Gabalfa Primary is a one-form entry English-medium school, situated 2.5 miles northwest of Cardiff city-centre, in south Wales. The school shares its building and site with a ‘Welsh medium’ school.
More than 80% of pupils live within 1km of school, and only a handful of its pupils live more than 3km away from school. The school is located in an area which, according to most official statistics, has high levels of deprivation.
Rates of Free School Meal (FSM) eligibility, which are used as a broad indicator of deprivation, are considerably higher than the equivalent figures for Cardiff and almost twice as high as for Wales overall. The school’s official FSM rate does not accurately reflect the true levels of deprivation amongst its pupils; research conducted by the University of Bradford has concluded that some ethnic groups may be less likely to claim the means-tested benefits that would entitle their children to have Free School Meals, and a large proportion of the pupil population are from ethnic minority backgrounds.
The Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation (WIMD) measures indicate that the majority of pupils live in areas with very high levels of deprivation, and that about a quarter of pupils live in areas where deprivation is amongst the highest in Wales. WIMD data indicates that deprivation issues relating to poor physical living environments, low incomes and poor employment opportunities, poor housing, poor health and limited educational experiences are key to understanding the challenges faced by local communities.
The income and employment deprivation elements of the WIMD figures indicate that more than half of the school’s pupils live in areas with high levels of income and employment deprivation, compared to the rest of Wales. However, Wales as a whole is more deprived than England, which means that if we compare the school population against the combined populations of England & Wales, we get a different picture, with about three quarters of the school’s pupils living in areas with high levels of income and employment deprivation.
The Income Deprivation Affecting Children (IDAC) measures indicate that income deprivation is higher in families with children than it is amongst the general population, with up to 80% of the school’s pupils living in areas in which income deprivation affecting children is very high.
There was a considerable increase in the numbers of people claiming low-income and worklessness benefits over the course of 2020 . This is probably a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the jobs market. These increases have been seen across all of the areas from which the school admits most of its pupils, but has impacted some areas far more than others.
Just over a third of pupils attending the school are from BAME backgrounds and about half of these pupils have English as an additional language (EAL). The ethnic profile of the current pupil population is noticeably more diverse than that of the most recent figures for the general population of the area (2011). This could indicate that there has been considerable immigration into the area since 2011, or that the White British population tends to be older and not as strongly reflected in school populations, or that Gabalfa is particularly favoured by some ethnic groups when applying for school places. The ethnicity and language profile of the pupil population indicates that there are a number of children whose families may be recently arrived from overseas. Some of these families may be particularly vulnerable, especially if they are refugees or asylum seekers.
The geographic distributions of current cohorts are fairly consistent, but there is evidence that pupils were admitted from a wider area prior to the reduction of the school’s Published Admission Number. The most recently admitted cohorts are drawn from a particularly small ‘radius’.
Pupil mobility rates appear to be broadly ‘average’, with -on average- two children leaving each cohort every year, to be replaced by ‘inwardly mobile’ children. Inwardly mobile children are more likely to have ‘vulnerable’ characteristics (e.g. FSM, BME, EAL).