WELSH-MEDIUM primary school Ysgol Gymraeg Gwaun y Nant, in Gibbonsdown, Barry, is widely known to be a happy and inclusive community with an exceptional caring ethos.

The school isn’t biased because that was the feeling Estyn inspectors gained following their most recent inspection.

Inspectors said the clear relationship of respect and care between pupils and adults was one of the school’s strengths and this leads to exceptionally good behaviour from pupils and creates a community in which all children are able to succeed in a safe and inclusive learning environment.

“Pupils treat adults and their peers with clear affection and kindness,” the report said.

The school’s catchment area covers Gibbonsdown, but also a much wider area including Wenvoe, Pencoedtre, Palmerston, the Colcot, and Cadoxton.

The school first opened its doors on its current site in 2001 with 72 pupils and shared a building with Oak Field primary school.

It has grown into a school at the heart of its community and very recently, due to an increased demand for Welsh medium education, has been extended and was subject to a major refurbishment

Head teacher Rhydian Lloyd said: “Due to the hard work and dedication of our staff and governor, over the years we have established a very good name for ourselves. We pride ourselves not only on the high expectations we have for all pupils, in their work and behaviour, but also the caring ethos within the school.

“It was very pleasing that ESTYN picked up on this and noted that one of our many strengths is the ‘caring working relationship between adults and pupils and that the school is a caring community in which a high priority is given to pupils’ wellbeing.’

“ESTYN also reported that “pupils are exceptionally well-behaved during lessons and informal situations. They are welcoming, polite and treat each other, staff and visitors with genuine respect.”

“Visitors have always told us that there is a very special ‘feeling’ to the school. I believe that this is created through the exceptionally strong emphasis we have on equality, diversity and respect.

The school has been categorised as Green

Mr Lloyd said his school was a happy, vibrant and caring one.

He said: “Our priority is that children are happy and feel that they are valued. We also believe that a partnership between home and school is essential for our pupils to succeed.

As over 95 per cent of our pupils come from homes where Welsh is not spoken. We know that many parents are taking a leap of faith sending their children to a Welsh medium school. We understand this and it is our aim to involve all parents in their children’s education while they are at Gwaun y Nant. We even offer free Welsh lessons for parents.

“You would expect us to place a strong focus on developing our pupils Welshness. By the time our pupils leave us they are completely bilingual and have a respect towards the language and a pride in their country and heritage.

“We regularly work with Welsh artist Rhiannon Roberts who creates fantastic paintings with our pupils based on Wales and the local area. Pupils respond fantastically to these projects and are always proud to see their finished work displayed around the school.”

The school works with partners who include the NSPCC, F.A.C.T (Families Achieving Change Together) and Putting Families First and Flying Start

In collaboration with Putting Families First, it holds weekly, well-attended, training sessions for parents including courses on developing reading and numeracy with children, First Aid, nurture for parents, and exercise.

Mr Lloyd said: “We have also provided a space for Gibbonsdown Children’s Centre play group in the school. This partnership is especially successful because children can familiarise themselves with the school environment before they begin in our nursery when they are three years old. The play group also offers a wrap- around service which is very popular with parents.

“ESTYN noted that our co-operation with a number of other schools in the area is an “excellent” feature of the school’s work. We have been at the forefront of leading and co-operating with other Welsh Medium primary schools to plan and develop resources jointly to boost pupils’ skills

“We believe it is never too early to begin preparing pupils for life after education. We hold an annual Entrepreneurship week where pupils invest £1 in their own companies, create goods to sell, and hold a School Market for parents. The pupils are given an option to share the profit between themselves or give to charity. The fact that all pupils decide to donate to different charities makes us very proud of them.

“Pupils also hold a Fair Trade Coffee Shop during Family Assemblies. All profits are donated to Fair Trade. We are happy to support this charity as Barry was the first Fair Trade town in Wales. Such is the success of the business we entered it into an entrepreneurship competition held by the Welsh Government and got through to the regional final.

He added: “One of the highlights each year is our School Eisteddfod. It’s a great opportunity for our pupils to showcase their performing talents and helps them gain confidence. The highlight is the chairing of the Bard ceremony. Nobody knows the identity of the winner until it is announced from the stage. The look of anticipation on the pupils’ faces is priceless!

“We tasted success this year at the National Urdd Eisteddfod in Bridgend. One of our Year 2 pupils, Finley Burrows came first in the singing solo and in the process has won an all-expenses paid trip for him and his family to Disneyland, Paris and he will perform there as part of their St David’s Welsh Weekend.

“The school offers a breakfast club as well as a variety of after school clubs run by staff including sports, cooking, IT and many more. We regularly take part in a variety sport tournaments.”

He added: “Through the dedication and commitment of staff and all associated with the school I believe that we have created a school that we all can be proud of.”

Fact File

School motto: No motto

Chairman of governors: Mr Dafydd Treharne

Head teacher: Mr Rhydian Lloyd

Number of pupils: 239

Age of pupils: to 3 to 11-years

Last inspection: (year and rating). Green categorisation. Estyn, October 2016: Good.