Friday 17th July 2020

It gave us all great pleasure to be told this week that in September we will be welcoming back the whole school population at the start of the new academic year. To know that all our students, in every year group, will be returning is truly wonderful news, and the announcement by Welsh Government was heartening for all members of the school family I am sure.  We are now busily preparing for the return to full capacity, with our priority remaining the health, safety and well being of all our students and staff, and of course progression in learning for each of our students

As you can imagine preparing for a whole school return whilst maintaining strict safety procedures, is not an easy task and it will mean that whilst all students will return to site there will still remain strict measures in place to protect the safety of everyone here. This may well take a little getting used to when September arrives, but given the enthusiastic and mature way all of our returning students approached this over the past few weeks, we have no doubt that our students will do the same come the new academic year.

On that note, a massive thank you must go to all staff, parents / carers and students who have come together, over the last four months in particular, to make a very strange time as successful as perhaps it could have been. Whilst not everything has been perfect all of the time, we do believe that dealing with these last few months has gone as well as it could have given the unprecedented nature of events. Our appreciation for everything that everyone involved has contributed is unending, as this really has been a monumental team effort from everyone.

All of our school staff appreciate just how difficult it has been for many students and their families to adapt to a new distance learning model and we have been continually impressed by the diligence, perseverance and resilience of our students in continuing with their learning. Whilst this has not been easy for everyone involved, what has been achieved, under the circumstances, is phenomenal and so encouraging to witness.

As we look back over this year and forward to next, it is clear that ‘normality’ as such is still further away. It is hoped, however, that come September our returning and new students will be much more familiar with the school and the school day as we return to lessons and the curriculum. Today we will send out a letter, giving you the overview of our plan for September as things stand. Please read this letter at your leisure, in order to understand the skeletal details of our planned return, but also remember that things are liable to change at short notice should conditions change once again.  A good deal of further information will follow of course as plans are further developed in light of new announcements over the coming weeks.

We wish the very best and say a fond farewell to Mr Dave Condren and Mrs Davina Griffiths who are retiring, and to Dr Martin Galvin, Mrs Laura Davies, Ms Rachael Bethell, Mr Daniel Ferrier and Mrs Ruby Rehan-Williams who are moving on to pastures new this summer. All of these colleagues have served our school community with great commitment and they will be greatly missed.

As we now approach the summer holidays it is hoped that everyone has a much needed break and will come back refreshed and eager to carry on learning, back in the classroom, in September. Teaching staff may well provide activities which students may want to engage with over the break, although any such engagement is of course entirely voluntary.

And so on a final note, whilst this is certainly not my last day with so much to do over the summer, it is my last Friday Blog, and I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank the entire school community for your support and friendship during my time at Castell Alun. It has been an absolute privilege to work with you and our fantastic students over the last 6+ years.  I offer my very best wishes for the school’s continued success and wish Mr Edwards all the best for his Headteacher role in September.  It’s such an uncertain and challenging time, but Castell Alun’s success is due to great partnership working and an amazing community spirit which gives the strength and determination to get through anything.

I hope you can really enjoy time with family and friends over the summer and please do check your emails over the coming weeks as we will keep you informed of developments when we feel it is prudent to do so.

Take care,

Paula Williams