Friday 24th April 2020


Bore da! I think we’ve been apart for 5 weeks now and it’s probably fair to say that there’ve been good times and tough times for most of us so far. We do hope you were able to spend some quality time with your families over the Easter period. If you are fortunate enough to have a garden, I’d imagine it is being put to good use. Long may this weather continue!

We all eagerly await a positive change to current circumstances, but it’s truly awe-inspiring to note how people are working in their own way to support those who need it.

On that note I wanted to let you know of some of the work going on behind the scenes in school. As a result of appeals from desperate frontline workers for protective face visors, a team of Castell Alun staff, led by Mr Swale and Mr Barnes, have had school DT equipment working flat out 3D printing and laser cutting face shields. This week alone we have manufactured, packaged and distributed well over 500 visors. Every one that we have produced has gone directly to people that need them, including; most of the care homes in our catchment area, the local pharmacist and GP’s, Flintshire domestic abuse, Marie Curie and various NHS services.

There are similar coordinated efforts occurring in other local areas also, and if it is possible to support any of them, we implore everyone who is able in any way to help by doing whatever you can. If you can sew or have family and friends who can sew please can you let Mrs Caswell-Jones or Mr Gadie know (contact them through the school email account – main@castellalun.flintshire.sch.uk). Mrs Caswell Jones has set up a sewing group and Mr Gadie is working on a system to collect donated materials and pass them on via local appeal centres.

We are all able to contribute in our own ways, and in further positive news, well over 60 Castell Alun staff have decided to complete the ‘run solo’ for the Alder Hey challenge, (#RunSoloAH). Over the next 4 weeks staff will complete their personalised challenge which will consist of running a number of miles each. Through the registration fee vital monies will be raised for the NHS staff at Alder Hey, and we will keep you informed of the challenge target and weekly progress. We’re all really looking forward to embracing this as a team of staff who geographically speaking, have never been so far apart, (#weareinthistogether).

Generally many of our students have settled back into a basic routine for schooling over the last few days. We have been waiting for further guidance from national bodies with regard to the rationalisation of schools’ provision of learning experiences, and this guidance has now come through. At the heart of the proposed rationalisation is the mental and physical wellbeing of our students, and so, as that remains our highest priority at Castell Alun, we are more than happy to comply with the advice given.

Today all families of students in Years 7-10 should receive an email explaining our new ‘Continuation of Learning Plan’  Essentially over the coming few days we will move to a 4 x 30 minutes (maximum) ‘lesson’ day, which will not focus particularly on gaining new knowledge, rather the development and practice of skills relevant to all subjects being studied. We are only too aware and indeed understanding of some of the various difficulties our students are experiencing, and the personal and family stress that these issues can cause. The new plan seeks to encourage students to remain healthy in every way possible as top priority. Although teething problems are to be expected, and eventually further changes may be necessary to our practice, we ask you all to read the document as it not only sets out a context, defining key roles, but also provides both a specific weekly flexible recommendation for your child and a suggested schedule for a ‘normal’ school day also. Above all perhaps, good common sense is vital in all situations at present – you know your child best!

Reading remains a source of both pleasure and learning. All forms of reading are useful and variety is always to be encouraged. From next week our students will be able to read the digital news every Friday via Google Classroom, where they will find ‘First News’, a virtual newspaper designed for students, which delivers updates and news in general in a non-sensational or scary way.

We would like to remind you about the ‘Wales-wide chat’, which is being provided by Careers Wales for the next few weeks. For anyone (parent / carer / student) who is concerned about options or potential future jobs and similar opportunities, Careers Wales can help. You can access their new chat facility 9am – 5pm Monday to Thursday and 9am – 4:30pm Friday at careerswales.gov.wales

Students in our Year 11 and indeed those seeking to join us for Sixth Form studies from other schools can now access guidance for AS Level Preparations for all subjects offered at Castell Alun on our website. This document also provides some helpful links to other platforms and resources so that these students are well placed to bridge the gap between GCSE and AS Levels and ‘hit the ground running’ in September after an inordinately long time away from school.

We are seeing all kinds of wonderful activities set and done on a weekly basis. There should be an emphasis on fun where possible, and this week the Year 8 challenge set by Miss Jones was ‘to show appreciation towards our NHS key workers’. Students were challenged to send in a video or a picture of something they have created with a rainbow theme, which is of course a symbol of hope to so many. Students found all kinds of creative ways to engage with this activity – baking rainbow cakes, creating rainbow models, painting rainbow colours on their nails and many more. Archie learnt Makaton to sign the colours of the rainbow – outstanding Archie. Also, Oliver applied his talents to change the Castell Alun logo to symbolise the NHS rainbow colours. Great stuff Oliver.

We would like to showcase further pieces of work, so please don’t be afraid of sending something you’re proud of through to main@castellalun.flintshire.sch.uk

Obviously we have as yet no further idea how long the current school closure will last, but our top priority remains the wellbeing of each member of our school family. We will seek to monitor and support this is various ways over the coming weeks, but feel it is important that everyone connects with their loved ones, their friends and colleagues, and other perhaps local or indeed online communities regularly.

Keep in touch and keep well.