Perfect 10 for Romilly

If there were such a thing as a perfect 10 in teaching it would be awarded to Romilly infants school in Barry, south Glamorgan.

Inspectors from Estyn could not fault the performance of the 268-pupil school. It carried out its inspection last October and the verdict was "outstanding".

It did not offer a single recommendation for improvement, making it one of the most highly-rated infants' schools for three to seven-year-olds in Wales last year.

Every inch of space has been turned into a magical kingdom of exploration.

Although not a foundation phase pilot school, the learning-through-play philosophy has already been fully embraced.

Walls, halls and doors are lost behind brightly coloured artwork. There is a labyrinth of hidey holes to discover, including an old-fashioned Welsh kitchen, a pirates' lair and a theatre dressing room.

Renditions of the Welsh tune Calon Lan echo in corridors. Outside, there is a mini-assault course and a garden for the more green-fingered pupils. The outdoor shelter is a Santa's grotto of toys.

The imagination and innovation behind some of the school's projects have already led to a 3M primary innovation award for excellence from the Design and Technology Association.

Pupils' ability on entering Romilly infants is below the local education authority average. But the school comes out in the top 25 per cent for English, maths and science. It was graded 1, the highest possible mark, throughout the inspection report.

One of the school's most remarkable features was said to be the motivation of pupils to fulfil their potential. Another was the leadership of its charismatic headteacher, Alyson Roberts, who has been in post since 1993.

Staff have embraced every initiative and training scheme, as well as coming up with ideas of their own, from the Romilly Rabbits, a project ensuring no child is friendless, to the pupil-run Fruity Friday tuckshop.

Future plans include increasing the use of Welsh by all staff and placing more emphasis on the work of well-known artists.

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