At Ysgol Gymraeg Aberystwyth, experienced teachers from the school worked with pupils, trainee teachers and local organisations to develop a series of activities on the theme of Welsh writer T.Llew Jones.
Information about the school
Ysgol Gymraeg Aberystwyth is situated on the outskirts of the town of Aberystwyth and serves the town and the rural areas of north Ceredigion. Around half the pupils speak Welsh at home and 2% are eligible for free school meals. The school was inspected in November 2016 and succeeded in attaining the standard of Excellent in all inspection areas. The school is also a pioneer school and is assisting the Welsh Government in developing aspects of professional learning.
Context and background to sector-leading practice
The school has been successful in developing groups of teachers who work together in quartets in order to focus on agreed aspects of learning and teaching. An important part of the process is the opportunities that are provided for teachers to plan, observe and evaluate jointly. There is a great emphasis on using pupils’ ideas to create rich and interesting tasks that engage their skills and their curiosity towards learning. The school’s role as a pioneer has ensured opportunities to develop this process by using themes that promote the recommendations of ‘Successful Futures’ and the Cwricwlwm Cymreig. The need for teachers to be creative and to try to do things in different ways from the usual is emphasised, but to remember that activities need to lead to developing pupils’ literacy, numeracy and information and communication technology (ICT) skills.
A description of the nature of the strategy or activity that has been identified as sector-leading practice
Rich tasks were developed by focusing on the theme ‘T Llew Jones’ in order to weave aspects of the arts across the eight classes in key stage 2. As a result of the ideas that were gathered from pupils, mind maps were created and creative writing activities, digital presentations, drama activities, art, creative music and dance activities were agreed upon. Plans were refined and opportunities were identified to work with the local community and to take advantage of the expertise of organisations such as Arad Goch drama company and Aberystwyth University.
As a result of the school’s role as a pioneer, advantage was taken of the opportunities to work with the University of Wales Trinity St David, by weaving the initial teacher training programme into the ‘creative cauldron’. Trainees from the university were part of the planning with teachers, and they succeeded in developing opportunities for them to observe and take groups during lessons. This was successful and an important part of their training as trainee teachers.
When evaluating lessons each week in reflective sessions, opportunities were provided for experienced teachers and trainee teachers to work together in order to improve experiences for pupils. The culmination of the work was an afternoon of sharing good practice in the form of a presentation for all pupils in key stage 2, the school’s staff, governors, local authority staff and students from the university.
What effect has this work had on provision and learners’ standards?
The provision succeeded in having a positive effect on pupils’ oral and writing skills in key stage 2, and the creative theme engaged the enthusiasm of boys in particular – the wider opportunities for pupils to work in groups and role-play was a way for them to gain confidence and ensured opportunities for them to perform in a Welsh context.
The digital activities that were delivered succeeded in providing opportunities for pupils to develop their ICT skills by using programs to create a film, prepare electronic presentations and use a green screen. It was noted that the willingness of pupils and staff to try and use new programs enriched their computer skills across the school.
How have you shared your good practice?
One of the priorities in the school improvement plan was to extend opportunities to share good practice in terms of learning and teaching across the school. This was done effectively by ensuring that teachers developed observation and evaluative skills and improved the ways in which they give effective feedback. There were opportunities to share good practice through the pioneer schools network, in the regional consortium’s conferences and with local schools.