The Oaks Federation, "warm and welcoming schools with strong emphasis on equality and inclusion" says Estyn


Greenway and Trowbridge primary schools have been described by Estyn as warm and welcoming schools whose ethos of care and support permeates all they do.

Located in the east of the city, the primary schools have worked together as part of The Oaks Federation since 2019 and during a recent inspection by the Education Inspectorate for Wales, it was found that pupils attending the schools are happy and the working relationships between pupils and staff are positive.

As a result, standards of behaviour are good and during their time at school, many pupils make solid progress from their varied starting points, benefitting from teaching by staff who know them very well and who listen to them, including when they make suggestions about what they would like to learn.

The Oaks Federation share an executive headteacher, resources, staff and Governors across both school sites and endeavour to ensure that the opportunities offered are consistent and mirrored across both schools.

The report by Estyn noted that pupils are aware of their rights as a child and consider how to treat others fairly and that the school is keen to support families and ensure that there is a strong emphasis on equality and inclusion. Consequently, pupils feel safe and are keen to learn, including those with additional learning needs who make up 58% of the pupil population at Greenway and 54% of the pupil population at Trowbridge.  

Inspectors found that too many pupils are frequently absent or late for school and miss out on important learning time despite the best efforts from staff to promote regular attendance.

Estyn made four recommendations to the federation including to; Sharpen monitoring and evaluation processes to focus on improving pupil outcomes, strengthen teachers' feedback and opportunities for pupils to reflect on their work so that they know what to do to improve, ensure that teaching challenges all pupils, including the more able, to develop independence in learning and improve standards for older pupils in Welsh language.

Reflecting on the report, Nic Naish, Headteacher at The Oaks Federation said: "I am very proud to be part of The Oaks Federation and the Estyn report for each school, reflects the hard work and commitment of the whole team. We are especially proud that the inspection team highlighted our inclusive, caring and supportive ethos as well as the strong relationships between school staff and pupils.

"These areas are the foundations on which we will continue to grow as a Federation and help as we work towards addressing the recommendations for each school."

Bryan Jeffries, Chair of Governors at The Oaks federation said: "I am pleased to see that the inspection team recognised that both schools work alongside each other well, sharing staff and resources to support the implementation of the new curriculum.

"It is clear that both schools have their own personality, but that we work as one whole Federation to support our shared communities. I am very proud of the whole team who have been ably backed by the Governing Body to ensure our schools are positive and happy places to be.

"The recommendations will be addressed through our partnership working and will help us in our aim of being one of the leading Federations in Wales."

Cllr Sarah Merry, Cardiff Council's Cabinet Member for Educationrecognises the many strengths of Trowbridge Primary School found by Estyn during the inspection, including pupils' good behaviour and the support shown by teaching staff."There are many areas where the school is making good progress and I am sure thatin the coming months, the school's priority will be to address the important recommendations for improvement that Estyn has made.

"With a focus on attendance at the school, later this month the Council will launch a new drive toimprove standards of school attendance across the city in partnership with schools, with the aim of highlighting that lost days of learning really do add up. We want to remind families that every day in school matters, with regular school attendance playing an important part in helping learners to achieve more and improve attainment during their school lives and beyond."

Estyn has adopted anew approach to inspection in schools and Pupil Referral Units across Wales.Inspection reports will no longer include summative gradings (e.g. ‘Excellent', ‘Good' or ‘Adequate') and now focus on how well providers are helping a child to learn.

The new approach aligns with the personalisation of the new curriculum for Wales with inspections involving more in-person discussions, placing less emphasis on achievement data.

Estyn believe that the new inspection approach will make it easier for providers to gain meaningful insights that help them to improve without the spotlight on a judgement.