage and perform - whether it’s harvest, Christmas or Easter, class assemblies - you always involve them and allow them to show their skills,” Mrs Wright said.

While digital literacy and Welsh language are a key focus at the school , Kymin View Primary also has strong links with the community.

From tomorrow’s Christmas Fete bringing parents and pupils together to groups of pupils visiting residents of local care homes, the school has become more community-focused in recent years, Mrs Wright said.

Looking to the future, the school aims to develop its clubs, grounds and links with the community while continuing to give children the best start in life.

In the short term, pupils will be taking part in festive activities including the Monmouth Moonlight Lantern Walk and also singing carols outside Monmouth’s Shire Hall.

Mrs Wright, who has been working in education for 27 years including six in a headship role, is now “excited” for the ‘Successful Futures’ curriculum changes which will be rolled out across Wales.

This is because of their child-centred focus - an aspect that marries perfectly with the ethos of Kymin View’s teaching, she said.

“We very much recognise that we’re preparing children for a future that doesn’t even exist yet, so we have to give them those skills to be able to explore new things and investigate for themselves.

“Being a values based school, it doesn’t just mean we use those values with the children.

“It applies to every single person that walks in here from a governor and director of education to our lollipop lady and cleaners.”

She added: “I’m very appreciative of every member of staff throughout the school who work together as a team to make the school function well.

“Every single person has a vital role.”

Fact File:

Head teacher: Sally-Ann Wright

Number of pupils on roll: 201

Number of staff: 21

Chair of governors: Liz Hacket Pain

Motto: ‘Valuing All’

Last inspection: (2016) Current performance and prospects for improvement rated ‘Good’