Everyone achieving; learning in harmony
Pawb yn cyflawni; dysgu mewn heddwch
Gaer Primary School has continued to go from strength to strength following the amalgamation of the former infant and junior schools in 2014.
The academic year 2016-17 began with real excitement, as the brand new Early Years Building was completed and open ready to accommodate the school’s youngest learners. During the on-going development of the new Early Years Building, the school has successfully managed to prioritise learning, importantly maintaining a very high standard.
Over the previous two years the school has worked in partnership with the local authority and the main building contractor (BAM) to ensure that the school now has 21st Century accommodation where the children can thrive. The staff worked extremely hard during the summer break to ensure that the learning environments were set up ready for the children to return at the start of the academic year. They all deserve a considerable amount of credit.
The main ‘Grade 2 listed’ school building has also undergone a significant refurbishment and is now a welcoming and attractive space for both the children and community. The school has focused on developing ‘communication friendly’ and inviting spaces. The neutral décor, natural theme and low lighting provide a calming and homely ambiance, which has made a significant difference to the learners.
The school is committed to delivering a thematic approach to learning and continuously look at ways to improve and raise standards. The children are wholeheartedly engaged in a wealth of learning opportunities presented to them at Gaer Primary. Rich and dynamic projects such as ‘Diversity’, ‘All things Welsh and Wonderful’, ‘It’s a Creature World After All’, ‘Hidden Kingdoms’ and ‘What on Earth Are You Talking About?’ were launched with captivating entry assemblies or inspirational visitors; they have provided exciting contexts enabling the children to thrive.
The staff have certainly gone the ‘extra mile’ to plan and resource memorable learning experiences for all of the children. These contexts have been widely shared on the school twitter account @GaerPrimary. The images and videos very much capture the ethos and spirit of Gaer Primary School.
The extremely high standard of learning captured in the children’s books is very evident for all to see. The children have enthusiastically made their ‘pupil voice’ heard to add extra meaning and purpose to their learning. It is important that the children influence and shape the learning. The children are also importantly challenged to question how they learn. ‘Learning to learn’ and understanding barriers to learning encourages children to become better at learning. Tools such as Building Learning Power and De Bono’s Thinking Hats provide the children with these skills and importantly a common language for learning at the school and within the community.
Exciting new projects were planned for in preparation for the ‘new curriculum’. In Year 1 the Expressive Arts ‘Wedding Project’ was an overwhelming success. The context captured the imagination of both the children and the community. Parents joined their children in class on a Thursday afternoon to work collaboratively towards the wedding preparation. The wedding ceremony took place in April at St Martin’s Church and was photographed by Colorfoto. Each child received a ‘wedding album’, which captured the project and will serve as a fond memory for years to come. Community participation is a core value at the school. It is a pleasure to see parents engaging in learning activities alongside the children.
Gaer Primary School is also delighted to have been extensively involved in the joint Cathedral and schools Noyes Fludde Project. They are thrilled that they were able to also work in partnership with community artist Patricia Clifford to create the props for the concert, which was held in June at St Woolos Cathedral.
The school has successfully applied to become a Lead Creative Practitioner School and will now receive funding from the Arts Council of Wales to undertake a creative community project. The project will be much influenced by the children and engage partners across Wales to create memorable learning opportunities.
The school is continuously expanding, developing and fine tuning its Family Learning Programme which offers parents and grandparents the opportunity to work alongside their children at the school both learning and often sharing valuable skills.
The school currently works with numerous families weekly and this ranges from arts and crafts to physical literacy and from cookery to outdoor learning. The input from the families in community projects is fundamental to a seamless working relationship with the local and wider community.
Bespoke FACE programmes such as ‘Leaping Through Literacy’ and ‘Physical Literacy Cycling’ have provided fantastic opportunities. Also ‘Parent Partnerships’, a project with parents of nursery children; and a ‘Growing Together’ grant funded cluster project show the commitment to engage collaboratively with parents and the wider community.
Health and Wellbeing, another strand of the new curriculum, is a significant focus for the primary school. Have achieved a Healthy Schools Phase 4 Award, the school is now working towards achieving Phase 5. The school is delivering a ‘Phunky Foods’ project with Year 2 pupils and has worked in partnership with Gemma Mitchell from ‘Physagogy’ to create bespoke planning across the school for physical education. They are currently developing orienteering courses within the extensive school grounds and engaging the children in planning ‘Daily Mile’ courses. ‘Forest Schools’ is also a feature of school life and another contributing factor in developing a healthy mind. The children very much enjoy visiting the woodland environment to learn new skills.
Sporting successes have added to the positive whole school ethos at Gaer Primary. The boys and girls football teams have returned to school with winning trophies. The School Amabassadors have worked in collaboration with Logogogo to design a brand new football kit.
The School Ambassadors have also been busy working with the community to promote safe parking at the school. Every morning they can be seen wearing their fluorescent ‘Ambassador Jackets’, talking to parents and encouraging safe practices. New ‘Safe Parking’ banners are now fitted to the school railings following a ‘Safe Parking Campaign’ led by the Ambassadors, which included a whole school poster competition.
Science and Technology is at the forefont of the learning too. The school has made a significant investment in ICT and the children are now able to learn collaboratively in safe digital environments through Hwb. The Year 6 children have been successfully creating writing in collaboration with Tavernspite Primary School in Pembrokeshire. New Apple Macbooks have been popular with the children and have allowed them to develop their video editing skills with real success. Events such as ‘Digital Competency Framework (DCF) Weeks’ have enabled the teachers to plan engaging ICT lessons. In Year 6 the children conducted their own ‘Auction’ across a week.
Science has captured the enthusiasm of the children. The Year 5 children have been part of a collaborative cluster science project. The children have been inspired by visits from Antony Ginman a polar explorer. The context for learning about science has made the science exciting, very real and most certainly memorable.
Whole school attendance has improved significantly for the second year in succession. This achievement is owned not just by the children, but the whole community for their much-valued support in ensuring that the children are present as often as possible.
We are very much looking forward to developing new and improving relationships with parents and the wider community with a view to sharing many more fantastic times ahead in 2017-18. Thank you for your continued support of our school.
Mrs Hannah Berry