St Joseph’s RC Primary School is located in the heart of the Gwent valleys. Reporter TOMOS POVEY writes.

THE primary school is tucked away on Ashvale in Tredegar.

In its recent Estyn inspection two months ago, it was ranked 'Good' in all five categories.

For the past four years, John McMorrow has served as head teacher.

He said the secret to the school's success is making sure pupils are happy.

"I have been here for a few years now," he said.

"If everyone is happy then you can achieve things more easily.

"The children are happy because we include them in everything that we do. We also give them a say in what happens here."

One of the ways pupils are able to express opinions is through Pupil Voice.

The head teacher said: "This group allows pupils to have a say on the future of the school.

"It allows them to have a say on the direction their learning takes.

"I believe Pupil Voice to be a strong feature of our school and it is popular."

He added: "Most importantly, it allows us to hear the voices of our pupils."

Mr McMorrow said what is most important to him and staff is seeing pupils succeed.

"We are all in this profession to help children," said the 49-year-old.

"Here at St Joseph’s R.C. School we help in what ever way we can.

“Foundation stage came up very highly by Estyn. The pupils make very rapid progress and that was highlighted throughout the report.

“The inspection also found ICT a particular strength.

“We put a big emphasis on IT because it will be a big part of their future. This will help our pupils and that is most important to us."

He added: "We have introduced children to mystery Skype.

"What this involves is Skyping a random place in the world and the children learning about that place.

"For instance, Year five pupils have been learning about Mexico and recently we Skyped a school there. And before this, we have Skyped a school in Little Rock, Arkansas."

Another of the pupils' many successes are their close links with the community, added Mr McMorrow.

"We want to make our pupils global citizens," he said.

"We want them to be aware of the world and the surrounding areas.

"But they also need to be aware of the local community and have close links with it.

“As a school, we get involved with many local projects – including with a care home where our choir will visit and perform. We have also become a dementia friendly school."

He added: "To say we have a very strong bond with the Tredegar community is a great success."

To improve pupils' knowledge of the local area, a few times a year they are taught local history.

“This area has a vibrant history," said the head teacher. "Some pupils did not know a lot about it.

"So we have a local history week.

"We learn an aspect of Tredegar – this could be the Chartists, the Tredegar Clock or Aneurin Bevan.

"It is important that we all know about our local history."

The school also follows Jesus Christ's teachings and the head teacher believes this will aid pupils' development.

“Being a Catholic school is central to what we do throughout our daily lives," he said.

“We try to bring in a set of virtues and follow Christ’s teachings.

“We look at virtues – for example on being faithful and loving – and explore these.

“If we spend six years instilling pupils with these virtues they will be better people once they leave us."

He added: "When people ask where I see this school in 10 years, I say as strong as it is now with our pupils at the centre of daily life."