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    Head’s Blog – 29th June 2018

    Thank you for your support this week as we all enjoyed record-breaking temperatures!  I think allowing pupils to wear their PE kit during this period has really worked well for all concerned with pupils claiming that they have felt much more comfortable in their lessons.  This to me should be the way in which we approach ‘summer uniform’ – when the temperature gets to a point where it is simply too uncomfortable to wear uniform in the classroom then pupils should be allowed to wear their PE kit.   As was the case this week, parents and carers will be informed through social media and our new SIMs parent app if pupils are allowed to wear their PE kit (this system worked extremely well this week). Going forward, I would propose that this replaces the polo shirt and I will be informing parents and carers of our new year 7 (September 2018) of this fact.

    In only 4 school weeks time we will be returning to a new and exciting year and, as you are aware, this year we are introducing our enrichment programme for all pupils (years 7-13).  The enrichment session will take place on the second Wedensday of the timetable and pupils will be able to choose from a wide variety of activities with the first round of options taking place in the next few weeks.

    It is hoped that this initiative will allow pupils some freedom in a very busy timetable. There will be no examinations or tests involved with pupils (and staff) being allowed to enjoy activities without these additional pressures.  Of course, the enrichment programme will depend on the positive and mature approach from all of our pupils; it is not optional but having seen the range of activities, neither will pupils have to do something which they will not enjoy.

    This is such an exciting project and I firmly believe it will make a positive impact across the school in all lessons and I am sure this blog will contain lots of information about the activities in the coming months.

    The photo of the week shows members of the hockey team who are looking for sponsorship for new kit – if you know of anyone who will be able to help, please let us know.

    Thank you for your support.

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    Head’s Blog 22nd June 2018

    As you may be aware, the school has investigated the possibility of having lockers in school for our pupils.  This was at the request of our pupils and members of the School Council.  Whilst we have a beautiful school site, it is rather spread out with the result being that pupils have to carry their bags for quite a distance during the day.

    Purchasing the lockers was our original intention but it was not too long before we realised that this was way beyond our means.  Even for the basic internal lockers, the best price we could find was £92 for a block of 3 meaning an outlay of £43,000 for the whole school.  The type of lockers we have identified which are both suitable for use internally and externally are more expensive again.

    Our solution has been to approach a company who will site the lockers in school for us at no cost. If parents/carers would like to purchase a locker for the year then this is done by accessing the company’s website and paying a rental fee of £15-£18 per year.  It will also be possible to specify the exact location of the locker.  Once payment has been made, an email will be sent back to the parent/carer with the location/number of the locker together with a 4 digit code which pupils will use to gain access to the locker by means of a combination lock (there are no keys involved at all).

    The school will not receive any money from this venture at all but it does give us immediate access to lockers (which would not be possible if we had to purchase them outright). In an ideal world we would be able to fund the lockers ourselves and not have to charge pupils for them but sadly this is not the case.

    Pupils will not be required to have a locker and it is envisaged that some will choose not to do so.  It is hoped that this initiative will make life a little easier for pupils at Brynteg.

    Our photo of the week shows some of the members of our wonderful orchestra and was taken during one of the lunchtime rehearsal sessions this week.

    Best wishes

     

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    Head’s Blog 15th June 2018

    What a week we have just had in Brynteg – at this time of year you would expect that we would begin to slow down but this is definitely not the case here!

    One of the highlights of the week has been our year 7 learning project (The Incredible Journey) which was designed and delivered jointly with Brackla, Penybont, Tremains and Litchard primary schools. The week focussed on developing extended writing skills and saw joint teaching across primary and secondary with our teaches delivering in primary schools and vice versa.  This model is one which will become more important as the new Curriculum for Wales is developed.  I think that the school community is very lucky to have such a talented group of staff and to be able to work with these wonderful primary schools really is a privilege.

    I am just about to discuss with our School Council the possibility of having lockers .  The company which has been identified (Locker Rentals) basically site lockers in schools themselves and then parents/carers have the opportunity to rent them for a year by contacting them directly.  There are no keys involved as all lockers have a combination lock.  If the School Council members feel that this is something which they would like then a restricted number of these lockers will be ordered in the first instance in order to evaluate how the scheme works before committing any further.

    The Young Enterprise scheme is an important initiative which has been running in schools and colleges for many years now and at Brynteg, it is an important part of our provision. This year, a group of sixth form pupils formed their own company (Diverge) which developed a product known as ‘Eco-Toes’.

    The group thought about children in less developed countries who walk to school without shoes and came up with a highly innovative solution to the problem.  Their idea was developing a kit which would allow schools around the world to turn as few as 8 carrier bags into shoes which can then be worn by the children.  I am sure you will agree that this is a highly innovative idea and so much so, the group made it through to the all Wales final. Sadly, they didn’t win but maybe someone out there will pick up on this fantastic idea.  As a small consolation, they have been chosen as the photo of the week.

    Best wishes

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    Head’s Blog 8th June 2018

    We are committed to improving communication between school and home and have recently been working to develop a new system which will launch in the near future.

    Whether it’s sharing information on attendance, homework and timetables or school reports and conduct, parents and carers can stay on top of their child’s progress. We will easily be able send automated alerts and notifications directly to parents’ phones. A clear dashboard gives parents an overview of their child’s school life, making for more meaningful conversation at parent/carer evenings.  The app will also allow us to efficiently manage extra-curricular activities such as school trips, homework clubs and after school activities.

    Additionally, the data collection functionality within the SIMS Parent app lets us easily collect the most up-to-date contact information from parents/carers.

    Working alongside the Parent app, the SIMS Student app lets students view important information, such as their timetable, homework they’ve been set and feedback once it has been marked. They can also receive alerts through the app to remind them of key information, for example, there is a careers fair happening at school tomorrow.

    These apps will be fully functional for the start of the new academic year and in preparation for this, in the coming weeks you will be sent log in details where you will be given access to the apps in order for you (and us) to get used to them.

    We have recently finalised our calendar for 2018-19 with some of the key dates being:

    Training Day 1                                 Monday 3rd   September 2018

    School Opens to pupils                Tuesday  4th  September 2018

    Training Day 2                                 Monday 5th November 2018

    Training Day 3                                 Friday 22nd February 2019

    Training Day 4                                 Monday 3rdJune 2019

    Training Day 5                                 Monday 22ndJuly 2019

    Finally, at the end of the half term break, a large group of our pupils from y8 visited France led by our wonderful staff.  The feedback from the visit has been so positive with our pupils representing Brynteg School in the best way possible. Our photo of the week comes from the trip and shows the new Brynteg snail-eating champions (I think they are enjoying them).

    Best wishes

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    Head’s Blog 25th May 2018

    That was the fifth half term out of six – the speed at which we go through academic years is incredible!  It really does only seem like yesterday that year 7 were sitting in the hall in their first assembly and now looking at them as they move around school it is as if they have been here for years.

    The last week before Whitsun is always tinged with sadness as, for many of our pupils, it is the last week of formal teaching.  It is a shame that the examination boards now feel that it is appropriate to bring forward the exams as pupils in years 11-13 have been sitting external papers for a few weeks now.  It used to be the case that exams would start around Whitsun time meaning that pupils could spend the half term preparing and, also have time to celebrate the last few lessons together as a year group.  Let’s hope the powers-that-be see sense and move exams back in future years.

    Even with the pressure of examinations, we have still managed to ensure that our pupils in years 11 and 13 have had celebration assemblies as a way of commemorating the end of such an important phase of their education.  The assemblies are always packed with fun as there are so many stories to tell and of course, there is also the more sombre aspect of the realisation that this will be the last time they will be together as a complete year group.

    I am so pleased that we are able to ensure that our pupils are still able to experience some of the ‘nicer’ aspects of life in school, even during a completely frantic examination period.  The response from our year 11 and 13 pupils over the past few months has been outstanding and they deserve to be congratulated for this.  If their positive attitude is anything to go by, then they should be looking forward to the results days in August.

    The photo of the week shows some of our year 11 pupils in their celebration assembly and it sums up just how positive this was.

    I hope you have a restful Whitsun break and look forward to seeing all pupils back in school on Monday 4th June.

    Best wishes

     

    Head’s Blog 18th May 2018

    This week pupils and staff took part in the first phase of our move from the current card system for cashless payments to our new biometric system which is due to go ‘live’ on June 4th.  This does mean  that, after half term, pupils and staff will be able to deposit cash and pay for meals simply by placing their finger on the biometric readers which are currently being installed.  Not only will this make it easier and quicker during the very busy break periods, it will also mean that there isn’t the inconvenience of having to make alterative arrangements when a card is lost or left at home.  At the moment, there is a concern that some pupils are going without lunch simply because they don’t have access to their card – the new system will stop this happening.

    It is our aim to encourage more and more pupils to eat in school and are looking at reviewing the arrangement whereby pupils in years 10-13 are allowed ‘off-site’ during lunchtime. There are no plans to change this arrangement for the 2018-19 academic year but, working with the School Council, it is hoped that this will be something which we are able to do in the future.

    As members of the School Council have highlighted, in order to encourage pupils to stay in school, the range, quality and price of the school offer has to be attractive.   I know that colleagues from BCBC catering are very open to suggestions and I look forward to working with them and the School Council to develop our provision further.

    It is important that our pupils have the opportunity to understand and develop a healthy approach to their lifestyle.  There are healthy options already on offer in school at break and lunchtime but there is a concern that pupils are choosing unhealthy options from outside school.  Please help us to reinforce the message about healthy eating; sadly, we have very little control over what local retailers wish to sell to our pupils and therefore do need your support in order to improve the situation.

    The photo of the week shows year 8 pupils enjoying science in the sunshine using quadrats and nets to calculate the biodiversity index of Brynteg school. Seeing the pupil enjoying their learning is important but it also demonstrates what a fantastic resource our school grounds are.

    Best wishes

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    Head’s Blog 11th May 2018

    It never ceases to amaze me just how activities our pupils are when it comes to fundraising for a wide range of charities.  Almost on a weekly basis, pupils ask for permission to undertake some element of fundraising such as asking for a non-uniform day, cake sale, sponsorship and so on.  This is such a powerful statement about the compassionate nature of our pupils and makes us feel extremely proud of them as a school.  In terms of the requests for fundraising activities to be undertaken in school, I believe that these should be considered by our School Council where the pupil members of this body can decide whether or not to support an initiative and ensure that there are not too many demands on pupils (and parents/carers) for funds during the year.

    Thank you to all of those who have completed and returned the permission letter for our new biometric catering payment system.  As you will be aware, permission has to be gained from parents/carers before we undertake the biometric scan and also there is the option for parents and carers to opt out of this as well.  The move to the biometric system came as a result of feedback from pupils and parents/carers who said that the current card-based system often caused problems when the card was lost and so on.  The new system will eradicate this problem and it is hoped that, in time, it will make purchasing items from our canteen much more efficient.  There is still time to return the form if you have not already done so but time is running out as the initial phase of taking the biometric readings from pupils is due to begin next week.

    Plans for our enrichment programme are well underway and there is an exciting range of activities for our pupils to participate in next year.  The new programme will mean that on the second Wednesday afternoon (week ‘b’) of the timetable, the whole school (pupils and staff) will be involved in enrichment activities.  This is a major initiative for the school and one which it is hoped will demonstrate that there is still time within the busy school day to include such experiences.

    The photo of the week shows some of our pupils proudly displaying the smoothies they made during their food technology lesson.  It is so good to see that pupils enjoying activities which are helping to promote a healthier lifestyle.

     

    Best wishes

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    Head’s Blog May 4th 2018

    As we move into the final period before the examinations, you may be feeling a bit of a ‘spare part’ as your son/daughter focusses on their revision.  There is still plenty of input which you can have and often, the most basic actions can be the most effective.  For example:

    • Encourage them not to use lined paper but use plain paper – it helps as they can use it to do mind-mapping and ‘spider graphs,’ etc.
    • Encourage them to  read their text books and notes and make them into audio files on their phones, then when you are travelling or away from a desk/home they can use them to remind them about facts and rewrite and use the info to revise.
    • A good positive chat is so helpful.
    • Revision, rest and recreation all go together.
    • Fifteen minutes focused study followed by a five-minute break is better than 1 hour staring into space.
    • Find the best timings to suit their brains. Use kitchen timers or countdown apps to time their study times.  Help them to time past paper questions.
    • Give them space.  They really do have a lot of work to get through in the next few weeks – the chores can wait until after the last exam….

    Often pupils will say they have left it too late and there is ‘nothing they can do now’. It is true that the best revision is the revision that was started weeks or months ago, however, the next best is the one that is started now!

    You may have noticed on Facebook/Twitter over the past week that we have been advertising our facilities for hire.  Whether it be our pitches, halls, gyms, classrooms and so on, we would be flexible in terms of your requirements either for ‘one-off’ events or longer term, regular bookings.  If you are interested, please contact Jennifer Davies at school who will be able to discuss your requirements with you.

    Our photo of the week shows sixth form student Aisha who recently visited Cambridge University  as her prize for winning the 2017 Cambridge Uni Sociology and Photography competition. She visited Trinity, Kings, Queens+ Murray Edwards colleges and met up with Emily (an ex-Brynteg student) who is studying Psychology and Education at Homerton College.

    Best wishes

     

    Head’s Blog 27th April 2018

    Teaching is always interesting and rewarding but the period which we are now entering in school across Wales really is incredibly exciting.

    Schools across the country are beginning to plan for the implementation of the new Curriculum for Wales in 2022.  This will involve changes to learning and teaching the like of which have not been witnessed before.  At Brynteg, we have spent a great deal of time ensuring that we know and understand exactly what is required in the new model and are now beginning to think about what learning will look like in Brynteg in 2022.  I know that with the talented and dedicated staff which we have together with our amazing pupils, our response to the new curriculum model will be incredibly exciting.

    The Duke of Edinburgh award is an important part of our provision at Brynteg.  The award which involves community, physical and skills and expedition challenges really does provide many of our pupils with opportunities which they will use (and remember) for a lifetime.  We are incredibly lucky to have a team of staff who volunteer to provide our pupils with these opportunities and without this support, activities such as these simply would not take place. As part of our new enrichment provision it is hoped that many more pupils will wish to participate in the award in the future.

    Last weekend,  a group  of our pupils completed the Welsh Three peaks challenge (Snowdon, Cadair Idris and Pen-y-Fan).  The Welsh Three Peaks includes a total walking distance of 17 miles (27.4km) and an ascent of 2334 metres (7657ft), usually in less than 24-hours.  A huge congratulations to the pupils and staff who completed this and it demonstrates, once again, just how rich and varied our provision is.

    Finally, the photo of the week shows the sixth form Young Enterprise team ‘Diverge’ who this week won two awards (Innovation and Best Company award) at the the South Wales area Trade Fayre.  They now progress to the national final on June 11th  which is a  fantastic achievement and I am sure you will  all join with me in wishing  the team the best of luck as they progress to the next stage.

    Best wishes

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    Head’s Blog 20th April 2018

    As explained in a previous post, you should have received a letter this week detailing our new biometric system for use in our school canteens.  It is important that these forms are returned by the end of the week in order for us to plan the next stage of the process.  If you have any queries about the new system, please do not hesitate to contact me.

    The coming weeks are so important for all of our pupils but especially those who are preparing for external examinations. These pupils should all now be working towards these by having an effective revision programme.  It is important that, as well as ensuring that they are applying themselves to their studies, pupils look after themselves as well and, as we have said to them all, it is important that they find time to relax and have a regular break from revision.

    I am constantly amazed by the wide range of additional opportunities which our pupils are offered.  A number of these activities allow pupils to experience other countries with two recent examples being  our French exchange and skiing trip.

     

    The joint exchange between Brynteg and Bryntirion and the town of Villenave-d’Ornon (twinned with Bridgend) has been going for well over 20 years now. This year 16 of our students participated in the French exchange and were hosted by French families for a week. During their time in France they attended school and went on a number of trips in and around Bordeaux. This week the students returned to spend a week in Bridgend and have visited the Principality Stadium, St Fagans and Margam Park. They’ve also spent some time in school attending lessons and experiencing life a student in Brynteg.

    The skiing trip involved a group of 52 pupils experiencing the delights of the slopes at Peschbihl,  Austria. The trip took place in the first week of the Easter holidays and was incredibly successful with pupils already asking about the next opportunity.

    Whenever additional opportunities such as those mentioned above are organised, our pupils always respond in a positive way and are a real credit to Brynteg School.  I must recognise that without the support and dedication of a wonderful team of staff these activities would not take place and I am so grateful for all that they do.

    Finally, the last word must go to our victorious senior rugby team who won the Welsh cup by beating a very stong Ysgol Preseli side 19-10 in the final at the Principality Stadium this Wednesday.  Once again, the boys concerned really were an excellent advert for Brynteg School and both teams demonstrated just how much talent there is in Wales.  Well done boys – we are all so proud of you.

    The photo of the week shows a selection of our pupils who were unable to contain their excitement at the end of the game!

    Best wishes