Proud to be an Autism Aware School!

We are delighted to confirm that we are now officially an “autism aware” school. As most of you know, we have an ASD Centre here at Risca, so it was natural for us to want to win this accreditation, which involved training of the whole school community including the governors. I’d like to thank Mrs Howells and Mrs S Coles for the work they have done leading this. Great news!

Miss Bawler has been looking at some new equipment she is keen for the school to invest in: virtual reality headsets. The digital leaders had a try out early on in the week, and everyone was very impressed. I had a go myself and I must say things have really moved on in this area of technology. The educational possibilities are great, but it is quite an expensive resource. No doubt Miss Bawler will be coming to see me in the near future to discuss how we can move forward!

Mr Knott took a group of students to Rodney Parade this week to try out some interesting apps and other technologies being used as part of a project with Dragons rugby. They had a tour of the ground and facilities, met some of the players, and then worked on digital presentations. Everyone really enjoyed the day! 

Boys from Y7 and Y9 have been participating in the Urdd Rugby 7s tournament this week. This was a great experience for everyone involved. As anyone who has played it will tell you, Rugby 7s is a tough game, and the boys from both teams we fielded acquitted themselves very well. Schools across Wales were represented. The bad news was that unfortunately the Y10 day was  cancelled on the Thursday due to flooding. Here are the squads, Y7 on top. Can you tell which photo was taken before the tournament, and which at the end?! Many thanks to Mr Mock for organising this.

The work on the Sensory Garden is underway, and there will be more information and pictures in future blogs. Thank you to everyone who has been involved with this and to those who have supported the various projects such as the FORCE quiz night and the Tesco blue token scheme which we have used to raise funds.

This is not school related but I was sad to learn of the death of Stephen Hawking on Tuesday, and I have chosen one of his quotes for the “Quote of the Week.” and also an interesting fact about him when he was a child. What an inspirational man he was, possessing so many of the qualities we often talk about in school: resilience, perseverance, triumph in adversity. An amazing role model for all of us to look up to, and a great scientist.

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THEME FOR NEXT WEEK: Anniversaries

ASSEMBLIES: Pastoral Leader Y9

NEW! LITERACY FOCUS: Joining commas


NUMBER OF THE WEEK: “41 / forty-one / pedwar deg un / quarante et un / XLI” RCCS is 41 years old. Mozart’s longest symphony is his 41st- and it proved to be his last. The race number worn by Sir Roger Bannister when he broke the mythical 4-minute mile barrier in 1954.

CYMRAEG YR WYTHNOS:Penblwydd hapus” : “Happy Birthday.”

ENGLISH WORD OF THE WEEK: Anniversary :the date on which an event took place, or an institution was founded, in a previous year. (e.g. “2017 was the fortieth anniversary of the opening of Risca Comp.”)

THIS WEEK’S QUOTATION:”However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.” Stephen Hawking

FACT OF THE WEEK: Stephen Hawking didn’t have the sort of successful early academic career you might expect from a scientific genius. He claimed he didn’t learn to properly read until he was 8 years old, and his grades never surpassed the average scores of his classmates at his secondary school.


Yr8 pupils about to interview @dragonsrugby prop LLoyd Fairbrother using the Green Screen Application!
14 Mar 2018, 11:18

Radio stars!

SnowWe returned on Monday after the heavy snowfall of the previous week. Richard our caretaker had done an amazing job clearing the paths and we had a snow plough in on Sunday afternoon to clear the car parks. There is still a fair bit of snow piled up- there was so much and lots of it drifted- but hopefully that is it for the rest of the year.

Mr Harris has been doing Assemblies this week on the theme of teamwork. I really enjoyed attending the Y8 one on Tuesday, he showed us so many excellent examples from so many areas, including sport and also the animal kingdom. He also talked about the different teams we are in, our form, our school, and most importantly our family.

Last night we held the Y10 Parents’ Evening. I think there is a tendency sometimes for people to think of Y11 and Y10 separately, but it is probably more useful to think of this as a two year period: you can’t just think of Y11 as the GCSE year, and we know from experience that those who work hard consistently over those two years do much better than those who suddenly accelerate after Christmas in the final year. There were plenty of positive messages to share. We also had some great GCSE results  for exams sat in January for Y10 and Y11 on Thursday. Very well done to teachers and pupils alike!

You may remember from a few weeks ago that our pupils went to an important meeting about the new curriculum? This week the Children’s Commissioner, Sally Holland, wrote a blog about it, and you can read what she said here.

Sport, now, and here’s a short update from the captain on Y7 rugby. Thanks for your contribution, Iwan. 

So far this year the Year 7s have played 5 games (won 3, lost 2). Our first game of the season was against St Joseph’s at home. We had great tries from Luca, Callum and Jack to win the game 5 tries to 2. The last game we played was against Lewis Pengam in the semi-final of the plate. Unfortunately we did not have a full fifteen but we still played and lost by only one try. Well done everyone, we are definitely an improving side!

Today I was invited to attend the School Council. They have endorsed the Governing Body’s decision to change the school logo. This has been discussed at length and a number of surveys have been conducted to gauge opinion. The new logo will be phased in gradually on documents and any new signage, but there will be no cost involved. The current logo will be retained for sport, so there will be no need for any uniform changes. The logo is based on a design by pupils made for last year’s fortieth anniversary.

We have been having a push on attendance and there are some signs we are beginning to make a difference. Well done to our top form this week, 8EJ, who have set the bar very high with 99.4%!

Mr Knott went to Rodney Parade in Newport earlier in the week to explore how we can develop links with the Dragons in terms of our work on the DCF- the Digital Competence Framework. Next week he will be taking a small group of Y8 there to work on some new online applications they are trialling. There’ll be more on this in future blogs, I am sure.

Finally here’s a contributions from our digital leaders about a visit they made to another local school back in February. It certainly sounds very interesting. Thanks for inviting us!

Risca Community Comprehensive School Digital Leaders visited Abercarn Primary School on Friday 16th February 2018. We learnt how to use the radio station and put together a radio show. “It was an amazing experience” said Sam. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and we all thoroughly enjoyed it! Our radio show was live, and was recorded for us to listen to again. Miss Bawler and Mr Mock even took part in the show, Mr Mock spoke a lot of Welsh! Bendigedig!


Miss Bawler informed the Digital Leaders that there is a possibility of RCCS getting a radio station of our very own, in September! We find this very exciting and hope this will happen in future. We also hope that we will be invited back again. Diolch yn fawr, Abercarn!

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THEME FOR NEXT WEEK: Learning from mistakes

ASSEMBLIES: Principal Teacher of Humanities

LITERACY FOCUS: Bracketing commas

NUMERACY FOCUS: Estimating height, weight and length

NUMBER OF THE WEEK: “32 / thirty two / tri deg dau / trente- deux / XXXII” The number in a full set of teeth in an adult human, including wisdom teeth. The freezing point of water in degrees Fahrenheit at sea level.

CYMRAEG YR WYTHNOS: “Mae’n flin ‘da fi, gwnes i gamgymeriad.” : “Sorry, I made a mistake.”

ENGLISH WORD OF THE WEEK: Sophism : A clever but false argument, especially one used deliberately to deceive

THIS WEEK’S QUOTATION: “Mistakes are the portals of discovery.”   -James Joyce

TRIVIA OF THE WEEK: Wales has more  castles per square mile than any other  European country, and Caerphilly Castle is the second biggest in Europe.

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A country small enough to build an inclusive education system together through genuine collaboration, big enough to have the talent here to do so, and big enough too to get help from the best from elsewhere. Proud to be a headteacher in Wales. #EducationReformWales
8 Mar 2018, 19:56

Thirty-one things to do on a snow day!

Snow Day.jpg

The attendance competition will return next week


ASSEMBLIES: Pastoral Leader Y8

LITERACY FOCUS: Bracketing commas

NUMERACY FOCUS: Estimating height, weight and length

NUMBER OF THE WEEK: “15 / fifteen / un deg pump / quinze / XV” In all four of the major Gaelic games—hurling, Gaelic football, and camogie—each team has 15 players on the field at any given time. In rugby union, each team has 15 players on the field at any given time (subject to red cards), and the jersey number 15 is worn by the starting fullback. In tennis, the number 15 represents the first point gained in a game. (source: Wikipedia)

CYMRAEG YR WYTHNOS: “Mae’n bwrw eira” : “It’s snowing.”

ENGLISH WORD OF THE WEEK: Chionophobia : Fear of snow

THIS WEEK’S QUOTATION: “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” – Michael Jordan

TRIVIA OF THE WEEK: Snow is not white! Like the ice particles it’s made up of, snow is actually colourless. It’s translucent, which means that light does not pass through it easily (like it would transparent glass), but is rather reflected. It’s the light reflected off a snowflake’s faceted surface that creates its white appearance.


Dydd Gwyl Dewi hapus iawn i bawb yn @RiscaCCS a #Cymru heddiw. Happy St David’s Day to everyone at @RiscaCCS and #Wales today.
1 Mar 2018 at 08:52

For after half term…

No blog this week as it is half term. Here are the themes etc for when we come back after the break.

THEME FOR THE WEEK: Diwylliant Cymreig

ASSEMBLIES: Lead Teacher of Welsh

LITERACY FOCUS: Bracketing commas

NUMERACY FOCUS: Estimating height, weight and length

NUMBER OF THE WEEK: “5 / five / pwmp / cinq / V” A perfect fifth is the most consonant harmony, and is the basis for most western tuning systems.The Power of Five is a series of children’s books by British writer and screenwriter Anthony Horowitz. (source: Wikipedia)

CYMRAEG YR WYTHNOS: “Sut mae dweud…..yn Gymraeg?” : “How do you say….In Welsh?”

ENGLISH WORD OF THE WEEK: Cambrian : Welsh (a term used normally in proper names.) It also means relating to or denoting the first period in the Palaeozoic era, between the end of the Precambrian aeon and the beginning of the Ordovician period in Geology.

THIS WEEK’S QUOTATION: “Cenedl heb iaith, Cenedl heb galon” (A nation without language is a nation without heart) Welsh proverb.

TRIVIA OF THE WEEK: The three most populated towns in Wales are Cardiff, Swansea and Newport- in that order. (Risca comes in at number 35!)


Our first event today, Family Quiz Night! Thanks to everyone who came along and helped raise nearly £200 for the school’s ASD Centre sensory garden. Great fun, too.
15 Feb 2018, 21:22

Our brilliant TAs!

This week I have been visiting pupils who have been working in small groups with teaching assistants in the main school and in the ASD Centre. Teaching assistants play a major role in our school. At one time TAs were referred to as “support staff,” but they do far more than just support, they are vital to the learning of many of our pupils, and are just as responsible for their achievement and progress as teachers are. I was really impressed by what I saw, and the pupils themselves spoke very highly of the help they were receiving. So I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to all our TAs for the brilliant work they do!

On Tuesday the Chief Education Officer, Keri Cole, came to speak with our School Council. We are different from many schools in that our School Council has no teacher input whatsoever, so the senior students ran the meeting themselves. Mrs Cole was really pleased with the quality of discussion and I think she may want to come back again, she was so impressed!

On Wednesday we held our Options Evening for Year Nine.We know that not everyone will be able to get all three of their first choices, but we hope as few people as possible will be disappointed. We have more options on offer than ever now we are a bigger school, including some newer courses such as Global Business and Events Management, as well as the traditional favourites in our school. I thought Mr Oliver gave some great advice: choose subjects you are good at… and if unsure make sure you ask for help.

Miss Bawler, our Lead Teacher for ICT and Computer Science, has been taking assemblies on digital wellbeing, and I an grateful to her for helping me out this week by writing the second part of this blog!

This week I have been leading the Safer Internet Day assemblies and it’s been great to speak to all our young people about how to make sure their online experience is a positive one. Social media in particular allows so many opportunities to connect with people from across the world with a diverse range of interests but also is a breeding ground for sadness with 2 in 5 young people aged 8- 17 saying they have felt anxious or worried about something they saw online in the past week; 49% saying they had experienced negative connections online.

It is easy as adults and especially as educators to see the negatives of new technologies and ways of communicating but actually 68% of young people said chatting online with friends cheers them up and 83% said they have had kind messages from people online. At RCCS I am really pleased how we have embraced the internet and social media especially as a positive development, but also that we are ensuring our young people take responsibility for their actions online – none more so than our newly trained Digital Leaders!

So, what’s the message? Safer Internet Day 2018 is about creating, connecting and sharing respect. It’s about making your connections positive, sharing great content and being aware of what to do when something makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe online – Block, Report, Tell.
The link below takes you to the safer internet day quiz…why not give it a go and see how you do!

Don’t forget to keep putting the blue tokens into the Risca box at Tesco!

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ASSEMBLIES: Pastoral Leader, Y7


NUMERACY FOCUS: Long multiplication

NUMBER OF THE WEEK: “16 / sixteen / un deg chwech / seize / XVI” Check out this interesting article from Wales On Line about what you can and can’t do when you reach the age of sixteen!

CYMRAEG YR WYTHNOS: “Croeso!” : “(You’re) welcome!”

ENGLISH WORD OF THE WEEK: Respect : (1) a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievement. (2) Due regard for the feelings, wishes, or rights of others.

THIS WEEK’S QUOTATION: Give to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself. –Thomas Paine

TRIVIA OF THE WEEK: Why is a try in rugby called a try? There was a time in the history of rugby when a touchdown was worth no points at all, but it meant you were given a chance to ‘try’ to score a conversion. Now a try is worth five points in its own right, and the conversion just worth two.


Newport is very proud! Thank you to everyone at @NewportCounty, players, staff and supporters. We may have lost a game tonight, but we know we are winners with a bright future! #OneClubOneCounty
7 Feb 2018, 22:23

Time to change!

On Tuesday a team of pupils from Year Eight represented our school at a competition- the Eden Innovation Science Challenge! Luke, Oliver, Emily, Abbie, Lewis and Lauren were accompanied by Mr Harris. The challenge was to build a car from lego, powered by solar energy, and to see how fast and how far it could travel.Pupils then had to give a presentation. On this occasion we did not win (congratulations to our friends at Blackwood CS who did!) but everyone I spoke with really enjoyed the day and learnt a lot as well.


Also that day Mrs Nash took Bethan and Tom from the same year group down to Cardiff. They are two of our digital leaders who I have mentioned in previous blogs.  The conference was held at Ocean Park House and the theme was digital citizenship. The day began with informative talks from experts, followed up with discussions, then the delegates had to use their new found knowledge to find ways of getting across positive ways of using the internet using the padlet app on iPads. The idea is to use this in school, and to raise even greater awareness across our community. As it happens, next week’s theme is about staying safe on line, so the timing could not have been better.

Year Nine options evening takes place on Wednesday next week. This is an opportunity for pupils and their parents to talk to subject teachers, as well as our careers adviser and colleagues from Crosskeys College, about choices for Year Ten and Eleven. Mr Oliver has already done a lot of background work on this, to try to maximise the offer for everyone based on their current wishes. I would urge everyone to attend.


Well done to Amy in Y10! She is now U17 national girls champion in high jump following the Welsh Indoor Athletics indoor championships last weekend. This is an amazing achievement, and we are all very proud of her.

Thursday was “Time to Change” day. One of our students recommended we should get involved. This project encourages people to talk about mental health issues, and remove the stigma which can make them feel isolated and ashamed. Lots of us were wearing badges to show our support and teachers used some of the resources available in lessons. 

Students from the ASD Centre have been holding a cake sale in aid of Velindre today. Let’s hope they raise as much as they can for this excellent organisation!

Finally, don’t forget it’s Family Quiz Night on Thursday 15th February.Please get your teams in by Monday 12th.

Quiz Night

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THEME FOR THE WEEK: Staying Safe on line

ASSEMBLIES: Lead Teacher ICT and Computer Science


NUMERACY FOCUS: Long multiplication

NUMBER OF THE WEEK: “6 / six / chwech / six / VI”  Hex- is a prefix meaning six. A hexad is a group of six. A hexagon is a six sided figure. A hexaploid is an organism made up of cells containing six sets of chromosomes

CYMRAEG YR WYTHNOS: “Dwi ddim yn deall” : “I don’t understand”

ENGLISH WORD OF THE WEEK: cookie : a small amount of data generated by a website and saved by your web browser. It can also mean a biscuit, especially in the USA.

THIS WEEK’S QUOTATION: “If in doubt, log out.” -Anon

TRIVIA OF THE WEEK:  The computing power in today’s cell phones is much higher than the processing power of all the computers in the Apollo 11 Lunar Lander that put 2 men on the moon.


A tough lesson in rugby for our Y9’s against our hosts @IslwynHighSport this evening. A spirited second half from the boys and unlucky not to get a score. #fitness #conditioning #ballskills #tackling #teamwork
1 Feb 2018, 17:34

A very high profile meeting!

On Tuesday Mrs Madden and I accompanied four KS3 students, (pictured above, left to right Harrison, Sophie, Ellie, and Eve) to a meeting at Cardiff City Hall. Together with young people from Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni and the Cardiff Youth Forum they had been invited to present to Professor Graham Donaldson, the author of “Successful Futures,” the document behind our new curriculum in Wales, and the Children’s Commissioner Sally Holland, as well as representatives from Welsh Government and headteachers on the advisory committee. So this was a pretty high-powered event!

The invitation came as a result of a Student Curriculum Conference we had put on in our Hexad group last summer. I was really proud of the way all the pupils presented their views and then participated in the discussions which followed. RCCS pupils started off the meeting with a talk in which they explained the work of the Hexad and shared their views on the curriculum- based on the discussions they had had at the conference. This was followed by full and frank discussions about how we take things forward in Wales and the pitfalls we need to avoid. I thought it was very interesting and informative, and judging by all the tweets afterwards everyone involved thought the same!

Don’t forget Quiz Night on 15th Feb! It only costs £5 to enter and we have some great prizes lined up!Quiz Night

Year Eight have been involved in exams this week. This is not only a good way of assessing their progress but it also prepares them for the GCSE exams in Y11. I am looking forward to seeing how everyone got on.

The new Welsh Bac has provided our KS4 students with lots of opportunities, in and out of school. I have been impressed by all the projects I have heard about, and I am really pleased that many of them are community based. The programme has given our students the opportunity to help their peers in the school, and I am thinking especially of the expert support some have provided to younger pupils in rugby, and the excellent work others have done to help in the ASD Centre. There are other examples, too. Very well done to everyone involved and to the teachers who facilitate this.

The School Council has a meeting in early February with the Chief Education Officer, Mrs Keri Cole. She is keen to get the views of young people in CCBC schools, and under the leadership of the head boy and head girl I am sure the Council will be delighted to share their opinions. This is another example of the importance of all of us involved in education listening to young people, and something I feel very strongly about. I hope to include more information on this in a later blog.

Best of luck to Newport County for Saturday’s game against Spurs! Lots of us at RCCS are very excited! Then the following weekend the Six Nations kicks off. Wales play Scotland, so, as is the tradition here, we’re flying the Scottish saltire during the week before the game, and the flags of our subsequent opponents throughout the tournament.Screen Shot 2018-01-25 at 11.59.42.png

Well done to 9JF for being top form for attendance again this week. Overall attendance has been lower than we would hope, though there is a lot of illness about at the moment, with quite a bit of ‘Australian ‘flu’ it seems.

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ASSEMBLIES: Assistant Headteacher


NUMERACY FOCUS: Long multiplication

NUMBER OF THE WEEK: “9 / nine / naw / neuf / IX”  A human pregnancy normally lasts for nine months. There are some interesting number patterns involving the numbers up to 9 in multiplications. Here are some examples:-

12345679 × 9 = 111111111

12345679 × 18 = 222222222

12345679 × 81 = 999999999

CYMRAEG YR WYTHNOS: “Agorwch eich llyfr!” : “Open your book!”

ENGLISH WORD OF THE WEEK: fortitude : courage in adversity

THIS WEEK’S QUOTATION: “Through my education, I didn’t just develop skills, I didn’t just develop the ability to learn, but I developed confidence.” -Michelle Obama

TRIVIA OF THE WEEK: The great glasshouse in the National Botanical Garden of Wales, Carmarthenshire, is the largest single-span glasshouse in the world, measuring 312ft in length and 180ft in width


Very proud of our pupils who delivered a presentation and took part in some great discussions today on the new curriculum here in Wales, with @GHCDon and @childcomwales. So important their voice is heard. Thank you.
23 Jan 2018, 14:21