OURWALLS ARE ALIVE; THISweek Education Reporter Ben Turner Cash Visited Bootle's St Robert Bellarmine Catholic Primary School Which Has Consigned Dingy Corridors to the History Books

Article excerpt

Byline: Ben Turner

AT most schools the Big Friendly Giant is confined to the bookcase.

But StRobert Bellarmine Catholic Primary is no ordinary school and the much loved BFG is part of the team.

A life size version of Roald Dahl's kind-hearted character dwarfs pupils in the school's strikingly decorated library.

The sculpture is just a multicoloured example of how the school's walls are alive.

That is because the school, named in the country's top 100 for its Key Stage Two results, wants to ensure its academic strengths are matched by he environment pupils are taught in.

Or as headteacher of the last four and half years, Mairead O'NeillDowell puts it: "We want to make learning as enjoyable as can be."

She said: "The school works very hard to drive up academic standards whichwe have been able to do thanks to our wonderfully well behaved children and really supportive parents.

"We want them to do well in their exams and it is essential they have basic skills such as literacy and numeracy.

"Our job in education is to give them those skills, but alsowe want to help them be good responsible citizens and make a good contribution to their community.We want to develop all sides of the pupils not just academic andmake learning as enjoyable as it can be."

Schools often talk of bringing lessons to life.

At St Robert Bellarmine this includes transforming the infrastructure itself.

And just one minute in the Harris Drive school explodes the myth that school's corridors have to be dark and dingy affairs.

Its 'History Corridor' is a local tourist attraction.

Every single pupil at the school worked with Billinge artist Trish Thompson on the corridor which is basically a 3D timeline of important historical developments.

Using clay or modroc the children helped design, paint and make the sculptures which range from Henry VIII and Florence Nightingale to a Second World War air raid warden.

Not only is the area a big hit with visitors - including other schools who come and seek inspiration from the landmark - the corridor is used as part of lessons.

"We wanted the children to understand parts of history without just looking at books.

"The result is spectacular and it helps the pupils fully understand whichever part of history they are learning about.

"It acts as an artefact, they have their own museum, a daily prompt," Mrs O'NeillDowell said.

The library is another striking example of how pupils create their own stunning surroundings.

The BFG and other sculptured and painted 3D characters such the Big Bad Wolf cling to the walls.

Again pupils worked with Trish Thompson and the literary characters who made the final cut made it because the pupils wanted them there. …