Welcome from new head Mark Powell

It is my pleasure and privilege to be able to introduce myself to you as the new headteacher of Aberdare Community School. This is my 27th year in education, my 6th school, my 2nd headship and I am extremely excited by the opportunity to lead the school into the next stage of its development. I am grateful to Mrs Sue Davies for the excellent foundations laid during her time as headteacher, foundations which I now look forward to building upon with the help of the excellent team of professionals we have working in this fantastic new school.

Of course, I also look forward to working with you as the parents and carers who have chosen to send your children to us to be educated. This is a tremendous expression of trust and faith in us as a school and you can rest assured that we will work our hardest to repay that trust and to give your sons and daughters the best possible learning experiences. Please work with us in partnership, tell us when we are doing things well and let us know when you think we can do things better. We are here to listen and to serve this community.

Most of all, though, I am looking forward to working with the young people of Aberdare. I am from the valleys myself and I have close family connections to Aberdare so I feel that I have a reasonably sound understanding already of the needs of our pupils and students. I have much to learn, though, and will indeed be learning much in the coming weeks. All decisions made by myself will be made in what I understand to be the very best interests of these young people.

I have high expectations of what a school can provide for its pupils and students and I will be explaining these in greater detail as I become more settled into my new job. I also have high expectations of our pupils. I expect them to observe all school rules, to act and speak with respect and courtesy for all members of the school community and to try their hardest at all times. If they do so then I can guarantee that they will have an extremely rewarding educational experience in their time with us, an experience which will give them the best possible chance of success after they leave school. I would be most grateful for your support in helping us achieve this for all of our young people.

Mark Powell

Easter 2017

Do something today that your future self will thank you for.

Work until your idols become your rivals

Ability is what you are capable of doing, motivation determines what you do, attitude determines how well you do it.

Thank you to all the parents and pupils who have decided to make Aberdare Community School their first choice for September. We look forward to meeting you at our Harry Potter Banquet early next term. We currently have 260 applicants for places in September.

Congratulations to a number of our sixth formers who sat the entrance examination for Aberystwyth University. Five of our pupils have been offered unconditional places for September. Lewis Howell has been awarded the Evan Morgan Scholarship which is a huge achievement and he will receive £1,000 for each of the four years of his degree course. Lucy Bishop was awarded a merit award and will receive £1,000 whilst Owain Walters, Jasmine Ashley and Gabrielle Tinelli know that their places for September are already secure. This is an amazing achievement and it is the second year running that our students have done so well in the entrance examinations securing bursaries of this kind.

Well done to our year 12 pupils studying for the Welsh Baccalaureate as over 80% are currently working at Distinction or merit levels.

Our sports academy continues to flourish. For information, as I know some of our parents are unaware of this provision, – our academy is run in partnership with Cardiff Blues and Cardiff City. Sixth formers study Physical Education at Advanced Level or the equivalent. In addition, they undertake a rigorous practical programme run by our partners. They also play academy matches, against other schools in other areas, who are part of this programme. During the course they also participate in coaching and sports leadership awards that give them additional qualifications over and above their Advanced Levels. Many of the students go on to university to study sports science. The academy practical programme is confined to rugby and football and we have boys and girls taking this course. However, as a school we also offer sixth form practical programmes to gifted golfers, weightlifters and cyclists – for more information on these programmes please contact Mr Andy Price Director of Sport and Well-being.

Last year a number of pupils joined us from out of county and all have settled well into their sixth form studies. For information regarding your child joining our school for sixth form studies please contact Mr Chris Lovell Assistant Head-teacher or Mrs K Leyshon Head of Sixth Form.

This year pupils have enjoyed trips abroad including our first ski trip and a very enjoyable first rugby tour to Texas. Pupils have just returned from Euro Disney and in the summer our Geography department return to Italy with our older pupils as part of their fieldwork.

Thank you to all those parents and friends of the school who bought tickets for our fabulous production of ‘We will rock you’. Earlier in the year many parents also supported pupils who took part in the Schools Shakespeare Festival where our pupils were involved in the ‘Tempest’.

This term will be my last as our head-teacher. As you know I have just returned from successful cancer treatment and will retire at Easter. I have enjoyed 38 years in education and still feel that it is the best job ever – However, I am certainly looking forward to spending more time with my husband and family! As I say at home – it is time for my ‘gap’ year!

I am proud to announce that our new Head-teacher will be Mr Mark Powell who is currently head-teacher at Y Pant. He is a successful and highly experienced head-teacher and I know that he will continue to build on our successes.

This term we also say goodbye to Mrs Lisa Woodrow who will take up her post as Deputy Head-teacher at Ysgol Llangynwyd, Maesteg. We wish her well for the future. Her post will be filled by not one but two new members of the senior team.

In the summer term we welcome our new Assistant Head-teachers Mr Alun Davies and Mrs Emma Harris. Both are experienced Assistant Head-teachers in Islwyn High School and Ysgol Cymer respectively.

I would like to finish by wishing our current examination year groups well for the summer term. I would also like to thank the Governing Body of our school, the staff, parents and pupils for their support throughout my time in Aberdare.

Working hard is important but…

Congratulations to the pupils and staff on a year well lived

A dream does not become reality through magic – It takes SWEAT, DETERMINATION AND HARD WORK

WORKING HARD is important, but there is something that matters even more: BELIEVING IN YOURSELF Harry Potter

To be a classed as a truly great – a school has to treat every child as an individual and develop the whole child. This seems a strange thing to say in the month when all eyes focus on results. However, the reality is that for a student to succeed the academic results are an important part of a far bigger picture. In today’s ever changing world we have to provide our students with so many skills that they will need to succeed. They need to be creative, to be able to work with others, to be strong and resilient able to face challenge- and more than anything they need to dream big and aspire to be the best they can be. When new pupils join us they are put into houses and each of our houses –represents a characteristic that our children must have to succeed in this frenetic 21st Century world we live in. We are also delighted that 265 students have made Aberdare Community School their school of choice for September. This is our highest ever recruitment number and is testament to our growing reputation as an excellent school where we deliver skills and results for all our pupils.

We are pleased that over the course of the year our students have had excellent results and we have worked hard to give our students the chance to develop their skills and talents. At Advanced Level pupils gained a larger number of the top grades and our first entry of Welsh Baccalaureate students gained exceptional results; adding an additional equivalent of 65 A grades to the numbers of top grades attained at Aberdare Community School. More pupils were offered university scholarships this year than ever before which is an amazing achievement.

At GCSE level we also pushed to gain as many top grades as possible with 186 A* and 136 A grades awarded to our pupils. 100% of our pupils attained a qualification, 99% gaining level 1 and 88% gaining the equivalent of 5 Grades A-C. For full press releases please visit the news page on our website.

This is also a time in the year to reflect on what has gone well and what needs to change. The quotation above, about hard work was a deliberate choice- if students are to succeed and many students have succeeded – we must realise that school is a partnership. As a parent I realise that bringing up our children is a juggling act – we are trying to run a home, put food on the table and in some cases we are acting as the local taxi service taking children here, there and everywhere. However, we are a partnership and for a student to be truly successful we NEED parents and carers to work with us. Parents’ Evenings are a vital way of keeping in touch with us. Your child has to realise that success does not come from magic, it does come from hard work and a lot of it. However, once a year it is important that parents listen to how their child is doing in school you need to know what is going well and what needs to improve – one night and such a lot of information to be gained.

Every year we run an extensive number of homework clubs and revision clubs with staff giving up not just week nights but weekends. This year we also had a residential weekend paid for by the school where children who needed extra support to gain mathematics GCSE spent a weekend revising this subject as well as having fun at an outdoor pursuits’ centre.

Success comes from a partnership between school and home and we urge parents/carers to get to parents’ evenings and support their child in their quest for glory. Please bear in mind that our staff also have families and they gave of their time freely to support this residential weekend as well as our other after school clubs so that your child could succeed! Please make an effort to return this goodwill.

Many concerned parents ask whether they should pay for home tutors, at our school we are providing this service for FREE!!! All you need to do is make your child attend and make them see the value of education for themselves and their future. I am proud of the fact that so many of our children made use of these classes and reaped the rewards. I am also saddened that a few of our children did not achieve their potential and this has a possibly life changing effect on their futures, limiting their choices for the next stage of learning and cutting off job opportunities for them at such a young age.

I said at the start that we develop the whole child, I would urge you to look at the website and take a long hard look at what our school offers. During the summer months not only were we immersed in examinations but following on quickly from this our staff took students on educational trips to Spain, Italy and Germany. Our sports’ teams were active in events all over the country and our Duke of Edinburgh expeditions were taking place. Though a new school we are one of the few in the UK licensed to run our own DofE qualifications – and we already have a large number of students taking part in our Bronze and Gold Award Scheme.

An activities’ programme was organised giving students the chance to try their hand at new skills in school or take part in extra- curricular activities outside – with reward trips going to Oakwood and Leisure centres to celebrate the hard work of our motivated and engaged pupils. Whilst this was going on our children were also adding pennies to the charity funds and I hope to report that all our year groups have hit their target of raising £1,000 for their chosen charity. Year 7 have been quick off the mark and have already handed over a whopping £1,391 to the RSPCA. See the news page for the visit and handing over of the cheque.

We also had our very first Year 11 Prom in the school which was amazing and a big thank you to Mrs Alison Smith for organising this for her year group. Plans are already in hand for next year’s. Our first ever summer fete organised by our newly formed Parents and Friends Assocation took place in July and we are now planning a Christmas fete for November. Results’ days were truly celebrated when we hosted a fun event providing food and mocktails to say well done to our wonderful students.

Finally, I would like to inform you of a few changes for September. Many parents are aware that I am currently under-going chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment and will not be in school in the autumn term. However, those that know me – know I am hands on. Hence the updated article here!! I have been in school during the summer organising the installation of canopies which will give us more outside covered areas. I have also been meeting regularly with the senior team. However, chemotherapy treatment means school is not an option as I have to avoid places where I may pick up infections that I will not be able to fight well. In the mean-time our very experienced team will be ably led by Mrs Pearce, as a deputy with over ten years’ experience as well as having the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) Mrs Pearce is more than capable of taking over as Acting Head-teacher, Mr Jones and Mrs Woodrow will both be Acting Deputy Head-teachers, Mr Andy Mee Head of English will join the team as an Acting Assistant Head-teacher. I will be in regular daily contact with school via e mail and I will be attending regular meetings with my senior team and the Chair of Governors after school (to avoid crowds ) when treatment and well-being permit.

I would like to take this chance to thank the pupils, parents and carers for their support and to especially thank our staff and the Governing Body for their immense efforts. I feel privileged to work in our school with such a dedicated committed staff and love our new school and all the opportunities such a building provides.

Please note that we now have a very active Parents and Friends Association and we are always looking for more volunteers. For more information please contact Mrs Alison Phillips my Personal Assistant. Mrs Phillips will pass on your information to the chair of the committee Mrs Linda de Vet who is also Vice-Chairman of the Governing Body of our school.

It remains to wish Mr Andrew Owen Senior Deputy Head-teacher good luck as he takes up his role as Head-teacher at Birchgrove Comprehensive School, Swansea and to thank him personally for the support he has given to myself and our school.

Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value

Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans John Lennon
The harder the struggle the more glorious the triumphAnonymous

It is already over a year ago since we moved into our fantastic new school. In that year we have achieved such a lot and across so many different areas of school life. Many parents/carers will know what it is like to move and how long it takes not just to settle in a new building but also how best to use it. I feel we are now at that stage!!

During the course of the year we have done much work within our community. We organised a wonderful Harvest Festival tea for our local old age pensioner friends and then topped this with our Christmas lunches that took place over four separate days. We were visible in the community when we supported fellow organisations remembering those who had lost their lives in conflicts around the world. We have also worked closely with our partner primary schools and look forward to the coming year 6 induction days and our year 5 Science and Technology days. Our older pupils have taken part in the Tyco challenge turning their £1.00 start up fund into over £500 and Deloittes were so impressed with our pupils that they have offered them a chance to work in their Cardiff office for one week. Many of our sixth formers have visited universities throughout Wales and the UK and some of our most able sixth formers work within the county SEREN HUB to improve their chances of gaining places in red brick universities including Oxford and Cambridge.

Over the course of the year many of our sporting stars have been hard at work and I am proud of the amazing successes of our rugby and football teams in particular. Our own academy is going from strength to strength and not only are we now seeking pupils who are good in those sports but we are offering technical programme support to sixth formers who are talented in golf, cycling, weightlifting and swimming. For more information about this please speak to our Director of Sport and Well-being Mr Andy Price.

Our aim continues to be to provide the best education we can for all our children and this often means putting in personalised learning opportunities. All our pupils who have another first language are encouraged to take a GCSE in that language and some of our able pupils have also taken an astronomy GCSE early – one of the boys was only 12! We have also offered opportunities to study robotics, take part in the Maths Challenge, the Engineering Scheme for Wales where pupils work on a project of their own design and are partnered with industry leaders to develop it.

The future is bright and we look forward to another year of successes and development. Please do not forget to follow us on facebook and twitter as well as keeping an eye on our website which works well on all mobile devices.

Congratulations to our new senior prefect team who will take up office at the end of this week. Finally our best wishes go to Dr Sue Mitchell awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Sue Davies OBE

The road to success is always under construction…

It seems only a short time ago that I took up my post as Head-teacher of our school. Yet 18 months has passed in the blink of an eye. During that time we have appointed all staff, welcomed pupils on transition days, set up a new curriculum and held training days for our staff to ensure we share a coherent vision of the future.

During the summer break staff have worked tirelessly to ensure that our three interim sites are ready for the new intake. Where necessary books and resources have been moved between sites and we are all excited our new school will finally become a reality with classes starting on the 3rd September for all pupils.

Please remember that Monday and Tuesday the 1st and 2nd of September are inset days and like many other schools throughout Wales, on those days we will work in departments and year group teams to finalise our plans for the next academic year.

Congratulations to all the pupils in Aberdare Girls’, Aberdare High School and in Blaengwawr who have done so well in the summer series of examinations. On Monday we will be interviewing pupils who wish to come back to our sixth form to study in year 12. Arrangements have been made to see those transferring from year 12 to 13 later in the week.

Congratulations as well to Ellis Nash from Blaengwawr who will take up an apprenticeship with Laing O’ Rourke in September leading to a degree. He follows in the footsteps of Oliver Renney from Aberdare High who took up his apprenticeship this time last year.

If you are interested in becoming a parent member of our new governing body then please look out for the nomination forms that will be sent home with all pupils this week.

Uniform can still be purchased at the Cwmdare Campus ( Aberdare High School ) on Monday and Tuesday of this week for those parents who have been unable to do so.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the head-teachers of our three schools, Miss Jane Rosser, Mr Ian Machin and Mr Steve Hanly for their support over the last 18 months and wish them good luck for the future. I would also like to send my good wishes to the staff who retired this summer or have been appointed to new posts in other schools.

Finally, I would like to pay tribute to our interim Governing Body for their support especially the Chair Mr Alun Maddox for their work over the last 18 months. In addition, I am grateful to the senior leadership team, the senior administration team, the site teams and all other staff for their hard work during the summer vacation.

To all our new pupils especially year 7 we are looking forward to seeing you on Wednesday 3rd September and can’t wait to see you in our new uniform.

Summer 2014 Head’s update

The last 15 months has flown by and in that time much has been achieved. Mr Andrew Owen my senior deputy Head-teacher joined me in September, 2013 and has worked to finalise the curriculum model for the new school. This has meant the introduction of a number of new courses and many more learning opportunities for our pupils. These include the Welsh Baccalaureate for GCSE and Advanced Level, Drama, Dance and Spanish for GCSE . As a school we will be offering pupils an opportunity to study 2 foreign languages to GCSE and Advanced Level. Pupils in year 12 and 13 will have to travel a lot less as we will now offer 31 courses for Advanced Level/ Level 3 including ‘Physical Education’ Advanced level. However, we are proud to be part of the Cynon Valley partnership and will continue to offer some joint courses with Mountain Ash and St John’s Baptist School. . We are also proud to announce the creation of a Welsh Rugby Union Academy and our own apprenticeship schemes.

Michelle Pearce Deputy Head-teacher joined us full time in January, 2014 from Blaengwawr. She has co-ordinated the transition days and is setting up the pastoral systems working alongside our newly appointed progress leaders. She is producing personalised planners for all year groups and is also ensuring that when we combine pupil groups from our three schools that pupils are allocated to forms with their friends.

Internal interviews have taken place for all teaching and non-teaching posts and a full staff list is on the website. The few roles we could not fill have gone to external advert and we will finalise those appointments in the next few weeks.

Pupils who are in our partner primary schools and have opted to join us in September, joined us in February for one of our transition days. We are delighted that over 225 pupils will join us on the Plasdraw site in September. Places are still available should parents wish to opt for our school and late applications are still being processed by the local authority.

Pupils in years 7-9 also had separate transition events in the SOBELL. These were judged excellent by the pupils. All pupils had an opportunity to produce art or ceramic work that would be used as part of the interior design for our new school. The theme for the artwork was ‘Our Heroes’ and well known figures from the Cynon Valley or from Wales were chosen as the subjects. Some of the excellent work will shortly be seen on the fencing alongside the new school site. Pictures of the artwork are included and I think you will agree that when the school is opened we will have some excellent pictures to put on our walls.

Pupil's Art

Dylan Thomas, Julien Macdonald and The Stereophonics are pictured above and are just 3 of the 45 pictures completed on our 4 transition days.

The building work is progressing really quickly and over the next 8 weeks we will be organising a number of site visits for our middle leaders and staff teams to see progress. Laing O’ Rourke will shortly complete a show office and classroom so that visiting staff will get some idea of the dimensions of the rooms. The building is constructed off site and the walls come in on huge lorries. The build is so efficient that a wall can be craned into place and secured every 45 minutes. Visitors will be able to walk up to the third floor as staircases are already in place. Pupils who are members of the school council are acting as ambassadors and are now regular visitors to the site. The project and build is regarded as an excellent model of best practice and is being used by the Welsh Government to launch the 21st Century schools’ initiative. A visit by the First Minister for Wales and the Education Minister will take place shortly.

On June 2nd the rest of the senior leadership team will be released on a part-time basis and will be working on their areas of responsibility we will all be based in an office in Aberdare High School. By September we will have all our policies in place and pupils are helping us to put together the Code of Conduct for the school. The school will have a zero tolerance to bullying and all pupils will be made aware of our anti-bullying policy. Middle leaders are working on new schemes of work and excitingly our new stock is arriving.

On the 26th and 27th June pupils will take part in another transition event. Pupils in years 7 in September will be on Plasdraw campus, those in years 8 and 9 will be on Blaengwawr campus and those in years 10-13 will be on the Aberdare High School campus. This will give us an opportunity to try out the travel arrangements and pupils who are entitled to bus passes will be notified and told where and when they can pick up their buses. On those days pupils will be completing folders of work for their Certificate of Personal Effectiveness or the Welsh Baccalaureate. Projects and lessons on those days will focus on sustainability and on working with others and we will use the evidence from those days to gain our Bronze, Silver and Green flag.

There will be school selling days for uniform and those dates and places are to be announced. Items of uniform with the school logo on will only be available from the school itself ie the blazer, jumpers, tie and all sportswear. Trina’s of Aberdare will be the official school supplier or skirts, trousers and shirts and those with Free School Meals vouchers will be able to use them there once they have bought the main uniform pack from the school.