Get involved..!

[LITERACY CHALLENGE! There’s a semi-colon somewhere in the blog. Can you find it and can you decide if it’s been used correctly?]

We’ve only been back for two weeks but it seems longer already, the summer holidays are a distant memory- as is the decent weather! Most people have settled in well and I have been impressed by the work being done in the lessons I have visited. Our new Y7 are great ambassadors for their former Primary Schools, and nearly everyone I have spoken with is working hard and getting on with things in a very mature and diligent way. They are polite and friendly, and possibly one of the most confident groups of people I can recall joining our school. Well done!

On Monday we had representatives from the Youth Parliament on campus, conducting a poll in which our pupils could choose which topic they would like debated in the House of Commons. This was organised by our Prefects. They are also organising the election of our new School Council over the next few weeks. This is an important organisation which is crucial in making decisions about how we move the school forward and I hope many pupils will be keen to get involved.

Prefects 201718

Headteacher with Prefect Team 2017/18

Sports and other cross-curricular clubs are starting up over the next few weeks and you can see what’s currently available below- but keep an eye out for updates and additions from as early as next week. Again, I urge pupils to get involved. Several sporting clubs were running on Wednesday and Thursday and it was good to see they were really well attended.ECASThe  girls’ new toilets open this week. They are such an improvement on the old ones! We decided against a special ceremony to mark the occasion! Not widely known in the UK, but there is a very famous French novel and also a film called “Clochemerle” about the ceremonial opening of a public toilet- very funny and worth reading/watching if you get the chance!

Despite our best efforts and support from the Police I am afraid many people are still ignoring the road traffic regulations and collecting and dropping pupils outside the pedestrian entrance. We are again in consultation with the authority about this problem, as well as the Police, and also working with them on formulating a new strategy to manage on-site traffic which has become problematic. I shall keep you updated through this blog.

The Attendance Competition returns this week (see below). Congratulations to our first winners; they are a Y7 form, so what a start to their time at Risca! It’s Ms Bish’s 7CB. Very well done to all of you!

Finally a reminder of our Open Evening on Thursday 5th October. If you know of anyone who is a parent/carer of a child currently in Y6 please do let them know. Thanks.


ATTENDANCE THIS WEEKScreen Shot 2017-09-14 at 18.59.02

NEXT WEEK: Find out how the chickens are getting on….!


ASSEMBLY: Assistant Headteacher (Mr Coombes)

LITERACY FOCUS: Using capital letters correctly

NUMERACY FOCUS: Metric units (measures)

NUMBER OF THE WEEK:  “99  /  ninety-nine /  naw deg naw / quatre-vingt-dix-neuf  / XCIX”   99 is the atomic number of Einsteinium. 99 is also the name given to an ice-cream cone with a flake in it! Form 7CB are leading the way with over 99% attendance!


WELSH PHRASE OF THE WEEK: Diolch yn fawr iawn : Thank you very much!

ENGLISH WORD OF THE WEEK: aspiration : a goal or objective that is strongly desired; an ambition.

THIS WEEK’S QUOTATION: “Can you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be? ”  —Anon.

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TRIVIA OF THE WEEK: According to the English language version of a 1983 anti-war song by German singer Nena there were “99 red balloons.” In the original this is “neun und neunzig Luftballons” which just means “99 (air) balloons” in German. The word “red” was added to the English language version to make the song scan properly. (Question: What does ‘scan’ mean in this context?) Apparently Nena and her band always regretted recording the English version as the lyrics were a poor translation and took away the seriousness of the original message. Any older readers who would like to take a trip down memory lane, click HERE!

WEBSITE OF THE WEEK: The official school website.


Great effort by our year 10 boys for organising their Welsh bacc voluntary hours by helping with extra curricular clubs today! ⚽️
14 Sep 2017, 18:16

A new term!

The week started with a day for staff training, looking at curriculum development and planning for the year ahead. We welcomed nine new staff members to our team. It’s an exciting time for the school as we are now near capacity. We are managing the changes to the curriculum carefully to ensure our pupils benefit from the knowledge we already have, and the huge amount we are learning by working with other schools. The new teachers also bring a wealth of experience from their previous positions.

On Tuesday the pupils returned and about 140 new pupils joined us for the first time with 126 Y7 and the others across other year groups! I’ve been a teacher for over thirty years, ten as a head, and I still feel a little bit apprehensive before going back, but it’s great to see our pupils again and to meet the new ones! The school feels full now, and we have had to make a few changes to our systems and indeed to our infrastructure. I am so glad we chose to return the large ICT suite upstairs back into three classrooms a couple of years ago (without losing any access to computers, I must add!), as I don’t think we’d have enough rooms otherwise. We’ve recommissioned our second art room, which has meant having to say goodbye to the the Artist in Residence, David Garner, though we will definitely maintain links with him, and we’re using the Library to double up as a classroom, which is fine- actually it’s a really good teaching space. Nearly every teacher still has his or her own room to teach in, which makes a big difference, but I am afraid more senior staff have to move around a bit! Over the summer we have upgraded nearly every room which did not have a modern interactive board or screen so every room is now fully equipped, and we have an extra set of chrome books (laptops).

Three years ago the boys toilets benefitted from an upgrade due to the Flying Start service being located on our campus, and at the time I promised the girls we’d upgrade their facilities in the main block as soon as possible. It’s taken a bit more time than I would have hoped, but this summer the job was begun, and all should be ready for use next week ( a week late, sorry girls!) The PA has been transformed over the summer into a much nicer  space, with the old tiered seating having been removed; we now need to find a new name for it!

The increase in numbers has meant an increase in traffic both on the site and outside. I have written to parents several times about dropping off children in the designated zone behind the Leisure Centre and I’m grateful to those who have been doing this. We have been working with the Police to ensure people do not park outside the school pedestrian entrance to collect or drop off pupils, and I can say their presence has definitely made a difference! We don’t want to get our parents into trouble, but pupils’ safety comes first and it is simply very dangerous (and indeed illegal) to park on the double yellow lines by the caretaker’s house, even for a few seconds.

Today we conducted a successful evacuation of the school buildings. There are a couple of pinch-points we need to look at, however, so we’ll review these and have another fire practice in the near future.

I’d like to wish everyone all the best for the new school year.

We heard sad news at the end of the holiday that a former Chair of Governors, Dennis Toomer, had died. We flew the flags at school at half mast as a mark of respect. Dennis was a great friend to our school and a dedicated local councillor in our community. It was an honour for me to represent the school at his funeral on Thursday. His main connections with the school were before my time but I met him on many occasions and have happy memories- the lovely picture used on his Order of Service is just how I will remember him. Our thoughts are with Betty and the family.




ASSEMBLY: Assistant Headteacher 

LITERACY FOCUS: Using capital letters correctly

NUMERACY FOCUS: Metric units (measures)

NUMBER OF THE WEEK:  “12  /  twelve /  un deg dau / douze  / XII”   A dozen. Twelve is a composite number, the smallest number with exactly six divisors, its divisors being 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 12. Most calendar systems have twelve months in a year (why is this? Why is September named after the number seven in Latin when in fact it is the ninth month?) Twelve people have walked on Earth’s moon.

WELSH PHRASE OF THE WEEK: Dewch i mewn i’r dosbarth : Come into the classroom!

ENGLISH WORD OF THE WEEK: resilience : the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.

THIS WEEK’S QUOTATION: “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. ”  —Confucius

TRIVIA OF THE WEEK: A ‘baker’s dozen’ is 13. This goes back to the days when a baker would be making a dozen loaves, but s/he’d in fact put 13 in the oven in case one didn’t come out properly! 

WEBSITE OF THE WEEK: The official school website.


Many thanks to @gpriscateam who have been monitoring the traffic today at the end of school. #SafetyFirst
6 Sep 2017, 15:02

First week back!

No proper blog this week- but do check our comments on the excellent GCSE results in the last post and read my welcome to new pupils. You might also want to find out how well you know the school by taking this quiz!

Here are the themes etc. for the first week back!

A quick reminder we have changed assemblies around this term so Y7 will be on Mondays, Y8 on Tuesdays, and so on. As we start back on Tuesday there will be a Y7 assembly at 8.50 and a Y8 assembly at 9.15 that day. 

THEME FOR THE WEEK: Successful Futures

ASSEMBLY: Head Teacher 

LITERACY FOCUS: Using capital letters correctly

NUMERACY FOCUS: Metric units (measures)

NUMBER OF THE WEEK:  “1  /  one /  un  / un  / I”   1 is usually the jersey number of the goalkeeper in soccer, the loosehead prop in rugby union, and the full back in rugby league. In F1 motor-racing, the previous year’s world champion is allowed to use the number 1.

WELSH WORD OF THE WEEK: llwyddiant :  success

ENGLISH WORD OF THE WEEK: success : the accomplishment of an aim or purpose

THIS WEEK’S QUOTATION: “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”  —Henry Ford

TRIVIA OF THE WEEK: Seven players have made debuts for Wales at a younger age than Ben Woodburn, including Gareth Bale and Ryan Giggs, but only Bale was younger when he scored for the first time.

WEBSITE OF THE WEEK: The official school website.


Very proud to be part of #TeamRCCS #TîmYGGR & looking forward to starting Year 41 after our exciting anniversary year! #MakingTheDifference
3 Sep 2017, 12:31

GCSE Results 2017!

Congratulations to all our students and staff on this summer’s results! It’s a great way to celebrate our 40th Anniversary this year!

2017 has seen many changes to the GCSE exams here in Wales which makes any year on year comparison difficult, and we won’t be in a position to comment on overall school performance until more complete data is available. However, I’m delighted with the individual performances of our pupils, nearly all of whom have reached their targets, many having surpassed them.

Caitlin Williams, last year’s Head Girl, achieved 9 A* and one distinction, thus getting the top grade in every subject she studied. Connor Ash had four A*s and As for every other examination he took. Annaise Oliver, Sami Torofdar and Anna Bateman also achieved a number of A*/As- each of them getting at least five- and there many others who achieved the top grades too.

There were success stories across the board, with pupils achieving superb results thanks to the hard work and effort they put in- it is not just about getting A*s! We are tremendously proud of all our pupils today. Best of luck to everyone for the future, and do come back and see us when you can! Very well done!

Nearly there…!

This is the last blog of the school year- it really has flown by. As always, coming to the end of something brings a mixture of joy and sadness. Of course we’re all happy to soon be on holiday, but we’re also saying goodbye to a number of people, including all our Y11 as well as three staff. I have mentioned Mrs Cooper and Mrs Regan in previous blogs; the final member of staff leaving this year is Miss Carlyle. Having completed a very successful year with our English Faculty she is moving to a new school in Newport and we wish her all the best for the future!

Things used to get less busy in schools as the year drew to its close- but not any more. We interviewed candidates for the post of teacher of PE on Wednesday. We had six outstanding candidates, and have appointed Mr Knott to join our team from September 2017, making a total of seven new teachers in total.

Later that evening we held our Sports Awards. We were joined by Welsh rugby international Cerys Hale who gave a great speech about the importance of perseverance and resilience in life as well as on the sports field.

Thursday was Sports Day. The weather was perfect and everyone had a good time. Today, Friday, a number of our pupils are competing in the CSSA Dance Finals, so good luck to them.

Thanks to Welsh Water for conducting a series of assemblies on the dangers of swimming in reservoirs. However tempting it may be in the heat of summer we should never swim anywhere where there is not adequate supervision. This isn’t about how good or confident a swimmer you are, it makes no difference at all. It is very, very, dangerous. 

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Still to come we have  our Whole School Awards Assemblies on Monday. We’ll publish a list of the main prize winners on social media. We also have various school trips taking place. Term ends on Friday at the normal  time of 3pm. GCSE results will be out on Thursday August 24th and the new term starts on Tuesday 5th September with the Monday being an INSET day for staff only. Just a reminder that pupils may still choose to wear either the standard school tie or the Anniversary tie next term as we are still celebrating our 40th Anniversary Year.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank our community for the support we have received over the course of the year and to wish you all a very pleasant summer break.



LITERACY FOCUS: Test your knowledge

NUMERACY FOCUS: Two way tables

NUMBER OF THE WEEK:  “0 / zero / sero  / zéro / {no Roman numeral}” Zero indicates an absence of number,  and it’s sometimes referred to as nought. When you multiply something by 0 the answer is always the same: 0. An informal word for nothing is “Zilch. This is probably from Mr Zilch, who was a character in the 1930s US humorous magazine Ballyhoo .

ENGLISH WORD OF THE WEEK:  Achievementa thing done successfully, typically by effort, courage, or skill.

WELSH WORD OF THE WEEK: Dathliad : Celebration

THIS WEEK’S QUOTATION:  “Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success.” C. S. Lewis

TRIVIA OF THE WEEK: Next time you hear the sound of crickets chirping on a balmy summer evening, why not try this simple trick to find out the temperature. The frequency of a cricket’s chirps is consistent with air temperature so you simply need to count how many chirps there are over 25 seconds then divide by 3 and add 4 to tell you the temperature in Celsius.

WEBSITE OF THE WEEK: What’s the weather like? Check out the Met Office website HERE!


Brilliant sports awards evening! Congratulations to all of our fantastic pupils @RiscaCCS. #celebratingsuccess
12 Jul 2017, 21:25


A very special concert!

On Friday 30th June we held our 40th Anniversary Concert. The Leisure Centre was packed to hear a number of pupils past and present perform, as well as community musicians including the internationally famous Risca Male Choir and local Ladies’ Choir “Singing for Pleasure.” There were some amazing solo performances, and the concert ended with a stunning finale when four choirs came together to perform two songs, ending with a very stirring rendition of “Do you hear the people sing?” from “Les Misérables.” All four headteachers of the school since its opening were there, as well as a number of former staff. A DVD of the concert will be created and should be available in the Autumn; meanwhile you can see a few photos from the evening here. Many congratulations to Mr Heron who was responsible for organising the event as well as for conducting the choirs. The event was superbly hosted by our special guest presenter, Rebecca John, from BBC Wales.


Well done to our athletes who performed so well in the national meeting recently! There were some great individual performances. Who knows? We may have another Jamie Baulch in our midst!

Last week a group of pupils enjoyed a trip to Normandy. They were involved in a number of activities in the short time they were there, including shopping in a market and preparing the lunch with the food they’d bought, rafting, a trip to the D-Day landing beaches and even an opportunity to eat snails! Many thanks to the French Department for organising the trip! You can see pictures from the visit here!

On Wednesday we welcomed DS Smith,our Careers Wales “Business Class” partner to the school to hold workshops with Y9. These went really well and gave the pupils a great insight into the world of work.

On Thursday Y10 Geography GCSE students completed some fieldwork studies on rivers and coasts. It was a hot day but they enjoyed it and completed some crucial work for the course.

That evening we held the School Prom. This was a great success from start to finish. Thank you to everyone for making it a such a great event,  especially to Mrs Coles and Caitlin and Ellie for organising everything so well. We should have some photos soon!

Today we are holding a special Wellbeing Day in school, there is also a Y7 rewards trip and a collaborative Student Curriculum Conference taking place- more about this in next week’s blog!

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned Mrs Cooper was retiring at the end of the year. We are also saying goodbye to another much valued member of staff. Mrs Regan has been in charge of ICT and Computer Science for many years, and has seen huge changes in how this subject has developed. Her leadership in this area has been outstanding. Mrs Regan was herself a pupil at this school, and has been an inspiration to many. We wish her the very best of luck in her new post with Qualifications Wales.

Finally a reminder that the calendar for next year has been agreed:-YAAG Calendar 201718


ASSEMBLY: Pastoral Leaders

LITERACY FOCUS: Test your knowledge

NUMERACY FOCUS: Two way tables

NUMBER OF THE WEEK:  “7 / seven / saith / sept/ VII”

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SOURCE: Wikipedia

WELSH WORD OF THE WEEK: Cyflawniad :  Achievement

ENGLISH WORD OF THE WEEK: Achievement : a thing done successfully, typically by effort, courage, or skill.

THIS WEEK’S QUOTATION: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”  Harry Truman

TRIVIA OF THE WEEK: Wimbledon is the only major tennis tournament still played on grass.

WEBSITE OF THE WEEK: The official site for Wimbledon


Well done to Amy 4th, Mason 4th and Charlie 5th in the Welsh Schools Athletics Champs today! Fantastic results! Ardderchog! 👏👏👏
1 Jul 2017, 18:25

Our 40th Anniversary!

On 23rd June we celebrated our 40th Anniversary in school. It was a great day, and everyone enjoyed it! There was a special report about RCCS that morning in the South Wales Argus which you can read here. During lessons one and two the pupils were able to enjoy some different lessons, some were taught about the 1970s, including looking at the Voyager space programme in Science or at fashion design in that era in Textiles. Geography lessons looked at comparing maps and the changes in tourism we’ve seen over the last 40 years. Some teachers experimented with more traditional techniques such as rote learning (what’s this?). In ICT pupils looked at how things have changed (it’s interesting that the very first apple computer came out in 1977.) English lessons looked at family life “then and now” as well as how schools have changed. I managed to visit most classrooms dressed up in my old-fashioned headmaster’s gown and mortar board and told the pupils a bit about what it was like being at school in the 70s! I was in fourth year (now called Y10) in 1977!35481845566_865d99017a_z

After break the party started! Pupils were able to participate in a number of activities including a rodeo bull, ‘sponge the teacher’ (which was very popular!), coconut shy, human fruit machine, sweets stalls, popcorn making, and beat the goalie. We also had horses and donkeys on site, and a 1970s USA police patrol car, as well as our community police officers, and Welsh Guards running teamwork games, and much more besides

The special guests started to arrive before lunch for a tour of the school and a look around the activities. Jamie Baulch was the first here and he had a great time seeing round the old school. He posted a brilliant picture on his Instagram account, clearly enjoying himself in our bright yellow corridors!


We also welcomed Chris Evans MP, Rhianon Passmore AM, both old friends of the school, local author and former student Paul Surridge, RCCS historian Nick Thomas, Woody from the Heart Wales radio breakfast show, Rob Owen, representing the South Wales Argus, Keri Cole, Caerphilly’s Chief Education Officer, as well as the leader and deputy leaders of the Council. HM Queen, who famously opened our school in 1977 was represented by the Lord Lieutenant of Gwent, Brigadier Robert Aitken. It was also a real honour to have our first headmaster, Mr Derek McKie, and his wife in attendance.

After a buffet lunch we attended a commemorative ceremony in the Courtyard, when Jamie unveiled the special plinth which will house the time capsule when all the contents are finalised at the end of the year. The contents of the capsule are nearly all in place, including the winning essay by Megan Balmont. I was very proud to begin the ceremony with a few words, and Jamie gave an amazing speech about how much he appreciated the school and he thanked his teachers for helping him so much. To finish, Caitlin Williams, our outgoing Head Girl, gave a brilliant speech of thanks to Jamie and to the school. It was all rather emotional!34711523933_63abb4b37c_z

I was then delighted to accept cheques donated to the school by Risca Town Council and Risca East Community Council, each to the value of £1000.Screen Shot 2017-06-28 at 13.31.22Following this we returned upstairs to enjoy a superb exhibition of pupils’ art work, including the special stained glass window which has been made to commemorate our anniversary and which features at the top of this page. You can see a walk through video here

It was a very full and exciting day, and you can read how it was reported in the next day’s Argus here and see the photos in our Flickr album here! We’ll have more pictures and a video to add in due course.

Thanks to everybody who made this very special day happen!

THEME FOR THE WEEK: Health and Wellbeing

ASSEMBLY: Assistant Headteacher

LITERACY FOCUS: Test your knowledge

NUMERACY FOCUS: Two way tables

NUMBER OF THE WEEK: “9 / nine / naw / neuf / IX”    Cats are generally thought of as lucky and there’s a saying they have nine lives. A “cat of nine tails” is a very unpleasant type of whip with nine strands. There’s also a link to dogs with this number! Canine means “of or related to dogs”  and “K-9” is used in some police and military departments to denote the police dog unit. K-9 was also the name of a robotic dog in the TV series, Dr Who.


K-9 from “Dr Who”

WELSH WORD OF THE WEEK: Iechyd da :  Good health

ENGLISH WORD OF THE WEEK: Well-being or Wellbeing: the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy

THIS WEEK’S QUOTATION:  “Mens sana in corpore sano”- Juvenal. (A healthy mind in a healthy body) (i.e. physical exercise is an important part of mental and psychological well-being.)

TRIVIA OF THE WEEK: The emblem of the company Kelloggs, who are perhaps most famous for their cornflakes, is a cockerel. They adopted this when it was pointed out that the word for a cockerel in Welsh in ‘cilog’




Great meeting the new parents and pupils tonight- and seeing familiar faces! Looking forward to the next five years! #MakingTheDifference
27 Jun 2017, 18:17