TWO primary schools in Pentwyn, Cardiff have received high praise from Estyn, the Welsh Inspectorate for Education.

Ysgol Pen-y-Groes, in Pentwyn, which has 112 pupils, nearly a quarter of whom are eligible for free school meals, was visited in May by Estyn and the school inspectors hailed the Welsh-medium primary school as a “successful learning community that celebrates pupils’ Welshness, diversity and achievement particularly well.”

It found the school has ‘clear and wise’ leadership with staff committed to an ethos of ensuring high-quality care and well-being for pupils in a homely and supportive environment.

Although just under 0.3 per cent of pupils speak Welsh at home, their use of the language is a strong feature of the school and they use the language ‘completely naturally’ both inside and outside the classroom.

“The youngest pupils’ oral skills develop successfully soon after they start at the school,” said the report. “By Year One and Two, many talk confidently and enthusiastically about their work and experiences… take pride in the language and use it naturally when talking to each other.”

It praised pupils for being ‘extremely polite’ with each other and treat staff and visitors with respect consistently, adding: “They behave exceptionally well and speak with peers and adults in a friendly manner when talking about their work and their school.”

Nearly all the pupils, it said, take pride in their school and their community and enjoy learning about the local area. They show high levels of well-being and feel safe within a supportive learning community while most show an ‘exceptionally positive’ attitude to learning.

The report highlighted that pupils are not always given ‘purposeful opportunities’ to improve the quality of work following feedback from teachers, and said there was ‘very little use’ of purposeful interventions and support to meet the specific learning needs of a few pupils. To address this, the report recommended improving pupils’ writing skills and strengthening Additional Learning Needs (ALN) provision.

Headteacher Anne Fenner said:

“The school family and the fantastic, committed team of staff who work tirelessly for each and every pupil within their care have big ambitions for the future. We hope that the positive reflections by the Estyn inspectors show the local community how much we as a school have to offer all our pupils, whatever their race, culture and ability.”

Mike Landers, the chair of the school governors, added:

“We are very pleased that Estyn recognised the hard work and diligence of the Pen-y-Groes team and are very proud of our small school community.”

Cllr Sarah Merry, Cardiff Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, said:

“I know what wonderful work the school is doing, not least in promoting diversity and well-being amongst all its pupils and it was heart-warming to read all the positive comments.”

Pupils at Bryn Celyn Primary School have also been praised by Estyn for making impressive progress in their learning this year – despite the pandemic.

The inspection, carried out in May, said the school gave its pupils a “strong start in life” and found that teachers, staff and governors worked effectively in partnership with parents, the community and Cardiff Council to help pupils develop the skills and values they need to be successful throughout their lives.

It found the school, which has 193 pupils, of whom 74% are eligible for free school meals and almost a third do not have English as their main language, has strong leadership with the head working with a dedicated team of teachers and support staff.

“Most pupils are eager to learn, behave very well, show a high level of respect for their peers and adults in the school and have clear views about what they want to achieve,” said the report. “They work hard in school, persevering to meet the challenges their teacher set them… the relationship between staff and pupils is exemplary.”

It also said that most pupils, including the vulnerable, those with additional learning needs or who have English as an additional language make strong progress from their starting points. “Following the disruption of the pandemic and the challenges that pupils and the community have faced,” it added, “the acceleration in pupils’ progress since September 2021 is exceptionally good.”

Pupils also express strong views in support of racial equality and respect for the principles of others. There is a strong safeguarding culture in the school, while pupils and parents report that incidents of bullying are “extremely rare”

Estyn’s recommendations are for the school to continue to develop pupils’ writing styles and content and “strengthen arrangements to promote pupils’ healthy eating and drinking.”

At the moment, it said, governors do not ensure there are effective arrangements to promote healthy eating and drinking by pupils. “Pupils enjoy making healthy foods in the cookery club but too often they bring unhealthy drinks and snacks to school,” it added.

“They learn to read and understand the information on food labels, considering whether items are suitable for a healthy lifestyle. However, they do not always apply this knowledge to make healthy choice when eating and drinking.”

Bryn Celyn headteacher Elizabeth Keys said:

“The school has come such a long way and made really good progress since its last inspection. I am so proud of the efforts of pupils, staff, governors and parents in making our school such a wonderful place to learn and grow.”

Mark Perrins, the vice-chair of the school’s governors, added:

“The Governors at Bryn Celyn are really pleased with the outcome of the Inspection. The dedication and hard work shown by the teaching staff has been exceptional and we will continue to serve the Bryn Celyn community.”

Cllr Sarah Merry, Cardiff Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, said:

“It’s clear from the report that Bryn Celyn is a wonderful school and there are a host of positives to come out, not least the exemplary relationship that exists between the teachers and their pupils.”

By Gwynoro Jones

Former MP for Carmarthenshire, Gwynoro Jones joined the team covering politics in Wales. He has a wealth of experience in politics and has been a regular commentator on radio, TV and in newspapers in Wales. Email: gwynorojones@walesnewsonline.com

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