Interim School Prospectus 2013-14

Strive, Believe, Achieve

Head’s Introduction

Dear Parent/Carer,

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Thank you for showing an interest in our new school. Your child will be coming to one of the most splendid school facilities ever seen in Wales. We aim to make the most of these facilities and hope that in the future Aberdare will grow some more famous musicians, scientists and sporting legends!

I am currently recruiting staff for our new school and we aim to ensure that our results in GCSE’s and in Advanced levels are as good as the building itself. What is important is that every child in the Aberdare area has the opportunity to thrive and achieve in our new school. I am particularly grateful to our new school council who have actually come up with our motto Strive, Believe, Achieve.

This school will be a partnership between the school, the pupils and the parents and carers. The school will have an open door policy and we expect parents/carers to feel that they can come to the school if they have any concerns.

Staffing

Many staff are yet to be appointed and currently the Head-teacher and Senior deputy head-teacher are in post on a full time basis. Mrs Pearce joins us full time in January. For up-to-date lists of staff please refer to our website which will be updated on a regular basis.

Head-teacher
Mrs Susan Davies OBE
Senior Deputy Head-teacher
Mr Andrew Owen
Deputy Head-teacher
Mrs Michelle Pearce
Assistant Head Access and Inclusion
Miss Tara Neale
Assistant Head Data and Curriculum
Mrs Lisa Woodrow
Assistant Head Welsh Baccalaureate
Mr Chris Lovell
Assistant Head Community and Induction
Mr Matthew Jones

What will your child study in year 7?

Pupils will take many subjects that they are familiar with including English, Mathematics, Science, History, Geography, Physical Education, Music, Technology, Welsh, Personal, Social and Health Education and Religious Studies.

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In year 7 your child will also take the following additional subjects, information technology, drama, Spanish and/or French and a new subject called the Certificate of Personal Effectiveness (COPE). COPE is taught for the first three years and all pupils will be able to get a General Certificate of Education (GCSE) by the time they are 14. When your child gets to year 10 they will be able to take a range of options that will include Drama, Dance, Music, Business Studies, Engineering, Graphics, Photography, Biology, Chemistry, Physics as well as all those listed earlier. Other subjects are to be added when we finalise our curriculum plan for the new school- please be assured that information relevant to your child will be passed onto you. All pupils in years 10-13 will also study for the Welsh Baccalaureate this is an excellent qualification allowing pupils to further develop a range of skills that employers wish pupils to have. The WBQ qualification will be used by the Welsh Government to judge school performance from 2017.

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There will be a number of extra-curricular opportunities for your child. We will be offering the chance to learn a range of musical instruments including guitar and drums and we will also seek to encourage those with a good voice to develop it by employing a voice coach. These opportunities are free to all pupils. There will be regular sporting fixtures and the school will be looking to offer a huge range of sporting opportunities outside of the normal rugby, hockey, football, netball, basketball, and cricket. We hope to make use of the swimming pool and I would love to see swimming, cycling and martial arts’ teams within our school. The school will also offer a number of out-of-hours classes including astronomy, photography, including for older children the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme. Drama and dance clubs will also take place after school along with many others.

In year 7, most subjects will be taught in mixed ability classes however, in some subjects like mathematics setting may occur early on in the year. More information on this will be given in our open evening in the spring term when all the middle leaders are in post.

What if my child has special educational needs or is able and talented?

The Hall

Our aim is to provide a broad, balanced and relevant curriculum for all pupils, whilst acknowledging that some children may require extra support or help. All pupils will have access to the full range of National Curriculum subjects.

The school will introduce a passport system – this will be filled in by staff from our school alongside your child’s primary school staff. Any child who has a statement or has specific learning needs will be identified and their needs met. The passport is intended to provide us with valuable information – if your child is already playing a musical instrument well or has already achieved international success in an event – we want to know this so that we can make sure they continue to get the same support and opportunities they had in their primary school. The passport will also contain information about your child’s academic performance as well as any barriers to learning that we need to overcome with them.

If a child is to succeed in secondary school it is vital that they are able to read and write to a high level. All pupils will be tested on entry and any child who is not at the right level will be given additional learning support with our team of literacy and numeracy specialists.

Supporting the Able and Talented

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The school will operate a more able and talented programme. This will work on a time-tabled basis and teachers will work with more able pupils on additional ‘fun’ projects. Over time able students may be encouraged to enter competitions, take part in extra-curricular trips or take GCSE’s early as well as being encouraged to attend master-classes in music and sport for instance.

All pupils will follow the Certificate of Personal Effectiveness with a view to them gaining a GCSE at age 14. We are one of the few schools in the UK to offer this opportunity and the second in Wales.

What if your child finds it difficult to move from primary to secondary school?

Though most pupils find moving to a secondary school exciting and rewarding and find the transition easy – we are not all the same and for those who do not we will be able to support your child through our ‘learning house’ team.

What is the Learning House and who manages it?

This is an area within the school managed by 2 learning coaches. Pupils who are having difficulties in school or need a different approach to learning might spend some of their day in this environment. However, it is there to support learning and not replace it; so pupils who have this support will still be expected to make progress and go to time-tabled lessons for most of their working week. Parents and carers of pupils who have this support or indeed any other form of support will be kept fully informed.

Transition: How will we ensure your child feels safe and secure?

It is important that your child has a chance to meet other pupils who will also be with them in year 7 in our new school. It is also important that your child gets to meet with their new teachers and with the team around them who will be there to help them. As the head-teacher I have visited many of our partner primary schools, in some I have met with children in years 5 and 6 and in others met with some parents. All partner schools are taking part in our Spanish taster sessions where your children will have 8 hours of beginners’ lessons.

In addition

  • A series of meetings will take place with year 6 parents in early November in Aberdare High, Aberdare Girls’s School and Blaengwawr
  • In January an event is planned to bring together all year 6 pupils this is provisionally booked to take place in the SOBELL.
  • In June we have a 2/3 day programme planned where your child will meet their form tutor, the progress leader, the pastoral support assistant attached to the year group as well as enjoy some taster lessons.
  • The Pastoral Support Assistant attached to year 7 is not a teacher and is there to act as a link between parents , staff and pupils and is available to all pupils throughout the school day. This is in addition to the normal support you can expect from all teachers. They will be present on our transition days so that pupils can get used to this valuable member of their support team.

We hope to offer other opportunities leading up to transition and there will be a joint curriculum project between primary schools and the secondary school centred around a ‘Harry Potter’ book. At the end of the first term in our school we will invite all pupils to come to London with us to visit The Harry Potter Studio Tour rated at 5 * for enjoyment. Many lessons in the first few weeks in Aberdare Community School will feature Harry Potter type themes even and especially science!!!

Who will look after your child?

Firstly, they will be in a form class with no more than 25 other pupils. Their form tutor will meet with them morning and afternoon and in some cases may actually teach them. There will also be a Head of Year 7 their official title will be ‘Progress Leader’ Year 7. There will be two full time Pastoral Support Assistants and they will act as the link between parents and the school. They will be based in a large office on the ground floor and pupils will be able to see them throughout the day if they have any concerns or worries. One of the PSA’s will be attached to year 7 and the lower school.

Should you have any concerns you can ring anyone of the contacts mentioned above.

Discipline and Behaviour

In our school we will be placing great emphasis on educating your child for life. We want children to behave well and act as role models for visitors to the school and within our community. The school council will contribute with the Governing Body and others to producing a clear code of conduct and behaviour policy. It will stress the importance of achievement, attitude and attendance amongst other things.

Buddies and anti-bullying

The school will have a zero tolerance towards bullying and pupils in year 7 will have a designated play area just for them. There will also be older trained pupils who will act as buddies to the new pupils and who will make sure that they feel safe and secure.

Any building project can suffer delays and should this school not open on the Sobell site we intend to ensure that year 7 are placed on one site with a team of specialist staff around them. They will have a member of my senior team, the progress leader as well as the support of all teachers who teach them. Our aim is to provide the best care and transition we can for all our pupils.

The school will operate a house system and pupils will be put into one of four houses:

Mynydd / Mountain
House colour white
Coedwig / Forest
House colour green
Afon / River
House colour blue
Castell / Castle
House colour red

Each of the houses will have events where pupils will be able to work together and make friends.

We will also make sure that when we are putting pupils into forms and houses that we take account where possible of their friendship groups.

Carrying on the Harry Potter theme each of our houses stands for a characteristic we wish to develop in our pupils. Those who find it easier to learn need to have all of the characteristics and it is the aim of our school to ensure that our citizens/pupils develop all of these.

Mynydd – aspiration Coedwig –collaboration Castell – resilience Afon – creativity.


The School Uniform

I can now reveal that our uniform will be black, gold and maroon.

Pupils in years 7-11 will wear black trousers for boys and girls or skirts for girls if preferred. They will be expected to wear a blazer. In years 7-11 the blazer will have a gold trim.

In the sixth form the pupils will wear a black blazer with a maroon trim. Ties will change as the pupils progress through the school and as pupils get older more maroon is seen in the tie.

All first team players will wear black and maroon kit whilst those in years 7-11 will wear black and gold kit. The new uniform will take effect in September, 2014 when all pupils will be expected to wear this.

The School Day

This is yet to be finalised but pupils will experience 5 lessons a day.

It is our intention that all pupils stay on site for lunch and only sixth formers will be able to leave the school site during the day.

8.45 Start of day / registration/ assembly
9.05-10.05 LESSON 1
10.05-11.05 LESSON 2
11.05-11.25 BREAK
11.25-12.25 LESSON 3
12.25-1.25 LESSON 4
1.25-2.10 LUNCH
2.10-3.15 LESSON 5

It is also expected that a lot of events for pupils will run after school and some like swimming will occur from 7.00am onwards.

School facilities

For eating

Pupils will have access to a main restaurant and three cafés. The main restaurant will be run by a chef manager and we aim to ensure that pupils have access to great food at a good price. One café is designated for sixth form use only and named Caffi Pen this is on the first floor and just outside the learning resource centre. Sixth form pupils will be able to work in the café on laptops and we will have some available for pupils to use in school.

For sport

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The school will have the use of a swimming pool, athletics track, sports hall with screens for using iPad and tablet technology to aid training, sports fields for rugby, football, cricket and an all weather outdoor facility as well as access to all leisure facilities situated in the new leisure centre.

For dance and drama and gymnastics

The school has a dance studio and drama theatre as well as a wonderful main hall complete with tiered seating and all round sound.

For music and media

The school has a recording studio situated between 2 of the three music rooms. It also has a number of practice rooms and 2 apple computer suites where pupils can compose or edit film as per the requirements of the subject.

For Information Technology

The school is fully wireless and though there are at least 10 computer suites in the school of which at least 4 are equipped with Apple Macs, all departments will have at least one set of wireless laptops. It is anticipated that the ratio of computers to pupils in our school will be one between 2.

For Technology and Art

There are 8 specialist technology rooms including one for textiles, two for catering and the others for engineering, electronics, graphics and resistant materials. The school has 3 art rooms, a pottery facility and an art gallery where we can display pupils’ work.

For science

In addition, to the excellent new science laboratories we boast two rooms that can be opened up as one giant science lab able to accommodate 80 pupils with two large screens. We also have a science theatre with tiered seating for over a hundred allowing us to deliver university type lectures on a range of topics and subjects.

Learning Resource Centre/Library/ sound booths

Pupils will have access to a wealth of reading and research materials but the world is changing and to reflect that change when you visit you are just as likely to see pupils using Kindle technology. We have also put in sound booths allowing pupils to record their work in Welsh, English and Modern Foreign Languages where speaking and listening forms a part of the curriculum.

Sports

sports_fields sports_hall

Information Technology

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Someone famous

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Drama

Stage

Music

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Technology

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Science

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