Learn to live and live to learn in an ever-changing world. That’s the motto of Malpas Court Primary and from experiencing the school’s day-to-day life, even for a short while, it is not hard to see why. Reporter DAN BARNES paid a visit to find out more…

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MALPAS Court Primary, on Whittle Drive in Newport, is made up of 240 pupils and 29 members of staff.

It is based on the ethos that being in the right mindset to learn is just as important as what you are learning.

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Pupil wellbeing is at the heart of school life and Headteacher Debra Guy explained that this forms the basis of everything they do at Malpas Court.

“We want pupils here to feel valued and in a disposition to learn,” she said.

“Giving the pupils the skills to want to learn is as important as the learning itself.

“We’re a pioneer school, working closely with the Education Achievement Service (EAS) and the Welsh Government to develop the new curriculum.”

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The EAS is comprised of local authorities of Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire, Newport and Torfaen, designed to raise education standards in South East Wales.

The new curriculum in question is the Curriculum for Life - a school programme which highlights the importance of citizenship and PSHE. It aims to prepare pupils for life after school and college.

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“It focuses on helping our children to become young entrepreneurs, enterprising creatives and lifelong learners,” said Mrs Guy.

“Sowing that seed early is important because it then has time to develop.”

One of the ways the school implements the Curriculum for Life is through what Mrs Guy refers to as the “ten tasks”.

“The pupils of each year group have a list of ten tasks that they have to master before they end the year,” she said.

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“These are tailored for each year group and can be things like “I can tie my own shoelaces” or “I can perform basic first aid”.

“They might seem basic tasks but by the time they leave Year 6 there are 70 skills including those learned in reception.”

Some of the tasks the children learn are slightly more specialised. For example, pupils in Years 5 and 6 recently welcomed a representative from the British Heart Foundation who led them in a CPR workshop.

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Skills learned through the “ten tasks” often play a role in other lessons. The CPR for example was tied into lessons relating to heart health.

Nia Athay, a member of the Pupil Leadership Team (PLT), said: “Everything you learn joins together and forms one big skill.”

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Pupil wellbeing is also high on the agenda at Malpas Court, with mindfulness sessions, lessons in den building and marshmallow toasting in the forest school and Thrive exercises in the school’s sensory centre.

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Pupils have an input into how and what they learn. Another one of the school’s ways of helping to boost engagement.

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Every Thursday or Friday, pupils meet with the headteacher for what has been dubbed the “Pow Wow sessions”. Mrs Guy welcomes a range of pupils from throughout the school, not just the PLT, to talk about a range of topics.

“We look at a different country, taste food from that country and talk about that country,” she said.

“It’s also a chance to ask them how we can improve what we do in the school.”

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This level of pupil engagement goes along way to ensuring the children feel included and can have other benefits too, as the PLT’s Nia Athay explained.

“Pupils have a better idea of what they know,” she said.

“That means they can think of different ways to learn things. If you do something that you already know then you’re just practicing.”

Arianwen Bradley-Smith concurred, saying: “It’s more fun if we have a say, we can focus more because we are enjoying it.”

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One of the things the PLT definitely does enjoy is maths. The question “what are your favourite subjects?” resulted in a chorus of “maths!”. Other subjects got a look in too. The creativity of literacy and art are also held in high regard, by Miss Bradley-Smith and Nathaniel Donovan respectively, but it was maths which drew the majority of the support.

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Maths, as part of STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths), is one of the subjects which is supplemented by what Mrs Guy refers to as the “hook”.

The “hook”, she continues, is a way of getting the pupils engaged with the subject and ready to learn.

In the case of STEM, the school employs a scheme called Tinkering and Making, whereby the children learn through hands-on experience.

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Julie Harrington, who oversees Tinkering and Making, said: “Making develops a mindset which demonstrates how grit, flexible thinking, perseverance and embracing failure lead to achievement and success.”

The children at Malpas Court Primary are engaged at every level and the benefits are plain to see. Letting the pupils take charge of their learning is a lesson in itself and will stand them in good stead to “Nurture, inspire, achieve”.