September 25, 2008

Glowing Report ‘Proves School Shouldn’t Close’

By Moira Sharkey

AN inner-city school which is facing amalgamation can claim to be one of the best in Wales thanks to a top-class inspection report.

Cwrt-Yr-Ala Junior School is set to be merged with the neighbouring Caerau Infant and Nursery schools to make way for a new Welsh medium primary under Cardiff council's education shake-up.

Parents and governors of Cwrt-Yr-Ala say the glowing inspection report, which included seven grade ones - the top grades - in the key areas inspected was further proof that the school should not close.

Only a minority of schools are ever awarded top grades in each of the key areas, which include the quality of teaching and pupils' achievements.

The team from education inspectorate Estyn concluded: "Cwrt-Yr- Ala Junior School provides its pupils with a stimulating curriculum and teaching which is often outstanding. This enables them to achieve good standards with outstanding elements and to enjoy positive well-being. The school equips its pupils with the skills for life-long learning and they enjoy their studies very much.

The quality of leadership and management is excellent and the school gives outstanding value for money."

Under the plan, which has been formally proposed by the council's Executive and is now at the formal consultation stage, the infant and nursery schools would be merged with Cwrt-Yr-Ala Junior School to create a new primary.

This would offer around half of the places the three schools offer now. The buildings currently occupied by the infant and nursery schools would then house a new Welsh-medium primary.

Parents from all three schools have campaigned against the closure. If one formal objection is now submitted then the final decision on whether the council's plan can go ahead will be made by the Welsh Assembly Government.

In a statement, the governors of Cwrt-Yr-Ala Junior School said: "This report goes a long way towards explaining why Cwrt-yr-Ala is a slightly over-subscribed school with a reputation for excellence among the local community which it serves.

Against this background and given the excellence of the report, we the Governing Body are puzzled as to why Cardiff Council would still seem intent on pushing forward the proposal to halve the number of places available in the school."

Susan Russell, whose nine-year-old son Ieuan attends the junior school, said: "To have achieved such an excellent inspection report is remarkable. But still the local council wants to reduce the school's capacity and lose many of the teachers and support workers who help make this school what it is."

Head teacher Helen Turner said: "We are all delighted with this inspection report and are extremely proud of achieving the highest grade in all seven key questions as this recognises the hardwork and dedication of the team.

"We are particularly pleased that the report states teaching standards at Cwrt-Yr-Ala are significantly higher than the national average and well above Welsh Assembly targets with outstanding lessons observed in every year group."

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