I wanted to write to you, to mark the end of the half term and to update you on the progress that the school has made to date. As you know, I was appointed, alongside Mr Cook, Head of School, to ensure that Cwmbran High School makes rapid, sustained progress and fully addresses the recommendations outlined in its last Estyn report, to ensure that the school is taken out of Special Measures as soon as possible.
I therefore intend to continue to write to you on a half-termly basis to share with you the strategies we have put in place and the progress we have made to ensure we achieve this goal.
Without a doubt these have been, and will continue to be, the most difficult academic years in recent memory. However, all staff at Cwmbran High School have been working tirelessly to put the necessary preparations in place to ensure that our pupils have access to the best possible blended learning offer that we can provide.
All staff have provided resources for pupils in every Year Group to be able to access work remotely. Pupils have been set assignments to complete by their subject teachers via Google Classrooms and your child has been provided with the relevant login details and passwords. If your child has any queries regarding the work they have been set, they are able to contact their teacher directly through Google Classrooms. If you do not have internet access at home, then distance learning packs have been produced for each Year Group and are available for collection from the school.
At the beginning of January, we introduced ‘live lessons’ into our virtual timetable, these have proved to be very popular and we have seen an increase in the level of pupil engagement. Our blended learning strategy includes a mixture of ‘live’ and distance learning lessons, however, in all cases teachers are on hand to support all remote learning via Google Classrooms.
We appreciate that not all pupils have access to ICT devices to support their distance learning. To support the engagement of those pupils we have purchased 140 laptops which we have been able to provide to these learners. We are expecting to receive further ICT equipment via Welsh Government funding which we will pass on to pupils still without devices as soon as we receive them.
It is important that all pupils engage in learning activities, however this needs to be manageable and sustainable. To assist with this, you can find guidance for parents/carers on how to support your child with distance learning on our website.
Monday 15th February marks the start of the half-term, therefore staff will not be available to support your child with their distance learning during this time. As a result, staff will provide feedback on any assignments set after this holiday.
LEARNING AND TEACHING
Since January, the school has begun working with an Educational Consultant who is working with staff to enhance their professional development and to ensure that there are high quality learning and teaching experiences across the school. When your child returns to face-to-face learning in the future, they will notice a consistent style of teaching across the school. We want to challenge all pupils, irrespective of ability levels, to achieve their very best.
As you are aware, we are now working in partnership with Cantonian High School in Cardiff. This professional partnership has provided the school with an exciting opportunity to collaborate with a recognised high performing school to share good practice and to enable our staff to develop their teaching practice further.
The partnership has enabled us to move staff across the schools to support Cwmbran High’s improvement journey. I am therefore delighted to welcome Mr Gareth Davies, who has joined the school to teach maths.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank those parents/carers who attended the first Headteacher’s Surgery on 28th January. It was so helpful to be able to speak directly to parents/carers to get your views on the school, what has worked well and to understand where you felt changes were needed.
I intend to hold these Headteacher’s Surgeries on a monthly basis with Mr Cook, if you would like to meet with us then you will be able to request a meeting via email, following a text that will be sent out prior to scheduled Surgeries.
As the situation with the Covid-19 pandemic continues to develop, I will communicate any changes to you via the school website (http://www.cwmbranhighschool.co.uk) and Twitter (@CwmbranHigh); please ensure that you check these regularly for any updates. In addition, if you have any further queries you can still telephone the school and our reception team will be able to assist with your enquiry.
Every pupil in the school has been assigned a member of staff to make regular contact with you and your child via telephone. This is an opportunity to keep in touch and to provide any support that we can. In addition, key staff have been allocated pupils who may need additional support at this time.
GCSE QUALIFICATIONS UPDATE
Due to the Coronavirus outbreak and closure of schools, the Welsh and UK Government made the decision to cancel all summer exams for 2021 for pupils in Year 10 and 11. Instead, the school will award pupils in Year 11 a Centre Determined Grade for all the GCSE subjects they are completing. These grades will be based on a range of evidence from pupils work and will be subject to a robust moderation process. I am sure parents of pupils in Year 11 will have queries around this process, therefore, once I have received further information from the Welsh Government about Centre
Determined Grades, I will write to you again.
Pupils in Year 10 who have been entered for an examination in summer 2021 will be awarded a grade following the same process as for those pupils in Year 11. This includes all pupils who were being entered for English Literature as this was to be their final examination for this qualification.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support and understanding at this difficult time. I wish you all an enjoyable half term holiday, but most importantly, that you, your families and loved ones stay safe.
Mrs D Gill