The Education Minister Jeremy Miles has met with staff, pupils and parents at Maindee Primary school in Newport, to see how a community focussed school is helping to ensure all learners reach their full potential.
Welsh Government will have invested £60m of capital funding by 2025 to support community focussed schools throughout Wales to safely open their facilities to families and the wider community. In addition, £6.5m is being provided for family engagement officers who are employed by schools, part of their role being improving pupil attendance. A trial of Community Focused Schools Managers is continuing, to support engagement between schools and communities.
Maindee Primary School has received £48,000 of capital funding for a new community building and improved security (including CCTV, new door security and fencing) so the school facilities can be opened up to the local community. In a school with over 40 languages spoken, this has had a positive effect on community cohesion and engagement with families.
Key to the success of Maindee’s approach has been the development of the Community Focused Schools Manager (CFSM) role for the Newport area. Martine Smith, the CFSM, now works across the city to support schools in developing their own community focussed activities based on the bespoke needs of their communities.
Jeremy Miles visited a ‘Cook Stars’ session taking place at the school where parents and carers are learning how to cook low-cost meals.
Jeremy Miles said:
“Maindee Primary school is a great example of how a Community Focused School can benefit the families and communities they serve, tackle the impact of poverty, and improve children’s learning and attendance at school.
“I’m pleased that our investment will enable schools up and down the country to fully embed Community Focused Schools approaches.”
Martine Smith, the Community Focussed Schools Manager for Newport added:
“Working in partnership with other agencies to remove barriers and provide opportunities to parents and wider community members is central to the Community Focused Schools approach in Newport.
“Schools cannot develop community approaches alone and they need to work in partnership with those to have the expertise to provide the right support for families. At Maindee we ensure that parents have access to a ‘Safe Place’ and a ‘Safe Face’ to access what they need to support themselves.”
Guidance has also been published to support schools to develop their own Community Focused Schools approaches.
Earlier this week the Minister for Social Justice and Chief Whip Jane Hutt launched the Child Poverty Strategy for Wales which sets out Welsh Government actions to tackle child poverty over the next decade.
Ms Hutt said:
“One of the key objectives of the strategy is to create pathways out of poverty so that children and young people and their families have opportunities to realise their potential.
“Community Focussed Schools are an example of giving young people the ability to learn and skills needed to build their adult lives on. This will benefit not just young people, but their communities and future generations too.”
Community focussed schools are part of a range of Welsh Government policies designed to offer practical support to children and families:
- The School Essentials grant offers eligible families a grant of up to £200 for school uniform and other school essentials.
- As part of the cooperation agreement with Plaid Cymru, all primary school children in Wales are being offered a free school meal within the lifetime of the Co-operation Agreement. 15 million meals having been served to date.
- Wales is the only nation in the UK offering a free breakfast scheme for children in all primary schools. Last year 51,600 pupils benefited from this support.
- In 2023-24, £6.5m investment in family engagement officers
- Providing funding for Community Focused Schools Managers
- Student teachers in Wales are now required to develop the skills needed to tackle the impact of poverty on educational attainment.
- Cost of the school day support – this includes guidance to schools on the affordability of school uniforms, the national music service which offers all children the chance to learn a musical instrument and the gifting of books.
- The consultation on changes to the school year is looking at how best to support all learners, especially those living in poverty.