Positive Estyn report for Cardiff West Community High School

The findings of a report by education watchdog Estyn points towards a picture of improving secondary education standards in the west of the city, following the recent opening of Cardiff West Community High School. 

Inspectors found that the headteacher, working closely with the governing body and senior leaders, has established and communicated successfully, a clear vision and ambitious aims for the school. Staff have worked effectively to build trust within the community and engage parents to help ensure that pupils attend regularly, behave well and thrive.

The inspectors praised the work to broaden the curriculum, which ensured that pupils ‘have the opportunity to participate in a wide range of curricular and extra-curricular experiences.' This work is ‘contributing to improvements in pupils' attitudes to learning and their personal development'.

It is the first time Estyn has inspected Cardiff West Community High School, which opened in September 2017 following the closure of the Michaelston Glyn Derw Federation. The inspectors visited the school in November 2018.

Estyn saw that the standard of pupils' work has improved over the short period that the school has been opened. Work to improve literacy and numeracy skills has had a positive impact. Those with additional learning needs make strong progress in improving their reading and numeracy skills, thanks to the support they receive.

Headteacher, Mr Martin Hulland, said: "Cardiff West Community High School is very much in its infancy, so Estyn's findings from a visit barely a year after we opened is very encouraging for us.

"We know that we are near the start of our journey, and none of us will be satisfied until Cardiff West Community High School is the very best that it can be, but it is encouraging to see that the things we have put in place are making a real difference.

"Even though it is still early days, there are a lot of positives to take from this inspection. Perhaps the most important thing for me is the recognition that we are certainly on the right track. We are in a good position to develop this further, and to take Cardiff West Community High School to the next level."

Deputy Leader of Cardiff Council, and Cabinet Member for Education, Employment and Skills, Cllr Sarah Merry, said: "I take a lot of encouragement from the findings of the Estyn inspection. Since Cardiff West Community High School opened in September 2017, we have seen an improvement in the standard of secondary education in the area, and it is pleasing to see this progress being recognised by the inspectors.

"There has been a transformation in education standards in Cardiff since 2012, and as the recently published Annual Performance Report shows, the city's performance now stands above the Welsh average in all key indicators.

"There is still work to be done however, and just as Mr Hulland, his staff and Governors will be doing at Cardiff West Community High School, we will continue our efforts to deliver improvements, and continue to drive up standards in our schools, ensuring that every child and young person goes to a good school."

The school's Estyn report goes on to say that teachers establish positive and supportive working relationships with pupils, which is building self-confidence and self-esteem. The school has established a strong sense of unity, purpose and commitment to supporting the wellbeing of pupils. A ‘Behaviour for Learning Policy'is having a positive impact on school culture, attitudes to learning, and behaviour, in lessons and around the school.

Pupils feel safe and secure in school. They feel that they are treated with fairness and respect by teachers and the school listens to their views and opinions. They are polite and courteous towards others and demonstrated positive attitudes to their learning.

Teachers have good subject knowledge and they establish positive and supportive working relationships with pupils. In particularly effective lessons, teachers are extremely enthusiastic and knowledgeable about their subject.

Estyn also commented on Cardiff West Community High School's ‘agile use of partnership working to help adapt its curriculum, to meet the individual needs of vulnerable pupils'.

Cardiff West Community High School is a ‘pathfinder school', promoting links forged under the ‘Cardiff Creative Education Partnership' that have seen some of the biggest names in Cardiff's creative sector joining forces with the local authority to promote creativity at the heart of learning.

The school will move into a new building after Easter, once work to build a new Cardiff West Community High School on land adjacent to Trelai Park is completed.

Mr Hulland added: "In just a few months we will be moving into our brand new, 21stCentury school, so the timing of Estyn's report couldn't be better. It is further endorsement that, as our new home is being built down the road we as a whole school community are successfully building the type of school ethos we need to succeed, and that we need to take full advantage of our new facilities."

Jointly funded by the Cardiff Council and Welsh Government through Band A of the city's 21stCentury Schools programme, the new Cardiff West Community High School represents a £36m investment.