A GROUP of four Gwent primary schools have been applauded for their innovative approaches to education.

Glan Usk Primary School in Bank Street, Newport, and Monnow Primary School in Daren Close, Bettws, as well as Monmouthshire’s Undy County Primary School and Cwmfelinfach Primary School in Caerphilly County Borough are among 22 primary schools across Wales held up by Estyn as good examples of how schools can change and adapt to meet changes in education.

Monnow Primary was applauded for the way it addressed concerns around low attendance and high levels of pupil satisfaction raised following an evaluation in 2012. Initiatives singled out in the report include watching and discussing news programmes, replacing traditional square desks with round tables and encouraging pupils and staff to use Welsh.

The report said: “Teachers organise well-planned differentiated activities around small groups who change regularly to reflect the progress and needs of individual pupils.

“This method of teaching motivates and engages pupils, promotes challenge and ensures positive learning experiences.”

Undy County Primary’s ‘learning plaza’, which is split into five different areas covering literacy, numeracy, science, Welsh and media and allows year five and six pupils to learn and complete activities outside the traditional classroom setting, was also applauded as an innovate approach to learning.

The report said: “Nearly all pupils develop high standards of independent and collaborative learning and levels of pupil engagement have risen.”

Cwmfelinfach Primary was singled out for carrying out activities getting children involved in the community, such as giving youngsters their own allotments. Work to develop IT skills was also applauded.

The report said: “The school places a strong emphasis on developing pupils’ awareness of themselves as digital citizens.

“Pupils use their knowledge to support peers to be safe users of the internet and electronic communication.

“Pupils use an online system to share and celebrate their work with parents and they collaborate with schools across the world through the internet.”

And Glan Usk Primary was praised for work to give pupils the chance to choose what they would like to learn about through multi-sensory “immersion days”.

The report said: “Teachers share the planned curriculum skills with pupils and pupils decide on the context for the skills they will be developing.

“This gives pupils a sense of empowerment and helps them to engage with the learning experiences.

“Each classroom includes a pupil planning and reflection wall, which incorporates the skills and pupils’ ideas.”

Work to help staff prepare for changes in the curriculum and other developments in the education sector was also applauded.

Estyn’s chief inspector Meilyr Rowlands said: “Estyn is encouraging schools to focus on developing effective methods of teaching to underpin their curriculum plans.

“This report and the case studies are designed to support schools as they prepare for their new curriculum.”

View the report at estyn.gov.uk