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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The RCCS Twitter Story

RCCS TwitterLove him or loathe him, Bob Monkhouse was a consummate professional whose seemingly impromptu off-the-cuff humour was very well prepared and rehearsed. “People laughed when I said I wanted to become a comedian,” he said. “They’re not laughing now…”

I remember when we decided to start a school Twitter account back in September 2009 lots of people laughed… but many of them have Twitter accounts now. We are fairly sure we were the first school in Wales- and one of the first in the UK- to embrace this social medium and we have seen it evolve into what it is today. Here’s our story.

In September 2009 Twitter was still in its infancy. Facebook was already pretty well established, and some people were using My Space (remember that?) and some other social media sites. Most schools had websites which were often hopelessly out of date, a few had started to use email to contact parents and others had begun to use text messaging services as well.

The biggest draw of Twitter for us was that it was free. That, and very quick and easy to use. And instant and mobile. It was also easier to regulate than the dreaded Facebook which as we know has been a problem for many schools as some people have used it inappropriately.

But it was also that traditional school fear of social media that drew us in. If we were to talk with any authority at all about the dangers of networking sites we felt we needed our own on-line presence.

We started quite tentatively with simple reminders about future events or one line reports to celebrate achievements. At that time we never mentioned pupils by name or used photos- and we still won’t link to a pupil’s individual Twitter name. We kept things fairly formal, checked our grammar, avoided slang and controversy and stuck to facts. We began to attract a small number of followers, but we publicised our Twitter website and we knew people were reading messages even though they did not engage with Twitter itself.

RCCS_FBThe occasional big issue would suddenly draw in a big increase of followers- none more so than snow days when Twitter really came into its own to keep everyone informed of what was going on. We also learnt how to display our feed on the school website, and we did eventually grasp the Facebook nettle and synch our Twitter feed with an account there which has proved equally popular.

As time has gone on we have become more bold and we are big users of a range of social media. We started to add photos as often as we could, as well as links. We post videos using You Tube and Vimeo, and photo sets on Flickr, making sure that parents and carers have signed permission via our home-school contract. We retweet from other educational accounts and local community organisations which has helped us expand our network. We publish regular blogs and podcasts from the school’s account and my head teacher account.JK_Tw

Importantly, too, other teachers who have wanted to get involved have set up their own accounts using a corporate ID and working within the boundaries of a simple social media policy. Twitter has become an important aspect of CPD for many of us as a means of communicating with other colleagues as well as our own school community. But we’ve never insisted on participation. About half the staff have accounts, and half of them are quite regular tweeters. These accounts can be a little less formal than the official school twitter feed. We do respond to pupils and parents who contact us- but we never follow minors.

We’ve since encouraged two student groups- the prefects and the school council- to set up and use accounts, and one GCSE student even developed a convincing mock Twitter account as part of a Media Studies project.

I think we have learned much from our experience and I am often contacted by schools asking for advice. Our social media presence is very important to us, just as it is these days for any organisation, and I believe you ignore it at your peril!

You can follow our school at @RiscaCCS and me on @RiscaCCS_Head


Tweet often

Have multiple subsidiary accounts

Present a corporate image

Secure Head Teacher or Senior Team support

Synch with Facebook and your school website

Tweet photos and relevant web links

Use #hashtags

Don’t follow students

Avoid controversial or negative issues

Retweet and link with school partners and your community