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School name: St Thomas Community Primary School
Headteacher: Mr Russell Dwyer
Number of pupils: 401
Partnership working is the key to success for a Swansea Primary School.
St Thomas Community Primary School, near the SA1 development, has been praised for its successful partnership working in its Estyn inspection in September 2014.
Many strengths were identified, but in particular Estyn were impressed with the way the school had developed partnership working, which was judged to be ‘excellent’ in the report.
Successful links with other schools, the local authority and the community were all identified as having a ‘significant impact on pupils’ learning and well-being.
“The school’s highly effective links with Social Services and other agencies such as, Team Around the Family and Exchange counseling, ensure the school’s most vulnerable pupils are effectively supported,” said headteacher Russell Dwyer.
“Other successful links with groups and organisations such as the local secondary school, the library, local supermarket and church all ensure the school is very much at the heart of the community.”
However, the school believes the most important partnership they have is the one they share with parents; a partnership Estyn describes as ‘exceptional’.
“The school recognised many years ago the key role parents can play in extending their children’s learning at home and that there was a need to reach out and support parents in order for them to have the most impact when doing so,” said Russell.
School staff put in a considerable amount of time and effort into developing the relationship between school and home and this has built up an incredible amount of trust between parents and school over time.
These positive relations between home and school ensure parents feel confident to approach staff for support when they need it.
“Estyn acknowledged that parents value the openness, flexibility and commitment from staff and appreciate the time staff take to listen to them,” said Russell.
The school’s system of the day time and evening parental consultation appointments allow parents to have a choice in when they attend and this flexible approach regularly enables the school to reach 94% or more attendance.
The school constantly aims to go beyond traditional parental involvement in school life and extend into true parental engagement in children’s learning.
Parents across the school regularly have opportunities to come into lessons and sessions have been provided by staff and external agencies for parents to develop their skills in areas such as literacy, numeracy, ICT and most recently healthy living, through another successful link with an organisation called, ‘LEAF’ (Learning about Exercise, Activity and Food).
“Such events are very well attended by parents and these opportunities mean that parents not only know what their children are doing in school but, more importantly, how they can build on this learning at home,” said Russell.
The school has been asked to share their approach to engaging parents locally and nationally at conferences in recent years.
The school also shares a successful partnership with the University of Wales, Trinity St David.
As a result, it has been identified as a Professional Learning School by ERW and has received funding to develop and implement future initial teacher training programmes with the University.
The school is also assisting the University in developing Masters modules for serving teachers.
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