PUPIL inclusion is at the heart of this week’s School of the Week.

Waunfawr Primary School in Cross Keys has been in the news recently due to its admirable efforts in reducing single-use plastic, and has been praised in Parliament for their work. This was just one of the ideas the pupils have provided to make their school life as fun and relevant to them as possible.

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Guitar lessons at Waunfawr Primary School. Picture: www.christinsleyphotography.co.uk

Reporter Elizabeth Birt visited the school to find out just how Waunfawr Primary School staff are using their pupils' ideas to make sure that their experience and education are balanced with their wellbeing.

“PUPIL wellbeing is at the heart of everything we do,” said headteacher Melissa Armishaw - who has only been at the school for 18 months - and it shows as the children beam with pride when talking about their school and work.

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Pupils from class Willow with some of the treats for their FairTrade afternoon tea. Picture: www.christinsleyphotography.co.uk

There are a wide range of pupil voice groups - who host weekly meetings to plan activities and what they are aiming to do, and they make presentations to the board of governors and staff.

The Heddlu Bach mini-police are aiming to curb the parking issues around the school - which has been a concern for parents, teachers and the pupils themselves.

They also do their bit for the community by making and posting cards to people in the surrounding area.

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The school's Heddlu Bach mini police standing to attention. Picture: www.christinsleyphotography.co.uk

There is a student council which has taken a step forward into staff level, with members sitting in on classes to see how the pupils are behaving. They have also taught some lessons.

The school's wellbeing warriors spend their time working on issues that are relevant to the school’s pupils - healthy lunches, bullying and inclusion. They are at the heart of a ‘bullying busters’ scheme, where they keep an eye out for any activities related to bullying and are there for the pupils to tell if they are being bullied during break times. That information is then passed on to the staff.

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Class Elm became chocolatiers as part of a 'supermarket sweep' project and created their own chocolate ready to sell to parents. Picture: www.christinsleyphotography.co.uk

Since the initiation of the scheme, pupils have said that they feel safer and happier in school.

They promote eating healthily and reward pupils who bring healthy lunchboxes in as well as work with staff and outside organisations to arrange sports leagues and girls sports.

Criw Cymraeg help to promote the use of Welsh with daily words and phrases and help to organise the school’s eisteddfod.

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The Roots of Empathy class is popular with class Maple who learn from the school's youngest teacher Jensen Llewellyn, aged five months. Picture: www.christinsleyphotography.co.uk

The eco warriors who have received a lot of praise for their work, as previously mentioned, work to educate both parents and children to use products that are more environmentally friendly.

They regularly research alternatives to popular single-use plastic products and make videos to teach their fellow pupils and parents.

They are also collecting all the single-use plastic they can to create eco-bricks, with the hope of creating a bench or planters out of the bricks.

The eco warriors group was set up after pupils watched television series Blue Planet and became passionate about the amount of plastic in the oceans. They are a successful example of how the pupils are listened to in the school.

Another example is the introduction of a British Sign Language group. The school has a large amount of pupils with additional learning needs and one of the teaching assistants uses sign language to communicate with some of those pupils.

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Headteacher Melissa Armishaw. Picture: www.christinsleyphotography.co.uk

A group of the children wanted to learn to do sign language so that they could also communicate with those pupils while out in the playground and to create a more inclusive feel to the school - so the after school classes were set up and are taught by the teaching assistant.

Alongside what the pupils want, there is also a high emphasis placed on what the staff think the pupils need. An example of this is the introduction of the Commando Joe’s programme - which the whole school from nursery through to year six take part in.

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Class Sycamore taking part in a Commando Joe's exercise. Picture: www.christinsleyphotography.co.uk


“We thought that the children were missing resilience skills as we noticed in lessons that they would tend to give up quite easily if they couldn’t do something,” said Mrs Armishaw.

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Pupils from class Sycamore building teamwork skills during a Commando Joe's exercise. Picture: www.christinsleyphotography.co.uk

“So we invested in the Commando Joe’s programme which not only builds their resilience, but also increases their teamwork, communication and life skills and helps them to use their imagination more as they need to think outside the box to complete the challenges.”

Waunfawr Primary School are also proactive in teaching the children empathy and about their own feelings and reactions to those feelings by running a Roots to Empathy session. In the session, the class spend time with a mother and her young baby and learn how the baby develops and changes between each visit. They get to learn why the baby reacts like he does – and how they themselves react to the various emotions they feel.

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Some of the parents and staff in a family learning session at Waunfawr Primary. Picture: www.christinsleyphotography.co.uk

The school include the local community in as much as possible. They host family learning sessions where the parents come in and learn a specific lesson before teaching it to the children. The parents are also welcome at the end of each term’s projects to celebrate their children’s achievements – which this term included making and selling chocolate and opening a Fair-Trade Chocolate Afternoon Tea shop. During these sessions the children learnt how to finance and various other essential skills.

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Five-month-old Jensen Llewellyn teaching Maple class empathy skills as part of the Roots to Empathy programme. Picture: www.christinsleyphotography.co.uk

The school have created a happy and exciting place and curriculum that the pupils seem to thoroughly enjoy.