Letters to parents & Guardians 2016/7
Letters to parents & Guardians 2015/6
What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving them. Zig Ziglar
It must be borne in mind that the tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goals to reach. Benjamin E. Mays
Year 11 LEARNING PATHWAYS EVENING IS ON Thursday 21st January from 4.00–6.00
Whether your child is continuing into the sixth form, going to college or undertaking employment or further training this is for you.
Please note that colleges and employers, as well as the career service will be here to help you and your child plan for the future.
Well done to the pupils in year 11 who have already successfully completed their mathematics GCSE gaining a C grade and above. We are delighted that 35% of our pupils have mathematics GCSE already and in some cases pupils have already got 5 GCSEs confirmed before the summer series. This is an immense achievement and shows how important it is to have goals and to have a clear plan to reach them. Thank you to all our teachers giving up their time so readily to support our learners.
It is wonderful to listen to our pupils saying I was only 6 marks off a C and then explaining how determined they are to reach the C grade. However, we must be realistic and it is important that as parents/carers we ensure that our children realise that success comes from hard work at home as well as in school. Watch the website for the school revision timetable to see which sessions could benefit your child and that he/she could attend.
However studying at home is even more important when pupils decide to stay on into the sixth form. Many sixth formers now have a part time job that helps them pay for those extras but it is important that they realise how much of their free time should be spent completing coursework, essays or simply revising for those all important examinations.
As parents and carers will be aware -promoting citizenship is very important to our school and with this in mind it is important to say well done to all our pupils who have helped us raise a huge amount of money already for this years’ designated charities. Last year it was year 7 and year 11 who came out on top, both year groups raised a magnificent £2,500 each for The Dogs’ Trust and KeepstrongforOws appeal. Only one year group last year failed to reach the £1,000 target and they are already well on the way to reaching this target. (I think the competition is now so fierce between the year groups no-one dares to fail!)
As a new school we continue to attract a lot of attention and we were delighted to be visited by journalists from the Sunday Times and the BBC. Sian Griffiths Education correspondent and Deputy Editor of the News Review taught an English lesson to year 7 pupils as well as conducting interviews with the Head-teacher, Teach First teachers and pupils. For more information look out for the Sunday Times on Sunday 17th January and for the BBC Newsbeat programme produced by Arwyn Evans on Tuesday 26th January when there is a focus on the changing face of Education in Wales.
The journalists had a good day here and commented on how calm the school felt, how impressive the build was and how much progress we had made in such a short time.
I am pleased that we already have a lot of interest in our school for the coming September with nearly all of our places filled. If you have a child in year 6 in our partner primary schools please make sure that you have filled in the application form for the authority. A link to this is on our website. Please can I also thank our partner primary schools for their support and all their hard work. We had a wonderful Masterclass event in December for able and talented musicians from year 5 and 6 in the cluster who joined our year 7 musicians for a day’s musical programme and a further day for those talented in computer science is planned for this month.
Please remember to support our production Oliver in the Coliseum from the 2nd–4th February – tickets are soon to go on sale. Last year tickets sold out very quickly for Grease and I am sure you want to avoid being disappointed!
No matter how good teaching may be, each student must take the responsibility for his own educationJohn Carolus S.J.
It is hard to believe that we are almost at the end of our first half term. A school is such a busy place and the autumn term is one of the busiest with pupils in years 11 to 13 moving quickly towards examinations. We have completed our selection of prefects with at least 20 prefects in each year group. In September pupils hosted a Macmillan Coffee Morning raising a huge amount of money for the charity.
We have also hosted the Harvest tea for 40 local old age pensioners and a huge thank you to the pupils who organised and hosted the event as part of our Welsh Baccalaureate activities.
In our school each year group raises money for a charity of their choice. This year the following charities have been nominated and last year we are proud to say that over £4,000 was raised for good causes.
- Year 7
- Year 8
- Shelter Cymru (homeless)
- Year 9
- Jeans for Genes
- Year 10
- Stay Strong for Ows
- Year 11
- Cancer Research
- Year 12
- Macmillan Cancer Support
- Year 13
- Sepsis Trust
Rehearsals are in full flow for Oliver and we are delighted that Oliver will be played by a year 7 pupil. What a great opportunity to have in your first few weeks in a new school. We also had our first musical concert in the school hall on the 21st of October. Following on from that we will be remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice when we march to the Cenotaph in the Aberdare Remembrance Parade on November the 8th and 11th.
We continue to do well outside our community and have gained national recognition. On the 8th of October the school was presented with a national INet Award for Closing the Gap and greatly improving outcomes for those pupils on Free School Meals. This is a huge honour and an amazing achievement in our first year as a unified school. Additionally, we are one of the first schools in Wales to be awarded a license to run the Duke of Edinburgh awards and this was presented in a Gold Awards’ ceremony at St James’ Palace, London.
Throughout the year pupils are completing coursework now called controlled assessments and practical assessments. This is one of the reasons why we don’t like parents taking pupils out of school in term time. There is no such thing as a quiet time any more and pupils studying for examinations have a lot of assessment and work to complete through the year. December is going to be busy for year 11 pupils with many days set aside for either examinations or controlled assessments and practical activities. To support our learners we have had Positively Mad in to give our pupils an understanding of how to revise and prepare for examinations.
We look forward to our next half term when our Hospitality and Catering groups will provide a Christmas lunch for a number of our older residents. We continue to work with the Youth Forum in the area and our rugby sports academy have just welcomed our first touring side from Ireland. Unfortunately we lost narrowly but as they say it is not how you win a game but how you lose that will ultimately define you. A huge thank you to Michaela Breeze who is providing support to all our elite athletes and also works with all our pupils to promote health and fitness awareness.
Do not forget that we will be holding our annual carol concert in St Elvan’s church in December and we look forward to seeing you there.
Our Mission statement: Work Hard, Dream Big, Reach for the Stars
Too many children in Wales lack goals and don’t have confidence in their own ability; at Aberdare Community School we are committed to changing that and want to develop a hunger to succeed in our pupils. We want every child to use their talents, reach their potential and reach for the stars.
In the future we want to see our able pupils move to universities, not just in Wales but throughout the United Kingdom and even to the top institutions around the world. However, our school recognises that not all pupils are high flyers and we are committed to offering individual support for children who find reading and writing more of a struggle.
School is about developing a ‘whole’ child. Our emphasis on developing respect and citizenship skills in our pupils and our focus on charity work seeks to ensure that our pupils understand what it is that makes us good citizens. We want children to leave our school with excellent qualifications alongside an understanding of what is right. Children who as adults will make a difference and can contribute to any community in a positive manner.
For more information on our school please read the information on our website or contact us to arrange a visit.
Our facilities include a science theatre, a leisure centre with a swimming and diving pool as well as state-of-the-art computer and technology facilities. We have our own recording studio as well as sound booths for recording oral work in English and Modern Foreign Languages.
Tradition is not to preserve the ashes but to pass on the flameGustav Mahler
Alun Lewis born in Cwmaman is known to many as one of the foremost poets of the 2nd World War. Lines from one of his poems greet you as you enter our school.
It is a tribute from us, not just to Alun Lewis, but to all those brave men and women who lost their lives so that we might enjoy ours.
And I can remember nothing dearer or more to my heart Than the children I watched in the woods on Saturday Shaking down burning chestnuts for the schoolyard's merry play, Or the shaggy patient dog who followed me By Sheet and Steep and up the wooded scree To the Shoulder o' Mutton where Edward Thomas brooded long On death and beauty - till a bullet stopped his song.Taken from All Day it has Rained.
The Gustav Mahler quote is one that we have used before but it is very relevant this month as we finally move onto the Ynys and into our new school. We are aware of the legacy we carry with us.
Speaking of legacies – I would like to take this opportunity to wish our year 11 and 13 pupils well for the future. We enjoyed a lovely end of year assembly with year 11 when many pupils picked up prizes for their attitude and achievement. Year 13 celebrated the end of their school career in a prom held in Ty Newydd on Friday 26th June, as well as a final assembly
On entering the new school you will come across a series of wordles that have the names of the pupils on our register in the academic year 2014-15. Around the walls of the school you will find paintings produced by our pupils during our transition events. These are images of the Cynon Valley heroes for instance Professor Lyn Evans who was born in Aberdare and during his career in science led the Cern Institute in Switzerland. We all take the world wide web for granted but it is just one of the things that have emerged from research that goes on in CERN.
This year has been a challenging one for all of us. Being on three sites has not been ideal but as a school we have gone from strength to strength. Our results at GCSE are predicted to be good and we have established very strong codes of conduct and a good attitude to learning. At the same time we have been successful in a number of areas notably Young Enterprise, The Rotary Young Presenters’ Awards and in many areas of sport where our pupils have produced outstanding results. Musically we have put on a number of concerts as well as our first production of GREASE which was a sell-out success. This month some of our pupils will participate in the celebration and commemoration of the local poet Alun Lewis whose words also adorn the walls of our school. In addition some pupils will go on an historical trip to Berlin – a tradition started in the High School and one we are proud to continue. A number of our musicians will also travel abroad as part of a musical tour arranged early this year.
Before the end of this term almost 3,000 pupils, parents and local people will have had a chance to visit our school and see what all the fuss is about. It is a truly beautiful building and a tribute to 21st Century Learning.
Next term we look forward to the beginning of our own cadet force which will aid us in the further development of our pupils’ skills. We want our children to have as many opportunities as we can offer. We are all individuals with individual interests, talents and needs and at Aberdare Community School we aim to unlock the potential of all our pupils. Please follow us on twitter or on our own website which is constantly updated.
All that remains is for me to say have a good break in the summer and we look forward to a very successful end of term in our new school.
It is not that I’m so smart. But I stay with the questions much longer.Albert Einstein
Thank you to all those parents who have decided to choose Aberdare Community School as their chosen secondary school. I have been having a wonderful time designing the outside play area for our young pupils.
Year 7 will have a separate play area should they wish to use it. They can of course use the whole of the facilities like the older pupils. However, for some the chance to play somewhere without the worry of having older children around is a comfort when they move from a small to a larger school.
Below is just a small example of some of the outdoor furniture we have picked and we hope that it performs two functions, reflecting our Welsh identity and offering an imaginative space for young minds to play in.
Soon we will move into our wonderful new building. The facilities and opportunities it will provide are limitless. The picture below is of a standard classroom with built in storage and most of the furniture in place.
In my last head-teacher article I suggested that too many of our children lack goals and aspirations. I also think that there is more to it than that. Not only are Welsh children aiming too low but our children are often guilty of not working hard enough.
It is all too true of too many children in schools throughout the UK but that does not make it any easier to come to terms with. It also comes at a time when many children throughout the developing world are actually working very hard at their education. Which makes it even more important for all our youngsters to grasp the chances that their education will provide for them.
Having said all this – when our year 11 pupils were interviewed recently by local business men and women the feedback we received was glowing – which makes it even more important that our pupils seize the day!
I chose the quotation above on purpose. Einstein realised that in order to succeed we have to work at it. Nothing in life is easy. What we seem to lack in our society is something my gran called stickability. What we also seem to lack is an understanding that the school AND the home have to work in partnership. We are a team! So with this in mind …..
At present we are running revision classes for pupils to improve their chances of gaining a C grade and better in mathematics. This week over 50 pupils attended our revision sessions. There are a large number of other subject revision sessions being offered both after school and some will be taking place during the half term and Easter holidays. I am grateful to our staff for giving of their free time so readily. I had to pay for extra maths tuition for my own children!
Parents will be reminded via text messages but as the parents/ carers we are relying on you to make sure your child can attend. We will make every effort to give pupils a lift home if they have transport issues however at the end of a long day we will not be providing a door to door service but drop at convenient local bus stops near you.
Finally a plea to all parents who frequently ask –
What can I do to support my child – Please make sure that they bring all their equipment to school and that they know the basics, Do they know their times tables? Can they spell common words? Are they noting down all homework in their planners? Remember that the internet is a good device to use to support learners taking examinations – Go to the WJEC Online Exam Review site which has past papers in all subjects, Use Bitesize for Revision and make sure that you look out for our top revision guides coming shortly to our own website!
After years in the planning, Aberdare Community School finally opened its doors, albeit on temporary campuses, in ABERDARE. At this time of year it is nice to look back and reflect on what has been achieved in such a short time, as well as looking forward to an exciting new era when we move to he new school.
Since we opened in September, the progress made in building our new school community has been astonishing. I am also pleased to report that the same progress is being made in the construction of our new building on the Ynys site. A school is of course a lot more than bricks and mortar and I am delighted to share with you some of our achievements. Aberdare Community School is here to serve the young people of our community and ensure that every child uses their talents, achieves their goals and reaches for the stars.
In the future we want to see our able pupils move to universities, not just in Wales but throughout the United Kingdom and even to the top institutions around the world. However, our school recognises that not all pupils are high flyers and we are committed to offering individual support for children who find reading and writing more of a struggle. I am determined that our new school responds to the needs of all learners, giving all pupils the best possible chance to achieve their full potential. Some of our Year 9 high flyers have been on a university visit where they worked on developing their skills in Science, Technology, Maths and Languages. They have also been working with Literature Wales on a Dylan Thomas project. We are also proud of our new Aberdare Apprentices, 2 past Year 11 students who have joined us Apprentice caretakers.
School is about developing a ‘whole’ child. Our emphasis on developing respect and citizenship skills in our pupils and our focus on charity work seeks to ensure that our pupils understand what it is that makes us good citizens. I am particularly proud of how our pupils and staff have risen to the challenge of getting involved with local charities and other community groups. We have created a successful partnership with Upper Cynon Communities First and have launched some fantastic family learning opportunities where pupils and their parents work together to develop essential life skills. Every year group has a nominated charity and has been working hard on raising money. We have also been working with Merthyr Cynon Foodbank – by collecting food at Tesco Aberdare and raising money to support their work. Our first community carol service, at St Elvan’s church, was a triumph! It was wonderful to see over 300 members of our local community join us to celebrate Christmas and the talents of our pupils.
In building our new community, sport has played a crucial role in developing our school identity and encouraging team work between the pupils and staff of the 3 schools. We are the only school in the Cynon Valley which has secured WRU Rugby Academy status. We have also just signed a partnership with Cardiff City Football Club to run a football development programme. We have our own WRU coach and a football coach, and the results are starting to show. I look forward to the day when I see our pupils being the sporting stars of tomorrow.
As I look forward to 2015 I cannot help but feel excited at the prospect of moving into our new building. At last, the Cynon Valley will have a school facility it can be proud of. We will have the best facilities in Wales and my job is to ensure that we provide the best possible education in Wales. I’d like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy and prosperous 2015.”
This half term has been a very exciting one for our new school and we are grateful to all our staff for all their continued hard work. Pupils in year 7 have settled well and many of them went to the Harry Potter studios and had a fantastic trip. Well done to the many pupils who gained so many reward spells that they actually got £5 or £10 off the cost of the trip.
We are proud to announce that we now have at least 20 prefects in each year group. Pupils were invited to apply for the role and had to apply in writing explaining why they wanted to take on this extra responsibility. Year 7 pupils were publicly given their badges in front of over 300 parents and children who attended our first official open evening.
You will remember that we made some wonderful artwork during our summer transition events.
We are proud to share with you some of the art that was recently displayed at the Senedd in Cardiff.
Health and Well-Being days
Over 300 pupils from our partner primary schools attended our healthy lifestyle days. During the day they were able to make healthy pizzas, make art related to healthy eating. They also got to practice
their dance moves and have a go at ‘spin’ as part of our drive to make our young people healthy.
We are very grateful to Councillor Eudine Hanagan who visited us during one of our days and spent time watching our pupils make pizzas and take part in some exciting exercise activities. I know she was itching to take part but had forgotten her kit!!
Rugby and Football Academies
We are delighted with the pupil response to our Welsh Rugby Union Academy programme run by Gavin Williams. Pupils interested in developing their rugby skills further or who are already elite rugby players are getting time to work with an experienced coach.
During the next half term we will start our own Football Academy with links to Cardiff City. These opportunities are extended to boys and girls and provide an amazing opportunity for young enthusiastic, talented players to be supported.
Super Learning Club
Every Tuesday and Thursday we are running an after school homework / catch up session this is available on all the campuses. At Super Learning Club pupils can complete homework and have support from trained learning coaches when planning controlled assessments. Please use this excellent opportunity and encourage your child to attend.
Free Music Tuition
I am sure that many parents are aware that music is changing in the county. We will continue to provide free music lessons for all our pupils. We are the only school in Aberdare to do this. We also provide free vocal lessons for those pupils who are good singers. We are also delighted that our music recording studio is on track and that this time next year we could be cutting our very first Christmas CD.
Harry Potter Banquet
Thank you to some of the year 12 pupils who as part of their Welsh Baccalaureate studies organised our Harry Potter Banquet for pupils from year 6. Over 100 pupils attended and were entertained by our very own wizard. Children were put into one of the four Hogwarts houses and also enjoyed a disco. The year 12 pupils were given a budget and decorated the Great hall in Plasdraw. The centre-piece of the banquet was a spectacular Harry Potter inspired cake.
Harvest Festival celebrations
Thank you to the staff and pupils who helped us arrange a great harvest supper for the old age pensioners of Aberdare. We are delighted to carry on a great tradition started by Blaengwawr Comprehensive School. We had a lovely afternoon on the Blaengwawr campus and were entertained musically by our pupils while our year 12 pupils kept everyone in sandwiches, tea and cakes. Later we taxed our brains with a quiz and then tested our numeracy with a spot of bingo. Once again pupils from year 12 helped to organise the event as part of their Welsh Baccalaureate studies. We intend to continue this tradition and next year we plan to go bigger and better! All pensioners went home with a harvest hamper and we were delighted that donations also allowed us to offer a big hamper to the local food bank.
Many of our senior pupils will join with our senior members of staff to commemorate those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Carrying on a tradition we started last year we will attend the Remembrance services in Aberdare and lay a wreath alongside other organisations.