A trip to London!

Today’s blog is written by Lizzie, Olivia, Bethan, Charlotte and Effion. Diolch yn fawr!


On Friday 8th of June, we were lucky enough to visit London. Upon arrival, we took a short walk along the side of the River Thames to the London Dungeon. The London Dungeon is a tourist attraction that features many different sets and actors. We were taken on a trip back into London’s history where we met some of London’s most infamous people, such as Guy Fawkes and Jack the Ripper.

We travelled through the shady corridors, endured a petrifying boat ride through the darkness and were shown some of the gruesome and horrible ways people were treated in the Medieval period. As teachers were placed in cages like prisoners and were being tortured, we all looked on in horror and amazement. Some were even accused of unspeakable crimes. After being submerged into the pitch black and frightened by the characters, we moved closer to our hangings. We scrambled our way through a mirror maze before we met our deaths; a drop of thirty three feet. The thrilling ride served as a deserving punishment.


The actors, costumes and makeup with all the added effects of the set caused for a very surreal and scary experience, but one we would happily do all over again.

After the dungeon, we were lucky enough to go to visit the Houses of Parliament. We went with the aim of learning more about politics and our history. We had an amazing tour from a previous clerk at the Houses called Helen, who now runs the tours of the building. She has worked there for 55 years after moving from Scotland and had a vast selection of anecdotes to share with us, from Churchill to Thatcher. 

 We went through lots of beautifully decorated rooms that were each outstanding in their own way. We were shown the House of Lords, House of Commons, Westminster Hall, The Royal Gallery and many more fabulous rooms. Helen allowed us to touch the dents in the table made by Churchill, showed us where the Suffragettes were chained and even took us through the tour as if we were the Queen, preparing for the nation-wide watched speech. Another unforgettable moment from the tour was the tribute paid to Jo Cox, a Labour MP who was murdered in 2016. A wooden shield sits where she sat in the House of Commons to commemorate her life and work.


Overall, we had a great day and feel extremely lucky to have experienced both the terror of the Dungeons and the wonder of Parliament. A day we definitely will not forget. 



ASSEMBLIES: Assistant Headteacher, Mrs Madden

LITERACY FOCUS: Speech marks

NUMERACY FOCUS: Two way tables

NUMBER OF THE WEEK: “45 / forty-five / pedwar deg pwmp / quarante-cinq / XLV ”  Singles (i.e. records with just one song track on) were- and indeed still are- played on record players at 45 rpm (revs per minute) and were known as 45s. 


CYMRAEG YR WYTHNOS: “Dw i’n mynd i…” : “I am going to…”

ENGLISH WORD OF THE WEEK: “Parliament” : the highest legislature, consisting of the Sovereign, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons.

THIS WEEK’S QUOTATION: “Summer is the time when it is too hot to do the job that it was too cold to do last winter.” – Mark Twain

TRIVIA OF THE WEEK: The best selling single (45) of all time is White Christmas by Bing Crosby.


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Looking ahead!

A slightly different post today, as I’m going to be looking forward rather than back, so perhaps technically this is not really a blog! Nevertheless, I hope this will be useful to parents and pupils. Some of the information will also be provided in a letter which will be circulated towards the end of term.


We have a number of events organised over the next few weeks. Our Duke of Edinburgh trip takes place this weekend. On Wednesday some of our pupils are involved in a Curriculum Conference organised by our Hexad Partnership, at which the Director of Education in Welsh Government, Steve Davies, and Graham Donaldson, author of the ‘Successful Futures’ document will be guests. On Thursday,  Y8 will be working with our Business Partner, DS Smith, looking at the skills required in the workplace. The French trip takes place next weekend and then we have the Y11 Prom on Thursday 28th. Friday 29th June is  a staff training day, so no pupils should be in school that day.

On Friday 13th July we have a special Wellbeing Day in school with lots of different activities taking place, including sessions on health, sex education, drug and alcohol awareness and practical sports activities. This is always a really good day. Then we have our sports day on Wednesday 18th when the pupils will be representing five different countries rather than their forms as we have done in the past. This, together with an Eisteddfod Mr Mock is planning, could be the forerunner to a new House System we are considering putting in place- but more of that in another blog!

On Thursday 19th July we are going to have a non-uniform day and some fun events in the afternoon! I am very grateful to Mrs Weston for organising this. It will be a bit like our 40th Anniversary Celebrations last year on a smaller scale, but this time we are holding the event in memory of David Parker, our much-loved former deputy head who passed away in May, and we’ll be raising money for Cancer Research. In the evening we have Sports Awards, then our Whole School Awards Assemblies on the Friday.

Term ends on Tuesday 24th July, and GCSE candidates will be able to collect results on Thursday 23rd August- good luck to everyone!


Next term begins on Wednesday 5th September. Here are some useful links:-

We have decided that from next term ‘energy drinks’ are not to be consumed in school. We need the support of parents with this one, so please make sure your child is aware that this is the case, and we reserve the right to confiscate such drinks if they are brought onto school premises. They can be collected by parents, but will not be returned to pupils. The detrimental effect of these drinks when misused is well documented, many schools have already taken steps to ban them, and many shops now no longer sell them to under-18s.

Please note that the school has been a non-smoking site for some time now. Things have changed recently though, as this is now written into the law, so the consequences of breaking this rule may be more severe. This includes the whole of the school campus, including car parks.

Next week we’ll go back to a normal blog, – but with a change of author! It’s going to be written by some of the students who are visiting London today (Friday 15th) and I am sure it will be an interesting account of their day, which includes a visit to the Houses of Parliament!


ASSEMBLIES: Assistant Headteacher, Mr Coombes

LITERACY FOCUS: Speech marks


NUMBER OF THE WEEK: “29 / twenty nine / dau ddeg naw / vingt-neuf / XXIX”  There are twenty-nine letters in the alphabets of the Scandinavian languages Finnish, Swedish, Danish and Norwegian, as well as in the Turkish language. 29 is the atomic number of Copper

CYMRAEG YR WYTHNOS: “Lles” : “Wellbeing”

ENGLISH WORD OF THE WEEK: “Wellbeing” : the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy.

THIS WEEK’S QUOTATION: “The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” —Buddha

TRIVIA OF THE WEEK: It takes the planet Saturn just over 29 years to orbit the sun


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Community Spirit!

Great news over half term- Mrs Baskerville gave birth to her second child, Edison, on Tuesday! Mum and baby are both doing well and we look forward to meeting him soon.

A number of pupils were involved in various sporting competitions and other events during the week’s break with great success. Whenever I see these I always try to retweet things, so keep an eye out! If you don’t get a mention and feel you deserve one, please let me know!

I was extremely impressed to learn that two members of our school community, Xander and Zac from Y9, had taken time out from their half term break to tidy up litter in the school grounds. This was something they decided to do themselves. This shows amazing community spirit and is a great example to others. Very well done boys!

Exams continue in earnest for Y11, but at least the end is in sight. Y10, too, have been involved in GCSEs. We are already preparing for our next cohort of students, that is to say the current Y6 who will be joining us in September. The timetable is under construction and we are adding dates for parents’ meetings etc which will be available shortly.

The ASD Centre Nurture Garden is coming on well. We have been overwhelmed by the support we have had from the community in getting this up and running, and Mrs Howells and I are both very grateful for this.

On Thursday Mr Harris and I took a group of Y8 pupils to our Business Class partner, DS Smith. We had an interesting tour of the factory and heard quite a lot about the company and about the sort of skills needed to work there. Neil and Mike from DS Smith will be in school in a couple of weeks to talk with all Y8. This is the third year we’ve been working with the organisation and it is a partnership I really value greatly.

Our PTA, FORCE, is planning a special Auction, Bingo and Curry night! You can sign up for free by following this link or by scanning the QR code in the poster below. Lots of great prizes to be won!

ABC Night

Finally, the attendance competition is back! Well done to this week’s winners, 7CB!

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LITERACY FOCUS: Speech marks


NUMBER OF THE WEEK: “8 / eight / wyth / huit / VIII”  All spiders have eight legs. The prefix oct- means eight, used in words like octagon, octopus and octet. Do you know any others? 

CYMRAEG YR WYTHNOS: “Dysgu” : “Learning”

ENGLISH WORD OF THE WEEK: “Learning” : the acquisition of knowledge or skills through study, experience, or being taught

THIS WEEK’S QUOTATION: “Don’t limit a child to your own learning, for he was born in another time.” Rabindranath Tagore

TRIVIA OF THE WEEK: The human brain continues to grow until about age 18.


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For after half term…

No blog this week as it is half term- have a good week! Can I take the opportunity to let you know that FORCE (our PTA) is running an Auction, Bingo and Curry Night on June 21st- more information will be available after the break. And we’ve confirmed dates for the year ahead. After half term I’ll also be able to provide the dates of the parents’ evenings and the reports schedule for 2018/19

2018_19 YAAGHere are the themes etc for when we come back on Monday 4th June (which will be a Week 1)





NUMBER OF THE WEEK: “58 / fifty-eight / pum deg wyth /cinquante-huit / LVIII”  There are 58 letters in the longest place name in the UK. Do you know what and where it is? And can you pronounce it? (Clue: it’s about 160 miles north of Risca, and coincidentally it would take about 58 hours to walk there with appropriate breaks!) 58 degrees Celsius is the hottest temperature ever recorded on earth.

CYMRAEG YR WYTHNOS: “gonestrwydd” : “integrity”

ENGLISH WORD OF THE WEEK: “integrity” : the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.

THIS WEEK’S QUOTATION: “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.”  Dwight D. Eisenhower

TRIVIA OF THE WEEK: June is often considered a “summer month”, whereas September is not. This is despite the fact that September has twice as many summer days as June.


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Remembering Mr Parker

David Parker first came to Risca as a student teacher. He must have liked it, because 10 years later, after teaching in Cornwall and another local school, Croesyceiliog, he returned to head up the Music department here. Mr Mckie, the headteacher at the time, was most impressed by David’s enthusiasm and abilities, and the appointment proved to be an excellent one. Mr Parker brought lots of energy to an already successful area of the school. His lessons were inspirational and interesting, and he organised concerts and other musical events which are still fondly remembered by those who attended and participated.


Mr Parker conducting the school orchestra and choir at St David’s Hall, Cardiff, in 2001

His success was rewarded by promotion to Head of Faculty, and then to Deputy Headteacher. It was in this role that I first met him, back in 2004, as his opposite number in another local school. David- or Dai as I came to know him- was extremely friendly and helpful, We were both part of a group of deputy headteachers who established a new 14-19 curriculum in Caerphilly. They were exciting times and working with him was a privilege. We continued to meet regularly over the next few years, and I always enjoyed his wit and sense of humour which made some of those less exciting meetings much more bearable.

Dai fell ill in 2009, and I joined the school initially as interim headteacher, a role he would have taken had he not been unwell. Fortunately he made a good recovery and returned to work, so we were able to enjoy working together for a couple of years. They were very happy times, but challenging ones, and I could not have asked for a better team. Together we saw off the threat of closure and saw standards and numbers rise. David brought great experience and local knowledge to the leadership of the school. He was passionate about the young people and the wider community, a great advocate for RCCS.

When his illness returned in 2012, Dai decided to retire. He was always upbeat about the treatment he was getting and remained very positive. His last years were not easy but he was by no means inactive. We met on several occasions and he was always interested in how things were going at school and in the wider community.

He had many interests outside school.  He was an accomplished pianist and sang for many years with the BBC National Chorus of Wales of which he was a founder member. He enjoyed sports, walking and nature. He was a Churchill fellow, and an avid traveller. Along with music, what he loved most was fishing, at which he was extremely skilled.


Dai, pictured here on the right, enjoying a day’s fishing with friends.

Dai passed away peacefully at home with his family in the early hours of Sunday 13th May, just a few weeks short of his 60th birthday. I have been inundated with messages from former colleagues and pupils, our Facebook page is full of tributes. He was a wonderful person, a professional, a great teacher. But the phrase that keeps coming up to describe him time after time is a perfect gentleman. That is how I will always remember him.


David Parker’s funeral will take place at the Gwent Crematorium at 11.30 am on Tuesday 29th May.

Student leadership- a new approach?

Some of our pupils went down to Ty Isaf Infants’ School this week to help with their Sports and Fitness carousel day. I saw some great tweets from the school, saying how helpful they had been (see ‘Tweet of the Week’ below!) Thank you, too, Ty Isaf, for giving our pupils the opportunity. I know they really enjoyed it and had a great time helping out!

Summer to many of us means cricket! This year there has been more take-up than before for our after school sessions, and I know Mr Knott (who is something of a good cricketer as well as a top footballer, by the way!) has been really impressed. We also held a basketball tournament this week which was a great success. Still on sport, and Mr Mock has started up a running club after school on Thursdays, involving staff and students. Numbers are growing each week- why not get involved?

As you know we work with other schools in a Hexad, and I have been working with my colleague headteachers to plan a student conference on the new Successful Futures curriculum. We held one last year which was a great success. I am delighted that this year’s conference will be attended by the author of the new curriculum document himself, Professor Donaldson, and Steve Davies, the Director of Education in Welsh Government. It will be an opportunity for students from all six of the schools involved to share their views on how the curriculum should develop, and I am very interested to hear their opinions.The conference is taking place on June 20th.

Today we held a meeting of the school council. As I mentioned in a previous blog, we are looking again at providing pupils with responsibilities and we have been reviewing how we do this. The prefect system we have had for the last few years is a little outdated and I’d like to give more of our students opportunities for leadership. More on this to come.

Things are moving quickly in our new nurture garden. I’d like to take the opportunity to thank all those people who have secured funding and donations and the companies who have provided things for us. I am really looking forward to  seeing everything come together over the next few months. If you follow Mrs Howells on Twitter (@RCCS_ASD) you’ll get regular updates!

THEME FOR NEXT WEEK: Positive role models



NUMERACY FOCUS: Fractions/ Decimals/ Percentages

NUMBER OF THE WEEK: “37 / thirty-seven / tri deg saith / trente sept / XXXVII”  A prime number. 37 degrees Celsius is the normal healthy body temperature for a human being.

CYMRAEG YR WYTHNOS: “Delfryd Ymddwyn” : “Role model”

ENGLISH WORD OF THE WEEK: “role model” : a person looked to by others as an example to be imitated.

THIS WEEK’S QUOTATION: “I don’t want to be perfect, but I do want to be a role model. My mom always tells me that imperfections equal beauty. All of us are imperfect.” -Miley Cyrus

TRIVIA OF THE WEEK: The rules of the game of cricket are known as the laws. Only one of the original laws has never been changed since the first ones were drawn up in 1744, and that is the length of the pitch; it was, and still is, exactly 22 yards (that’s 20.1168 metres)

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Talking about learning…

Many thanks to Miss Bawler for writing last week’s blog. Can I remind you we are running ICT sessions for parents this month? Please contact her if you’d like to be involved, bbawler@riscacom.net

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Four members of  staff were involved in the marathon and 10k event in Newport last Sunday. Congratulations to Mr Mock, Mrs Seignot, Mrs Nash and Mr Seignot who all completed the courses in good times. And a special mention, too, to one of our governors, Mr Finn, who also took part in the marathon and finished very well indeed! I think even more people have now been inspired to take part in the Caerphilly 10k later this month!

Kai in Y7 has been selected to represent Wales at judo in the Hermee Cup in Belgium later this month! Very well done Kai. And I have also heard about Ieuan in Y8 who’ll shortly be competing in a youth darts competition in Derby, at which he hopes to qualify for a London event at Crystal Palace! Impressive stuff!

I have enjoyed meeting with groups from KS3 (Y7-8) this week to talk about their learning experiences. We have had some great conversations about skills and knowledge, and all the pupils I spoke with were very clear about the need for both. They were able to talk articulately about how they were developing skills in literacy and numeracy across a range of subjects, and I was impressed by how they felt teachers were working collaboratively as a team to ensure consistency. They were also very enthusiastic about their Welsh language skills, and how they felt these were improving this year. These conversations are really helpful to us, and I think it’s important for students to know we seek their opinions on a regular basis.

On Monday we held a meeting of the Governing Body. I was able to feed back on the progress we are making on our School Improvement Plan. We have made inroads into all areas and we are generally pleased, though there is always room to do better. Obviously we will not know how our students have achieved in GCSEs until August, however. Exams start in earnest next week, and I would like to wish everyone the best of luck!

We’re reviewing student leadership roles at school. Traditionally we have had senior students or prefects in Y11, and of course, a school council. More recently we have also had digital leaders who have supported in ICT. I will be sharing our new plans with pupils shortly, but I hope the new proposal means more opportunities will be available and that the focus will be better, too. Watch this space- and please note the picture below is for illustrative purposes only!

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It’s only May but we are already planning for next year. We have appointed a new Science teacher, Mrs Davies, who has worked here at RCCS before, so it will be great to have her back. She will also be leading on ESDGC- which stands for education for sustainable development and global citizenship! We have a current vacancy for an RE teacher which we will fill before half term. Both the appointments are additional staff. Some existing staff will have a change of focus, too. Mr Canavan will be leading on Numeracy in the school, and Miss Lewis on Literacy. We have also begun to plan the school calendar, and here is the overview. You’ll see we intend to start with two INSET days, so the year will start for pupils on Wednesday 5th September and the last day for pupils will be Friday 19th July 2019.

2018_19 YAAG


THEME FOR NEXT WEEK: Communication

ASSEMBLIES: Assistant Headteachers


NEW! NUMERACY FOCUS: Fractions/ Decimals/ Percentages

NUMBER OF THE WEEK: “7 / seven / saith / sept / VII”  Year Seven is the first year of secondary school in Wales. James Bond is agent 007. In the Old Testament story of the Creation, God rested on the seventh day, the sabbath. 

CYMRAEG YR WYTHNOS:“Dw i’n gallu siarad  Cymraeg” : “I can speak Welsh!”

ENGLISH WORD OF THE WEEK: “articulate” : (as an adjective) having or showing the ability to speak fluently and coherently. (This word is pronounced differently when used as a verb. Can you demonstrate the difference? What does it mean as a verb?)

THIS WEEK’S QUOTATION: “The major advances in speed of communication and ability to interact took place more than a century ago. The shift from sailing ships to telegraph was far more radical than that from telephone to email!” Noam Chomsky

TRIVIA OF THE WEEK: The marathon distance only became 26.2 miles during the 1908 London Olympics. Queen Alexandra requested that the distance was adjusted so the royal household could see the race from Windsor Castle. Prior to this – from 1896 to 1908 marathons of approximately 25 miles were held.


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