Estyn report praises school's ‘highly beneficial' learning experiences


A primary school in Cardiff has earned a glowing report from inspectors who praised its focus on innovation which helps to deliver "enjoyable and highly beneficial learning experiences for pupils".

Estyn's report, carried out following an inspection in January at Llanishen Fach Primary School in Rhiwbina, emphasised the strong and effective leadership of the school. Leaders encourage staff to experiment with their lessons and try new approaches, said the report, empowering them to innovate and take managed risks to improve learning experiences and outcomes for pupils.

In line with the school's motto - ‘Nurturing curious minds...enabling children to thrive and they are life ready, work ready, world ready' - the report highlighted the school's diverse and interesting curriculum with many authentic learning experiences catching the imagination and enthusiasm of learners highly effectively in all classrooms as well as allowing pupils to practise a range of skills "in real-life situations."

It also praised the meticulous planning and preparation of teaching staff. As a result: Most pupils make strong progress during their time at the school.

Llanishen Fach has 511 pupils, with 8% eligible for free school meals, against a national average of 23%; just over 10% have additional learning needs (ALN) - the national average is 16.1% - and, while none of the pupils speak Welsh at home, 4.3% of the children there have English as an additional language.

Estyn recognised that pupils, make less progress in the development of their Welsh language skills, as a result of lack of opportunity with recommendation that the school makes improvement in this area.

The school was commended for its high standards of literacy and numeracy with pupils making good progress in areas such as writing, reading, numeracy and with their creative skills.

The report added that most pupils make excellent progress in their development as writers and become enthusiastic and competent authors with most pupils achieving strong skills and understanding in mathematics.

"Most make good progress in developing their creative skills, solve problems effectively, consider questions carefully and engage maturely with adults and their peers."

Estyn also praised the excellent working relationships between staff and pupils and the high priority the school places on the well-being of pupils with its "nurturing culture" being recognised as a strength. Staff know their pupils very well and meet their well-being needs highly effectively. It added, staff are very good at providing pupils with experiences that combine many areas of the curriculum and improve their sense of well-being at the same time.

The report recognised that pupils show "real care" for each other and have a strong awareness of issues facing people in their community and the wider world.

It added that,  the school is highly inclusive and pupils learn to respect and celebrate differences between people and their lives. It also commended the well-developed and very effective provision for pupils with ALN with high levels of inclusion illustrating the closeness and strength of the school community.

Sarah Coombes, who has been head of the school since 2009, said she was delighted with the inspection report. "We are incredibly proud of our pupils. Their positive, caring attitude and the high levels of respect they show for each other and their community, should be applauded.

"Their sustained effort and willingness to challenge themselves in all aspects of school life ensures that they reap rewards from learning experiences as they strive to reach their potential to be the best that they can be."

"Through the dedication and efforts of the whole staff team, I am thrilled with the report and the much-deserved recognition it gives to the school community for their hard work and commitment to realise imaginative and authentic learning experiences that ensure strong progress for pupils. We are very grateful to the ongoing support from our families, community and governing body that enables the school to continue to drive innovation and improvement."

Cardiff Council's Cabinet member for Education, Employment and Skills, Cllr Sarah Merry, said the school was an example of how primary education should be delivered in the city. "Sarah Coombes and her team have set a very high standard in the work they have done over the past few years at Llanishen Fach and they - and the pupils who clearly enjoy their time there - should be thrilled with the report."

"As a council, we look forward to continue helping the school maintain these high standards in the years to come and, of course, make improvements where necessary."

Estyn has adopted a new 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 believes 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.