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Canton primary is top of the class, say school inspectors

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Year 6 students from Severn Primary (pictured from top left) Aisha, Megan, Amirah, Ben, Sam and Ayyoob.

A PRIMARY school in Cardiff where the students speak 51 different languages has achieved top results according to Estyn’s latest inspection data.

Severn Primary School in Canton has come top in the inspection findings published in October by Estyn, the inspecting body for education and training in Wales.

It was one of 178 primary schools in the latest round of inspections. Three-quarters of its 407 full-time pupils speak English as a second language.

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Fifty-one languages are spoken as a first language by the pupils at Severn Primary.

Deputy head Judith Allen said: “We’re delighted that people from outside the school value the hard work that goes on here.”

The report says progress made by nearly all pupils is “exceptional”, and students with English as a second language made “outstanding progress” with their literacy skills.

According to Mrs Allen, there is no great secret to their success.

“It’s teamwork, between teachers, support staff and everyone. We’re all prepared to learn together. It’s just hard work, a lot of bump and grind and it also comes down to consistency of approach.”

She said offering English classes to parents had increased the school’s success at teaching students with 51 different first languages.

“It’s vital that they [the parents] have the opportunity to improve their English, and it’s good for the children to know that their parents are keen to learn as well,” said Mrs Allen.

The report also highlighted the year 6 students’ performance of a play script as part of a literacy project.

Severn Primary was the only school to be rated “excellent” in nine out of 10 quality indicators set out by Estyn. It gained an overall rating of “double excellent”, based on its current performance and its prospects for improvement.

(For more information on the results, see the infographic at the end of the page).

Estyn gave one of the top ratings for pupils’ wellbeing, describing the school as “an exceptionally harmonious and inclusive environment”.

Mrs Davies is a senior teaching assistant at Severn Primary and runs a forest school in the grounds. She says the outdoor programme has a positive impact on pupil wellbeing.

“It’s all based on woodland activities. We do a bit of tool use and we talk about seasons. We’ve got a log circle. We light a tiny fire with the little ones, and then we cook on it. Hot chocolate is their favourite,” said Mrs Davies.

“It’s very good for their self esteem, and it gets them outside in the fresh air. We go out in all weathers, when it’s raining, when it’s snowing, and they get to see the changes in the garden area.”

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The forest school at Severn Primary, led by senior teaching assistant Mrs Davies.

The inspectors also praised the school for finding imaginative ways to broaden the pupils’ horizons and encourage ambition.

Pupils recently took part in astronaut Tim Peake’s experiment. In this, children across the country grew seeds which had been in space for six months to test if they grew differently from seeds from Earth. They were the only school from Cardiff to be invited to attend a special talk given by the astronaut in Cardiff Bay last month.

“It was so exciting. He told the children all about being in space. I got to meet him, it was the most exciting thing ever. He was such a nice man,” said Gil Rider, Year 5 teacher at Severn School.

“I think these sorts of activities contribute to the students’ overall wellbeing and achievement. We try and make school more than just book learning.”

What the students think…

Ayyoob

“I like Maths because the teacher explains what we have to do very well.”

Sam

“I like the Science classes. It’s really fun because we get to do experiments that we have never done before. A few weeks ago we examined and dissected a sheep heart and then we had to write a report about what it was like.”

Ben

“I quite like Art because we get to draw interesting pictures which can be a bit hard to draw and quite complex. Our teacher encourages us to progress.”

Amirah

“I love English because there are so many different activities, from role play to grammar. My teacher helps me express myself.”

Megan

“I enjoy History because I like learning about what’s happened in the past and we can learn about what’s going to happen in the future.”

Aisha

“I like French because I get to learn another language that I have never learned before and it makes me want to learn more about their culture. When you learn another language you feel new like you just came from the country.”

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