Alway Primary School in Newport sets great store by giving its pupils a real voice MICHAEL JONES paid a visit.

A COMMITMENT to learning Welsh, placing emphasis on pupils having a voice and cutting their environmental impact, form the foundations at Alway Primary School, Newport.

Head teacher Richard Hughes – who has been in the post since 2003 - said: “What we are pushing at the moment is a greater power to the pupils.

“We have just set up a leadership team and they now have an input into our development plans.”

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The leadership team L-R Caitlin Smith, Dylan Griffiths, Gracie O'Connor (head girl) Shazeen Feroz (head boy), Malisa Cook and Theo Rainbow at Alway Primary. All pictures:

Head boy Shazeen Feroz, year six, typifies the responsibility placed on those within the leadership group. He explained that the group is given an “agenda about what is going to come up” for the term and how they all brainstorm ideas to help improve various aspects of the school.

When the leadership group first formed, Mr Hughes took a back seat.

“I said look guys, this your thing, you take the lead.

“When they were voting in the chair and the secretary, the way they took themselves through the formal proceedings of the meeting was superb – they even took down minutes.

“They also came up with a number of ideas for ways they can make school safer.”

The school also has an eco-group – led by Alexi Annis, year six and Maddie Jones, year five.

“I have had groups in the past, but this particular group have been great.

“The eco-group came to me and said: ‘Sir, can we start a club that will promote reduction in use of plastics?’

“They have met school meals providers and are working on changing the packaging on things like ice creams and they’re looking at drink providers.

“We have been surprised how responsible and sensible they have been about it.”

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Jaqueline Namakhonje working with a group of children during a fire lighting session. Pupils year 4 – Annalise Croft- Teagan Watkins – Lily Shaw.

The school recently received a visit from several head teachers from Uganda – an experience that “taught the pupils a lot about how scant the resources are” in Ugandan schools.

Head teachers interacted with the pupils throughout their visit and taught them about Ugandan culture.

This visit reciprocated the journey made by Alway teachers to Uganda last year, with the school passionate about “establishing and strengthening those links”, Mr Hughes said.

Pupils are now thinking of ideas to raise money to buy musical instruments for Ugandan schools and the school has already donated football kits, football posts, school caps and uniforms.

Kai Collins, year six, designed a commemorative plaque to mark their visit.

Four pupils are drawn alongside each other, holding hands.

“It was to show that we are equal,” he explained.


Alway Primary School is also a lead learning network for Welsh.

Natalie Pottenger, Welsh co-ordinator, said: “Welsh was identified as something we needed to work on in our last report and now we are a lead, which is brilliant.

“We have other schools who come and see what we are doing.

“They will come to use for events, watch lessons and observe.

“We have had events for year one, year three and year five.”

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Taking pride in their work with new school books L-R Daisy Simpson, Shazeen Feroz and Malisa Cook at Alway Primary.

Crucial to inspiring a passion for the language is to make lessons fun and engaging.

“There are lots of games and activities rather than boring hour-long lessons. All the pupils say they love learning Welsh.”

Throughout the school, Welsh slogans line the walls covered with posters and craft-boards adding colour to the corridors.

Evidently, it has worked: the school were given the Bronze Award from Cymraeg Campus.

“We are one of the first schools in Newport to get it.

“Now, we’re going for Silver and one of the few who are going for that, which is fantastic,” Ms Pottenger said.

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Music lessons for Dominic Putz (L) and Jamie-Lee Kent at Alway Primary

Year six pupils are receiving French lessons in preparation for their transition to Llanwern High School.

Ms Pottenger said that practising Welsh on such a regular basis has improved the pupils’ overall language skills.

“The French teacher from Llanwern said she loves teaching our pupils and is impressed at how well they’ve picked up the language.”

At the beginning of the year, the school introduced a new scheme to protect pupil welfare.

“When they come in first thing, the teachers will stand by the doors and greet every pupil,” Mr Hughes said.

“It is so they can gauge whether they have had any issues, whether they are feeling down and so forth.”

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Cutting plastic, the VSCO club with Maddie Jones yr5 (L) and Alexi Annis, year six, at Alway Primary

The school has recently invested in large sketch books for the pupils – on the surface this may seem a minor detail, but Mr Hughes said it has made a big impact.

“They take more pride in their work and are generally more concerned with how their drawings and notes are written on the page. That the pupils were so keen to show off the work they had done in the new books reflects the school’s motto: ‘Always feel proud: aspire, believe, achieve’.

“This relates to every area of school life to bring our vision into reality,” deputy-head Liz Heslop said.

“We aspire to be happy, confident, successful learners. “We believe anything is possible. We achieve by taking pride in everything we do.”


  • Headteacher: Richard Hughes
  • Number of pupils: 400
  • Motto: ‘Always feel proud: aspire, believe, achieve.’
  • Chair of governors: Graham Thompson