Following a glowing report from inspectors, Risca Primary School is now helping develop the new curriculum in Wales. LEAH POWELL visited to find out how the school inspires pupils

TEAMWORK is key to the success of Risca Primary School, which has more than 300 pupils and had an excellent recent inspection report.

The head teacher, since 2009, is Mrs Jayne Arthur, with deputy head teacher Mrs Helen King as her second in command.

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Mrs Helen King and Mrs Jayne Arthur (

The most recent Estyn inspection was in November 2018, with the school achieving excellent for standards, teaching and learning experiences, and leadership and management. It was also rated good for wellbeing and attitudes to learning and care, support and guidance.

The report states: “The head teacher and deputy head teacher lead a conscientious team of staff, who provide highly interesting and varied learning experiences for pupils.

“Staff are reflective practitioners with high expectations of pupils and themselves. They are forward thinking and share their findings and successes openly with other schools across the region.”

The school itself is bright and cheerful, with displays showing off pupils’ works or conveying inspirational messages.

Mrs Arthur said: “The rigidity is gone from education, with a much more flexible curriculum. A lot of what we do is pupil-led, which hooks the children’s interest. They think learning is great and can’t wait to come to school.”

Risca Primary is a Lead Creative School, meaning it collaborates with other schools to develop creative learning through the arts. The school celebrates that pupils are individuals, allowing them to flourish not just in learning, but in aspects beyond academic attainment.

One example of the school’s creativity is the work they’ve done combining ICT and drama. Mr Paul Fitton is the school’s ICT leader and said: “The children have taken part in acting workshops.

“Year 5 and 6 have been learning about the Tudors, so they used a green screen to put a Tudor inspired background behind a piece we filmed.

“They’ve also learnt about stop motion. They did plenty of research on the Tudors and made a stop motion of their favourite crimes and torture during that period.

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Pupils' using skills in ICT and drama with a green screen (

“It’s having that choice that hooks them in and makes them excited to learn,” added Mrs Arthur.

Risca Primary School also has a huge focus on building children’s confidence and oracy skills, reflected in their oracy project and radio station.

The project involved pupils visiting the local woodland for story-telling about a mouse who needed a bigger house for him and his friends. Pupils worked together to tell the tale of the little guy on his quest for a new home, which eventually led him to the school The story led to them building a mouse house.

Risca Radio is led by Mrs King who has a passion for oracy, and is pupil-led, with radio airing before school, during break and after school.

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Pupils' on air for Risca Radio (

Mrs King said: “The children run Risca Radio and it’s so important to help them develop their skills. Some pupils may struggle getting up in front of a group of people and performing, but they find it easy to talk on a microphone to hundreds of people.

“They choose the music, do requests and have interviews with teachers. They announce birthdays, the day’s dinner, the weather and they’ll even watch the news before coming in and share that.

“We also run an annual week of ‘Risca University’ when the school council and representatives will think of courses to run, such as radio, drama, photography, and so on.”

It’s not just pupil-led learning at Risca Primary School – pupils also lead teaching, with Year 6 pupils passing on their knowledge and training to Year 5.

The school is a professional learning pioneered school, meaning they were selected by Estyn to write a paper on their work and to collaborate with others to help develop the new curriculum.

As such, the school works with schools within the cluster, with several staff members supporting newly-qualified teachers (NQTs) in training. They share their good practice and their success to help ensure all children get the best quality education possible.

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Senior leadership team at Risca Primary School

Their Estyn report also states: “The curriculum links pupils’ learning to the four purposes of the new curriculum and places a high emphasis on pupil-led learning.”

It goes on to describe Mrs Arthur as ‘strong, effective and purposeful’ with a ‘clear vision.’

Mrs Arthur said: “I am very proud that the hard work of the staff has been referenced in the report. All staff here understand our vision, and none of this would be possible without such an effective team.

“Helen might be my deputy, but we run the school together. I know I can be away from the school and everything will carry on as usual.”

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Risca Primary School (