A forward thinking, innovative and inclusive centre for lifelong learning

The forming of a new school will breathe fresh life into the local community and allow us as teachers and governors the chance to be bold and innovative in shaping the experience we want our children to have. We have the opportunity not only to design not a school for 4 – 18 year olds, but a centre for lifelong learning which both reflects the needs of the local community but is also shaped by the best practice from the UK, Europe and the rest of the world.

Partnership working with other schools, colleges and industry will bring the best to our pupils. Collaborative working with local and national employers and training providers will bring authentic learning experiences to our school and allows our pupils to ‘thrive in a future where digital skills, adaptability and creativity are crucial’ (Welsh Government Draft Curriculum for Wales 2022).

We have already begun the work of seeking out the best practitioners from around the UK and established working relationships with them in order for us to benefit from their expertise and guidance.

A new school with quality assurance and school improvement at its core

Initiatives that drive school improvement are essential. At Ysgol Llanfyllin these include:

  • A sharp focus on ensuring pupils wellbeing and positive attitudes to learning
  • Improving the quality of teaching and learning
  • Improving the consistency and impact of quality assurance procedures
  • Improving the processes and procedures around self-evaluation and improvement planning
  • Holding staff at all levels accountable for their areas of responsibility

And, of course

  • raising academic standards and outcomes for all pupils at staged progression steps within the school (NB. within the Welsh Governments new assessment proposals these will be roughly at ages 5, 8, 11, 14, 16 and 18)

A new school with a new curriculum

In Wales, we are embarking on a one of the most exciting periods of educational development seen since the introduction of the National Curriculum in 1988. The new curriculum for Wales provides us as professional with the chance to truly control the contents of our lessons with the needs of our learners at the heart of what we do.

We now have a golden opportunity in Llanfyllin to launch our new school in conjunction with a new curriculum designed by our teachers for our pupils.

When you read the four purposes that lie at the heart of Professor Donaldson’s proposals are also the core purposes for our new school.

In Llanfyllin, we will endeavour to enable our young people to be:

  • ambitious, capable learners, ready to learn throughout their lives
  • enterprising, creative contributors, ready to play a full
    part in life and work
  • ethical, informed citizens of Wales and the world
  • healthy, confident individuals, ready to lead fulfilling lives as valued members of society.

The new curriculum is organised as a continuum of learning from ages 3 to 16. This fits the Through School model perfectly. With no break between primary and secondary school all children and young people will make progress along the same continuum, within the same school and with the same staff team – an excellent structure to create confident, ambitious and capable learners.

We have gained the confidence of all our feeder schools throughout the forming of the new school and we have excellent working relationships with all of them. Families and carers from other feeder schools need to be re assured that they will in no way be disadvantaged when joining the new school aged 11.

In order to address this work has already begun on engaging with all our cluster feeder school is designing our new curriculum. We work collaboratively using representatives from all feeder primary schools and Ysgol Llanfyllin. The staff have formed working groups focused after each of the Areas of Learning Experience (AoLEs):

  • Expressive Arts
  • Health & Wellbeing
  • Humanities
  • Languages, Literacy & Communication
  • Mathematics and Numeracy
  • Science & Technology

Each group has been charged with developing activities and projects aimed at the different phases within the school from Foundation Phase to age 14. Each group is facilitated by a lead member of staff who can come from either the primary or secondary sector. Although this work is still in its infancy it has already proved popular with staff for having the time, freedom and confidence to experiment with new innovative ideas for their classrooms and beyond.

I believe this crucial work has helped form the foundations of the new curriculum in our new Through School.

A new school with commitment to promoting and developing Welsh medium provision within the new school

The Welsh language will live at the core of the new school. The continued development and nurturing of Welsh medium provision is essential in order to secure a sustainable future for the school and to meet the Welsh Government’s target of having one million Welsh speakers by 2050.

The recruitment and retention of skilled Welsh speaking staff is essential. Pupils require positive linguistic role models in order for them to be enthusiastic users of the Welsh language. During my Headship of the High School, I increased the amount of first language Welsh teaching staff employed at the school and this has already had impact. In their most recent (2019) report on the High School Estyn commented that: ‘Bilingual pupils work well in both Welsh and English and they chat naturally to each other in Welsh in class and around the school.’  I am obviously very pleased that the inspectorate has recognised the bilingual ethos we have fostered and we of course strive to continue this ethos within the new school.

We have developed close working relationships with local and national welsh speaking groups such as the Gwyl Cerdd Dant committee, Rhieni Dros Addysg Gymraeg (RHAG), Yr Ysgub newspaper, Dolen Ffermio, BBC Cymru and S4C.

We have been successful in attracting the National Gwyl Cerdd Dant to the school for November 2021. ‘Gwyl Bro Nansi’ will bring a nationwide focus to the school – an excellent celebration to mark the opening years of our new bilingual school.

The Siarter Iaith (Welsh Language Charter) is a project to encourage the use of Welsh socially in schools in Wales. We are  fully engaged with this initiative and are aiming for gold award status.

Having the Powys Eisteddfod Gorsedd stones on the school field gives students a daily visual reminder of our cultural heritage and importance of the Eisteddfod tradition to the area. Students are encouraged to take part in the Urdd, Powys and National Eisteddfodau and helped to understand the relevance of Welsh culture in today’s society.

A Happy school with ‘Teulu’ at its heart

The primary concern for all parents and carers is that their children are happy in their school.  Happy children make ambitious and confident learners who enjoy success across a range of subjects and school based experiences.

Our new school has the ethos of ‘Teulu’ (welsh for family) at its heart. This ethos is one of care, nurture, stability and ambition. Our school family values and encourages collective responsibility, tolerance and an open-minded approach towards each other and our learning. All families face difficult times and it is sometimes necessary to make difficult decisions. Schools are no different and in challenging times strong, resilient leadership is required to carry the school forward.