The RP Weekly: 16 April 2021
The weekly digital newsletter from Rydal Penrhos School.
The RP Weekly
16 April 2021
May event confirmed
Saturday 8 May
- 9am start
- 3.45pm last tour
- By appointment only
Anyone wishing to find out more about what Rydal Penrhos has to offer can book a socially distanced tour during our upcoming Open Day on Saturday 8 May from 9am.
Take a look across the campus, explore the curriculum and speak with key members of staff about the school on topics such as our exceptional examination success and the wide range of extra-curricular opportunities available from Pre-School to Sixth Form.
To book your place email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 01492 530155 or use our online form here: https://rydalpenrhos.com/admissions/journey-through-rydal-penrhos/
Duke of Edinburgh
Legacy will live on at Rydal Penrhos
Tomorrow sees the entire country come together in mourning for HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, who passed away on Friday 9 April aged 99 and whose funeral will take place at Windsor Castle on Saturday 17.
Rydal Penrhos is flying the Union Jack at half-mast along with thousands of others across the country in recognition of his exceptional service to Queen and Country that spanned more than 70 years.
Although the Duke of Edinburgh is sadly no longer with us, his legacy will stand the test of time and this bears special significance at Rydal Penrhos thanks to an outdoor learning scheme and charity started by Prince Philip that has inspired generations of pupils and young people throughout the United Kingdom.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme is something that has gone from strength to strength at the school in recent years. Many pupils have progressed from Bronze all the way up to a prestigious Gold, which results in a trip to a royal venue to pick up their notable distinction.
Since it began in 1956, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award has been dedicated to the personal development of young people from all backgrounds and is now widely recognised as the world’s leading youth achievement award.
It certainly is a real adventure from beginning to end, helping young people to develop their independence and leadership qualities, something that is sure to stand them in good stead throughout later life.
Rydal Penrhos is a DofE Directly Licensed Centre and offers all three levels of the Award, beginning with Bronze in Year 9, continuing on to Silver in Years 10 and 11, and culminating with the prestigious Gold Award in Years 12 and 13.
The Award is achieved by completing a personal programme of activities in four sections, which rises to five for those striving for Gold over the final two years of their school life.
Among some of the prominent features of the Duke of Edinburgh Award are volunteering within the community, fitness-based tasks, developing key skills pupils would not learn in the classroom, as well as participating in expeditions in the picturesque Welsh mountains which Rydal Penrhos is closely located to.
Gold Award candidates also get the chance to take part in a residential activity, with the scheme at Rydal Penrhos supported by several enthusiastic staff including programme co-ordinator Dr Jim Lewis, Miss Anne Margerison and Mrs Fleur Coates.
This is all part of the thriving extra-curricular provision provided by the school, which gives pupils plenty of exciting options to enhance their passions and interests and boost vital skills along the way.
We would like to offer our deepest condolences to Her Majesty The Queen and the entire Royal Family on the Duke of Edinburgh’s passing.
Creative writing draws inspiration from Jamie Oliver
During the recent educational lockdown period imposed by the Welsh Government that stemmed from a substantial rise in COVID-19 cases across the country, Year 8 pupils at Rydal Penrhos took this opportunity to enhance their creative writing skills under the online guidance and support of the school’s exceptional teaching staff.
As part of their development, each pupil’s work was based on the principle that by using just a few well-chosen literary techniques, their narrative writing can sparkle.
The idea for this project stems from celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s book ‘5 Ingredients’ which is based on the premise that “Using five ingredients, cleverly combined, you’ll conjure up the most exciting food”.
Well, the same is true of writing and this really captured the imagination of Year 8 during the thought-provoking process, with teacher Chris Davies on hand to provide some helpful tips and take them across the entire process.
In each masterclass, the eager Rydal Penrhos pupils were introduced to five new complimentary methods – which they called “ingredients” in-keeping with the Jamie Oliver theme – before they were asked to their next paragraph in a short story all about a storm.
During the creative writing sessions with Mr Davies, they also covered some narrative theory and looked at the typical architecture of short stories before setting about drafting their work.
This is yet another fine example of the exceptional online learning provision provided for pupils young and old at Rydal Penrhos over the last 12 months.
The school worked tirelessly to provide its learners with structure, support, and a lesson timetable that was not too dissimilar to a normal day outside of COVID-19 restrictions. This ensured academic progression continued, individual goals were met and wellbeing was given a significant boost during such an uncertain time.
We created a special digital document using Turtl to feature the writing of Keira Luke, Megan Skinner, Finlay Perry and Ceylin Buckley, which is of an incredibly high standard. Well done to all involved.
Activity to return in summer term
Rydal Penrhos pupils have undergone a significant amount of disruption due to the coronavirus pandemic in recent months.
It’s been a year in which everybody has had to adapt and adjust to ever-changing restrictions, with two substantial periods of online learning, major events cancelled and classes working within their bubble groups on site.
With the Welsh Government now easing lockdown measures and permitting some sporting activity to take place, the school is delighted to confirm that swimming will be back on the calendar during the summer term.
This will take place in accordance with COVID-19 guidelines regarding the specific number of people allowed in each building.
The school has worked exceptionally hard to ensure the pool area follows every guideline and precaution necessary due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Swimming has been a huge part of the curriculum at Rydal Penrhos over the years, which has seen many pupils achieve national recognition at events such as the Urdd National Gala and some even reaching Swim Wales and Team GB youth squad levels.
The Welsh Government published guidance to help facilities prepare for the re-opening of indoor and outdoor facilities in June, working in partnership with Sport Wales, the Welsh Sport Association and Swim Wales regarding the gradual re-opening of pools and other leisure facilities.
All pupils from Pre School through to Year 9 will receive a weekly swimming lesson as part of recent curriculum changes implemented.
The swimming pool originally opened more than 50 years ago and in addition to swimming lessons for pupils, there will also be competitive and recreational swimming available at the facility once the necessary clearance has been granted.
The pool underwent an extensive six-figure refurbishment last year that also involved pupil participation in the form of a design competition around the site.
Although COVID-19 restrictions are currently preventing a normal sporting provision, staff at Rydal Penrhos have worked tirelessly to ensure that each pupil is fit, active, and thriving both during Physical Education sessions and Enrichment.
Having swimming back on the timetable is another welcome boost and one that will be immensely popular with pupils young and old.
Prep School swimming schedule:
- Pre-School: Fridays – April 23, 30, May 7, 14, 21, 28, June 11, 18, 25, July 2 (10 sessions).
- Reception and Year 2: Fridays – April 23, May 7, 21, June 11, 25 (5 sessions).
- Year 1: Fridays – April 30, May 14, 28, June 18, July 2 (5 sessions).
- Years 3 and Year 4: Mondays – April 26, May 17, June 7, 21, July 5 (5 sessions).
- Year 5 and Year 6: Mondays – May 10, 24, June 14, 28, July 5 (5 sessions).
New sign unveiled at on-site base
One of the most unique opportunities available to Rydal Penrhos pupils is the school’s Combined Cadet Force initiative. This is something relatively new to the extra-curricular provision provided and has made some significant strides in recent months despite the obvious complications surrounding COVID-19.
The programme received a prestigious honour last year when Rydal Penrhos became the first CCF group in the United Kingdom to proudly wear the 1st Queen’s Dragoon Guards badge on their uniforms after the “Welsh Cavalry” agreed to be the group’s sponsor regiment.
The 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards (QDG) is a cavalry regiment of the British Army. Nicknamed The Welsh Cavalry, the regiment recruits from Wales and the bordering English counties of Cheshire, Herefordshire, and Shropshire, and is the senior cavalry regiment.
The regiment is part of the Royal Armoured Corps and is paired with the Royal Yeomanry.
Rydal Penrhos unveiled a plaque outside their special base on-site before the end of term, which proudly features the QDG emblem in recognition of a blossoming partnership that is proving highly beneficial for the pupils involved.
This has involved visits to the school by leading figures within the QDG, with pupils benefitting from workshops and even weapon demonstrations.
The CCF aims to promote the qualities of responsibility, self-reliance, resourcefulness and a sense of service to the community.
By joining the CCF cadets also have the opportunity to get involved with volunteer and charitable work in the community and gain nationally recognised qualifications such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and BTECs.
Joining the CCF provides an opportunity to take part in Army activities and events, all of which will focus on building confident, responsible and independent thinking young people.
Rydal Penrhos recently opened up the CCF to Year 8 pupils, which saw a hoard of new recruits join the ranks at the start of the academic year.
Welsh Mountain Zoo highlighted during project
One of the main features that make Rydal Penrhos such a fantastic place to learn is the creativity emerging every single day from the school’s Art department.
Both Prep and Senior sites benefit from incredible Art rooms that come with all the equipment needed for pupils to flourish, which is matched by expert and passionate teaching from Mark Sherrington and Suzy Morris.
Mrs Morris has come up with some thought-provoking, topical projects for Prep School pupils over the last year both on-site and during the two main educational lockdowns due to COVID-19.
This has not only enhanced artistic skills at a crucial time in each pupil’s development, but it also allows them to show emotions and relieve stress as well as having conversations about the wider world during such an uncertain time.
For her latest task, Mrs Morris decided to raise awareness regarding the plight of the Welsh Mountain Zoo in Colwyn Bay, which is currently undergoing significant financial hardship after being closed for the best part of a year thanks to social distancing measures.
The zoo is desperately seeking more funding to continuing thriving once restrictions ease regarding attractions, with celebrities such as John Cleese producing videos of support in a bid to generate more in the way of interest.
Pupils have also done their bit to raise funds over the last year, with Cameron Pye scaling the equivalent of Mount Everest using stairs at his home during the first lockdown, which managed to contribute £1,181 to the zoo.
The latest art project saw pupils across different age groups pick their favourite animal residing within the zoo, before coming up with either a painting or drawing of their creature of choice.
This brought around some outstanding final pieces that will further add to the vibrant art across the Prep School site so staff, pupils, family members, and visitors can enjoy for themselves.
Well done to all pupils on their amazing work and everyone at Rydal Penrhos wishes the Welsh Mountain Zoo all the luck in the world when they re-open in the not-too-distant future.
Rydal Penrhos Society
Helping current pupils progress
One aspect of educating our present pupils which sometimes slips under the radar is the education provided by our past pupils – our Alumni network called The Rydal Penrhos Society.
This is a network of over 5,000 former pupils from around the world with ages ranging from 18 to over 100, who hold a huge variety of occupations and interests and as such have an incredible bank of knowledge and experience which, when shared, is a tremendous asset to the education of our pupils.
They not only form a wonderful resource of loyal supporters of the school who help with mentoring and work experience but play a massive part when it comes to university applications and career advice.
Just this term lots of our alumni have connected with current pupils via Zoom to talk from their university bedrooms about applying to higher education and what it is like being a first-year student.
We have had very small “physical” and much larger “digital” meetings with alumni talking about GAP years and their career paths, interview techniques and writing curriculum vitae and personal statements.
Education is about inspiring, motivating, showing the way, supporting on the journey and we have so many role models in our former pupils enabling this.
Whether it be in the dramatic field such as the man who is described as the longest-serving soap opera actor in the UK William Roache, who has played Ken Barlow in the Granada Television soap opera Coronation Street since the show’s first episode, which aired on 9 December 1960. Or his very talented son Linus from Homeland fame, Law and Order and the Vikings.
Famous film producer Duncan Kenworthy of Four Weddings and A Funeral, Notting Hill and Love Actually visited Rydal Penrhos recently to talk to the whole school audience about “youth”. We have doctors and dentists, lawyers, Professors, Deputy Vice-Chancellors, authors, one of the first-ever women Ghurkhas, pilots and army officers and Artists and ecologists, marine biologists, nurses, chefs and teachers, geneticists, and everything in between.
These are people who can and do educate our children and young people at Rydal Penrhos. We are so grateful to them for their involvement in “Preparing the child for the road, not the road for the child”.
A Level group explore Mexican themes
It was fantastic to see so many Rydal Penrhos pupils gradually transitioning back to vital face-to-face learning in the weeks leading up to the Easter break.
COVID-19 has caused some significant disruption over the last year, with the school reacting quickly to an ever-changing situation to put together an exceptional online learning provision that enabled progression to continue despite the circumstances.
All pupils were back on-site during the final week of term, which was a good way to transition back briefly before things get back to more normality from Tuesday 20 April – the official start of the summer term.
This has been highly beneficial for pupils young and old, but especially for those in examination years ahead of a critical period before the next stage of their journey.
The school’s A Level textiles group wasted no time in getting creative under the expert guidance and support of teacher Suzy Morris upon their return, who has been at the forefront of exciting projects throughout remote learning over the last year which were implemented to build key skills and highlighted important topical issues in the process.
Yet another fine example of this was some recent work done by the Sixth Formers surrounding Mexican textiles, which saw each pupil involved use some methods that were unfamiliar to them that proved challenging and rewarding in equal measure.
A more sombre topic for the A Level group was creating pieces to reflect the theme of war and loss. This enabled the pupils to use an expression within their designs in a poignant and dignified way, which also resulted in an outstanding final product.
Rydal Penrhos offers A levels in Art or Photography or Textiles, depending on where a young person finds they have an interest and talent.
Even within the classic Art A Level a pupil may focus on one of many disciplines, drawing, painting, sculpture and so forth.
Often, we find our pupils entering Art foundation courses beyond Rydal Penrhos have already tried many of the disciplines within the school environment, which is a rarity and provides an advantage from the start.
Group holds first-ever Rydal Penrhos Eisteddfod
The second educational lockdown brought plenty of challenges across Rydal Penrhos for pupils and teaching staff alike.
Their exceptional commitment to academic progression during a difficult 12 months, coupled with a superb effort from the entire school community, resulted in a minimal loss of learning during a diverse and engaging online provision.
Year 7 pupils were among those who deserve a tremendous amount of credit for their application, which also saw them participate in an inaugural event that celebrated the Welsh language and culture in an online setting.
The school’s Year 7 Eisteddfod took place over the spring term during online Welsh lessons. The group participated in exciting activities for some friendly competition with a view to winning the “Chair” as a result of their efforts. These included:
- Reciting Welsh Poetry
- Singing in Welsh
- Prayer Readings in Welsh
- Baking a Welsh Recipe
- Writing a Biography of a Welsh Icon
- Making a 3D model of a Welsh Castle
- A rugby goal-kicking competition
- A ‘Blind Art’ competition
- An origami dragon competition
- A textiles competition
As part of their preparation for the competition, pupils also researched the origins and history of the National Eisteddfod. Points were awarded for first, second and third place in each round with double points on offer for the events conducted in the medium of Welsh.
Teacher Chris Davies, who organised the Eisteddfod, said: “It was wonderful to watch so many excellent entries in the different events.
“Pupils (and their families) had clearly gone to a lot of trouble in helping to prepare for the competition with some parents even giving video feedback on some of the baking pupils had done.”
The Eisteddfod brought the very best out of each pupil involved, building key skills, improving creativity and also developing knowledge of all things Wales related in the process.
After a hotly contested competition, Lucy Ranales-Griffiths was crowned the winner after narrowly pipping Oscar Ellwood (2nd) and Charlotte Payne (3rd) to the Chair.
A local antique and salvage dealer – Drew Pritchard – donated a beautiful chair as a prize for this year’s winner and has also agreed to create a special chair for the 2022 event.
Preparations in place for a safe and happy summer term
It’s been a difficult academic year for everyone at Rydal Penrhos thanks to COVID-19 concerns.
It began with strict social distancing measures during the autumn term and developed into the second educational lockdown following the Christmas break, which lasted almost the entire spring term for some year groups.
However, every pupil was back on-site during the final week of term, which was fabulous to see and enabled Rydal Penrhos pupils to acclimatise to familiar surroundings in pursuit of hitting the ground running for the eagerly anticipated summer term.
Staff at the school have worked tirelessly to ensure a safe and happy environment for pupils when face-to-face learning was permitted to resume by the Welsh Government. No stone was left unturned when it came to precautions, which typified the approach from Rydal Penrhos that centred solely on pupil progression both at school and during an exceptional online learning provision over the last 12 months.
This effort has been aided by an outstanding commitment from pupils and incredible support from parents – reflecting the Rydal Penrhos family ethos that has been at the heart of the school’s success ever since its inception.
With coronavirus cases rapidly decreasing across the country and vaccine rollouts continuing, things are starting to make a return to some semblance of normality.
At Rydal Penrhos, pupils will still be in their respective bubble groups in accordance with government guidelines, but there will be plenty of exciting things planned such as activities and events throughout the next few weeks for pupils young and old before the end of the academic year.
The school’s outstanding clubs and enrichment programme will return, with elements such as Forest School, Coastal School, Duke of Edinburgh Award, Combined Cadet Force and Sport making a welcome return to the calendar.
Plans for Sports Day, Speech Days and Concerts have been arranged and will go ahead providing there are no further complications where COVID-19 is concerned, which will be another fantastic boost to everyone associated with the school after so much disruption to the usual schedule.
This is obviously a situation that the school’s leadership team will be monitoring closely. Rydal Penrhos has demonstrated an ability to adapt that is second to none during the pandemic, which has seen teaching staff learn new skills, the introduction of free iPads to enhance learning and plenty of exciting developments behind the scenes to provide a sustainable future for Rydal Penrhos.
It has been a monumental effort from everybody involved. The school cannot thank staff, pupils, family members and governors enough for their dedication to progression in difficult circumstances over the last year. Here’s hoping for brighter times ahead!
Year 8 take part in award shadowing scheme
A group of Rydal Penrhos pupils have been using their English classes to participate in an exciting shadowing initiative relating to a prestigious national children’s book award.
The Year 8 contingent are taking part in CILIP shadowing, which gives each pupil the opportunity to read the eight novels shortlisted for the Carnegie Award in 2021.
The CILIP Carnegie Medal is awarded by children’s librarians for an outstanding book written in English for children and young people. Every spring, CILIP invites reading groups to get involved with shadowing and Rydal Penrhos’ eager Year 8 were delighted to get involved.
They are known as ‘shadowers’ relating to the judging for the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals. The process involves reading, discussing and reviewing the shortlisted books, in addition to engaging in reading-related activities which they can share online once concluded.
This all comes before voting for their favourite book to win the Shadowers’ Choice Award.
Before the Easter break, the pupils got the chance to talk about the books during an English lesson with teacher Fiona Earle, who is also head of the school’s Language, Literacy and Communications faculty.
Each pupil looked at the covers and read the summaries, before being invited to select a book from the selection to read over the Easter holiday.
Once they return next week, Year 8 will discuss and review the books, engage in thought-provoking tasks to put online, and make their final decisions on who their vote will be cast for.
This is another exciting part of learning implemented by Rydal Penrhos’ incredible teaching staff, which takes pupils away from the normal curriculum with a view to enhancing creativity and communication skills, which are both absolutely essential for academic development.
The Awards were set up with a mission to inspire and empower the next generation to create a better world through books and reading.
A sentiment which is echoed by Rydal Penrhos, with many improvements made to reading accessibility in recent months, the introduction of an Accelerated Reading Scheme and the refurbished Watkinson Library for the primary use for those in Key Stage 3 and 4.
Perry scoops film making award
One of our Year 9 pupils at Rydal Penrhos, Perry Williams, has shown a real prowess for performing on stage since joining the school in Year 4, contributing to many school productions and concerts has recently won a special award for film making.
Perry is also a member of the Pauline Quirke Performing Arts Academy‘s Conwy branch outside of school, which is based at Rydal Penrhos.
The Academy alongside teaching performance skills also encourages members involved to try their hand at other exciting activities such as comedy, drama, musical theatre and film making and it is the last of these that has really interested Perry.
Perry was acknowledged for his outstanding efforts with the Film Maker of the Term Award from the Academy, which was announced during a live online ceremony at the end of a busy few weeks for the group.
PQA Conwy’s Principal April Herzog sent a lovely message to Perry following the award:
“You have contributed so many fantastic ideas to our Film and TV project this term. You’re always willing to share your creativity with the group, take feedback on board and give thoughtful notes on other students’ ideas too. You’ve also produced a fantastic piece of acting in this module this term. Well done, Perry!”
This is the latest in a series of notable achievements for Perry in the field of performing arts, with his memorable contribution to the exceptional Dramatic Society production of Les Miserables in the role of Gavroche an undoubted highlight of his time at Rydal Penrhos so far.
His efforts with the school’s Speech and Drama provision have seen the pupil secure some outstanding results in his LAMDA assessments, with Perry also making the live regional finals of the Teen Star Singing and Dancing competition in Manchester after a sensational audition and also performing on stage in the West End as part of the Academy.
Fred Williams on life as a lockdown artist
Former Rydal Penrhos pupil Fred Williams, who attended the Prep School from 2004-11, has been reflecting on a difficult few months that forced the aspiring artist into a different method of work thanks to social distancing measures relating to COVID-19.
This incredible story was recently featured in the latest edition of the Rydal Penrhos Society newsletter, which is produced on the school’s digital platform Turtl and is sent to thousands of alumni across the globe.
Alumni recently commissioned Fred to paint a picture of Old House and the front reception area of Rydal Penrhos Senior School, spending time on-site sketching the area before bringing it to life in painting form.
Here is Fred’s fascinating story in his own words.
“My love of art really began with Mr Roebuck at Rydal Penrhos Prep School. I remember drawing charcoal waterfalls and a tiger at the Welsh Mountain Zoo. And for long summer holidays in Crete, Mum would pack – alongside lilos and beach balls – sketchbooks and paints.
There’s something about Crete’s rocky, mountainous west coast that demands to be painted; the precise quality of the light, the vivid palette that changes through the day and explodes at sunset, the wind that whips up the sea into a tumult.
A Kyffin Williams exhibition on Anglesey that I visited aged 11 provided me with the first glimpse art’s power to capture not just how a landscape looks, but how it feels, to dramatize the connection between a place and emotions.
It’s a theme I’ve traced through the other artists I love: Frank Auerbach, John Virtue, Tacita Dean, South African landscape painter Walter Meyer. I’m also a huge fan of Anselm Kiefer and his epic works, both in scale and ideas.
After school, I won a place on the Foundation Year at the Royal Drawing School in London.
What an incredible experience; a year spent at the beating heart of creative life in the UK, totally immersed in art in so many forms and glimpsing the possibilities out there both in terms of media and ideas. And it’s thanks to RDS that I find myself on the Fine Art programme at Newcastle University, a great course in another artistically vibrant city.
Over the last few months during the lockdown, I returned back home near Snowdonia, which is no bad place for a landscape painter to be and something I tried to make the very most out of despite the difficult circumstances.
I take landscape and portrait commissions. You can see some of my work on Instagram @fredcanpaint.”
Charity challenge completed
A much-loved and respected member of Rydal Penrhos’ teaching staff managed to play a significant role in a recent charity walking event organised by a group that also consists of two former pupils.
Louise Devilleforte, who teaches at Rydal Penrhos Prep School‘s Pre-Prep department, was asked to join an ambitious challenge set by The Walking Women, who targeted 1,000 miles over a three-day period from Friday 26 March until Sunday 28 in pursuit of raising a substantial amount for a very worthy cause.
The Walking Women also consists of Natasha Still, who is a former Rydal Penrhos pupil along with her sister Victoria and was set-up with the aim of increasing awareness of female health conditions, taking away the taboo from speaking about symptoms and raising money in support of relevant charities.
They were raising money for the Wellbeing of Women, which is a charity that invests in pioneering research into women’s health.
Mrs Devilleforte was hoping to contribute 30 miles over the three days to assist the cause, which she managed to achieve after a fantastic effort over the weekend.
She said: “I managed just over the 30 miles I had committed myself to and actually did 32.4 miles over the weekend.
“I went in hard on Friday and did 17.4 miles, added another 8.7miles on Saturday and then a further 6.3 miles were walked on Sunday.
“At a last look we have also raised just over £4,500 and I wanted to say a massive thank you to everyone who donated which has enabled us to reach that fabulous amount for a worthwhile cause.
“Thank you to all of you who have also offered words of support and encouragement over the weekend, it has meant so much to me to read such lovely messages.”
On behalf of everyone at Rydal Penrhos, we would like to congratulate Mrs Devilleforte and The Walking Women on the amazing sum raised and a superb effort to reach their 1,000-mile milestone over the three days.