Community Art!

This week we have been holding a review of our school. This involves visiting lessons, looking at pupils’ work and talking with teachers and pupils. This is an important part of our self-evaluation and allows us to decide where and how improvements can be made. The review continues next week. We are also lucky to have people from outside the school who are joining us to assist in the process; this is very important, and is part of the collaborative approach that regular readers of this blog know we greatly value.

Sports news! Congratulations to our Y8 and Y9 netball teams who both won games against The John Frost School this week. Also to Cai in Y8 who is now a first dan judo black belt, and to Chloe who was runner up in the Wales and West Cechetti (ballet) awards.

On Thursday a Welsh artist, Rhiannon Roberts, came into school to host an art workshop which a number of our pupils were able to enjoy. They produced an excellent piece of work based on our school and our community. Everyone really enjoyed it, and we now have to decide where the finished article is going to go! Here’s a picture of the work in progress; the finished piece looks absolutely amazing! 


7KH have knocked 7ED off the top spot for attendance! Well done! 10 CT came a very close second this week. Attendance overall is still up on last year, and the progress we’ve made in this area is a credit to everyone.

No blog next week as it is half term.This marks the mid point of the academic year, but not for Y11 who are nearer the end than maybe some of them realise! Lots of support has been put in place for them, and this will continue over the half term break. There is plenty of revision to do over the week, and in some cases coursework to catch up on.

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Two special visitors!

On Tuesday we welcomed two Welsh Government ministers to school to visit the ASD Centre. Both Kirsty Williams (Education) and Vaughan Gething (Health) joined us as part of the consultation on the new ALN code. We were also joined by our local AM and councillors and officials from Caerphilly Borough Council. The guests were welcomed by the Head Girl, Emily, and then spent about half an hour with staff and students, getting involved in learning activities and talking about school. The pupils involved did the school proud, and were very articulate and informative and I know both ministers found the visit helpful.IMG_9341

That day too we welcomed pupils from Risca Primary, Ty Sign Primary and Waunfawr Primary to school to watch our production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This was the play we performed as part of the Shakespeare School Festival at the Newport Riverfront last November. Everyone I spoke to really enjoyed it. Thanks to the cast for putting the play on again, and thanks to our visitors for coming along. They were also involved in some student-led workshops, and in the afternoon the play was performed to our own Y7 pupils.

As part of Children’s Mental Health Week our Mental Health and Wellbeing group organised a Time to Talk Day event on Thursday. This group is very active in the school and I am indebted to them for the work they do. They were organising an anonymous survey about mental health and will be sharing the results with me. I look forward to meeting them to discuss this in the near future. They made a really good video about the day which they published on their Twitter account, @RCCS_MH.

Also on Thursday our PTA group, FORCE, hosted a special Quiz and Curry Night. This was a great event, held to raise funds for outdoor seating for our pupils; we hope to get that sorted over the next few months.

Well done to 7ED, they really have done well in the attendance competition this year and have won yet again this week!

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ASSEMBLY:  Pastoral Leaders

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Student Leadership

Today’s blog comes from two of our senior prefects who attended an important event last week. Thanks to Emily Beasley and Amelia Williams for giving us this update.

On Monday the 21st January we went to the Annual Youth Forum held in the Maes Manor Hotel in Blackwood. It was a great experience that we were happy to take part in as it enabled our voices to be heard. We were put into “the greener group” in which we discussed four topics. These were climate change, bins, outdoor spaces and one other. We discussed these topics before individually voting for the one that we thought was most important to us. There were four other groups that discussed 4 other topics, for example, the ‘Healthier Wales’ group discussed mental health and period poverty. The group leaders all switched and explained their topics to all the other groups. Eventually, we had voted for one topic from each group. These were compiled together to create a ballot. The ballot included the most popular issue from each group. We voted and placed our papers in a locked box. The ballot will now be spread across Welsh Schools to allow everybody to have a say. Our school is hosting the ballot on the 29th of January at lunch time in the PA. The issue with the most votes will become the project for the year and massive changes will be put in place to help resolve the problem. 

We thoroughly enjoyed our day at Maes Manor, everybody was friendly and welcoming (and the food was good!) We revelled in the chance to give our input and have a say in subjects that really affect us. 

Talking of the prefects, we had a meeting on Wednesday when I was able to receive feedback from the latest School Council meeting which was very helpful. We also looked at the EAS (Education Achievement Service) business plan and were able to pass on our views to them  via an online form. Earlier in the week, as mentioned above, all pupils had the opportunity to vote on the topic then wanted to be discussed at the Caerphilly Youth Parliament. It is really important that pupil voice is heard, and we do try to facilitate this as much as we can here at RCCS. Not only do we have leadership from the School Council and prefects, we have sports leaders, language ambassadors, digital leaders, eco club, and the mental health team. Soon we will have our house system up and running and there’ll be leadership posts there, too. If anyone else feels they have a leadership role to offer, please do let me know.



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Lego League!

Last week I promised you a report on the First Lego League, and Ella and Ethan from Y7 have written this excellent piece for us. Thank you very much- and well done!

On Thursday we went to the Swansea Waterfront museum to take part in the First Lego League Into Orbit competition. On the way to the museum we practised our presentation on our research and the features we built into our robot. When we arrived we set up out table, then went and looked at the other teams tables and take pictures. Two judges came to our table for us to explain how our robot worked, the code and why we chose to build it the way we did. We then watched the robot games, which consist of 16 missions for a robot to complete in 2 and a half minutes.

When it was our turn for our first robot game (of three) we scored no points as we had some issues with our code and our robot kept toppling over. We used the time after the game to re-design and re-code our robot. We failed to score in our second match, but in our third match we achieved 22 points which put us in 4th place. Our strategy changed each time, we replaced the arm with a spike and used this to solve a problem.

Our next task was a team assessment of our ‘Core values’ (how well we worked as a team). We had 10 minutes to build a Lunar base out of Lego with no instructions.

We had to present our research project which was an automated greenhouse for growing food on the way to Mars. We got compliments from the judges about how we managed to link our ideas to existing things, like 3D Printers, Robotic arms and Incubators for babies.

We won a trophy for the ‘Best Technical Design’ for the way that we tried to solve the problems.

On Thursday we welcomed three Assembly Members who are on the CYPE (children, young people and education) committee currently looking into school funding processes across Wales. It was great to have the opportunity to share our views, and I was delighted they spoke with teachers, governors, parents and pupils as part of the process. Thanks to everyone who gave up their time to get involved.

Falklands war veteran Simon Weston visited us on Wednesday to talk to some of our pupils about careers in the armed forces. We are lucky to have a social link with Simon (he’s Mrs Weston’s brother!) and he is a good friend of the school and always welcome at RCCS.

Our focus on Y11 continues. We held a staff meeting on Monday to discuss individual performances in the mock exams and we held a special session today giving the students their results and then some guidance as to what to do next. It’s a mixed picture- as it is every year at this time. The key thing is there is time for everyone to improve, and we will work together to make it happen!screen shot 2019-01-25 at 11.01.52



ASSEMBLY: Assistant Head

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Quiz and Curry Night!

You’ll find lots of Twitter links in this week’s blog! Remember, you can follow the school on @RiscaCCS.

As mentioned in last week’s blog, Mr Hare (@RCCS_MrHare) took a group to Swansea on Thursday to compete in the First Lego League contest. The team, Team Cuckoo, had a great time and did really well, winning the technical build challenge! I’m hoping we’ll get a report from them in next week’s blog.screen shot 2019-01-18 at 08.27.04

Sports news! Netball first, and Y8 played well but lost to a strong Blackwood team this week. Y9 played the same school and won 12-6, with Mrs Perry (@RCCS_MrsPerry) saying she’d never seen the team play so well. Two of our girls have also been selected for the Welsh cross-country schools championships, so very well done to Callie (Y7) and Lowrie (Y11). Well done too to Lewis and Walker who are playing for the Islwyn U15s rugby team today.

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Pupils from our ASD Centre (@RCCS_ASD) had a great day at Boulders Climbing Centre earlier in the week, organised through the Prince’s Trust. Climbing is a great activity to encourage trust and teamwork, as well as conquering a few inner fears, and I know everyone really enjoyed it. The new kitchen is being put to good use, too. This has been fitted to help improve lifeskills, and this week pupils were making cakes, but in a rather unconventional way, baking in a mug! Two boys came to show me what they’d done and I was very impressed!

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The Y9 options process is under way. Pupils have had a variety of presentations about possible choices for next year, and we held the standard parents’ evening on Wednesday. I know Mr Canavan (@RCCS_MrSCanavan) was very pleased with the turnout. There will be a further Options Evening on 6th February when further information will be made available.

On Monday 21st January, members of our Mental Health and Wellbeing team (@RCCS_MH) are organising a coffee morning for staff. This is a student led team who are really proactive in promoting this important issue across our school. I am indebted to them for the work they are doing.

Our PTA, FORCE (Friends of Risca: Community Enagement, @RCCS_FORCE) met on Tuesday after school. They’re running a Curry and Quiz night starting at 6.30pm on 7th February at the school and all are welcome. Entry is just £2 for adults and 50p for under 16s, and the curry meal is £3. The last time we had a quiz it was well attended and everyone had a good time. You can sign up via Eventbrite here

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ASSEMBLY: Senior Assistant Head

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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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