Friday February 9th

Our Challenge Advisor Jayne Arthur was in on Monday looking at our monitoring, evaluating and reporting systems in School. These are the systems that we use for measuring the impact of our school improvement strategies, things like learning walks, listening to learners, book scrutinies and learning evaluations.

We have a timetable of these activities throughout the year and the results of the monitoring activities help us to employ our resources where they are most effective. For example, if, during a learning walk or listening to learners we realise that a member of staff needs some support or training in a certain aspect we can ensure they receive it. We may recognise a specific area that, as a school, we need support with and this may result in organising whole school training on a training day, or the need to purchase resources that would help improve our practice – maybe new reading books or a maths scheme.

It’s really important that our monitoring processes are effective and that all staff are involved in monitoring their own subjects and in feeding back results to colleagues to ensure all aspects of school continue to develop.

All these self evaluation processes lead to our School Development Plan. This plan forms the basis of all our actions in School over a given year. We plan to spend our budget in order to meet the targets set out in the plan. This year’s plan builds on the recommendations from last year’s Estyn inspection and concentrates on reading and writing, maths, Welsh oracy, ICT, developing assessment and feedback and also developing our monitoring and evaluation activities.

Part of our action plan is to develop and improve our reading provision for our children and also get parents involved as far as possible – hence our reading workshops this week. It was great to see so many parents attend the sessions and be able to observe their children taking part in reading activities such as Read Write inc and Guided Reading in school.

We also had two visitors from MCC in school, looking at the parking and traffic issues we have at the end of the school day. We do all we can to ensure that all our children are safe when entering and leaving the school but it is always good to get more advice!

Hopefully we will get some clearly demarcated bus bays for our school buses and taxis, some disabled parking bays and some clearer signage indicating our 5mph speed limit and one way system. The 2 officers also suggested that wherever possible parents reverse into the empty bays to park to ensure they can drive straight out once they have picked their children up with a much clearer view.

Hopefully we will be making these changes over the next few months.

I hope to see you at the parents’ forum, Tuesday 13th at 9am in the school hall.

Mrs Joanne Bayton


Friday February 2nd

It’s world Cancer day today (Sunday Feb 4th),I’m sure,like me, this disease has affected you in one way or another so I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for supporting our Wear red for Velindre day in school on Friday. We raised over £180 so thank you very much indeed!

Just a reminder too that I am doing a swimathon in April for Cancer Research and Marie Curie – many thanks for those who have donated to my just giving page – the link is below if you would like to donate.

Red was a topic of conversation last week for other reasons too. The Welsh Government published the Categorisation for all Welsh

schools and, disappointingly, Llantilio was placed in the red category. There are many reasons for this but in a nutshell the school has failed to make rapid enough progress in meeting the recommendations for improvement as outlined by Estyn when they published their report in November. By placing us in red we have secured 25 days of support to help us improve in the areas of writing, maths, Welsh oracy, aspects of ICT and feedback and assessment.

We have made progress in these areas over the last year but the impact was not apparent in some cases, particularly maths, where progress was more limited. Since September 2017 however we have benefited from increased support through links with St Gwladys Primary in Bargoed and also linking with our EAS maths team. Similarly we have received support for Welsh too. We have revised our marking and assessment routines to ensure feedback to children leads to improvement in books and looked at differentiating work to ensure we meet the needs of all our learners – including adding extra challenge for our more able and talented pupils.

We have also developed leadership at all levels and have developed staff’s skill and expertise in monitoring and evaluating standards in their subjects. Progress has been more rapid in the Autumn term and is continuing this term. Yes, I am disappointed that we are ‘red’ but we really have benefited from the extra support and I am very confident that we will continue to build on the progress made so far and ensure Llantilio continues to grow and improve.

If you are concerned about categorisation please do not hesitate to contact me. I am holding a parents’ forum on Tues 13th at 9 am or call in and see me. There are also some links below for more information.

We have parent reading workshops coming up – on Tuesday we are focusing on Foundation Phase and Wednesday KS2. We are hoping to give you ideas on how to support your children with reading at home. Sessions will be initially in the hall at 2pm followed by a chance to see reading in practice in the classroom. If you can’t make the session we will ensure you have the information.

Mrs Joanne Bayton

Friday January 26th

First of all many thanks to all those who wore silly socks this week to help raise money for the Ronald Macdonald house at Noah’s Ark hospital. It’s a cause close to our hearts in the Llantilio family at the moment.

We are also having a ‘Wear red for Velindre’ day next Friday, another cause that affects many people in our school in one way or another. You can wear as much or as little red as you like and we are asking for a donation of £1.00.

I am also completing a Swimathon challenge in April. I’m swimming 2.5 km or 100 lengths and I’m hoping to raise £150 for Cancer charities. If you would like to support me please follow the link below!

We have had a busy week in school this week. Year 4 are continuing with their Creative Maths Project with Ruth Stringer. I am really looking forward to seeing exactly what they have been up to and sharing this exciting project with the whole School.

Mrs Balkwill has been out meeting with colleagues across the cluster looking at the provision for More Able and Talented. The cluster are focusing on the use of ICT and how we can challenge our more able pupils further through the use of ICT.

Our fabulous Teaching Assistants have all been instrumental in supporting all pupils as we focus on reading this year. They have also been busy benchmarking or testing the children over the last couple of weeks in order to track the progress they have made. This is really important for us to do as it helps us to see how much progress children are making but also if there are any children who aren’t making expected progress. We can then help and support them through extra practice or in an intervention group if necessary. We will inform parents if this is the case and also suggest ways you can help at home too.

We have had several queries regarding the future of our after School club this week. Please can I assure you that we are doing all we can to keep the club open but we are having difficulty in recruiting a new committee and also staff to run the club. At the moment some of our school staff are helping out on a temporary basis whilst we look to recruit permanent members of staff. Mrs Hobbs is working tirelessly to keep things going and I have to thank her for the effort she is making. If you would be interested in taking on a role on the committee or even becoming a member of staff please let either me or Mrs Hobbs know. We would be grateful of any support you can offer!

Mrs Joanne Bayton

Friday January 19th

Reading is a big focus for us this year. We have made progress in the development of our library but still have got a way to go with that. I have been liaising with the PTFA as regards fundraising for the library and we have a few ideas in mind. The PTFA are organising a Readathon later in the year which will help us buy some more books as well as encouraging children to read!

In school we are focusing on the provision for reading in class. The Foundation Phase are looking at Read Write inc as well as the reading scheme books we are sending home and in KS2 we are looking at our Group Guided Reading and follow up activities.

We are planning to hold some information giving workshops on our reading skills in the very near future and would like parents to attend – we will be sending out some information in the next few days.

We would also like to make a reading display celebrating our favourite books around our mosaic – again the PTFA will be supporting us in this.

Details about parents consultation evenings, PACT sessions and class assemblies will also be sent out along with the details of the reading workshops.

We are always looking for volunteers to come in and listen to readers. If you think you would like to do this please pop in and let us know. We do need to complete a DBS check and receive 2 references to comply with Monmouthshire’s safeguarding policies but we can sort this out for you.

Please don’t hesitate to ask if you would like any further information about reading in school or how you can best support your child with reading at home.

Don’t forget your silly socks on Thursday too and help us raise money for the family accommodation at Cardiff children’s Hospital.

Mrs Joanne Bayton

Friday January 12th

Welcome back, Happy New Year!

Straight back to it this week. Very pleased to see nearly all staff back and raring to go and lovely to welcome a new member of staff, Mrs Kath Sutherland, who will be teaching in our year 3 class as a job share with Miss Toombs. Mrs O Connell is still recovering after her knee op but fingers crossed she will be back with us soon. We pray for a speedy recovery for her and also one of our pupils who is poorly in hospital at the moment.

All staff were trained in first aid this week, learning to deal with bumps and bruises and also with CPR and use of the defibrillator. Hopefully we will never need to use these skills but it’s reassuring to know staff have them!

We had a visit from our EAS link Welsh teacher Sian Tinnuche who spent the day going through all the work Mrs Hall has done as our lead in Welsh teaching and also supporting how we teach Welsh in the classroom. Mrs Hall is working really hard to develop our Welsh oracy skills – it’s lovely to hear how much more confident the children are and how they are using a wider range of vocabulary too.

I have received a number of complaints again this week regarding our car park, particularly at the end of the day. I’ve tried to get out there at the end of the day – not always easy as this is the time that lots of parents ask to see me, just before they pick their children up! I know how pushed for space we are and we now have 2 taxis and a bus picking children up – please allow them room to park and avoid parking opposite them as this narrows the road and prevents the flow of traffic. And remember to use the empty bays where possible too!

Kerbcraft is starting for year 1 next week, our Creative Schools project with Ruth Stringer in Year 4 is underway and year 5 continue their swimming lessons thus half term. We have also been informed that Mr Langdon has been accepted as part of a cluster maths working project and he and 3 colleagues will be visiting China later on this term to observe maths teaching! What a wonderful opportunity for him and also for our School who will benefit from his increased knowledge and understanding of the best teaching methodology!

We have sent our nomination forms this week to become a parent Governor. Please do consider this exciting opportunity to become more involved in school life. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with me if you require any further information

Mrs Joanne Bayton

Friday 22nd December

2 lovely community events to finish a very busy term. Firstly our Christingle Service held in St Teilo’s Church on Thursday night. It was lovely to see so many families joining in this lovely Christmas service and I was exceptionally proud of all the children who took part in the reading and singing. It always makes me feel really Christmassy!

Our second community event was to do with our school family. Mr Langdon, Mrs Jones and the year 6 children organised and worked with the rest of the school in solving some Christmas maths reasoning challenges in the Hall. It was fantastic to see how the younger children responded to the challenges and were helped and supported by the Year 6 pupils. The way the children gel together as a School is a real strength of Llantilio and something we should all be very proud of.

I have to say a huge thank you to the staff for all their hard work this term. It has been a long term with many challenges thrown our way but we have come through them and are in a strong position to continue to build on our successes in 2018.

I hope you all have a lovely Christmas, enjoy your time with friends and family, and I leave you with all good wishes for a peaceful and happy 2018!

Mrs Joanne Bayton

Friday December 15th

My luck ran out this week – after 3 years in post my first official snow days!!

As I said last week, deciding to close the school is never an easy decision to make. Monday’s closure wasn’t so bad as I think most schools in South East Wales enjoyed an extra day on their weekend. Tuesday however was a different story! I had asked MCC to clear the site (bearing in mind how many other schools/ car parks/ doctors / care homes etc etc etc had to be cleared too!)

I then spent 20 minutes Tuesday morning digging out my car and defrosting it then driving exceptionally slowly out of Abertillery. The journey to school took nearly an hour and then when I arrived the site was a sheet of ice, nowhere for the staff to park and far too dangerous to open for the children. The pavements on the estate surrounding the school were just as treacherous so it left me with no option but to close again.

Doesn’t look good does it?

Fortunately MCC came to the rescue with a JCB and cleared the site sufficiently so by Wednesday it was safe to open. Unfortunately the knock on effects meant postponing the FP concert – this will now be on the 19th December.

Key Stage 2 held their concert ‘Bethlehem the Musical’ on Thursday and, despite 2 less days of practice, they were superb! It is such a joy to see the ‘new’ year 6 pupils shine in their starting roles and each and every pupil being a part of the production. A huge thank you to all involved.

Mr Oram has been exceptionally busy in the last few weeks preparing for the performances but has also given up his own time to lead the School choir in some Carol Singing in The Market Hall on Saturday for the PTFA. The singing was superb as always and the PTFA raised over £200!!

The school choir also performed in the Carol service in St Teilo’s on Sunday evening, some of the children also delivered some very confident reading in front of a packed church too! Again well done to all involved and a huge thank you to Mr Oram for all the extra time he has given over the last few weeks especially.

One more week to go – a busy one with concerts, parties, pantomime and a visit from Santa to fit in!

Mrs Joanne Bayton