First week back.

Just  a short blog today, there’ll be more next week, and the attendance competition also returns next Friday.

We had a staff training day on Monday and pupils returned on Tuesday. Many pupils from Y10 hit the ground running with an intensive day of study prior to the English Literature GCSE exam on the following day. I believe it was a fair paper and we now await the results in March. Good luck!

I wonder if the people who invented Lego had any idea of the uses it would be put to years down the line? It is so much more than a toy! It’s used by engineering students at Universities, by designers, architects and builders. It is also used to assist in modelling computer programs, and Mr Hare has been working with pupils on this- see the tweet of the week below. More in future blogs.

Today we have had the Y11 photo! This was my tenth photo as headteacher of RCCS. I always encourage people to buy these photos as a memento, as it can be fun to look back at them when you are older. When I was at school these photos were black and white, and taken with a camera that panned down the line- there was often a pupil who ran from one end of the group to the other and so appeared at both ends of the final photo! Nowadays the photos are done in sections and are ‘stitched’ together. The photos are a good indicator of how the school has changed, too. Our smallest Y11 group was under 80, this year we have more than 130 in our cohort.



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Merry Christmas!

Well done to all our pupils who took part in the Caerphilly Music Services concert in St David’s Hall on Monday. This is always a great event and we had more RCCS people taking part this year than we’ve had in a long while. It’s a wonderful opportunity for young musicians to perform in a great venue.

Still with music, and on Thursday we held our annual Christmas Concert at Moriah Church. This was a great success, with the biggest range of performances I can remember. Guitars,ukeleles, piano, brass, woodwind and strings were all represented by individuals and groups, and there was some great singing from a brilliant duo, from the school choir and the community choir- and indeed the congregation! Everyone I spoke to said how much they enjoyed it.

We always aim for 100% attendance, but realistically this is not going to happen in any school over a whole term. However, I’m really pleased that we are currently standing at 94% at RCCS which is a real improvement on this time last year. Well done to everyone and especially those of you who have achieved full attendance. The competition results in this week’s blog shows the winning form for the term. Congratulations to7ED who won by just 0.1% over 8TC!

Sports news, and well done to Y11 boys who drew at football with our friends over at Lewis School Pengam, and to our Y7 netball girls who beat a team from Gwent Is Coed earlier in the week. The Y8s were not so lucky, but learnt lots from their defeat and I know they’ll be back to winning ways soon.

Our STEM Club welcomed a special visitor this week, Dr Phil Charlesworth. He was looking at rocket design, and I know everyone had a great time learning about this fascinating subject. Yes, indeed, on this occasion it actually IS rocket science!

Today, Friday, it’s our ASD Centre Christmas Fair. There have been loads of donations and everyone has worked so hard to make it a success. I’m looking forward to visiting later today.

Year 11 exams continue next week, and we’ll end with a Christmas jumper/non-uniform day on the Friday. This is the last blog of 2018! As always at this time of year I’d like to thank everyone in our community for their support, and wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas and very best wishes for 2019! Term starts for pupils on Tuesday 8th January (we have staff training on the Monday) and it will be a timetable week 2.

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Good luck Y11!

The focus has been on Y11 this week, and remains on them until Christmas. It was good to see lots of parents at the evening on Tuesday, and I am indebted to Mrs Coles for the presentations she gave about studying for exams. The mocks begin next week and I’m pleased to see the large majority of our students are taking these seriously. You can find the timetable and lots of advice on our website- please follow this link. Good luck to you all. Things are a bit different for 2019, and most will have lots more papers to sit than has been the case in recent years in the summer so they need to be really well prepared. I am pleased to see a Y11 class has won the attendance award this week- leading by example! Well done 11SP!

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We welcomed Mrs Baskerville back to school this week, following her maternity leave. I’ve visited quite a few science lessons recently and I think this area of the school is really going places! We have been boosted by the arrival of two new teachers in Mrs Davies and Mr Hare, and with Mrs Baskerville back with us and Mr Williams and Mrs Hill completing the team under Mrs Nash’s leadership, and a new science curriculum in the offing, the future looks bright. Science is a really exciting subject, and I’m often  reminded of Carl Sagan’s quote when I visit classes: “Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.”

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The Christmas Concert takes place next week at Moriah Church (see above) and I’m really looking forward to it. That’s when Christmas really starts for me! Why not try our Christmas Literacy Quiz to get you in the mood for the festive season? There are lots of words we use at Christmas but I’m not sure we really all know what they mean. You can find the quiz HERE

The French Department have appointed the language ambassadors for the year, and Miss Johnson tweeted a picture on Thursday (see “Tweet of the Week” below!) I know they will be great representatives for the subject and the school. As a linguist myself I am very keen to see as many pupils as possible learning languages; whatever happens in the future (I won’t mention the ‘B’ word!) we will need people who speak languages to make sure Wales has a voice across the world in trade and commerce.

Pupils in ICT lessons this week have been engaged in coding. ICT is another area of the school which is rapidly developing under Ms Bawler’s leadership. Coding means creating computer programs, and this is becoming an important part of our curriculum in Wales.

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream!

I had several really positive comments and tweets from a  number of people following last week’s blog and our appearance on the national TV news and Victoria Derbyshire in connection with the Fake News project with BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones, and I also found out we had featured on the BBC World Service, so people right across the globe were able to hear of our school’s work in this area! If you missed it, you can check it out here. Thanks again to everyone involved!

It was also mentioned at the Governing Body meeting we held on Monday evening. During this meeting we had two excellent presentations from Ms Bawler, on the Digital Competence Framework, and from Mr Mock on Welsh and Y Cwricwlwm Cymreig, both in the context of our work here at RCCS of course. There is a lot of progress in both these areas of the school and I know the Governors were impressed with what they heard.

Another area of the school making progress is the newly formed Eco Team. On Tuesday afternoon several of them took part in a litter pick, supported by Keep Tidy Wales, with Ms Davies who is in charge of ESDGC (education for sustainable development and global citizenship.) It is important this group does not end up just doing the dirty work, but this shows great leadership by example. I know they’ll engage with a lot more things in school over the next few years. Here is her report:-

Armed with safety gloves, litter pickers and recycling bags we tackled the litter inside and outside the school, clearing 11 bags of rubbish before the rain came in! We found that a lot of the rubbish was made up of plastic bottles and polystyrene cups, and plastic forks. We are going to have a look at how we can reduce this rubbish and make sure that we are using more recyclable materials. We are going to meet next week and make some decisions on our next challenge and how we can continue to make a difference.

We’ve been involved in Operation Christmas Child, which is a religious charity that ensures that children from third world countries have something special to open on Christmas Day. Ms John from our RE Department has been in charge of this and I was delighted to get this update earlier in the week:-

Many of our pupils participated in filling a shoe box with carefully chosen toys and gifts deciding on if their box would be for a boy or girl and what age the child would be. The boxes were also beautifully wrapped when filled. As a school we are very proud of the effort and enthusiasm the children showed in spreading joy at Christmas and participating in the project. The project has made many children ask important questions about other children and countries and things we take for granted daily. As a school we hope to continue to support this charity and grow the amount of boxes we fill every year. A huge thank you to all the children and their families that took part this year – you have made a real difference to a child’s Christmas!OCC 

On Wednesday pupils from our ASD Centre took part in a Swimming Gala in Newbridge. This was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone involved. Everyone is now looking forward to the Christmas Fete on December 14th which is always a superb event!ASD

A number of pupils were involved in our production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Riverfront Theatre in Newport on Wednesday, part of the Shakespeare Schools Festival. This was an excellent performance enjoyed by a big audience. Congratulations to everyone involved and to Mrs Green who directed the play. It was a superb evening, and one of the best RCCS productions I have seen. We are hoping to be able to perform the play to our Primary Schools early next year. (By the way, if anyone thinks artistic and creative talent comes easily, check out the quote of the week below…)

On Thursday evening we welcomed back our recent leavers to celebrate their achievements in the summer’s exams. It was great to see them again! Good luck to you all for the future and remember we are #AlwaysYourSchool!


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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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