Friday 22nd January 2021

Another week, another announcement….and then ‘SchoolCloud’ also collapsed nationally part way through our Year 10 virtual Parents’ Evening!

Let’s start with the announcement – Wednesday’s Welsh Government briefing brought some much needed clarity to the national picture with regards to the awarding of examination grades and the now central role of schools in this process. Qualification Wales asked schools to forward their letter to all examination class students on Thursday and these were emailed to all parents / carers’ email addresses and also placed on Google Classroom Year Group Noticeboards. Although we once again eagerly await much needed further detail, we now know that we will be required to use our own assessment data in order to arrive at best-fit, robust evidence-based final grades for all who were due to complete a course of study this year.

We’ll be working very hard to translate the latest governmental announcement into reality at Castell Alun, and we will, of course, keep you fully in the picture about our processes. Qualifications Wales and the WJEC (Exam Board) will provide further information in the coming weeks, and we will use their guidance to ensure our processes are robust, transparent and fair.

And then there’s our first ever ‘Virtual Parents’ Evening’ (Year 10, yesterday)! The SchoolCloud package is intended to streamline and simplify the process of bookings and assist both staff and parents / carers in making the evening less labour-intensive. Unfortunately this did not happen particularly effectively yesterday evening due to issues beyond our control. We can only apologise sincerely to all families for whom the event did not run as it should have, and assure you that our staff team will contact you soon to ensure that you are provided with any feedback which you may have missed when appointments did not take place. Needless to say we are in discussions with SchoolCloud, as indeed are other Flintshire secondary schools who had also scheduled a virtual parents’ evening yesterday. Thank you so much to all participants for your patience, good humour and kind encouragement to teachers who were trying their best to assist.

Sixth Form Open Evening – On our website!

We’ve heard from a great number of students and parents / carers (both from Castell Alun and various other schools) about our Sixth Form Virtual Open Evening, which is now available on our website. Interest is great already, about which we are extremely happy. Mr Kevin Davies and his team will speak with students individually over the coming weeks, in order to discuss possibilities, and all subject staff are readily available to talk about courses of study on offer and how well matched students are to their choices.

Tyler – Year 8

Castell Alun’s own swimming champ, Tyler Holland in Year 8, has been working incredibly hard over lockdown to maintain his fitness and make up for the time missed in the pool, through running, cycling and regular ‘Hiit’ sessions. Having not long been allowed back in the pool, Tyler has reaped the benefits of all his hard work by recently competing in a virtual version of the Welsh Nationals (Super Series). Tyler won a silver medal in the 200m Freestyle and 50m Fly. Out of all the Welsh swimmers who competed Tyler also came 85th in the 200m Freestyle and 227th in the 50 Fly and on top of this he also finished within the top 10 in all the other events he competed in. This is a fantastic achievement and well deserved. Tyler’s hard work and dedication to his sport has paid off with his success. Restrictions on his usual training regime has meant that he has had to demonstrate great resilience and find other ways to stay fit in order to compete. In particular, getting up at 4.30 each morning in order to attend his 5 am session in the pool is an achievement in itself! Congratulations and really well done to you Tyler, and here’s to more future success. I was tempted (like you I’d imagine) to give Tyler’s fitness routine a go, but think it might be better to start more gradually and phase upwards in time…to some extent!

Staff Challenge

January often brings with it new resolutions for the New Year and often these involve exercise and getting fit. Whilst many of these promises can be as easily broken as they are made, this year there is one resolution that the staff at Castell Alun cannot break – The Castell Alun Staff Fitness Challenge.

Staff are all contributing to complete 120,000 minutes, the equivalent of 2000 hours, of exercise all in the month of January. Whilst this is a challenge outside working hours for all of us to get fit and active the month after some Christmas indulgence, the real reason behind the challenge is to support two amazing causes which we all feel very strongly about. As you may have seen on the school’s website and social media links, we are doing all of this in order to raise funds for Lewis and Jo.


Lewis White, the son of Sharon, the Headteacher’s PA, is an amazing and inspirational young boy who, as the result of facing some very serious medical issues, is in need of specialist equipment and facilities in order to access everyday necessities that we all take for granted.


Jo Britten was a teacher here at Castell Alun High School for over 12 years, but very sadly had her career cut short due to early onset Huntington’s disease. Jo has tirelessly campaigned herself for the Huntington’s Disease Association, since her own father’s diagnosis a number of years ago, and now Jo herself relies up on the support offered by the charity.


As a staff team we have decided to complete this challenge as a way of raising funds for both of these amazing friends and further details of these, as well as the challenges faced by both Lewis and Jo, can be found on the school’s website, along with the details of the charity pages where any donations in support of these charities would be gratefully received.

And Finally

I really hope you and your families are keeping well and it is good that ‘Blue Monday’ is once again done for the year. I think it’s important not to beat ourselves up if we’re finding things tough.

Things are tough, and there is no shame in simply speaking truth. We all come at it from different angles, each being just as valid as the next.

The English Department would be proud of my quoting the one and only George Bernard Shaw …..

“Both optimists and pessimists contribute to society. The optimist invents the aeroplane, the pessimist the parachute.”

We need each other, and our children have perhaps never needed more support from the all corners of the school family than at present. Thank you for all you are doing personally to provide it.

Have a good weekend.