Llanishen High School in Cardiff has received praise from Estyn for its commitment to providing a vibrant and inclusive learning environment for the school’s 1694 pupils.
During a visit from the Inspectorate for Education in Wales, the school was commended for its dedication in ensuring every pupil’s success and taking decisive actions to mitigate the impact of poverty.
Inspectors found the school provides an exceptionally broad range of extracurricular activities, fostering an inclusive community and raising students’ aspirations. It was also noted that positive working relationships between staff and students contribute to a respectful and engaging learning environment, with most students behaving well and demonstrating high levels of respect for both staff and peers.
Estyn highlighted that in many lessons, teachers effectively capture students’ interest, nurturing their knowledge and understanding and applauded the diverse range of subjects offered at Key Stage 4 and the sixth form, as well as the guidance available to students so that they can make informed choices about their future. The recently introduced Curriculum for Wales in Year 7 and Year 8 emphasises diversity and inclusion, though improvements in its demand and provision for developing skills and Welsh language proficiency are recommended.
Estyn has invited Llanishen High School to prepare a case study on its efforts to reduce the impact of poverty and its enrichment program.
Overall, a positive report Estyn have made four key recommendations which the school will now address in their action plan. They include:
- Strengthen self-evaluation and improvement planning: Focus on the impact of teaching on learning.
- Improve provision for the progressive development of pupils’ skills: Particularly in Welsh across the curriculum.
- Enhance the quality and impact of written feedback.
- Continue efforts to improve attendance.
Reflecting on the report, Headteacher, Mrs Sarah Parry said: “I am so proud of our diverse, vibrant and inclusive school community. The strengths that are captured in the report below show that our mission to create a supportive, inclusive environment that nurtures individual growth and success is woven through every aspect of our school life.
“I would like to commend our amazing staff body who work with passion and care every day. I would also like to give my sincere thanks to our students, their families, and our governing body for their contribution to this very unique school.”
Chair of Governors at the school, Mr John Caddick added: “Since the last Estyn inspection in 2016, Llanishen High School has been on a journey of complete transformation. I would like to celebrate the ongoing and sustained progress that has resulted in improved outcomes and life chances for our students.
“This has been driven by the hard work and commitment of the staff, students, parents, governors, and community partners. It is clear from the inspection report that the wellbeing of the students is central to all decision making in the school. It is a warm, welcoming, vibrant and diverse community where every individual can succeed. We look forward to celebrating these strengths and ensuring that these high standards continue and improve. Many congratulations to everyone at Llanishen High School.”
Cardiff Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Education, Cllr Sarah Merry said: “Estyn have rightly recognised some of the great work taking place at Llanishen High School.
The report acknowledges how school spending is directed towards its priorities and how the school endeavours to reduce the impact of poverty on pupils’ well-being through a range of initiatives, such as the sustainable ‘Prom store’ where pupils can borrow clothing and accessories.
“At a time when the current cost of living is affecting so many families, it is encouraging to see the school has adapted to provide valuable support, ensuring pupils are not held back because of financial restraints.
“Congratulations to the head, staff, pupils and wider school community for their hard work and dedication.”
At the date of inspection, 26.4% of pupils at Llanishen High School were eligible for free school meals and 8.7% were identified as having additional learning needs.
Estyn has adopted a new approach to inspection in schools and Pupil Referral Units across Wales. Inspection reports will 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 new 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 new inspection approach will make it easier for providers to gain meaningful insights that help them to improve without the spotlight on a judgement.