Friday 22nd May 2020

Bore da. Today sees the close of the half term, and what a half term it has been in so many ways! Working at a distance has certainly been a challenge in so many ways and I’d like to thank parents/carers, students and staff for responding so positively. I think we’d all agree that when it is safe to do so and appropriate measures are in place nationally, regionally and locally, we all want our children to be back in school, with their friends and teachers, continuing to engage fully in their learning and development.

Today would have been the day that we would have formally wished farewell to students in Years 11 and 13, although their examination period would not yet have been complete. This is a landmark time in the lives of these students, a right of passage indeed! Although this is by no means the way in which we had originally planned to celebrate this special occasion, you can join with us in wishing these tremendously talented and resilient students well, and treat yourselves to a few minutes celebrating their educational journey.

Year 11 Student Development Manager, Mr Eve, and Assistant Head of Sixth Form, Miss Cronin, have compiled some wonderful and slightly sentimental footage in any way they could, and Sixth Form Leader Mr Davies has put his own special message together for Sixth Form leavers also. I’m sure everyone connected with these 2 year groups thanks these 3 members of staff in particular for their efforts both in the production of these materials and over the years. Thank you also to all group tutors who have invested so much time and effort into their pastoral roles with these students. Please watch and enjoy here!

The nature of school life is such that we bid farewell to groups of students and almost simultaneously welcome new members to our Castell Alun family. At this stage of the year we’d be putting a great deal of time and effort into welcoming our new intake, the current Year 6, into the building and giving them opportunities to participate in lessons across the curriculum along with a raft of social activities.

Although this will be done differently this year, it remains a key priority for us. We have already begun placing welcome activities and various introductions for Year 6 on the school website, and these materials and activities will be further enhanced over the coming weeks. Our Year 7 Student Development Manager, Miss Janice Jones, Acting Deputy Head (Pastoral), Mr Carl Pugh, and Acting Head (from September 2020), Mr Paul Edwards, are all eager to meet you! We are tremendously committed to continuing to deliver high quality education to all our students and to providing a rich student experience in any context, while ensuring that we respond effectively to the challenges posed by the pandemic.

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With regard to our current Continuation of Learning Plan, our students continue to engage very well with their learning in comparison to the national picture, and for this we are all very grateful indeed. We have listened to parent / carer feedback and again thank you so much for your support. An increasing number of you have asked us about the possibility of students actually being able to see their teachers, perhaps in the recorded delivery of a learning experience. We intend to take further steps in this direction now, whilst ensuring that all footage is subject to robust safety protocols for the protection and wellbeing of everyone involved in the learning process. This would, of course, also be the case with any other activities, such as possible eventual group assemblies.

Our Sixth Form editorial team have been hard at work behind the scenes over recent weeks, researching, writing, editing and producing the next issue of the school student newspaper, The Hive. It contains all kinds of articles of interest to a broad range of student tastes. Thank you so much to everyone who is part of this team, and to Mr Hadley who leads these fantastic students. I’m sure you’ll agree, the final product is of high quality! Please read their thoughts at your leisure here.

Congratulations to all staff who have added miles either running or walking to achieve the challenge of 4500 miles for Alder Hey. We ‘made it to Kilimanjaro’ by Wednesday this week and therefore increased the distance to 5000 miles to achieve by Sunday …. and we have already achieved 4943 miles at the time of writing. Every step has counted and this has virtually brought the staff together, inspiring one another to complete a challenge in our own time for a charity which is so close to our hearts. The staff are looking forward to be able to wear their medals with pride on Sunday and have enjoyed raising awareness of the wonderful work undertaken by all at the hospital, not just in the present climate, but actually constantly!

We are so proud of Tyler (Year 7), who is currently raising money for the NHS by swimming the channel and completing a full triathlon – in his back garden. We are charting his progress on our PE Twitter account and so far he has raised around £1000 and the figure is rising daily. He will also be on ITV news soon, but please check out his story at:-—back-garden/

Next week is of course half term. As was the case in our Easter holidays, we won’t be setting formal lessons of course as we think it’s tremendously important, especially at the moment, that staff and students are enabled to separate the structure required of a current standard school day from the more relaxing and leisurely approach they may choose to adopt during the holiday period. However, as usual, we will provide a range of suggestions for interesting and fun activities through our Google Classroom pages and indeed on pages on the school website should anyone wish for further stimulus.

I hope the weather holds and we can all take some time together with our loved ones as far as is possible next week.