Friday 15th January 2021

It’s eerily quiet in the school building, but that of course belies the fact that we are delivering the remote curriculum and students are working diligently work from home.

Our students have been continuing to make a real effort this week. As lessons continue to be remotely delivered through a combination of live lessons, recorded lessons and posted work, providing a truly ‘blended learning’ experience, we continue to be both incredibly proud and impressed by the endeavour of the great majority of our learners who are responding exceptionally well to the current situation. However, we genuinely understand that some students find the current conditions more challenging than others, and we want everyone to succeed!

At the start of each day, some issues can be dealt with quite quickly, so please be good enough to remind all students that virtual school still begins with registration at 8.50am every day. Group tutors will supportively contact non attendees. I know that it’s not necessarily the natural inclination for some teenagers to get up and ready any earlier than they deem absolutely necessary, but we feel this is exceptionally valuable check-in time for all….and obviously part of the standard school day.

Students are logging on to their lessons and following their timetables, completing their work, in most cases, as they would if they were here. We remain appreciative and understanding of the fact that it is not going to be possible for all students to follow their timetables at the same time and teachers will certainly be sympathetic in these circumstances. We simply continue to encourage students to remain in contact with their teachers so that any additional help and guidance needed can be given. Students should also remember that their teachers are on line during the specific lesson and can offer them any help needed to do tasks set.

Thank you so much for the really kind, positive, supportive communications we have had. Your messages are truly inspiring. Where concerns are evident, we do of course consider these very carefully also. I have requested that all colleagues ensure that work set in a lesson can be completed within a 50 minute window as we are aware that a small number of students, who are already working very hard indeed and in difficult circumstances, feel somewhat overloaded. As many of you have commented, we have greatly extended our live-stream input and listened carefully to feedback about employing this style of delivery for sections only of lessons. Staff confidence and competence in this area has moved on greatly, but we are still all on a learning curve! True blended learning should bring genuine variety to learning experiences.

We have as yet no further information with regards to external assessments for examination year students, and indeed have heard nothing further from Welsh Government about the proposed return to the school building for students. However, I can assure you that the health and safety of all will always guide our implementation of national and regional directives.

More than ever it is important to celebrate the achievements and successes of our students. There have been too many examples of exceptional work to mention in one go, as students continue to produce work of both exceptional quality and, importantly, work that shows the effort and diligence that students are clearly putting into their studies from home. Everyone’s efforts are recognised and whilst teachers provide feedback on an individual’s work, here are some examples this week of some of the fantastic work going on across the school.

Virtual Year 10 Parents’ Evening

Next week (Thursday 21st January) we will hold a virtual parents’ evening for students in Year 10. This is new to us, but when any initial teething problems have been overcome, we hope it could be a mechanism which can be used again in the future to the benefit of all. If any parents / carers of Year 10 students have any questions, please contact school in advance of the event. If for some reason the Cloud package were to crash during the evening, we may be able to contact you on the phone numbers which we hold for you, or make alternative arrangements at a later date of course.

Sixth Form Virtual Open Evening

This year our Sixth Form Open Evening will be virtual, and this ‘event’ will go live at the start of next week. We are incredibly fortunate to attract many students from both our own Year 11 and a number of other schools each year. All of the talks and presentations which would normally occur during a standard Open Evening will be available on our school website, and the application process will be simple. Our Sixth Form Prospectus will be available to all, both online and in hard copy, and this booklet gives a succinct and informative overview of our offer, and indeed the great breadth of opportunities and experiences in which Castell Alun Sixth Form students readily partake.


Students in Years 7, 8 and 9 have been considering different career paths for those with sporting qualifications, whilst also completing the physical activities set in their lessons. The PE department asked students to investigate and research the many career pathways open to them through studying sport. Providing students with an understanding of the career pathways open to them through their study of different subjects forms part of the new Curriculum for Wales and PE have been leading the way with students responding fantastically well to this task, producing some really interesting and well-presented pieces of work.

In particular Keisha, Caitlin and Nell (9T) and Ruby (9N) have produced some really well researched pieces on careers in equestrian show jumping, choreography, teaching and careers in sport in general. In Year 8, Esme and Heather have produced some fantastic work on becoming a ski instructor, personal training, sports physio and achieving athletic success. Really well done to all of those who have already completed and submitted their work, and we look forward to seeing more as they come in.

Design Technology

In Design Technology this week, students in Years 7 and 8 have started their new Design and Engineering Project. Over the course of the next four weeks, students will engage in developing their knowledge of forces, they will design and construct a marble run against a set of success criteria and they will then test and adjust their builds to try and win the new DT MARBLE RUN Trophy.

The Design Technology department are very excited to roll out this project (sorry about that one!) and are looking forward to seeing which innovative solutions our students can come up with, as are we all. With one DT Marble Run trophy available for each DT class, it will be interesting to see who can fulfil the criteria and come out on top.

I hope you are able to switch off from things a little this weekend. Please take care.