STAFF at a Wrexham early years’ school for children with additional needs have drawn praise from inspectors.
The Welsh Government’s education inspectorate Estyn visited Ysgol Cae’r Gwenyn in June and have produced a report based on their findings.
Formerly the Wrexham Early Years Centre, Ysgol Cae’r Gwenyn is a mainstream school but operates as a specialist additional learning needs (ALN) resource provision.
Nearly all pupils are referred by the council and there are currently early education, nursery and reception age children at the school.
From the 2023-2024 academic year there will be a class of Year 1 pupils at the school for the first time.
Nearly all pupils have additional learning needs, many are non-verbal when they start at the school and most make good progress from their starting points, according to the inspectors’ report.
The report states: “The staff know the pupils and their families very well and regularly discuss all aspects of each child’s development.
They focus on the positive and allow each child to flourish.
“The school community works together successfully to conquer challenges.
“School staff are highly skilled and provide excellent support to develop pupils’ verbal and non-verbal skills. Pupils show enjoyment during activities and are developing confidence in making choices about what they would like to play with.”
But the report notes: “However, their opportunities to choose where and how they play are less well developed.”
Overall, inspectors were full of praise for the school, in particular the quality of teaching and support provided by staff.
The report adds: “All members of staff have consistently high expectations of their pupils.
“They strive to overcome any barriers to learning and celebrate pupils’ small steps to success. Staff encourage pupils to make progress through constant interaction and use their interests to guide the learning in each class.
“The headteacher’s vision for Ysgol Cae’r Gwenyn is of a school where all children flourish, despite any additional learning needs that they may have.
“She has worked to create a culture where all staff work together diligently to help pupils to enjoy learning. They do their utmost to empower pupils to develop and achieve whilst allowing children to learn at their own pace.
“All staff have a strong and consistent relationship with parents and carers. The school provides an effective range of practical guidance that supports parents’ well-being successfully.
“This is extremely important to parents as they come to terms with the fact that their child has a particular need. The school community works together successfully to deal with challenges and celebrate successes.”
Inspectors have made just two recommendations for the future which are to:
- Further develop opportunities for pupils to make choices during their play.
- Develop opportunities for pupils to engage in visits within the locality to enhance their learning experiences.
The report can be read in full on Estyn’s website and the school will now draw up an action plan to address the recommendations from the inspection.
Estyn will invite the school to prepare a case study on its work in relation to developing early communication skills with predominantly non-verbal pupils, which will be published on Estyn’s website.