IN THE heart of a community is a school that is loved by pupils, staff and parents alike.

Nant Celyn Primary School is tucked away off Ton Road in Cwmbran. But behind the gates is a school that is inclusive, fun and full of energy.

“Vibrant, busy, exciting, and challenging, but a school that is loved by all,” is how head teacher Jonathan Bussy describes the school.

“It is a busy school,” he said. “We try and involve the children in as many things as possible and provide as many opportunities as possible to try new things. That way pupils will have more chance of finding interests they want to follow and pursue in life.”

Mr Bussy has been at the school for two and half years and he loves his job. He won the Head Teacher of the Year award at the 2017 South Wales Argus’ Gwent School Awards.

Mr Bussy, who is originally from Rochdale, has been living in Cwmbran for 16 years. His own children attend schools in the town and he enjoys being a part of the local community.

He said: “I always wanted to work in a school where I can see the pupils outside of the school, in and around the community, and more often than not in the supermarket. As a member of the community, you understand the issues that affect the families and staff in the catchment area.

“The majority of the staff here are local and understand the dynamics and demographic of the community.”

Being part of the community is important for the school and they are supported by those who live near the school and those that are connected to it.

Mr Bussy said: “The children live in this community and when they are not in school they are out there playing in it. We want them to respect it and learn that they need to look after where they live.”

“We have connections with organisations around us, like the Coed Eva allotments, the residential care homes that we visit regularly, Keep Wales Tidy, the Sandybrook Park Association, Bron Afon and the council, all of whom come into visit the school and the children go out to do work with them.

“The community benefits from us, but we also benefit from those links. We do litter picks, we do ecology work and we support the local food bank with their fund-raising initiatives.

“Our Parents, Friends and Staff Association are amazing. They raise money for the school, but their core purpose is to strengthen the link between pupils, parents and the wider community.”

“We do have a mixed catchment,” Mr Bussy said, “with a wonderfully diverse range of families choosing to come to our school. A minority of our pupils come to school with significant barriers to their learning and it’s only through the excellent relationship we have with the children that we can work through them together.

“It is essential that we foster positive relationships with the children and their parents. Our family liaison officer is now a families first lead worker and is involved in going out to the homes of families in need and working out how best support agencies can be drawn together to provide effective packages of support.”

The drive behind all of the initiatives we put in place are the pupils. They are the reason we work so hard.

“We are incredibly proud of all of our pupils they are awesome,” Mr Bussy said. “They are so grateful for everything that we do for them and they work their socks off in return. It is lovely to see so many pupils run into school each morning.

“Our school council work with staff and organise and enhance the learning for pupils through for example the design of our after school clubs. The council are currently working on curriculum development, helping staff to understand the type of learning children would find most engaging.”

“We have a lot fun here. We are very busy and cram so much into the day, but it’s for the right reasons and the children love everything we do.”

Higher level teaching assistant Claire Sharpe said: “Staff are very lucky to work here and it is a very happy working environment.

“I have been here since we opened in 2010 and have seen a lot of changes. I do enjoy coming to work.”

Another draw for parents is the range of facilities the children have on offer. They have a crazy golf area which children requested and designed as well as plenty of outdoor space.

“We are really lucky we have big grounds,” Mr Bussy said. “We have wooded and natural areas, a designated forest areas where our pupils develop key skills through use of natural materials. Our pupils sit around camp fires and help to maintain bee hives, our chickens (including two new arrivals) and also our allotments. Our allotment shop will be open for business shortly, selling the fruits of our labour to parents.

“We try not to impact on nature and we try to encourage wildlife to keep visiting the school. We have an extensive range of bat and bird boxes, hedgehog houses and bug hotels. We also have animals in class such as goldfish, guinea pigs and hamsters which the pupils love and which also have a significant and positive impact for pupils with social and emotional challenges providing a focus and sense of responsibility.

Ms Sharpe added: “A lot of our children have been inspired by the allotment area and have since joined the Coed Eva allotments. One of our pupils will soon be introducing chickens into her own garden at home.

The future looks exciting for the school with plenty of plans, many inspired by the pupils, in the pipeline.

Ms Sharpe said: “The children give us the ideas and we support them in making them come to life.”

Mr Bussy added: “We are always having to evolve because of the growing needs of the children coming into school.

“From September we are hoping to introduce a learning base for pupils, called the Cwtch, which will help to support learning for pupils with additional needs and we are really excited about this. We haven’t had any fixed-term exclusions this year and that’s a really good measure of the impact of the support, the positive relationships between staff and pupils, the many interventions and therapies we put in place and the sense of community we are fostering in our pupils. It’s a case of maintaining this record now and working with all members of the school community to keep improving the service we provide, we are always being kept on our toes.