Wellbeing of pupils at Waunwen Primary School ‘inspiring’ say Swansea Scrutiny Councillors

Councillors from the Education Scrutiny Performance Panel agreed that it is inspiring to see, when supported, how pupils can become more resilient and able to learn.

The Panel thanked the Headteacher of Waun Wen Primary and the Chair and Vice Chair of Governors for attending our meeting on the 19 November. They looked at Waun Wen Primary as part of their watching brief on the wellbeing aspect of the new curriculum as well has how schools are coping with the current Covid situation.

You can watch the video from this meeting by following this link

The Headteacher outlined some of the challenges the school faced before Covid, how they are trying to mitigate these challenges and what the school has done to keep pupil wellbeing at its heart throughout the Covid period.

The Panel heard the context of the school is challenging with 57% Free School Meals, 47% English as Additional Language (27 languages) and 42% Additional Learning Needs and a high number of pupils live in areas 1 or 2 of the Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation. That many of the pupils at the school will have suffered from Adverse Childhood Experiences also known as ACES.  One of the key issues faced at the school is speech, language and communication needs.

It was understood the school had faced a number of challenges before Covid including: baseline scores very low, lack of vocabulary, difficulty using expressive language, children who have suffered trauma, social services involvement with families, children not able to regulate themselves, children not ready to learn. The Panel heard about some of the ways the school addresses these problems including the use of training on vocabulary acquisition, training on trauma and ACES, worked with Gwella Project, Empathy Lab Project (developing vocabulary to express feelings).

Councillors were told that from lockdown the school made time available to telephone families, deliver food for FSM pupils, and run a food bank in staff room for parents.  They managed to acquire Easter eggs for all their pupils, they delivered playdough and workbooks to pupils to ensure all pupils including those who do not have full access to IT, so could engage with educational activities.  Councillors were interested to hear about how school encouraged pupils and reassured parents by putting together a short film on how the school will look when they would return in September.

Councillors about heard how the school Governors, particularly the Chair and Vice Chair, supported the school through this period including with regular phone calls, email support and agreeing with changes to policy and curriculum.

The Panel were pleased to hear that the support provided by the Council to schools was very good and included courses run by the local authority, letters to parents from interim Education Director, Health and Safety guidance and support including from the Test, Trace and Protect service.

The Cabinet Member for Education Improvement, Learning and Skills said they she congratulates the schools Senior Management Team who have faced the challenges at the school and have addressed them with what needs to be done in order to enable pupils, when they are in the classroom, to be in a position to learn. 

Councillor supported the words of Director of Education when she said she was proud of Waun Wen Primary School in normal times but in these Covid times, they have gone way beyond.

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