IN OUR latest School of the Week, we take a look at Chepstow School.

Name of headteacher and how long in role

Matthew Sims, started in April 2019

Number of pupils and what age range

750, including 180 in our successful sixth form. Aged 11-19.

Number of staff

Inspiring Learning is at the heart of everything we do.

Our qualified and enthusiastic team of 76 staff, work very hard with all pupils to achieve excellence.

We are very proud of the high-quality education we provide, the engaging and exciting curriculum we offer, the inspirational teaching and learning, the exemplary behaviour and conduct of our pupils and their engagement within their community.

We take pride in all members of our learning community, who are highly effective role models and excellent practitioners; they are research-engaged and informed and this supports the delivery of the highest quality of teaching and learning within and outside the classroom.

Tell us a bit about the school

We are a thriving English-medium school set within the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, benefiting from a large site which has fantastic outdoor spaces and state-of-the-art sport facilities.

Our pupils are ambitious, hardworking, welcoming and incredibly proud of their school. Chepstow was born from the amalgamation of the Kingsmark and Larkfield Schools in 1970.

The school proudly celebrates its identity as seen in the school’s emblem.

Our mission statement is Inspiring learning for all, for life. Our ethos is to build the strong foundations where every member of our community can feel that they belong, where they are recognised and valued for their particular gifts, talents and the unique contribution they can make to school life.

We aim to give every member of the school community the unshakeable foundations they need to flourish to their full potential. This is reflected the plethora of curriculum activities such as the Paw Patrol, our Mini Marathon, Young Minds - mental health awareness, many school productions, Doctor Who Day and commitment to our wider cluster and partnership.

We aim to build a bridge to a child’s future where you will find Chepstow School as an adventurous learning community, constantly looking outwards to the world and ahead to the future; we aim to equip everyone to confidently take the next steps in their own journeys, wherever that may lead them, building bridges to limitless opportunities in the world.

What are your exam results like?

At GCSE we saw yet again consistently high outcomes where 81 per cent of pupils achieved A*-C, and 42 per cent achieved five A*-A grades.

Mathematics and English continue to deliver outstanding results. We saw more than 82 per cent of our pupils achieving an A*-C grade, and 40 per cent achieving an A*-A grade in English, and 45 per cent A*-A grade in Mathematics.

This is significantly above the national average.

In sixth form, 40 per cent of pupils achieved three A levels at A*-A and 90 per cent achieved three A levels at A*-C grade. This reflects and recognises the hard work and determination of students during the pandemic.

A total of 95 per cent were placed at their first-choice university, following the dedicated support and guidance from staff.

How did the school rate on its last Estyn report?

Chepstow School has significantly improved and is looking forward to the next Estyn visit so it can demonstrate high standards, outstanding provision and excellent leadership.

The school was inspected in 2017.

This report is very much out of date and does not reflect the school’s current position and transformation.

During the pandemic, the school engaged with Estyn sharing its exemplary work around blended learning and the development of the Curriculum for Wales.


What sorts of things do your pupils get up to in the average school week?

Here's what some pupils said:

“As I’m part of the student leadership team I work closely with staff and students. This includes attending weekly meetings to get a better understanding of what students want and how as a school we can improve. We work closely with all year groups and different form representatives to ensure the school's core values are integrated in lessons across the school." - Year 13 student, Gracie Jones.

“As a sixth form student, we were given facilities such as the common room and IT room to carry on and complete work assigned from all subjects. The IT facilities play a huge role within our lessons, were given the opportunity to advance and improve this work during our breaks. It provides us with a sense of independence and allows us to work in a focused environment.” - Year 12 student, Morgan Wilcox.

“I go on a school bus to and from school each day. I often buy food from the canteen at break, there is a wide range of options. During the week I attend my core subjects as well as my GCSE options such as drama, Spanish and geography and attend GCSE French classes after school twice a week. So far, I’m really enjoying geography, we are learning about tectonics.” - Year 10 pupil, Hannah Parkes.

“The normal school week for me would be getting the bus to school. Then I would go to the learning zone and pick up a book and read as there are so many different types of books! I get my lunch from the canteen because of all the choices. The school has lots of clubs that I take part in. After school on Thursday I attend girl’s rugby, which is a new club.” - Year seven pupil, Demi Morgan.

Tell us about your extra-curricular activities?

We have a broad range of extra-curricular which include a range of sporting clubs, chess club, orchestra, choir and band, reading champion quiz, coding club, gardening club, science club and product design club. These are extensions of the curriculum offer.

Our extra-curricular programme of activities are extended to year six primary school pupils from The Dell, Thornwell, Shirenewton, St Marys, Pembroke and Magor who are participating in an ‘Atomic Touch’ rugby tournament on Wednesday, October 20.

Our WRU Cluster Rugby officer Jack Dunbar attends each primary school once a week for rugby sessions with the pupils.

We have had a surge in participation numbers in rugby since the primary visits have started where pupils are enjoying playing for their school and Chepstow RFC. We look forward to hosting it every year.

Any famous former pupils?

Our school has been at the heart of the Chepstow community for generations and we are extremely proud of the many and varied achievements of our young people as they have made their way in the world.

Our alumni network is a fantastic opportunity for former pupils to reconnect with the school community, to reconnect with each other, and to inspire today's young people to go on and achieve all that they are capable of.

Rosie Eccles is a British amateur boxer who is affiliated with Pontypool ABC. She won silver medals at the 2016 Women's European Amateur Boxing Championships and the 2018 Commonwealth Games. In May 2019, Eccles was selected to compete at the 2019 European Games in Minsk, Belarus. She is a current member of the GB boxing squad. Rosie attended Chepstow School from 2007 – 2014.

Phil Pratt is another ex-pupil we are incredibly proud of. While at school Phil was playing wheel chair tennis to a particularly high standard and was the poster boy for the London Paralympics 2012. Since then he has turned his hand to wheel chair basketball. He has captained the men’s wheel chair basketball team on numerous occasions including at a very successful campaign during the European Championships and qualifications for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. He is also a previous winner of the Disability Sport Wales Male Athlete of Year.

Do you have a PTA?

The school benefits from an active Parent and Teachers Association serving both Chepstow School and its wider community.

It is a registered charity and it encourages the pupils to become involved in their own fundraising and organising their own events.

It provides support for parents and creates opportunities for meeting other parents, thus strengthening our parent network. They celebrate our local community and work with local businesses.

What's the highlight of the school year?

The highlight of this school year was putting the screen down and getting back to face-to-face learning where all pupils and staff can get their routine back, seeing friends and colleagues and feeling that buzz of the place again.

Pupils have thrown themselves into clubs and fixtures and we are as back to as close to normal as can be, although we know were not quite there, yet!

How does the board of governors get involved with the school?

Our chairperson is Judith Langdon.

Not only does the governing body provide valuable support and challenge but it has become key members of the school community, sharing its expertise and skills to enhance school life.

For example, Keith Dunn OBE, Community Governor and Honorary Consul for Japan in Wales helped celebrate and promote our UK and Japan friendship with the planting of the Sakura Cherry Tree, this is one of the many superb examples of the type of work our governors do.

What does the future hold for your school?

We soon look forward to welcoming the primaries in our cluster on a Dragon’s Den enterprise skills challenge.

The year six pupils have been tasked with designing a sustainable Christmas product. Through working with our specialist teachers and pupil mentors they will develop their product before their year fives vote on the teams from each school and decide who has the best product.

For the final, the best team from each school will have to present their sustainable Christmas product idea to our ‘dragons’; the senior leadership of Chepstow School, local businesses and school governors, in front of an invited audience.

The pupils have been fantastic so far; their ambition and curiosity has been wonderful to see and we’re very excited to see how these products develop and who will win the final and the winner’s trophy.

How was it during the pandemic?

Well-being was at the forefront of every aspect of decision making during this difficult time.

We consistently engaged with our community through regular questionnaires, home visits, online lesson delivery and keeping in touch exercise to ensure our children and their families were fully supported.

The pandemic affected many of us in different ways, one of the key strengths of Chepstow School was the level of engagement, empathy and understanding of our community.

As a school we quickly developed our online learning to ensure the delivery of our curriculum and education did not impact on our children.

We believe we did a first-class job and reduced any effects of the lockdown.

The school continues to work hand-in-hand with parents and the community and we feel we are fit to take on any challenge thrown at us.