Everyone achieving; learning in harmony
Pawb yn cyflawni; dysgu mewn heddwch
Gaer Primary School has continued to go from strength to strength and enjoyed a hugely successful academic year in 2017-18. The very successful Estyn Inspection in July 2018, achieving five ‘Excellent’ judgements, very much captured the many wonderful things happening at the school.
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 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 ‘#We All Stand Together’, ‘Welsh Roots’, ‘It’s a Creature World After All’, ‘Together We Celebrate our Differences’ ‘Hidden Kingdoms’ and ‘What on Earth Are You Talking About?’ have been launched with captivating entry assemblies or inspirational visitors; they have provided exciting contexts enabling the children to thrive. All of these projects are underpinned by the principles outlined in the proposed new curriculum for Wales.
Integral to this learning is the school’s approach to ‘Assessment for Learning’. The new processes have had a significant impact on changing the culture in the classrooms. The systems have created a supportive and collaborative ethos, whereby the children are actively engaged in their learning and confident to try new things and not afraid to make mistakes. They are confident to edit their learning and reflect on changes that will improve standards.
The ‘Assessment for Learning’ processes have had a highly significant impact on learner outcomes. The children take greater ownership of their learning and are able to improve with greater independence. They are more aware of what good learning looks like and their next steps in order to achieve higher standards. The AfL processes have helped create a sense of self-efficacy (a confidence in their ability to reach targets through hard work and determination). The peer assessment process has helped the learners to reinforce their learning by explaining ideas to others. Furthermore, the peer assessment process has helped the children to develop diplomacy and oracy skills. Estyn highlighted this as a real strength of the school. A Case Study for Estyn has now been written to capture this.
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.
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.
Health and Wellbeing, another strand of the new curriculum, is a significant focus for the primary school. Having achieved a Healthy Schools Phase 5 Award, the school has continued working towards achieving the National Quality Award (NQA).
The Play Leaders have also been busy working with the younger children to promote play and social development at the school. Every play time they can be seen wearing their fluorescent ‘Play Leader Jackets’ talking to children and encouraging fun and safe play. They have canvased the opinion of their younger peers by leading assemblies and distributing questionnaires to ensure that the younger pupils have a voice in determining the kinds of play that interest them.
Our School Ambassadors enjoyed leading the interview process for Digital Leaders. The process led to an intense day of interviews for those children who were shortlisted. The Ambassadors announced the winners, following a gruelling process, during a celebration assembly. All applicants were thanked for their interest, time and commitment.
Science and Technology is at the forefront of the learning too. Science has captured the enthusiasm of the children. The Year 6 children have been part of a collaborative cluster science project. The children have been inspired by visits from James Blaxland, a scientist from Cardiff Met University. The context for learning about science has made the science exciting, very real and most certainly memorable.
The school is delighted to have achieved the National Autism Award in the Autumn Term 2017 to sit alongside the previously achieved Autistic Friendly School (ASD) Award and the Communication Friendly School Award. Each of these awards recognise the commitment to providing the most effective teaching and learning strategies for all of the children.
Looking after the environment is something that the children are really passionate about. The school has recently renewed its ‘Platinum Eco Status’ demonstrating a huge commitment to ecology and looking after the world. We were delighted to be Wales 2050 Eco Competition Winners. The project involved our Eco Committee and Digital Leaders, supported by Miss Sansom and Mr Coles, who combined to make an impressive video detailing possible ways to decarbonize Wales by 2050. We are now looking forward to the visit of Hannah Blythyn AM, Minister for Environment.
Our Eco Committee were also ‘Winning Welsh Journalists for the Future’: They entered the: ‘Young Reporters for the Environment Litter Less Campaign’ competition. It is an international journalism competition run in Wales by Keep Wales Tidy on behalf of FEE (The Foundation for Environmental Education). It empowers young people between 11-21 to take a stand on a global fight against litter and articulate these issues through writing, photography and video. We were delighted to announce that our eco committee were the national winning entry in Wales for 2018 in the photography category. We created an image with a powerful message using hundreds of discarded gloves found on a coastal clean-up in Newport.
The school will now applying for ‘Bee Friendly School Status’ as part of their on-going work with the Cora Evans Fund. Over the last year the eco committee have worked alongside friends of Cora to plant trees and shrubs and develop natural areas to attract wildlife.
Creativity is an integral part of our learning at Gaer Primary. This year we were delighted to have real success in the Urdd Eisteddfod 2018 Success: Our families and children were engaged in creating some sensational entries for the regional round of the National Urdd Eisteddfod. These entries were submitted and we won an astonishing thirteen 1st places, eight 2nd places and seven 3rd places. Following this significant success in the regional round, a number of our entries went on to compete at the 2018 Brecon and Radnorshire Urdd National Eisteddfod which was held on the Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells, 28 May - 2 June 2018. We were delighted to have won one Gold place and four Silver places. We are extremely proud of our children-a wonderful achievement.
We are also involved in the second year of the Lead Creative School Project in partnership with the Arts Council of Wales. Our Year 5 pupils are currently working with some very talented actors, musical directors and script writers, inspired by WW2, to create a showcase sharing event in the Spring Term.
The school is also delighted to have been involved in a number of ‘School to School’ collaborative projects. It is exciting to be learning new things, working alongside colleagues from across the region and beyond.
Whole school attendance has continued to be a focus for improvement. This challenge is owned not just by the children, but the whole community. Thank you for your 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 2018-19. Thank you for your continued support of our school.
Mrs Hannah Berry