Friday 19th March 2021

Finally this week saw the return of students to the school campus. Not since before Christmas have whole year groups been in attendance, and this week saw the much welcomed return of Years 11 and 13 on Monday followed by Year 12 on Thursday and Year 10 today. We can’t wait for the return of all year groups, which will occur, as per national directive, on Tuesday 13th April, immediately after the scheduled Staff Training Day on the 12th.

Undoubtedly, returning to school, after such a prolonged absence, is both a relief and much anticipated by many. Whilst most have enjoyed catching up with their friends and teachers for the first time in months, we appreciate that this has possibly brought mixed feelings for others. As we look forward to Years 7, 8 and 9 also returning for a day next week, we continue to encourage anyone who may have such feelings to discuss them with their group tutors and teachers, and we will continue to offer all the support we possibly can, at what remains a difficult time for many.

Upon returning to the school building, the adherence to the strict protocols regarding health and safety continue to remain of the utmost importance, with everyone here expected to play their part in keeping the whole school community safe. Many of these protocols are already firmly established, having been in place since the start of the school year in September. Although we ask all students to wear their standard uniform, if they have P.E. period 1, they can wear P.E. kit into school. However, each of these students should have uniform in their bag to change into after the lesson. Also, if students have P.E. period 5, they will be allowed to stay in P.E. kit when they go home.

As you know, a few additions to the procedure in December have been made. Those students who have already returned have impressed us greatly in their efforts in following the rules put in place, and in particular the wearing of face masks in all communal areas, including inside the classrooms. Such measures continue to be of the highest importance and we must all of us continue to follow them for the foreseeable future, unless unable to do so through, indicated through a written communication, whereupon an exemption card will be given.

This is, in particular, an important period for all Year 11, 12 and 13 students as assessments, which will be used to formulate their GCSE, AS and A Level ‘Centre Determined Grades’, will now be ongoing. Students as well as parents/carers should be assured that such assessments will not be taking place continuously in every lesson. Subjects are ensuring that assessments are spread across the upcoming weeks, both before and after Easter, and students will be given sufficient forewarning of when these will be taking place, as well as the guidance needed, in order to help them prepare.

Whilst no one wants to see undue pressure or stress placed on students, the completion of assessments are unavoidable due to the Welsh Government’s decision to replace summer examinations with Centre Determine Grades (CDGs). As final grades will be awarded based on students’ performance here, providing everyone with ample opportunity to perform at their best is vital over a short space of time. Consequently, ‘exam class’ students should expect to be preparing for and completing assessments in their lessons. They should also be doing what they can to perform at their best, including listening to and acting upon the advice and guidance given to them by their teachers as well as ensuring that they commit to working hard in order to help maximise their potential. As always, any student who has any concerns or questions regarding this should discuss matters with their teachers, who are always there to offer their continued support.

Bombardier Beetle!

Lockdown has been a time when many of us have taken the opportunity to learn a new skill, take up a new hobby or pursue further existing interests and our students have been no exception. Hayden in 10U, has been putting his time to good use in building a giant animatronic Bombardier Beetle! When fully complete the beetle, which currently stands at 6ft tall, will be able to wiggle its antennae, move its head (to check its surroundings) and even attack! (squirt water). When asked about his own project, Hayden said;

“I was inspired by the Mind Bogglingly Big BUGS Exhibition in Chester Zoo back in 2013, ever since then, I’ve had the dream to build animatronic creatures and put them on public display. 2020 was the year that we created the Giant Sea Scorpion animatronic. We have since moved from motors to actuate the moving parts to pneumatics (air pressure). The project began on the 1st February 2021 where the front feet were installed and I have been working every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday since, to bring the Beetle to life”

This is truly fantastic achievement. As you can see from the images included, Hayden has produced something quite spectacular. Well done Hayden.

One week now until the Easter break

For a short half-term, it certainly appears to have taken a while so far…..but only really because we’ve all missed our students so much and school is just not right without them. We must all sometimes concentrate on our successes in life, and through such encouragement our students will continue to grow through current challenges, and indeed they are already showing signs of this as they return to the building. I am a firm believer that if we give 100% to what we do, then things tend to work out in the end. The positivity and engagement of returning students has been tremendous, and they all deserve great praise for this. WELL DONE everyone, and THANK YOU.

Let’s hope the weekend brings the right rugby result!