This site uses cookies to improve your experience. They are safe and secure and never contain sensitive information. For more information click here.

Primary schools

Gilwern Primary School (Monmouthshire) - Effective use of funding to support Service children

Gilwern Primary School (Monmouthshire) - Effective use of funding to support Service children

Gilwern Primary School is a village school situated in the Brecon Beacons National Park, located near 160th (Welsh) Brigade and Headquarters of Wales, The Infantry Battle training barrack and close to the Sennybridge training base. The school focuses on supporting vulnerable groups across the school. Some families live in or near Gilwern and the parent commutes to work and there is an equal distribution of Armed Forces personnel and veteran (ex-service personnel) families currently at the school. There can often be a lack of disclosure that members of a family are or have been in the Armed Forces. Gilwern Primary school were successful in receiving funding from the Welsh Government grant scheme to support Service children with their needs in the 2019-20 funding round.


Number of Service children at Gilwern Primary School: 8 (4%)

Case study completed by: Sue Marles, Deputy Headteacher

Estyn 2014

“The school creates a very open and inclusive community through its aims and objectives, based on the United Nations Rights of the Child. These inform pupils about their rights and responsibilities very effectively. This has a positive impact in developing pupils’ mutual respect, care of the environment and self-confidence. All pupils have equal access to all aspects of school life.”

What challenges do Service children face at Gilwern primary School?

  • Families are separated due to parents commuting to work over longer periods of time and the children need support with their emotions and social issues to deal with this
  • Their emotional needs impact on their learning progress, which in turn creates dips in their learning outcomes
  • The parents can sometimes be unaware of the impact and their child’s specific needs
  • The parents work they do in the Armed Forces can be sensitive and this needs to be dealt with appropriately.
  1. Identifying Service children’s needs
  2. Funding use
  3. Measuring impact and success
  4. Value for money
  5. Long term benefits

1.    How does Gilwern Primary School identify the needs of Service children?

  • Classroom observations by teachers and Learning Support Assistants
  • Parent discussions to find out about any know challenges and experiences of their child
  • Using the Pupil Attitudes to School Survey (PASS), a social and emotional assessment tool
  • Using Social Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) sessions
  • Using Emotional Literacy Support Assistant (ELSA) session with a qualified member of staff to identify needs and plan for individual support.

Extract from Estyn, Healthy and Happy – School Impact on Pupils’ Health and Wellbeing – June 2019

 “In Gilwern Primary School, trained staff use the Emotional Literacy Support Assistant (ELSA) approach to support vulnerable pupils effectively. The approach provides a reflective space where a pupil is able to share honestly their thoughts and feelings and aims to understand the psychological need behind poor self-esteem or undesirable behaviour. Through the approach, a pupil in the school with significant behavioural and social needs was supported to relate better to their peers, to improve their decision-making in social contexts, and be better at identifying risky situations. Using the same approach, an anxious pupil who had transferred from a different school was helped to settle well, and a pupil with a history of poor attendance was supported, through a phased return, back to full engagement with school”.   

2. How does Gilwern Primary School use funding?

  • The funding will be used to enhance the Growth Mindset pedagogy throughout the primary phase with training and staff meetings to share good practice
  • We have recognised that the number of Service children on role, over the last three years has increased, they are a vulnerable group of learners and we will identify learning programmes that can impact on their learning outcomes and progress
  • Additional staffing hours will enable us to work closely with parents when identifying personal issues that can affect academic performance and work with smaller groups of pupils to provide focused sessions that can create deep learning opportunities to encourage learner dispositions such as resilience and reciprocity. 
  • We will appoint a member of staff for one day per week to support the emotional needs of Service children
  • Purchase the Little Troopers Mental a Health and Wellbeing resource to disseminate across the primary phase.

3.    How will Gilwern Primary School measure the impact of the strategies put in place?

  • We rigorously analyse data of all pupils through a robust tracking system. Each term every pupil is assessed and provided with an attainment level and then targets are predicted for end of year and end of phase. Through the application of Growth Mindset principles, we predict that attainment of pupil outcome will increase, this will need to be measured over a period of time to validate the results
  • Data will be recorded through PASS at the beginning of the project and the end
  • Through Continuing Professional Development and Performance Management we will coach staff through training and implementation of Growth Mindset, so they are more confident when facilitating Growth Mindset principles within their daily teaching
  • A staff survey using a thrive index will share advantages and areas of development within the staff skillset
  • We will review staff progress through mid-term Performance Management Reviews linked to the development
  • Quantitative data will be used to tracked pupils’ progress half termly, using teacher assessment and online tools e.g. GL Assessment monitoring academic and PASS
  • Qualitative data will be used to evaluate progress and attitudes through pupil books, participation in school life and through talking to individuals
  • Pupil daily attendance will be monitored through School Information Management System
  • Parental questionnaires will be analysed and evaluated and shared in School Self Evaluation documentation.

4.   How have you sought to achieve value for money?

  • Increasing the hours of a current member of staff to develop expertise and experience and sustain the development
  • The staff member is fully trained in safeguarding, professional expectations and is aware of the policies and procedures within the school, therefore inductions and inhouse training will not be required 
  • Their knowledge and experience of intervention programmes, pupils and Service families will create an efficient use of time when implementing the programme and disseminating resources and training
  • Time will be provided to analyse data and intervention programmes therefore supporting staff with outcomes
  •  All staff will receive training and updates within the school to ensure sustainability.

5.    What are the long-term benefits of this development?

  • Increased pupil outcomes across the curriculum particularly for vulnerable groups of learners and qualitive data to show the impact
  • Increased training for teachers and opportunities for action research to develop professional learning opportunities
  • Resource pack ‘Little Troopers’ can be used with future generations of learners
  • Increased engagement with parents/carers and Service families
  • Variety of support and strategies available for Service families
  • Greater collaborations with local Army Barracks and external agencies.

“My Mum has three medals and she keeps them on her uniform. “

“My parents have eight medals between them.”

 “My mum has some medals too.”

Pupil quotes about their parents being in the Armed Forces.


What links do you have with the local community and Armed Forces community? 

  • Lord lieutenant of Monmouthshire regularly visits the school
  • We take part in local and national Armed Forces events
  • We work alongside the local community to develop displays for the local village on a Remembrance theme
  • Our curriculum highlights the roles of the local community and within that the Armed Forces roles, developing lifelong learning skills and knowledge of local industries and jobs
  • The school supports Armed Forces charities; we recently raised funds for ‘Help for Heroes’, which was planned and organised by the children when researching and supporting charity work as part of their learning
  • We work closely with the HMF Education Support Officer for Newport and Monmouthshire to ensure the school is up to date on relevant information and support.


Date produced: January 2020 










Primary schools

Service children’s quotes

"As soon as we get used to a house, you get moved - I’ve been to four schools and moved six times."


"I lived in Nepal, then we went to Brunei, then Malaysia."


"In my eyes, you have hundreds of friends in different places."


"I’m used to moving now and mixing with the children... I’ve done it so many times, it’s just a normal thing now."


"It's ok talking over skype and that, but sometimes you just want a hug when Dad is away."


"I’ve enjoyed going around to lots of places around the world, it's adventurous and exciting."


"In my eyes, you have hundreds of friends in different places."


"My mum got a chalk board and it says how many sleeps on it with chalk, every minute it’s getting closer for him coming home."


"I don’t want him to get promoted... I want him to get promoted but I don’t want to leave."


"I might be going to boarding school so that I don’t change schools every few years."


"I've been to seven different schools; I’ve not stayed put in one school long enough."


"He has been away for six months and he is back for two weeks, then he goes away again."


"My parents were in the Army. My mum is a like a nurse and my dad went to the war in Afghanistan. I actually didn’t really know what he was doing so I was like, ‘Cool Dad, go there,’ but then I found out and thought, 'Thank God he came back alive.'"


"He signed off last week, so he will be done by the end of this year. He’s done 24 years. I find that better because he will be around a lot. He likes watching us playing rugby, so he will get to see us more."


"I’m going to a new place entirely. They don’t know anything about me and that’s a big restart and that’s really good for me."


"I moved to Wales because my dad was posted in the Army. I thought I would get bullied and I was shy when you meet new people, but I made some friends."