The Foundation Phase at Gowerton Primary School excellent say Scrutiny Councillors

The Schools Scrutiny Performance Panel visited the Foundation Phase at Gowerton Primary School meeting with the Headteacher, the Challenge Adviser, the Foundation Phase Adviser, staff and pupils.  The Panel wanted to make a visit to a school that is showing excellent practice in their Foundation Phase.  They chose Gowerton Primary School because their Estyn report from September 2017 which said:

Pupils at Gowerton Primary School enjoy the imaginative learning experiences planned by their teachers and make good progress as they move through the school.  The quality of teaching is consistently good across the school.  The vibrant Foundation Phase is a particular strength.  It provides pupils with comprehensive skills to make the most of the following stages of their education.

There are three key things that were highlighted by the school, which the Panel felt could help improve the foundation phase across schools in Swansea:

  1. Promoting the importance of the Foundation Phase Philosophy and ensuring it is a priority for Swansea (and in whole of Wales in light of the many curriculum changes)
  2. Training – identifying good practice that exists across the authority and sharing it effectively. Effective communication systems to address the work/life balance agenda and to develop shared resources.  Identify and develop Hwbs of expertise to support and work with other schools in a supportive capacity.
  3. Funding – well trained staff and adult/pupil ratios need to be funded appropriately. Current Education Improvement Grant does not meet statutory guidance for staff training or resources.  If this funding goes the foundation philosophy will go with it.

Councillors found a number of key factors that they would like to share that make a successful foundation phase including

  • The importance of school leaders being committed to and having a thorough understanding of child development and the principles that underpin the foundation phase philosophy. An understanding of how children learn and what learning through play means.
  • A commitment to funding, as the foundation phase is resource intensive.
  • Learning environments that are vibrant and inspire and facilitate learning that promote pupil independence and learning.
  • Excellent staff training and development that is shared and personalised for that schools practice.
  • Teamwork and a whole school approach involving teaching assistants in planning meetings and when discussing pupil progress, sharing good practice, resources and ideas.
  • Good systems and consistency in using them including class toolkits, learning environments, reading, writing and marking consistency across whole school
  • Creative and engaging developmentally appropriate curriculum that is well balanced with basic skills.
  • Planning for pupil involvement and participation.

Councillors congratulated the school in their successful use of the outdoor learning environment and the Forest School Programme and in their partnership working with their cluster of schools, the City Consortium and Swansea Outdoor partnerships.

The Panel were inspired and impressed by the school, not only the wonderful new build facility which is truly pupil friendly but the commitment, knowledge and dedication of the senior leadership and staff at the school who clearly go above and beyond for their pupils.  The Panel would like to thank the school for their time and expertise and wish them the very best for the future.

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