‘Exceptionally positive’ verdict for Welsh-language primary school

School inspectors have hailed a Welsh-medium primary school in Cardiff as a “successful learning community that celebrates pupils’ Welshness, diversity and achievement particularly well.”

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, the Welsh Inspectorate for Education. 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, said: “"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.”