PUPILS FEEL ‘safe from bullying’, noted inspectors at a Caerphilly school.

Welsh Inspection team Estyn recently visited Newbridge School and have now released a report on their findings.

At the secondary school "pupils feel safe and free from bullying or harassment. They behave well in lessons and around the site and are proud ambassadors of their school", the report found.

Staff are making secure progress towards meeting the high expectations of the school’s motto: ‘Inspire, Succeed, Excel.’

There is a range of extra-curricular activities and educational visits available to pupils who are also encouraged to take on leadership roles and to influence decisions which affect them. For example, they have influenced a decision to extend extra-curricular sporting activities at lunch time.

Between 2018-2019 and 2022-2023, the school’s rate of attendance fell by a greater amount than that seen nationally. Positively, it is beginning to improve and the rate of attendance this year is higher than for the same period last year, especially for pupils eligible for free school meals.’

Positive, supportive relationships between teachers and pupils are a "strong feature of the school". Teachers provide clear instructions and explanations, are ‘good language models and reinforce subject terminology well. These teachers use regular questioning to check pupils’ understanding and recall.’

The headteacher also "provides assured leadership and has a clear and ambitious vision for the school. He is well supported by senior leaders." Leadership has had a particularly strong impact on pupils’ good behaviour in lessons and around school and their positive attitudes to learning.

Many pupils listen respectfully to their teachers and peers. They collaborate well with each other and engage appropriately in independent work.

However, a few pupils "do not engage well enough with their learning or sustain their concentration all the way through their lessons. They struggle to work sensibly with other pupils. When working independently, these pupils go off task quickly. They are slow to start working and to make progress in their tasks.’

South Wales Argus: Outside Newbridge SchoolOutside Newbridge School (Image: Google Maps)

Many pupils develop ‘appropriate basic reading and writing skills in their Welsh lessons.’ Inspectors noted that ‘most pupils have weak speaking skills in Welsh. They repeat short phrases after the teacher but have limited capacity to speak independently or to put phrases together to make conversation.’

Staff understand the barriers facing pupils impacted negatively by poverty and the school has a range of appropriate provision to support these pupils.

The caring nature of the ALN team is a ‘notable strength. Staff work closely with parents and a range of external specialists to meet the needs of the most vulnerable pupils well.’

Estyn recommendations: 

  • Strengthen strategic planning to improve important aspects of the school’s work, including the development of pupils’ Welsh language skills, raising attendance and ensuring well-being support is joined up and proactive.

  • Sharpen self-evaluation processes to ensure timely progress against specific targets.

  • Develop the governing body’s role as a critical friend of the school.