BLAEN-Y-CWM Primary School is a school which holds the voices of its pupils at the very core of its values.

Serving both Brynmawr and Nantyglo, the school was formed after smaller schools were forced to close their doors.

The school building itself is sprawling, set on an equally expansive ground which gives students the freedom to roam and enjoy outdoor learning through its Forest Schools initiative.

Now 26 years after it opened, the school community is one that is continually growing year on year alongside its increasing standards.

Susan Davies is currently in her third year as head teacher at Blaen-y-Cwm but has been an ever-present figure, having previously taught in every year at the school.

Under her stewardship the school makes use of the Thrive approach, a national scheme which promotes resilience and confidence within children.

Through the ‘Paws b’ programme, older pupils at the school also get involved with mindfulness sessions and encouraged to live in the moment.

“From my point of view my ethos, what is at the core of what we do here, is to make sure our children’s mental health and wellbeing are kept in check,” said Mrs Davies.

“We have a lot of support mechanisms in place to ensure that this remains the case, and our curriculum is focused on the pupils’ wellbeing and building resilience.

“A happy learner learns well. If they’re not happy then they’re not going to learn, it’s as simple as that.”

Mrs Davies says a lot of time goes into listening to pupils and giving them the chance to shape their experience at the school, with examples this being found in the school’s “green team” and school council.

A similar inviting hand is also offered out to parents within the school community, with a suggestion box at the school reception open to all.

Mrs Davies added: “The school is very much a part of the community and the parents are our power, they know they are welcome to have their say.”

All pupils are reminded every day of their value through the Unicef Rights Respecting Schools scheme.

To serve as a constant reminder, colourful posters are dotted around the school showing various passages of the UN Convention on the Rights of The Child.

Blaen-y-Cwm also prides itself on its inclusivity, with 10 per cent of its pupil population hailing from the Traveller community living on the nearby Cwmcrachen site.

“We are very proud to have a strong relationship with their children,” said Mrs Davies.

“They teach us about their own cultures, so they enrich us. It has also helped us to develop our open door policy with parents.”

Through initiatives like Digital Leaders, Blaen-y-Cwm is giving their youngsters the tools needed to prepare for the jobs of tomorrow.

Every classroom has an interactive touch screen, with IT deeply embedded into the way students are taught.

Pupils embody their school motto - “Learning and friendship go hand in hand” - with older pupils often spotted in the corridors guiding their younger peers on laptops and tablets, or in reading rooms dictating to fellow pupils.

“It really is something that benefits everyone involved,” said Mrs Davies.

“The older pupils are doing two things at once – getting the confidence in their own abilities while sharing their knowledge with others. It’s lovely to see.”

As well as developing digital skills, Blaen-y-Cwm has enlisted the help of various local businesses to meet with pupils and give them an insight into their respective industries.

“It’s important to raise a child’s aspirations and to let them know that there’s a job our there for everyone,” said Mrs Davies.

Construction firm Costain are among those to have visited the school, having helped the youngsters build their own bug houses as part of the Forest Schools project.

The school also holds a half-termly STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) week, which sees pupils get stuck into science and technology-focused curriculum work.

A recent example saw Year 6 pupils organise and run their own science fair, allowing children from younger year groups to enter their own creations.

The fair went down so well it will be repeated this year, with Mrs Davies confident it will be another success.

When it was last inspected by Estyn 2013, the school’s performance and prospects for improvement were both rated as good.

And while several years have gone by, Mrs Davies is adamant that standards have gotten “better and better” every year since.

They will also become the first Dementia Friendly school in Blaenau Gwent when they are awarded the accolade by Alun Davies, AM for Blaenau Gwent, in the New Year.

“The school also gained Autism Friendly status this year and we are a lead school for the introduction of Person Centred Practice,” said Mrs Davies.

“We are a community school with wellbeing at the core of everything we do.”