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How Craigfelen Primary School is developing its Community Focused Schools approaches.

First published:
15 November 2023
Last updated:

School context

  • Craigfelen Primary School, Swansea local authority  
  • 197 learners on roll (2022)
  • 50.6% of learners eligible for free school meals over a three-year average (2022)

Approaches to support community engagement

The school sits in a small community, without a huge range of places to gather and socialise. This affected not only the learners of the school but the community as a whole, with isolation and anti-social behaviour cited as concerns. Engagement with the community was vital in tackling these concerns and to understand their wants and needs.

The school and community wanted to create a safe and inclusive space, within the school grounds:

  • where the community would feel welcomed to attend and participate in regular events 
  • that would act as a central hub for all

In partnership with the local council, the school acquired the permanent use of a building on their grounds for this purpose. When taking over the space, they didn’t want to tell the community what it was to be used for. Instead, they decided to ask the community, via a questionnaire what they wanted.

With this information the school could then liaise with other partners and gain funding to make the community space project a reality. If it were not for the voices of the community, the project would not have gained traction and the space could have been used for a less worthy cause.

Head Teacher, Alison Williams, says:

There were worries from the community, that with the school taking over the space, it was going to be used as another classroom. We had to win the trust of the community to show them that this space is for everyone.

The community and learners’ wishes were taken on board and as a result this community space is in full time use for various activities as follows:

  • as a café and coffee shop  
  • for health and wellbeing classes  
  • as a community kitchen and for cooking classes  
  • as a pay as you want shop  
  • for holiday clubs  
  • for parent and child groups  
  • for arts and crafts classes

Positive impacts of approaches on children’s learning (development and wellbeing)

The space created has had a significant impact not only on the community as a whole, giving them a safe space to socialise and learn new skills, but on the school’s children, allowing them to:

  • take ownership of the space and new projects  
  • develop numeracy, reading and communication skills  
  • learn workplace skills, such as counting money, using tills and stocking food supplies  
  • express creativity by creating posters and signs  
  • learn marketing skills, by talking to the community and posting about events on social media  
  • communicate with people of all ages and backgrounds  
  • learn the importance of nutrition and cooking healthy meals

Deputy Head, Jamie Taylor, says:

For the community to see the children running something, really has brought a positive rhythm to the community, everyone is interested and wants to get involved. To see forty or fifty people in the hall at any given time, really shows how far we’ve come.

Next steps as a Community Focused School

The school is delighted that the learners and community are taking ownership of the community space project. There are more suggestions and ideas being made and more volunteers want to sign up and get involved. There is hope that in the future the space can be independently run by members of the community and continuously used for many years to come. With the skills the community can develop, there is hope they can access their own funding, funds that may not be accessible by the school, to run their own initiatives.

Jamie says:

It is great to see the community working together and it's creating lasting memories for the children. That's what we’re trying to create here for many generations to come.