Friday 12th February 2021

At last, half term!

This past week has been Wellbeing Week here at Castell Alun. Whilst no ‘new learning’ has taken place, this has given all students an opportunity to catch up on any work outstanding and to reflect upon and consolidate the learning gains of this term. We are told that students have found this generally beneficial and we hope that it will enable them all to have a much deserved break over the half term holiday’s away from their studies, and help them to come back refreshed and replenished ready for what will undoubtedly prove to be yet another busy half term. We are processing some recent feedback about not overloading certain students, especially in Year 7, and will take this on board, whilst endeavouring to continue to provide stimulating tasks for all. We are always mindful of (mental) wellbeing and the need for students to move regularly and not simply stare at screens through the entire school day. We genuinely appreciate both the views you have shared with us, and also the fact that you understand that ‘one size doesn’t fit all’ so very often in life!

You may be aware by now that our Year 9 Student Development Manager, Miss Beth Jones, will be leaving us at Easter and whilst we will all be extremely sad to see her go after her wonderful service to the school, we also congratulate Mrs Lisa Allen on her appointment to this position. Mrs Allen has been at Castell Alun for over ten years and has a wealth of experience to bring to the role. As we go into the next half term after the break, Mrs Allen will be addressing the year group and we know that Year 9 will make her feel welcome.

Over the coming weeks, our current Year 9 and 11 students will doubtless consider their options for the next academic year. As you possibly already know, our Virtual Sixth Form Open Evening, Year 9 (into 10) Programme of Study (options information) Booklet and Year 9 (into 10) Subject Talks have now been placed on the school website, as well as relevant details being posted home to specific cohorts. Detailed information can be found here on all the courses on offer as well as the application/options process. We appreciate that the process, for both our Year 9 and 11 students, is an incredibly important one and can pose a variety of questions for the individuals involved.

On that note, it is important that an informed decision is made and so we encourage students and parents to utilise the information on offer before submitting the relevant applications. Our subject staff are always happy and ready to discuss any questions and share their thoughts with you. With Year 9 Parents’ Evening taking place on Thursday 25th February, this will also provide a most valuable opportunity for both students and parents to discuss options choices further with the relevant teaching staff of course. The online booking system for Parents’ Evening is already open and details have been sent to all families.

Welsh National Hockey Cup – Virtual 

This year’s Welsh National Hockey Cup could not go ahead, in the traditional sense, so, as with many other sporting events this year, an alternative has been found. As schools are unable to compete in person, there is instead a virtual competition.

In the first round Castell Alun were drawn against a school from Ceredigion, and won! In round two we have been drawn against Welshpool High. In order to win through to the next round, the school has to achieve as many Twitter votes as possible by the 14th of February. Though disappointing not to be physically taking part, this does provide some competition across the country and the team, and school, would be grateful for your support. To register your vote please follow the link below. For the successful team who make it to the quarters, semis and maybe the final, then a financial prize is on offer!

Wellbeing in Psychology

In A Level Psychology, Miss Nicole Cooke has set her students, and tutor group, a set of wellbeing based activities to not only tie into the theme for this week, but also as part of their A Level studies. Each day involves a new challenge which aims to support wellbeing on different levels. These include:

Day 1 – Inspiration challenge – find 2 inspirational quotes to inspire each other

Day 2 – Kindness challenge – to complete a ‘random act of kindness’

Day 3 – Language challenge – to learn 5 new words in a different language!

Day 4 – Walking challenge – go out for a walk and take a photo of the strangest thing you come across (within reason)!

Year 8 History

In History, Year 8 have been studying the reign of Elizabeth I with a particular focus on the Spanish Armada. To consolidate their learning Year 8 students were asked to present what they had learned this half term in the form of an infographic poster. The History Department were amazed with some of the brilliant examples we received. Castell Alun History students showed us that even when they are not in the classroom, they are able to produce some outstanding pieces of work. Da iawn Blwyddyn Wyth!

And so I’m sure students and staff alike are looking forward to the short break which half term affords. I really hope the same is true of parents / carers, but I do know how difficult the last weeks have been for so many of you, and even the finest juggling skills only go so far! We strongly recommend that everyone takes an ‘oasis moment’ where possible to reclaim necessary headspace and general perspective, although clearly for some these moments are few and far between.

I would like once again to thank you for all that you are doing to help others and support students. I cannot help feeling that it is perhaps even harder for youngsters than adults at this time. I can still just about recall my teenage years and the feeling of excitement about what was to come and the limitless possibilities, not to mention the different ‘rites of passage’, of which some of our students have already been deprived.

Every day is a fresh start, and as Gloria Steinhem once said, “Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” Let’s dream of better times ahead.