Barry's other claim to fame

12th September 2008 at 01:00
Barry Island has found recent fame as the seaside location for the Bafta-winning BBC 3 comedy Gavin and Stacey. But the island's 148-pupil primary school is also making headlines and pulling in dozens of visitors after its best school inspection to date.

The school has become a de facto national showcase for the foundation phase, despite not being a trial school in the learning-through-play revolution.

Headteacher Janet Hayward said inspectors were initially sceptical about the school's own glowing report pre-inspection, but were quickly won over. The school achieved grade 1s in all seven key areas, and every lesson was rated as good or outstanding.

According to Mrs Hayward, adopting the principles of the foundation phase up to Year 6 lay behind its inspection success.

A self-initiated system of "carousel' teaching, where pupils move around different stations of learning and play, was described by inspectors as outstanding.

Many of the leading concerns over the foundation phase is the balance between structured learning and play. But inspectors believe Barry Island Primary, where 22 per cent of the pupils get free school meals, has got it right, making pupils exceptional independent learners.

Deputy head Ty Golding said it was now normal to have two or three visiting heads touring the school to see good foundation phase practice in action.

And a teacher at another primary has given new meaning to the saying "being in the hot seat." Victoria Thomas, from Pennard Primary in Swansea has her own technique to help nursery and reception pupils speak and listen.

Teachers read a traditional fairytale. Children then take turns to sit in the "hot seat", playing one of the characters from the story while fellow pupils ask questions.

Mrs Thomas, now a Year 1 teacher at Pennard, said her chair idea was ideal for the foundation phase because pupils are completely involved. "They designed the chair and made it," she said. "They even made a big display board with questions they'd like to ask." She reports marked improvements in pupils' linguistic skills and confidence.

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