FROM the outside, this Victorian building may look just like any other school, but it’s so much more. The school actively engages with pupils and the community to ‘inspire and celebrate success’. Reporter LEAH POWELL visited Crindau Primary School to find out more...

Crindau Primary School, located in central Newport, has 360 pupils ranging from three-years-old to 11, with mixed abilities and needs.

Built in 1901 on Ailesbury Street in Shaftesbury, the school has been managed by headteacher, Mrs Marie Ward, since 2012 who continuously strives towards her vision.

Despite the building’s old age, it’s well maintained, with bright and light displays and well-equipped classrooms. In 2017, the school had new doors and windows, plus received £7,000 from the Parents, Teachers, and Friends Association (PFTA) for new playground equipment.

Mrs Ward explained: “We’ve invested a lot into the building and are continually progressing. The school is always fit for purpose.”

The school accommodates for children with learning difficulties, treating all pupils as individuals whilst ensuring equality amongst the children.

“Our pupils with learning difficulties are as involved as other pupils, taking part in the same activities as other children,” said Mrs Ward.

“We ensure we meet all our pupils’ learning and emotional needs, using the Thrive approach, plus we have fully-trained emotional literacy support assistants (ELSA).

“All our staff are trained to value children’s emotional wellbeing.”

The school is extremely pro-active, often engaging with outside agencies, as well as running workshops and clubs to help pupils learn whilst having fun.

Crindau Primary School, in partnership with NHS Wales and Newport Live, runs Be HAPPY club, meaning be: happy, active, positive, playful, you.

“At Crindau we don’t underestimate how important families are in making the school a success and that’s why we established our Be HAPPY club, which parents and children are welcome to attend,” said Mrs Ward.

“The club focuses on promoting healthy eating and exercise amongst families. It’s really well attended, with BBC Wales recently visiting a session to interview parents and pupils about the importance of a healthy lifestyle.”

The school also promotes this positive attitude towards a healthy lifestyle with their football team, who have been taking part in a local league with various schools in Newport.

“The team have played against Maesglas, Clytha, and Charles Williams and – despite not having a grass football pitch in our school – have been extremely successful,” said Mrs Ward.

“St Julian’s Primary kindly gave us permission to use their football pitch for one of the matches.”

Another way the school has engaged with the community is with their very own police force, the Heddlu Bach (mini police), who work closely with Gwent Police.

These little defenders of Newport have worked on several important local issues, including the a ‘safer parking around the school’ campaign.

Mrs Ward explained: “The children developed this campaign, as there’s an issue with parking in the area. They’ve been working hard to raise awareness throughout the school about how to stay safe.

“The Heddlu Bach have demonstrated fantastic leadership skills in all their action, and even get to wear their very own police uniforms.

“We are hoping that Heddlu Bach will become a direct link between the school and Gwent Police, with pupils working on and sharing important priorities in the local area.”

These are just a few of the things on offer at this eco-friendly school. With pupils returning from the Christmas break, the whole school is focused on Global Citizenship, which is a constant focus for their One World club which was set up by Mrs Hooper.

Mrs Ward said: “Holding themed weeks allows pupils to have an intense learning opportunity, drilling down on specific topics and sparking an interest in the topic.

“As part of Global Citizenship week children will learn, through familiar topics such as recycling and climate change, how their actions impact the rest of the world. It is important that children understand how things they do in Newport can have a direct impact on children in other parts of the world.

“Mr Joe Carvin, who founded One World, visited from New York to find out what the club has been doing and the club’s plan for the year.

“The children will be making direct contact with pupils in China and sharing their practice. Global competence is a huge focus in the new curriculum for Wales and this club will give them a real purpose and meaning for developing their global citizenship competencies.”

Crindau Primary School is now focused on transitioning towards the new curriculum, which takes commitment from staff and pupils.

“We are currently developing the best ways to allow our children to develop as independent learners. We’ve introduced Missions to every class, with children displaying and developing skills by working independently and in teams.

“Their aim to complete the Missions will be completed in different learning zones throughout the school.”

Although the attitude to learning is enough to encourage children to want to go to school, attendance has also been improved by offering incentives.

Pupils who are in every day of the week are entered into a weekly lottery to win a prize. Pupils who attend every day throughout a half term are entered into a bigger lottery, with vouchers up for grabs.

The school’s motto is: “Hand in hand, we inspire and celebrate success” and it’s obvious that staff, and pupils, live by these words.