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    Head’s Blog 13th February 2020

    What a quick half term  and one which has been packed with such a lot of incredibly positive activities where, once again, our pupils have demonstrated just how talented they are.

    We are now beginning to settle in to our new Wellbeing Centre (with extra car parking spaces being added as I write this) and now thoughts are turning to other developments in the school.

    A major project which we would like to complete as soon as possible is completely renovating what was known as the ‘lower school library’ to make it a Learning Hub based in in the Languages cluster but serving the whole of the school community.

    The Hub will play an important part in delivering learning across the curriculum and across all year groups.  Whilst in this day and age, many see the advent of digital technology as signalling the demise of books, it is hoped that a combination of cutting-edge technology and a selection of high-quality books and other resources will inspire and enthuse our pupils to be avid readers.  Our Learning Hub, as well as being a place to read can be a place where pupils will be able to use a range of technology, perform, discover, relax and generally feel that they have their own creative base within the school.

    It is hoped that the design of the library will incorporate a cinema area, study areas and areas for group-work.  Ideally, the shelves, tables, study units will all be mobile in that the whole of the Learning Hub can alter to suit the needs of pupils. Here are some photographs which show just what can be achieved!

    Within the Hub pupils will be able to access high quality digital learning opportunities with excellent wi-fi and, access to a range of devices such as laptops, tablets, 3-d facilities,  a green screen, recording facilities and so on.  In order to create an immersive learning experience, lighting, sound and a range of other equipment can be installed to assist with this.

    This exciting proposal is something which is something which our pupils need and, whilst some of the ideas listed above may appear to be quite luxurious, I know that, if provided to our pupils, it will significantly enhance their learning experience.  However, budget constraints mean  that relying on funding from the LEA and Welsh Government would mean that this would not happen for many years (if at all).

    Our  pupils deserve such a facility now and therefore,   in order to make this a reality the support of the whole of the school community is needed.   You may be  in a position to be able to contribute/sponsor some of the items for the Learning Hub or you know someone who could; it may well be that you are able to give us some time in order to help decorate and so on.  Whatever you can do to help to provide this facility for our pupils, your input would be greatly appreciated.

    Please email me at daviesr1327@hwbcymru.net if you can help in any way.  An Open Meeting will take place on Wednesday 26th February at 5pm in the Languages (Lower School – Heol Gam entrance) library where plans will be discussed in more detail.  If the school community comes together to work towards achieving this, pupils could have access to the facility in the very near future.

    Our photo of the week shows one of our sixth form pupils looking extremely nervous as he took part in one of the Festival of Light workshops!

    Best wishes

    Head’s Blog 7th February 2020

    Tuesday February 11th is Safer Internet Day and international event which aims to ensure that all children spend their time on the internet safely and productively.

    As a school, we recognise the importance of technology in the lives of pupils (and indeed staff).  Where many schools seek to completely ban mobile phones, we recognise that is something which is important to pupils and we would prefer to work with them to attempt to teach them how to use them properly.

    Sadly, a great deal of our pastoral work results from the improper use of digital technology with examples of this being:

    Pupils being rude or disrespectful to each other online

    Posts containing images which we feel are not appropriate

    Sharing information which is sensitive/confidential  – and so on.

    When digital technology is used well, it can make a hugely positive impact on the learning experience and the lives of pupils.  When it is used in a negative way, it can cause a high degree of stress and anxiety.

    The theme of Safer internet Day this year is ‘together for a better internet’ where the focus will be on how young people explore and express their ideas online and we will be looking at opportunities to deliver activities in school focussing on this.

    Whilst schools have an important role to play in this, there is also work which can be done at home.  Here are some tips from parents and carers provided by the UK Safer Internet Centre:

    1. Free to talk

    Talk regularly with your child about how they use technology. Find out how they like to represent and express themselves online, and how being online makes them feel. Listening to your child will give you the best possible idea of how you can support them.

    1. Free to explore differences

    The internet is a place where lots of different people can communicate and come together. For some children, the first place they see people who are different to them may be online. For others, the internet may be the one place where they can find people similar to them. Acknowledge the different types of identities your child may see online, and use these to spark discussions around diversity and inclusivity. Talk to your child about being respectful to everyone online, and what to do if they feel their own identity is being targeted. Free to make the internet work for your family. There are lots of tools to help you manage the devices used by your family. For example, knowing how to activate and use parental controls can help protect your child from seeing inappropriate content online.

    1. Free to get involved

    As parents and carers, it’s natural to feel worried about the risks posed by your child being online, but for young people the internet offers a wealth of exciting and fun ways to explore and experiment with their identity. This might be through the characters they choose on games, the filters or emojis they use on profile pictures, the content they share, or the sites and services they use. Spend some time with your child looking at, or interacting with, the things they do online. Talk about both the positive and negative aspects of being online, and empower your child with safe choices they can make – instead of overwhelming them with restrictions.

    1. Free to seek help and support

    It can sometimes feel like young people are the experts in all things digital but remember – you are the life experts. Find out how to get more support by visiting Childnet’s ‘Need Help?‘ page. You can take steps to support your child online by using features such as privacy settings on social media and understanding how to make a report on a range of apps, games and services.

    Just as we tell young people to talk about what they are unsure of, make sure you do too! Chances are that you’ll find other parents or carers who are trying to figure out how to make the internet work for their family! You don’t need to know all the answers straightaway but reassure your child that you can figure it out together. Maybe there isn’t an answer, but what your child is looking for is comfort.

    If you have any concerns whatsoever about this, please do not hesitate to contact us at school.

    More information can be found by accessing the following link:

    https://www.saferinternet.org.uk/safer-internet-day/safer-internet-day-2020/i-am-parent-or-carer

    It has been our Languages, Literacy and Communication Cluster’s Reasearch and Development week where lots of outstanding practice was seen.  Our photos of the week are taken from a year 9 French lesson where pupils were given the opportunity to develop their oracy skills in a highly creative way.

    Please remember that school closes for half term on Thursday 13th February to pupils as we have a staff Professional Learning Day on Friday 14th  February.

    Best wishes

    Head’s Blog 31st January 2020

    On Tuesday, the final version of the new Curriculum for Wales was published.  This follows a long process of consultation and design which has resulted in a radically different and exciting approach to learning and teaching for all pupils from the age of 3-16.

    As mentioned in my blog post last week, we have already started the journey towards implementing the Curriculum for Wales by redesigning our curriculum structure and restructuring the learning teams within school.  Whilst important, these are the first preparatory stages with the really exciting work yet to come.

    From here on in, we are preparing learning and teaching which, in brief, will be focussed on the six areas of learning experience, underpinned by the 4 core purposes and where assessment will be built in to the curriculum and, as such  is part of the everyday learning experience.  More information can be found by reading the following leaflet which has been published by the Welsh Government.

    Curriculum for Wales

    The Curriculum for Wales really does offer us at Brynteg am incredibly exciting opportunity and one which has probably come just at the right time for our school.  As you are aware, we have the solid platform of extremely good results, as well as success in many other areas (such as sport, expressive arts and so on) on which to build.  What we do know is that the curriculum we are currently delivering does not offer our pupils the opportunities they need as 21st century learners.  We know we have the skills and expertise at Brynteg to be able to design and deliver a truly inspirational curriculum for all of our pupils and this is a challenge which we are all looking forward to.

    Our photo of the week shows one of our amazing A Level Textiles students with her design.  Their project has focussed on sustainability and this and many more examples of their outstanding work will be on display at the fashion show at the Sue Ryder store in Bridgend today (Friday) at 1pm.

    Best wishes

    Head’s Blog 24th January 2020

    We are in the final stages of designing our new curriculum model for September 2020 which will be introduced to pupils in years 7 and 10 (and then throughout the school in subsequent years).    This will mean our pupils will experience a learning and teaching package which will be quite different from their existing provision.  Key to the development of this is the belief that each of the six Areas of Learning and Experience (as outlined in the new Curriculum for Wales) should be given equal status within our model.  This means that, from September, pupils in year 7 will have the same amount of learning and teaching opportunities in each of the following areas:

    • Expressive Arts
    • Humanities
    • Maths, Numeracy and Computer Science
    • Health, Wellbeing and Wider Learning
    • Science and Technology
    • Languages, Literacy and Communication

    Working with our pupils over the past year, it has been interesting to hear their thoughts on the ways in which different subjects are perceived.  They feel that, at present, there is a certain hierarchy which places the traditional core subjects of maths, English and Science at the top with the other following behind.  What they want to see provided is a learning and teaching package which recognises the that English, Science and Maths are important but no more important than expressive arts, health and wellbeing, humanities, technology, languages and so on.  Our new model addresses this in its structure.

    Whilst there are many new elements of our curriculum, it is the area of Health, Wellbeing and Wider Learning which has attracted most interest in our discussions with pupils as it is a completely new concept.  This is where PE, food and nutrition, PSE, Careers (and Skills Challenge/Welsh Baccalaureate in years 10/11) have been brought together to offer our pupils a learning and teaching experience which places their health and well-being at the core. Our commitment to ensuring that all of our pupils are  happy, healthy and confident learners is now reflected in our curriculum model.  No longer are these activities treated as ‘add-ons’ and pupils will have  at least 7 hours per fortnight of Health and Wellbeing activities.

    This is an extremely exciting time for Brynteg with this being just the start of many more exciting initiatives which will have a significant impact on learning, teaching and wellbeing.

    Our photo of the week shows group of Year 12 pupils are participating in the first round of the national ‘Chemical Analyst Competition’ at Swansea University – another example of the wide range of experiences available at Brynteg.

    Have a good weekend

    Head’s Blog 17th January 2020

    On Monday I had the privilege of attending our first ever Humanities Celebration Evening.  This gave our year 7 pupils the opportunity to demonstrate their learning as part of the ‘This is Me’ project;  involving the study of  slavery, civil rights, Martin Luther King and immigration during their history, RE and geography lessons. As part of this project they created their own ‘museum’ which then formed a core part of the display on the evening.

    The quality of the work was quite amazing and the evening allowed pupils to demonstrate their learning to parents, carers and staff from across the school.  I think the Humanities cluster may well have come across a model which could be used across the school in order to make the learning process even more of a two-way exercise.

    Next week colleagues from BCBC will be coming to Brynteg in order to carry out the next stage of the consultation regarding the future of post 16 provision in Bridgend.  They will work with pupils throughout the day, meet with staff after school and then, at 5pm, hope to meet with as many parents and carers as possible (from Brynteg and from our cluster primary schools).  Being an 11-18 school with a thriving sixth form is something which we are all incredibly proud of and would hope to see this develop in the future.  It is important that, should you wish to do so, members of our school community take part in the consultation.  I would urge you to attend if at all possible.  The details of the meeting are as follows:

    Tuesday 21st January 2020 5pm Humanities (upper school) hall.  Please note, that as a result of major construction taking place on our site, parking in this part of the school is limited but  you are more than welcome to park in other areas of the school  (e.g. bus bay, languages (lower) car park).

    Finally, I shall be speaking to pupils next week about our approach to mobile phones and air-pods/headphones and so on.  Some schools ban these items outright but at Brynteg pupils are allowed to bring these in to school but they should not be seen.  Mobile phones are only to be used if permission has been given by a member of staff.  There have already been a number of instances where air-pods have been mislaid/lost and for this reason, we would strongly advise NOT bringing these in to school at all.

    The photo of the week shows some of our wonderful year 7 pupils who took part in the humanities evening mentioned earlier.

    Thank you for your support.

    Head’s Blog 10th January 2020

    I hope you had a good break over the Christmas period.  The new term is only 5 days old and  the holiday seems quite a distance away!

    Already this week, some of our pupils have sat external examinations as year 11 completed their GCSE English Literature paper; they  really did work hard and deserve to achieve good grades.  It must be remembered that when (hopefully) we took the time in the Christmas holidays to relax and unwind, these pupils were busy revising.  Some would say that this is good preparation for the pressures which they will be facing in later life but surely there are times of the year when pupils should be able to take a complete break from their studies?

    There is a high level of interest (quite rightly so) in pupil wellbeing at the moment and this is something which we constantly place at the top of our agenda at Brynteg.  However, there is such a lot of pressure from examining bodies and sadly, it seems that pupils (especially from year 10+) are faced with a constant stream of examinations and controlled assessments.  This not only places the pupils under a great deal of pressure but it also means that the curriculum becomes choked with preparation for examinations and a lot of the ‘extra’ activities tend to fall by the wayside.  There also tends to be a pressure to ensure that the content of courses is delivered often meaning that deeper, more meaningful learning experiences have to be sacrificed.

    Our pupils achieve very good results but there is a cost associated with this as highlighted above and this really is not sustainable.  At the moment, our curriculum model is being reviewed and one of the key considerations is to ensure that there is more time for pupils to enjoy their learning and, in-particular, to access health and wellbeing opportunities as part of this model and not as an ‘optional extra’.   This is an exciting development and one which places the wellbeing of our pupils at the centre of our thinking around planning as we move towards implementing the Curriculum for Wales.  What would help is if the examining bodies relaxed the immense pressure on our pupils, allowing us to be even more creative and  wellbeing-focussed in our approach.

    Our enrichment programme is just one way of ensuring that pupils and staff spend a little time during the week free from the pressures of examinations and assessments.  The smiles you see on the faces of the participants really does demonstrate how important this aspect of our provision is and is quite rightly our first ‘photo of the week’ for 2020.

    Finally, our new Wellbeing and Reception centre is opening on Monday.  If you need to access the school during the day, there is only one entrance point and this is via the bus bay off Ewenny Road (signs will guide you to the new reception area).  Please note that this  replaces the existing reception facilities in the languages (lower) and humanities (upper) school and there will be no visitor access to these areas from Monday.  As part of this development, we have also had a new telephone system installed and our new main contact number is 815559 – again, this will take effect from Monday.

    Best wishes

    Head’s Blog 20th December 2019

    Well, we have made it!  After a long (15 week) term, we have finally arrived at the end of the term and it has been an incredibly successful one.

    The last week has seemed to sum up just how much energy there is at Brynteg School so much so, pupils and staff will need the next two weeks to recover!  Activities/events this week have included:

    • Our annual Carol Service at St Mary’s, Nolton.  This was an outstanding evening where pupils from year 7 -13 performed to a packed church.  A true celebration of Christmas and a wonderful display of the talents of our pupils.

    • The Rankin Scholarship award was presented to two of our ex-pupils who left last year – Briony Thomas (Medicine – Cambridge) and Rhys Spurgeon (Medicine – Bristol).  The award recognises academic and wider community impact and both Briony and Rhys are very worthy recipients.

    • Our Santa Appeal presents were bought and delivered to BCBC to be distributed to children in the county borough who perhaps need a little support this year.  It has been the twenty fifth anniversary of this amazing initiative and this year pupils rose to the challenge once again raising over £6000 meaning at least 200 children will receive presents.  I am sure you will agree with me that this is a fantastic achievement and one of which anyone associated with the Brynteg School community should be incredibly proud of.

    On Wednesday we held our activities day where the whole school participated in trips and visits as a reward for their hard work this term.  To see so many different activities taking place at the end of such a long term really does demonstrate the hard work and commitment of the staff at Brynteg.

    After a long period of rehearsing and a very successful carol concert, members of the Expressive Arts cluster were up bright and early the very next morning and they made their way to London to see a performance of ‘9 to 5’ (which is also our school show in October 2020).  Where do they get the energy from?

    Today (Friday) we have a Professional Learning day where staff are looking at creating effective learning objectives in their lesson plan and also developing a range of oracy techniques for use in the classroom – and then we will all look forward to having a two week break!

    We return on Monday 6th January which is a week ‘B’.  The opening of the new Wellbeing Centre has been postponed until the following week and I will write to you with further details after the holiday.

    Thank you for your support this term.

    Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newyydd Dda

     

     

    Head’s Blog 13th December 2019

    Thank you for your support with uniform where the standard is, on the whole, excellent.  Despite our efforts to ask girls to wear skirts of a reasonable length, many are still wearing skirts which are far too short.  There seems to be no alternative but to ask governors to consider moving to trousers for all pupils from September 2020 and a decision will be made in the spring term.

    I would also like to draw your attention to the policy on shoes which clearly states that shoes should be plain black, with no logos and not nylon/canvas material.

    Some of the forthcoming key dates/events are as follows:

    Friday 13th December                      Christmas jumper and lunch day

    Tuesday 17th December                  Carol Service at St Mary’s Nolton (7pm)

    Wednesday 18th December           Activities Day

    Thursday 19th December                 Final Day of Term (school closes at 3.20pm)

    Friday 20th December                      Staff Training Day

    Monday 6th January                        All pupils return to school

    The response from pupils and staff regarding our annual Santa Appeal has, once again, been quite amazing.  To see our pupils working hard to raise money over the last half term (often in some quite awful weather conditions) is such a testament to their caring attitude.  As a result of their efforts, they will have impacted positively on the lives of a large number of children across Bridgend this Christmas.  The next stage of the process if where pupils all ‘shop until they drop’ as they purchase the presents next Monday which always seems to generate a great deal of excitement in school!

    Finally, here is our photo of the week.  Members of 8G seem to throwing themselves fully into their roles as part of their Christmas plays in drama!

    Best wishes

    Head’s Blog 6th December 2019

    Continuing with our focus on the support teams that really do make such a positive impact on our school,  the spotlight this week turns to our wonderful team of Learning Support Officers/Assistants.

    This small team supports the learning needs of pupils on a one-to-one and group basis.  They develop a deep understanding of the needs of the pupils with whom they work and really do make a massive difference to the daily lives of our pupils.  

    Probably key to their success are the relationships which they build up with our pupils.  Often, pupils will prefer to speak to someone else rather than their teacher and this is something we all understand and respect.  Such is the strength of the relationships they build up, they are able to respond to the needs of pupils far quicker than others in the school; from this point of view, their work is essential.

    Their work is quite varied and will involve them in support across all of the curriculum areas within the school.  It is often stated that if you want a true picture of what is going on in classrooms across a school then asking  a member of this team will more often than not provide you with the answer!  They can be seen preparing resources, counselling pupils, supporting with classwork and examinations, working with teaching staff to develop lesson plans and much, much more.  

    Thank you to Rachel Mann, Aminita Sharma, Vanessa Howells, Lesley Cooper, Shane Davies, Bethany Hammond Emma Palfreman, Karen Edwards, Bridie Roberts, Andrea Stimpson Jane Gray, Kate Jones and Martine Hancock. The photo shows some of the team as not only are they incredibly hard working but they are also a little ‘camera-shy’!

    This week I held my regular ‘Open Meeting’ for parents and carers.  The topics discussed were as follows:

    Homework – ensuring parents and carers have full access to resources and so on.

    Google Classroom – discussion about how using Google Classroom in the future would benefit the communication links between school and home (especially in the case of homework)

    Merits – concern about the lack of detail

    Accuracy of attendance records in school

    Set lists not being updated accurately

    Positive feedback about the new reporting system and the fact that it now recognises the effort that is put in by pupils

    The Form Tutor Review meetings were viewed as a significant improvement in terms of the level of contact between school and home and also recognising the important role played by the form tutor.

    More detailed and timely communication is needed regarding events in school

    A forward-looking calendar of trips and visits would benefit parents and carers as on too many occasions, pupils are left having to choose between different trips/visits that often overlap.

    The next Open Meeting is due to take place on Tuesday 11th February at 5.30pm and it would be good to see as many parents and carers as possible there.

    Our photo of the week shows some of our pupils who took part in a Fun Run in aid of the Santa Appeal.  It is such a privilege to be part of a school where so many pupils are thinking about others who are less fortunate than themselves.

    Thank you for your support

    Head’s Blog 29th November 2019

    This week I am  focussing on the Premises Team as the spotlight is put on our wonderful support colleagues at Brynteg School.

    The team is a small one consisting of four members of staff – Michael Bayliss (premises manager) and Rob Matthews, Kris Zurek and Pawel Feduniec who are all Premises Officers.  They have the responsibility of ensuring that the whole of the school site is safe, secure and ready for learning and teaching;  no small task on a site so large and split into so many smaller units.

    The day for the premises team starts many hours before the pupils arrive as the buildings are opened and prepared for the day.  As a result of school activities and external bookings late nights are part of the regular working week pattern for the team at the end of the day.  In addition to this, the school is open during the weekends for use by different community groups meaning members of the team have to be on-hand once again.

    Against the backdrop of financial cuts and an ever more demanding ageing  school estate, it has to be said that the work that this team has done has been quite amazing! There are exciting plans for the future as we seek to develop areas of the school and without the talent and dedication of the premises team, these plans would not even be able to be considered.  Thank you to the premises team for making such a difference to our school.

    Next Tuesday (3rd December) at 5.30pm the regular Open Meeting with the Head meeting will take place  in the Humanities (Upper) Hall.  All parents and carers are welcome to attend – the agenda is yours!

    Our photo of the week shows some of our pupils undertaking some shadow experiments in science.

    Best wishes