A POWYS primary school has been praised for the “caring and nurturing” environment it provides for its pupils.

The special relationship between pupils and staff was highlighted in a glowing Estyn report received by Irfon Valley Community Primary School in the tiny village of Garth.

Executive headteacher Rhoanne Clark, who divides her time between Irfon Valley and Ysgol Dolafon in Llanwrtyd Wells, was left beaming by the report, which she said was reward for the small but dedicated team of staff at the school, as well as for the pupils, who have been through such a testing period during the pandemic.

“It’s a team effort,” said Ms Clark. “It’s about making sure they’ve got some lifelong memories and experiences to take away with them.

“We try and provide them with opportunities, and that is what came out loud and clear in the report. There’s a strong relationship between staff and pupils. It’s because the teachers have them for several years so they have a good grasp on them and whether they’re maybe having an off-day.

“The progress they make from when they come in to when they go out is incredible. Especially when you think about the circumstances people have been working and living in for the last 2-3 years.

“I’m a firm believer in looking out for each other. Despite everything else that has been going on we’ve got to be fighting fit. We’ve had to put on a show at times because the kids deserve it.”

County Times: Pupils at Irfon Valley Primary School are said to have a unique bond with their teachers

The report by Estyn on Irfon Valley was carried out in August, with several recommendations put forward. These included addressing the health and safety issues identified by the school; ensuring the curriculum is broad and balanced, and meets pupils’ needs; providing regular opportunities for pupils to write creatively and across a broad range of genres; and strengthening the governance of the school.

The school is now set to draw up an action plan to address the recommendations from the inspection.

The overview was though very positive, with the report stating: “Pupils feel safe and happy at the school. Staff care for each pupil as an individual and support them to make progress and achieve.

“The executive headteacher provides supportive leadership. Together with other leaders, she makes appropriate plans for ongoing improvement. Leaders monitor the school’s work rigorously and identify swiftly wherever pupils’ progress is at risk of stalling.

“The few staff work very well together to create the inclusive ethos that pervades all aspects of school life. There are beneficial relationships with parents that help to support pupils’ achievements.

“The school has made notable improvements since the last inspection. Inspectors worked with school leaders to recommend improvements to the school’s governance, to strengthen the governors’ role as a critical friend.”

County Times: Pupils at Irfon Valley Primary School are said to have a unique bond with their teachers

Referring to a quote attributed to American poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou, Ms Clark said: “Children won’t remember what you do or say but they’ll remember how you make them feel.”

The actual quote reads “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”, but the sentiment holds true – there seems to be truly special bond between staff and pupils at Irfon Valley.

“We are a small team, sometimes spread incredibly thinly, but we pull together,” added Ms Clark. “I’ve only been here two years but this is one of the best teams I’ve ever worked for. Staff give 100 per cent, day in day out, and I think the kids pick up on that.”

To view the full report, visit https://www.estyn.gov.wales/provider/6662122