Llanishen Fach has developed – and delivers – an innovative and engaging curriculum


Recent Estyn inspection highlights high quality teaching and strong and effective leadership are key to the school’s success

Previously, we have written about some of the exciting pioneering work we have undertaken at Llanishen Fach Primary School, in response to the introduction of the Curriculum for Wales.

We are proud of the breadth and quality of provision we provide. This pride has recently been fully validated by Estyn, the Welsh Government’s education and training inspectorate for Wales, following their recent inspection of our school. Their praise was wide-ranging and effusive across all five areas of the inspection framework.

The Estyn inspection highlights high quality teaching, imaginative, innovative and authentic learning experiences, and strong and effective leadership as key to the school’s success.

With the recent changes to the curriculum, we have embraced the opportunity to develop a curriculum which has pupil well-being at front and centre of our teaching. With this being the case, it was heartening to read that the inspection team recognised this as a strength, writing:

“Staff know their pupils very well and meet their well-being needs highly effectively” and that “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.”

Anyone who knows our school won’t be surprised to hear the favourable impression the inspectors were left with, but it certainly feels reassuring to know that we are getting things so right.

We are delighted to have independent corroboration that “Most (90% or more) pupils, including those in the Specialist Resource Base, make strong progress in a wide range of skills,” and specifically, that “Most pupils make excellent progress in their development as writers and become enthusiastic and competent authors.” They also add that “…most pupils achieve strong skills and understanding in mathematics.”

Rucksack Day, with its art, physical education and outdoor learning elements was highlighted, stating that most pupils “…make good progress in developing their creative skills and many become capable artists” adding that “…pupils’ physical skills develop very well during lessons and over time.”

As a school community, we are extremely pleased that Estyn recognised that “…most pupils’ thinking skills develop strongly” and that “…they consider questions carefully and engage maturely with adults and their peers to consider and solve problems.”

We are particularly delighted with their acknowledgment of how we support “…pupils with severe and complex learning and physical needs highly effectively…” and our inclusion and integration.

“This high level of inclusion illustrates the closeness and strength of the school community.”

The report states that the school’s management team “…provide highly effective leadership for the school” and that “…they have worked collaboratively with staff to develop a clear vision… based on a culture of self-reflection and improvement.”

Going on, they observe that “As a result, staff feel empowered to innovate and take managed risks to improve learning experiences and outcomes for pupils.”

Never ones to rest on our laurels, we will redouble our efforts to “Improve pupils’ Welsh language skills”, the single recommendation made by Estyn and acknowledge the compliment in being asked to write two case studies:

• Making the most of the skills and knowledge of staff to deliver engaging learning experiences.
• Creating a culture of low stakes accountability to drive innovation and improvement.

And of course, we will continue to “…plan and deliver imaginative, innovative and authentic learning experiences…” maintaining, “…consistently high expectations of pupils’ achievement and behaviour.”

Words by Mark Barrett, Llanishen Fach Primary School