The Vale of Glamorgan Council is aiming to create a new Nursery Unit within Penarth’s Fairfield Primary School to “change the character” of the struggling school and change it to a “3-11 years school”.
It’s proposed to introduce the change as from January 2018 – subject to the approval of the Vale Council’s ruling ‘cabinet’ and a period of public consultation which will run for 6 weeks from January 3rd 2017. The new nursery unit would have 48 part-time places.
Currently nursery provision in Penarth is offered by what the council calls “a range of maintained [i.e. state-provided] and private nurseries” but there’s been no state-provided nursery facility at either Fairfield or Evenlode Primary Schools. Nursery-age children in the catchment areas of those two schools can attend either a private nursery or the state-sector nurseries at Cogan or Bute Cottage.
Fairfield Primary School is currently under-subscribed. It has a capacity for 316 children between 4 and 11 but had only 292 pupils on the school roll in January this year
Fairfield Primary School hasn’t had an inspection by the education watchdog Estyn since November 2010 .
At that inspection – 6 years ago – a council report said “The school’s current performance and prospects for improvement were both judged as good”. However an internal council report admits that in a “monitoring visit” last year Estyn identified Fairfield Primary School “as one in which the Council should have taken a more direct approach to challenging performance.”
It was found that “Although performance at outcome 5+ is good in the Foundation Phase, performance at outcome 6+ is not.” The report also said that “Outcomes in key stage 2 particularly, do not compare well with similar schools and there is no evidence of an improving trend in performance“.
The reading results in key stage 2 were found to be below “local authority and Wales averages”. Inspectors found that “The excellent teaching found in some classes is not consistent across the rest of the school”.
Some of the problems at the school were said to be because the school lacked its own nursery unit . As a consequence, it receives a number of children from other areas in its primary reception classes and the internal report says that “in some instances the level of social skills [of those children] was very low.” It is thought that a new nursery unit will help tackle some of those problems.
The matter will be discussed in the Vale Council’s ruling ‘cabinet’ next week.