Most Able & Talented

Premier League Reading Stars Visit Cardiff City

June 22, 2015


In partnership with the National Literacy Trust Cymru, the Premier League decided it was time to  to get involved with young people in a new way and encourage them to read just for the sheer fun and excitement of it. Thousands of young people are crazy about Premier league football and idolise many of the stars who are talked about incessantly on the playgrounds of every school in the land. Players like Wayne Rooney, YaYa Toure and Aaron Ramsey are role-models for young people and the National Literacy Trust thought it would inspire kids to read if they were encouraged by their heroes and heard them talking about their favorite books.

The reading scheme devised by the Trust is based on a 10 week ‘season’ and features a different ‘fixture’ each week. The squad members get the chance to read football programmes, football annuals, match reports, novels and short stories. After each fixture they complete a ‘match report’ of their own and log all their reading experiences. ‘Tactics’ are discussed to improve reading skills and the players earn ‘rewards’ during the season. The players get to wear the strip of their favourite team during the fixtures and practice some football skills. The Reading Stars website features online challenges presented by a top player from reach of the Premier league clubs and each fixture would end with some of the challenges.

Aberdare Community School was one of the first schools in Wales to sign up for the new season and quickly put together a squad of thirty players divided equally into three groups: Mrs Kowalski, Mr Jefferies and Mr Sheppeard would be the coaches The pupils selected were in need of a boost to their reading skills and this scheme seemed ideal. A squad room was set aside for the fixtures and was filled with colourful books, posters, match-day programmes and news reports for the players. The scheme was given a high-priority and teachers were generous in allowing pupils to attend the sessions in order to improve their reading.

The season was a great success and was thoroughly enjoyed by players and coaches. The players were really enthusiastic about the sessions and enjoyed reading more than they ever had before. The players were able to improve their reading skills at the same time as having fun. As an end of season treat, the squad headed off to the Cardiff City stadium for a fantastic tour led by Mr. Gary Wilmott of the club’s Community Foundation; the players sat in the ‘dugout’, the home team changing room and visited the hallowed boardroom. The boys soon realised that the Cardiff City and Wales players look after the ladies in the club laundry more than anyone else, when one of the kind ladies allowed the boys to be photographed with her special presentation shirt from Gareth Bale !!




Patron of Reading meets Y7

May 18, 2015


Aberdare Community School’s Patron of Reading, Dr Phil Carradice, joined groups of our most enthusiastic readers in Y7 for reading workshops at Plasdraw. Phil is a very popular writer and broadcaster and has written many books for young people, so our pupils were keen to ask him questions about his work. 

We organised the day into three workshop sessions, with 12 pupils taking part in each session. The pupils were given copies of Phil’s novel, The Bosun’s Secret, in advance so that they could discuss their views and opinions with the writer, himself!! It didn’t take the first group very long to get down to the nitty gritty: “Do you know anyone famous?” was quickly followed by, “Are you rich?” Once those most important of questions were duly answered with all due modesty, the pupils got down to talking about the book and and their questions were incisive and interesting. In fact, at one point,Minh Cao of 7O3,the most eagle-eyed of readers, pointed out to the author that his book contained a scene that couldn’t work. Phil was stopped in his tracks by this and conceded that Minh was right; the character couldn’t have been in two places at once.

During one particular session,Jai Faulkiner of 703 explained that he is a keen writer himself and interrogated Phil on a number of important issues regarding publishers and submitting draft novels and most importantly,royalty payments. Phil was very honest with the eager-beaver readers and talked very openly about all his books, the ups and downs of being a writer and the joy of seeing a book in print. Phil will be joining us after half term for a second day of workshops, this time featuring readers from Y9. They have all been reading, Phil’s book, “The Black Chair”, the moving story of Hedd Wyn, the poet-soldier who was killed in World War 1.I hope he tells them the funny story about Roald Dahl that entertained the pupils in Y7; suffice to say that not many people have had the temerity to tell the great man that they don’t really like his books !!

Year 6 More Able and Talented meet at the Council Rock.

February 17, 2015

Aberdare Community School is delighted to welcome a special group of more able and talented children from our cluster schools to literacy workshops on our Plasdraw site. Mrs Hayley Davies, the acting deputy head of Aberdare Park School, has coordinated the group in the cluster, liaising with local primary schools and making all the arrangements. 
The children participating in the workshops: Evie, Sophie, Eryn and Kierion from Aberdare Park; Chloe and Lowri from Capo Coch; Rusiru, Nia and Sam from Abernant; Ben and Kate from Cwmbach and  Lewis, Caitlin and Amelia from Cwmdare are all bright, enthusiastic and highly motivated young learners.                                                   

Mr Mark Jefferies has decided that the group will form a wolf-pack like the one made famous in Kipling’s “Jungle Book”. The pack of he-wolf cubs and she-wolf cubs will meet each week around the Council Rock in order to read and discuss  a range of great books featuring wolves.

wolves-at-council-rock-litho-3In fact the children suggested that Mr.Jefferies play the role of the Lone Grey Wolf from Kipling’s book !! Mr Jefferies has challenged the group to read 5 novels featuring wolves over the next ten weeks.

The young star readers have already read The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken. The novel is set in a past time that Aiken says “never existed” and wolves hunt in packs across a snowy, winter landscape and threaten any unsuspecting travellers.The young cousins, Bonnie and Sylvia, are treated with cruelty by their new housekeeper, Ms.Slighcarp and the new arrival at the house, Mr.Grimshaw is up to no good.

Mr Jefferies asked the children if the wolves in the novel have a representational or metaphorical significance. Evie from Aberdare Park said that ” the wolves could represent the stripping away of the children’s free will.”   Wow!! 

Kate from Cwmbach thought the wolves created a feeling of “jeopardy and desperation”. Lewis from Cwmdare said that “the real wolves of Willoughby Chase are Ms.Slighcarp, Mrs Brisket and Mr. Grimshaw.” The children are able to think with creativity, insight and resourcefulness. 

Rusiru from Abernant suggested that “the Council Rock is a sacred place where laws are made and disputes resolved. Mr.Jefferies has asked the children to track the role of the wolves in the novel and write an essay on their literal and metaphorical significance.
The children will also read: White Fang, Call of the Wild, The Jungle Book and Wolf Brother  This is an intensive reading course and Mr.Jefferies intends to stretch the children by asking them to think with independence, creativity and originality. 

Please come back to this News space and the School Life section of our website for updates from the Wolf-pack at the Council Rock.                                                       


eTwinning: Aberdare and Almeria, Spain.

February 14, 2015


t Aberdare Community School, we are committed to providing an education that prepares our young people to take their places in the modern world as global citizens and lifelong learners. This wonderful opportunity to foster links with young people in Europe will enable the students to learn about diverse cultures and traditions, as well as introduce European partners to our history,traditions and culture.

aberdare coal mine cessnock
 Mr.Jefferies posted a profile of our school on the eTwinning platform and suggested that we share a project with others on our mining heritage,our landscape,our stories and our people. Mr.Jefferies suggested that Year 10 students would research the mining history of the Cynon valley, write letters to the European students and stories about
the experiences of our people.

The profile on the internet attracted interest from schools in Croatia,Turkey and Spain; in fact, Mr.Jefferies was invited to a conference in Croatia to discuss future developments in eTwinning !! Yet, it was the proposal for a joint project from Spain that really got our attention. Ms. Maria Luisa Cabrera Ibarra,a teacher in Almeria, responded with great interest and enthusiasm, explaining that the city of Almeria in Andalucia has its own mining tradition in lead and gold mining. She proposed that her students would make video-films about the area with scripts written in English.
  Ms.Cabrera’s students have written images (14)some   wonderful letters and our Y10 pupils are working on   their replies during the half-term holiday. Mr.Jefferies  is delighted to be working with a group  of 15 Y10  pupils led by Sian Russell; others include: Keira  Williams, Cameron Maycock,Rebecca Adams, Paige Griffiths, Sophie Edmunds and Poppy Thole.In  later  blogs the whole team will post their letters, stories  and articles.The ultimate aim of the project is for the students to enjoy exchange visits. The Spanish students have visited our website online and are fascinated by our green landscape; they are very envious of the super-school building and its beautiful setting in the valley landscape.

This video has been posted by Andrea from the Albaida school in Almeria.  

Please come back to this space to read letters from the Spanish students and our Y10 team. We will also post the  videos of Aberdare and Almeria.

Don’t forget that 2015 is the centenary of Alun Lewis’s birth, the great war poet born in Cwmaman. We are rightly proud of his body of work and his legacy and will be sharing our thoughts with the Spanish students in stories,poems and research articles.

alun_lewis_postcardBooks0702AlunLewis  Alun Lewis Collected poems.

Premier League Reading Stars

Premier League Reading Stars Update

March 23, 2015

Welcome back for this mid-season report on the Premier Reading Stars’ squad.

We have now completed 7 fixtures of our 10 fixture season and the player-readers in our squad are playing a blinder. The coaches, Mr Richard Sheppeard, Mrs Maria Kowalski and Mr. Mark Jefferies, are very impressed by the development of the squad and the big improvement in their reading skills.


Player-readers have been enjoying a selection of reference books, novels, newspaper reports, match day programmes and football magazines; this variety of texts has really appealed to the boys and has played a big part in their improvement.


Each player-reader has chosen a novel by Tom Palmer, Johnny Zucker or Theo Walcott and taken it home to enjoy.


All of the player-readers are enjoying the books and some are even saying it has totally changed the way they think about reading. Play the video-clip below and listen to Connor Jones of Y7 talking about his new love of reading.

Premier League Reading Stars

February 1, 2015

download (7)        

The Premier League has come to Aberdare Community School so watch this space as the title race really begins to hot up. Mr Jefferies is the team manager and he is confident his boys can win the league.
The National Literacy Trust in partnership with the Premier League has produced a great reading scheme for young people who are nuts about the Premier League.

The scheme runs over a season of 10 weekly fixtures and each match involves physical warm-ups, tactics, reading activities and on-line challenges. We have three squads of 10 players/participants from our Y7 and they have made a great start to their season with some terrific early form.

Jamie Nott
, Regan Amblin and Connor Reddy are showing great enthusiasm and look really good in training; so make sure you follow us as match reports, photos and results are posted. “Sing when we’re winning, we always sing ‘cos we’re winning !!!!!”

Patron of Reading

Patron of Reading – Dr. Phil Carradice

January 30, 2015

Mr. Mark Jefferies is absolutely delighted that the widely published author, Phil Carradice will be Aberdare Community School’s first ”Patron of Reading‘. The ‘Patron’ scheme is becoming increasingly popular in schools throughout the UK and involves a partnership with an author of children’s literature; Phil Carradice has been writing novels for children over many years and his latest works include ‘The Black Chair‘, a wonderful story featuring Hedd Wyn, the bardic poet, who was killed tragically in the Great War. Phil tells the story of Ellis Evans or Hedd Wyn, his bardic name, through the eyes of Danny, a young lad from Treorchy, who goes off to war with little understanding of the horrors he will face. It is his friendship with Ellis Evans, the farmer from Trawsfynydd, that enables Danny to endure the privations of war and when Ellis is killed, Danny must carry out his promise to return home with the beautiful poems entrusted to him by Hedd Wyn.

Phil Carradice
Phil Carradice
   How often have we read a great book that has had a real effect on us and wanted to call up the author and talk to them about their work ? Well, some of our ‘star readers’ will get a chance to do just that, when Phil returns to school in April to talk and ask questions about his books. Our pupils will  read Phil’s novels, ‘The Black Chair’ and ‘The Bosun’s Secret’ before his visit and will be able to cross-examine him in reading workshops. The prospect of speaking to an author is really inspiring the pupils.

The Black Chair   by Phil Carradice
The Black Chair
by Phil Carradice

 Phil has also written a wide number of books on the Great War, maritime history, the county of Pembrokeshire and authors such as Charles Dickens and Dylan Thomas. Phil is a regular on the BBC’s website and you can read his blogs which are informative and entertaining. He is passionate about reading, writing and research and will be an inspirational figure for the young people of our school. Phil will share his love of reading in our assemblies and will post the odd blog on our school website; winners of our reading competitions will receive personal letters from Phil, congratulating them on their achievements.

  Phil will return to school in April for two days of workshops, talks and
readings. If parents would like to read along with us, you can purchase
Phil’s books on Amazon or directly from the publishers,Pont books, 
at their website. Please visit Phil’s website to catch up with his latest books and