Two high profile events!

This week’s RCCS blog has been written by four of our students. We’ve been involved in a couple of very high profile events over the last few days, so I’m going to let Cally and Amelia (Y11) and Brooke and Owen (Y10) tell you all about them. Be sure to follow the link to the TV clip and the BBC article at the end.

Many thanks to the writers and to everyone involved; we can all be very proud of our pupils.

Mr Kendall

Public Health Conference 

On Friday 9th November, fourteen of us went to the Welsh Public Health Conference to represent the school alongside Y Pant Secondary School. The Conference is an event where issues affecting the Welsh population are discussed in detail. The event ran over two days, the first day was focused around ‘Healthy Planet’ and the day we went, the second day, the main focus was ‘Healthy Wales.’ We were included in the first plenary session, which included hearing opinions from Evie Morgan from Y Pant, Ryan Crowley a history student from Cardiff University and Dr Frank Atherton who is the chief medical officer for Wales. We had to express our opinions on the question ‘What will Wales look like in 50 years time?’. We heard the views of the members of the public and we answered questions from Owain Clarke, a BBC Wales correspondent, expressing our opinions about what we think the environment will look like in 50 years.we also spoke about what we think Wales will look like with the ageing population, and what the society would look like.

We also led a session called “Nothing Without Us” meaning that the future generation are looking to leave Wales for further education, better mental health care and more job opportunities. We set up a debate with two sides, one group arguing to leave Wales and the other side arguing to stay in Wales. We had six main speakers each with a unique topic. These were health, mental health, education, employment, LGBTQ+ and community. We joined with the other school Y Pant and took part in a debate with them and our audience members.

After we had finished our debate we had the chance to go to a separate sessions. We went to “Play” which talked about the differences between when adults went out to play when they were children as against when today’s children now go out to play. We looked at why it has changed so much over the last thirty plus years. Parents are becoming more protective of their children as they now know about the dangers that are going on in the world. But playing is still a vital part of growing up. Children need to go out into the real world to explore and experiment rather than be stuck in the virtual world on their phones.

The event has given us the opportunity to do work experience within the Public Health Department. It’s given us the opportunity to get our views heard- we had over 100 adults listening to us, taking in what we said. The whole experience was terrifying but incredibly rewarding. We all had people coming up to us congratulating us on our panel session and our spotlight session. Therefore we think the adults took our views into perspective and now see that we would like to be included in next year’s conference. We’d love to go back next year and take part in more panels, debates and sessions!

Cally Marshall and Amelia Williams

Fake News, with the BBC’s Rory Cellan-Jones

This week we were delighted to have a visit from BBC Technology Correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones.  We had an extended assembly in which he explained to us about fake news as part of the “Speakers for Schools” project which our school has enjoyed being part of for a few years. The whole of year 10 listened to him carefully whilst he explained to us all the different ways fake news is spread. After the assembly he took a smaller group of us to a classroom to do a workshop with him which was filmed by a professional BBC crew. The workshop was all about living the role of a TV journalist. We had to make decisions about whether the news was fake or not and whether it could be published to the public or not. If we made a bad decision the consequences were high stakes! 

On the Wednesday it was broadcast on the national BBC news and on the Victoria Derbyshire programme. It was exciting to sit and watch ourselves and all our friends. You can read about the day and see the news clip on the BBC website here! 

Lots of other pupils in the school will be able to do the iReporter project during lessons over the next few weeks or so, we feel very lucky to have been the ones on TV though!

Brooke Cavan and Owen Muema

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Engineers of the future!

Many thanks to teacher supply agency New Directions who presented us with thirty running vests for our newly formed running club on Thursday! Diolch yn fawr iawn! This is the very first running club for the school and is still fairly new after only beginning in April 2018. Both students and teachers of Risca Comprehensive are invited to come along every Friday after school to run either a 3K, 4.7K or 6K route. Pupils will be rewarded for their dedication with the free vest when they have hit ten runs. Hopefully, this will keep up their motivation to continue running each week through the cold and dark winter nights! Thanks to Mr Mock for leading this initiative.


This week the digital leaders took part in “Skype a Scientist!” This is a free scheme designed to connect young people with practising scientists across the world using technology to create a live link. We were matched with Grace Lindsay , a Computer Neuroscientist from Columbia University in the USA.  The students prepared questions in advance of our Skype session and then chatted to her live!  This is the second Skype a Scientist we have done at RCCS, the first being with Mrs Nash’s year 8 pupils, and we hope to do more sessions in the future including Skype an Author and a Mystery Skype! Thanks to Mrs Bawler for making this happen.

On Wednesday six pupils went with Mr Canavan on an engineering trip, to the Riverfront Theatre in Newport. The day was run by the Institute of Civil Engineers Cymru, and was full of presentations about engineering and there was also a series of challenges against other schools from the area.  Many thanks to Nazifa, Isobel, Tom, Phoebe, Jacob and Jack: Mr Canavan told me this group were really good ambassadors, and represented the school, Year 9, and most importantly themselves, in a really positive way. This is their account of the day. 

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In the first task we had to build a structure as high as we could with just a pack of playing cards. We got off to a slow start but then Isobel’s design was adopted and we built, hoping to win. However, not only did we win but we broke the record at a staggering 68 cm tall.  It is also safe to say the anxiety of it falling was enough to make some members of the team almost cry, especially as Tom was trying to add ‘just one more’. 

After our very modest win we proceeded to our next challenge which was the main challenge of the day.  We had to build a support for a section of bridge that had to withstand water flowing down the valley towards it.  We had a 35 million pound budget but materials were costly – 2 million for one straw!  We thought of a design and created it.  We then had to wait for it to be tested.  We were the most successful team with our design withstanding not only the normal flow of water (a steady bucket full of water) but also the storm force water (a whole bucket in one go).  It stayed up and stayed level with the road either side – a feat only achieved by our design.  However, our design sheet did not stand up to the same level of scrutiny and we were not announced winners.  One of the engineers present went to check as he knew we had the most successful model, but the judging was on the whole process and our drawings had let us down!  

The final test was to be creative with spaghetti and marshmallows. Again we tried different ideas before creating a model that was politely called ‘interesting’!  It was though successful in meeting the challenge set.

Overall, a very successful day, where we came out on top of two of the three main challenges and an opportunity which allowed us to develop and use our skills in a new and interesting way.  Thank you to ICE Cymru and the school for this opportunity.

Today, Friday, I have the honour to represent the school together with two of our pupils at the annual Armistice Service at Moriah Church in Risca. I will be sharing two stories from our school logbooks from 1914-18 that I told in last week’s assembly, which is available via a podcast here.


Next week is an anti-bullying week, with several activities going on, and an awareness raising non-uniform day on Friday when we’re inviting people to  wear blue to show their support.

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ASSEMBLIES: Pastoral Leaders

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Half term already!

No blog today as it’s half term next week. Please note the focus for literacy, numeracy and DCF has changed for when we come back (see below). I hope everyone has a great half term. As we have Y9 exams in R3 there will be no assemblies in the week we come back, but there will be a podcast shared in form time instead, as the theme is one which is very important to all of us- Remembrance

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ASSEMBLY*: Head Teacher

(*podcast this week)


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Our new House system

Many thanks to Mr Mock, Lead Teacher for Welsh, who has written this week’s blog to update us all on the new House System. Diolch yn fawr iawn.

Rydyn ni’n gyffrous iawn i gyhoeddi y bydd ein hysgol ni yn cyflwyno sustem llysoedd newydd ar ôl hanner tymor.  Rydyn ni wedi bod yn trafod a chynllunio ers blwyddyn diwethaf i ddewis enwau, arwyddeiriau a lliwiau ac mae’n bleser i mi allu cyflwyno’r rhain yn awr i’r ysgol ac i’r gymuned. Ar logo’r ysgol mae pedwar symbol sy’n cynrhychioli agweddau a rhinweddau pwysig ethos ein hysgol a’n cymuned, sef Mesen, Derwen, Llyfrau a Cwcw. Er mwyn dathlu’r symbolau yma yn ein system llysoedd newydd, penderfynon ni i ddefnyddio llythyren cyntaf pob un i greu enwau o gymeriadau hanesyddol Cymru. Enwau llysoedd newydd ein hysgol ni ydy Macsen, Dwynwen, Llywelyn a Catrin.

Yn ystod y tymor hon, gofynon ni i’n staff os oedd diddordeb gyda nhw mewn arwain y llysoedd newydd er mwyn datblygu ethos cystadleuol iachus o fewn yr ysgol ac i ddatblygu mwy o gyfleoedd am weithgareddau allgyrsiol i ddathlu yr amrywiaeth o dalent sy o fewn ein hysgol ni. Roedd  yr ymateb yn wych a chawsom ni ddigon o staff i gael capten ac is-gapten i bob lys. Mae’n bosib nawr felly i gyflwyno pwy sy’n arweinwyr staff y llysoedd newydd:

Macsen – Miss Smith a Miss Johnston

Dwynwen – Miss Johnson a Ms Rouillé

Llywelyn – Mr Knott a Ms Conte

Catrin – Mr Hare a Mrs Baskerville

Rydyn ni wedi llwyddo i drefnu’r disgyblion a staff yn barod am y lawnsiad ar ôl hanner tymor ac rydw i’n gyffrous iawn i ddechrau ar y cystadlu a dechrau trefniadau am yr Eisteddfod a Mabolgampau. Bydd llawer o gyfleoedd i bawb gyfrannu bwyntiau i’w llys yn ystod y flwyddyn nesaf ac yr wyf innau’n dymuno pob lwc a llwyddiant i bawb ar yr antur gyffrous newydd hon i’n hysgol ni.

We are very excited to announce that our school is introducing a new house system after half-term. We have been discussing and planning the names, mottos and colours since last year and it is a pleasure to be able to at last present these to our school and our community. The four symbols on our school logo represent important aspects of our school ethos and community: Mesen (Acorn), Derwen (Oak), Llyfrau (Books) and Cwcw (Cuckoo). In order to celebrate these important symbols within our house system, we decided to use the first letter of each one to create names of Welsh historical characters. Therefore, our school’s new house names are Macsen, Dwynwen, Llywelyn and Catrin.

During this term, we asked our staff if they were interested in leading the new houses to develop a healthy competitive ethos within the school and to develop more opportunities for extra-curricular activities to celebrate the many talents within our school.  As it happens, there was much interest and we had enough staff to have a captain and deputy captain for each house. It is now possible to introduce the staff house leaders:

Macsen – Miss Smith and Miss Johnston

Dwynwen – Miss Johnson and Ms Rouillé

Llywelyn – Mr Knott and Ms Conte

Catrin – Mr Hare and Mrs Baskerville    

We have succeeded in organising the students and staff ready for the official launch after half term and I am very excited to begin the competitions and arrangements for the Eisteddfod and Sports Day. There will be plenty of opportunities for students to win house points during the coming year and I wish everyone the best of luck and success on this new and exciting adventure for our school.

10CT win again and with exactly the same percentage as last week!

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Our Different Learning Needs


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A new kitchen in the ASD Centre!

One of the privileges of being a headteacher is getting the opportunity to visit other institutions, and I have been at two schools recently looking at how they support and encourage their students to achieve. Every school is different, but we can all learn from each other. This has been part of the ethos here at RCCS for some time, and long may it continue. I really enjoyed my recent visits and picked up a few ideas I think we might want to adapt at RCCS.

I hope you enjoyed last week’s blog, It’s really good when other people contribute and Chloe and Angharad did a great job, If anyone in our community wishes to write the blog- either all or in part- please do get in touch, I will be very grateful!

Y11 were involved in speaking assessments for English at the start of the week and Miss Pitcock told me they had gone very well. Well done to everyone involved! We had a meeting on Monday to discuss this year’s examination group specifically, and we have lots of strategies and plans in place to support them in the run-up to the exams in June. More of these in later blogs, and Y11 parents, look out for further information later this year,

The ASD Centre has a new kitchen fitted! Many thanks to everyone who played a part in this project, who provided their time so generously or who donated the materials. This really is an excellent resource to develop life skills and I know it will get plenty of use. I know Mrs Howells is planning a special opening event some time later in the term, and I’m looking forward to that already!

KitchenSports fixtures continue to take place, though we do not seem to have been as lucky as in previous years with our team events! I have no doubt we’ll get back in the winning habit soon. As a supporter of Newcastle United, I am rather used to disappointment, but I am hopeful of change there, too! We’ve had some good performances in the cross-country, however, and a special mention must go to Lowri in Y11 who came 6th in the county competition. A very impressive performance.

So 7ED have finally been knocked off the top of the attendance table! Well done to 10CT who win this week with a very impressive score.

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THEME OF THE WEEK: The Fragile Environment

ASSEMBLIES: Lead Teacher, Education for Sustainable Development

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Two guest blogs!

I’m delighted to welcome two guest bloggers who’ve written reports on events we held last week.

Thank you very much for your excellent contributions.

Also I must give a shout out to 7ED who have topped the attendance list for the third week in succession! Da iawn!


by Chloe, Year Eight

Last Wednesday we had a professional security guard come in to our school and he taught us about bullying. First he showed us pictures of famous celebrities like Ed Sheeran and Rihanna and told us what they got bullied for, when they got bullied and shared with us their story. He described what the meaning of bullying is and he explained the consequences of bullying. He then went on by showing us pictures of normal everyday people and we had to guess how they got bullied. Unfortunately, two of the six people he showed us took their own life after the bullying got too extreme. After we heard a little more on what he did as a profession, he put on two videos. The videos had a father and a sister of a young girl who had been bullied so bad on social media (cyber bullying) and in school (social bullying) that she took her own life.

She jumped in front of a train. Her father said that the CCTV showed that she was sat at the station for forty minutes waiting for a non stop train to pass by. The second video was her younger sister explaining what life is like without her sister. She said any mention of a train makes her cry (which is understandable) and that the bullying that her sister had has been passed down to her. She said people whisper “train” in the middle of class which in my opinion is awful. They should imagine what it’s like to lose the closest person in your life in a split second and never see them again. I think bullying is a serious thing and if seen should be stopped. Thank you for reading.

Iris Prize Film Festival

by Angharad, Year Ten

Last Wednesday, myself and a few others took part in an amazing opportunity to make a short film or the Iris Prize Film Festival (a prestigious event, all around the world, that makes short films to raise awareness and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community – something that all of us feel very passionate about). We are all extremely lucky to be a part of this extraordinary event and glad the we have the platform to talk about something so prevalent in todays’ society yet is still so discriminated against.

 To begin our journey into making our short film, Mark from Iris Prize came in to talk to us about the film festival itself and also what we were going to be doing over the next few weeks. From that, we began planning our film, working together and collaborating ideas to fabricate the best plot possible. It was then decided, amongst us all, that our film would be following the story of Margo (played be Eleanor) dealing with her ‘big secret’ amongst the rest of her high school drama – including her friends (played by Amelia and Matthew) pressuring her into asking a boy called David (played by Shane) ,who has a crush on her, out on a date.

With our plot completed, it was time to start organising all of the other factors that play into making a film such as the costume design and make-up, the script, the cast, the storyboard and where and when we would be filming our scenes. Once that was all sorted, we prepared ourselves for the forthcoming filming.

Now this brings us to that fateful Wednesday – filming day – and, with only an hour per scene, it was a tight squeeze to say the very least! We all congregated in the drama room for a swift briefing for the day and set off to film our first scene of the day – the classroom.

 In the classroom, we filmed the second scene of our film; here, the class is asked by the teacher (played by Mr Lloyd) their opinion on LGBT. Pandemonium then breaks loose and the class is plunged into a heated debate over whether being part of the LGBT community is right or wrong. This scene sets up the rest of the film, showing how Margo is upset and ashamed of being who she is – especially with her class’ opinions on gay rights and her friends telling her to ask David out and also making comments about her sexualtity. The line ‘Why is straight the default?’ from the book ‘Love Simon’ is included within this scene and has also been adapted into the films’ title ‘Default’. During this scene, we have a few close-ups on certain characters as the debate occurs in the classroom to truly show the emotions conveyed.

After break, we went down to the P.A to film the scene where David asks  Margo if she wants to go out sometime, causing Margo to freak out and run to the toilets to hide away from everyone. In this scene, we managed to get a close-up of Margos’ reaction to being asked out by David and then her friends’ reactions to Margo running away.

Next, we filmed the toilet scene which was when Margo tries to rid of her secret and is comforted by Sam (played by Kelsey) who fully understands what Margo is going through. This is the scene where Margo reveals her secret to the audience by showing the Pride Flag on the side of her face – showing that she is a part of the LGBT community. Technically, this was the most difficult scene to film since the mirror would often expose the camera or boom mic, Despite all this, we were still able to create an amazing scene which portrayed great emotion.

After lunch, we travelled down to the P.A again to film the first and last scenes; these scenes consisted of all of us lined up in a row, waiting to enter our class. The first scene we filmed had us all with our school uniform on, impatiently waiting to enter our class while gossiping or just minding our own business. To create a smooth effect as the camera pans down the line, we used a slider (two poles on a stand with a small tray on wheels to carry the camera) which worked incredibly well. Meanwhile, there is a voiceover (done by Tia) of a person asking if you can tell a persons’ sexuality based on their appearance.

In the second scene we filmed – the last scene – all of us can be seen in a line, just as we did in the first, , wearing brightly coloured t-shirts, resembling the colours of the Pride Flag. This time – instead of gossiping or being bored, we’re all smiling happily at the camera as it pans down the line.

I feel truly honoured to be a part of something like this and I’m sure that I speak for everyone when I say that. It was an amazing experience and I can’t wait to see the end result! I would like to thank everyone involved for being so incredible (that includes Mr Lloyd, of course!), the entire Iris Prize Production Team who came to our school and guided us along on our journey and – last but not least – Mrs Green who has been an amazing teacher throughout  and has made all of this possible!

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Assemblies: Pastoral Leaders

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RCCS Sport!

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This week has seen a number of sporting fixtures. Y7 played their first game of football on Monday, and began with a 3-2 win! Then they had their first rugby match the following day, which was at home, so I went down to watch. Given how few of them have much rugby experience I was really impressed. They lost by two tries to one- bad luck! I also caught some of the Y8 football on the astro that afternoon- they lost to a very strong Lliswerry team. Later on that evening, I heard that Charlotte in Y9 had been selected to play netball for the SEW county team- a great achievement!

Then on Wednesday our Y10 ands 11 GCSE PE girls had netball fixtures at Blackwood. I heard they’d played really well. Sport is a great way of developing teamwork and leadership. It’s important for keeping us healthy and it instils a sense of pride in the school, town, region, or, at international level, our country. Win, lose or draw I am very proud of all the pupils who represent RCCS, and I follow RCCS students past and present, and our teams’ progress closely. A great example this week, Cerys Jones has left RCCS, but I was still delighted (though not surprised) to see she has been selected for the Wales U17 football team!

Wednesday was a busy day! We held a series of anti-bullying workshops with Y8 which were excellent. We also had our drama students working on a film project. There’ll be reports in next week’s blog. At break time our language ambassadors ran a special French café in Miss Johnson’s room for European Day of Languages. I can confirm that the croissants were excellent! 

Yesterday Mr John and Mr Oliver took a large group of Y11 GCSE geography students to Abergavenny to carry out some fieldwork. They had an excellent day, and I’m really interested to hear about their research into how the town has changed in recent years.

Today people have organised Macmillan coffee mornings/afternoons to raise money for this great cause which is very close to our hearts at RCCS.

The attendance competition has joint winners this week-  both in Y7! Good to see our newest pupils leading the way! Well done 7ED and 7JK.

Finally, just to remind everyone we have a system of online payments for school trips and events etc (this is separate from paying for dinners, though.) If you’re a new parent/carer or have not yet activated your account, you’ll get a letter with your login details shortly. You can read more about this here.

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