City Primary School Praised for ‘Calm and Happy Environment'


A calm, purposeful and happy primary school in Cardiff has earned praise from Estyn inspectors for its inclusive, nurturing learning environment where pupils make good progress.

Gabalfa Primary School, in Colwill Road, had 252 pupils on roll at the time of inspection with 43.8% eligible for free school meals and 16.8% with English as an additional language.

The school has earned praise for its ethos, its curriculum, the quality of its teaching staff and the effectiveness of its governing body.

Inspectors praised the school for providing an ‘inclusive, nurturing environment' for its pupils, where they feel ‘safe and valued.' They noted that pupils make ‘good overall progress within a calm, purposeful and happy environment,' and that staff have ‘high expectations of themselves and their pupils.'

The report noted that "staff and pupils celebrate the different cultures, languages and faiths represented in the school community well." Pupils also develop strong digital skills, while older pupils begin to use coding. They also develop their physical and creative skills well.

Pupils' behaviour is a strength of the school said the report, and most understand the school's expectation of their behaviour in school and are keen to do their best. (The school's motto is ‘Only Our Best is Good Enough')

The school's nurturing and caring ethos extends to encouraging pupils to take on roles and responsibilities. The School Ladder Groups (School Council) works closely with school leaders and governors to share the impact of pupil participation on school improvement.

Teachers make their lessons stimulating and engaging, providing interesting experiences for pupils which allow them to learn through hands-on, practical experiences indoors and outside. The report complimented the school's Leadership and Teaching team, saying, "Leaders and staff are aware of the needs of the children and as a result work tirelessly to support pupils and their families."

From its positive report, the school will now address the two recommendations from Estyn in the school's action plan; Improving pupils' Welsh language skills and improve pupils' retention of number facts to support their problem-solving skills

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Headteacher Carrie Jenkins, who took over the school in 2012, was praised in the report for promoting a strong vision and for providing effective support for staff and pupils in creating a nurturing, calm and purposeful learning environment.

She said: "Our team is delighted with the positive praise that the school has received. All staff work so hard, day in and day out to make sure our children enjoy school and love learning. It's rewarding to see that their hard work is recognised. But it's the children who truly make our school.  We ask then to try their best every day, just as our school motto says, and that's what they do. We are very proud of them."

The report noted that the headteacher and leadership team are firmly focused on continuing school improvement. Mrs Jenkins commented "We will continue to drive our school forward and to improve it every way that we can. We have excellent support from our Governing Body, and with their help, we will strive to maintain the great standards here at Gabalfa Primary, ensuring it remains a school where children's passion for learning is ignited, in order to serve them well throughout their lives."

Cllr Sarah Merry, Cardiff Council's Cabinet member for Education, said she was pleased with the Estyn report and the continued improvement being made by the school. "It's clear Gabalfa is a happy school where the staff and governors work together to make their best of their resources.

"They allocate resources effectively across the school to target those pupils most in need, for example in using a proportion of the pupil development grant to fund a counselling service in school."

Estyn's approach to inspection in schools and Pupil Referral Units across Wales no longer include summative gradings (e.g. ‘Excellent', ‘Good' or ‘Adequate') and now focus on how well providers are helping a child to learn.

The approach aligns with the personalisation of the new curriculum for Wales with inspections involving more in-person discussions, placing less emphasis on achievement data.

Estyn believe that the inspection approach will make it easier for providers to gain meaningful insights that help them to improve without the spotlight on a judgement.

To read the full report, follow this link: *Inspection report Gabalfa Primary School 2024 (