The RP Weekly: 19 March 2021
The weekly digital newsletter from Rydal Penrhos School.
The RP Weekly
19 March 2021
Economics & Business
Major award for Year 12 pupils
The Economics and Business School at Rydal Penrhos are celebrating a big win!
One of our Rydal Penrhos teams “The Determinators” made up of Suhas Shekar, Simeon Murphy-Thomas, Juan Rajagopal, Damisola Animashaun and Patrick Burke shot to victory in the final stages of the Enterprise Challenge set by Lancaster University School of Management.
The competition narrowed from a large first field of contenders down to a group of 20 of some of the top schools in the country including Maidstone Grammar School, Lancaster Royal Grammar and Dulwich College.
It consisted of several rounds where the individual teams needed to present their ideas for a new enterprise, fully costed, that has to meet with some of the UN Sustainability Goals.
The Rydal Penrhos team decided to think about the school’s links to Uganda – one based on Methodist charity work we conduct there with pupils every two years – and to create a system of implementation of solar panels on Ugandan schools (starting with ten in the first five years but able to be rolled out and sized up to encompass the whole of the country and beyond).
Once the solar panels were in place then laptops would be provided to the schools which could be powered solely by the solar panels giving no long-term running costs or susceptibility to power outages.
The laptops would enable a continuous education stream from local teachers and those all over the world.
Hypothetically the team were going to go to the Overseas Development Agency (ODA), carbon offsetting schemes as well as private funders such as Dyson and British Gas to fund the project.
Having scooped up the Judges’ choice in round one, the pupils went on to the final five teams where they once again had to present their scheme and answer questions on it. Judged by lecturers at the Lancaster University School of Management alongside entrepreneurs in residence, the Year 12 boys were delighted to eventually be announced overall winners.
Team coordinator Simeon Murphy-Thomas, the only one on the team not studying Economics at A Level, said: “This has been a huge victory for the school and for us as individuals. We thought we would utilise our links to Ugandan schools to try and enhance the educational opportunities of Ugandan children with minimum environmental impact and in an efficient and economically sustainable way.
“We are grateful to the lecturers who recognised the efforts we put into this as a team, while working remotely and now since back in school. We have found it to be a very valuable experience and a great learning opportunity.
“Without support from our mentor Mr Farnell, I doubt our project would have been as concise and informative as it was. We are immensely grateful for all of his advice.”
Simeon is looking to go on to study dentistry in the future, as is Suhas. Damisola is looking at a career in Finance, Patrick in International Relations and Juan wishes to study Physics and is already 2/3 of the way through an Open University Degree in Mathematics.
Lancaster is one of the biggest management schools in the country and one of the few that has a large enterprise section. This Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIR) prize is exceptional as a result of being judged not only by academics but by successful entrepreneurs operating in the business world.
Mr Mike Farnell, who has taught Economics and Business in Rydal Penrhos for 34 years, recently stepped back from his teaching role to focus on University and Careers advice and counselling.
He said: “They did amazingly well under very trying circumstances.
“They needed to work collectively whilst remote and in lockdown, creating individual roles whilst moving forward as team and meeting a lot of business briefs. Within 100 days they had to develop business plans, do cash flow forecasts, discuss implementation and create impressive presentations and prepare for questioning. I am really very proud of them.”
Lancaster University Management School sent their congratulations to the team and said they had a “well-deserved victory and should be very proud”.
The actual prize extends well beyond a trophy. The team have won “for the school” an audience with an entrepreneur. Each of them has also been offered the opportunity of work experience in the management school and VIP tickets to the LUMS masterclass lectures which are normally only open to business leaders.
Well done The Determinators, you have made Rydal Penrhos very proud.
More Prep and Senior pupils return
It’s the moment many Rydal Penrhos pupils had been waiting for since the second educational lockdown began.
The Welsh Government recently began removing the restrictions surrounding COVID-19 to allow eager learners to make a welcome return to school, which saw stay-at-home guidelines replaced by the stay local message from First Minister Mark Drakeford on Friday 12 March.
Joining Pre-Prep and Pre-School pupils were Years 3 -6 on Monday 15 March, which saw the entire Prep School community come together in a socially distanced and safe environment for the first time this year.
There was plenty of excitement in the air from pupils and staff alike. Their effort during the school’s thorough online learning provision during the lockdown period has been exemplary and will no doubt assure they are ready to hit the ground running now they are back to some semblance of normality.
Another first for 2021 was senior school pupils making their respective journeys into Rydal Penrhos. Years 10-13 were given a warm welcome back by staff and were clearly delighted to see their friends once again.
This is a critical time for each pupil in these particular year groups due to examinations and university preparations. Although teaching staff have provided exceptional support and a comprehensive programme of learning from the comfort of their own homes, there is simply no substitute for face-to-face interaction to further enhance development.
Those in Years 7-9 will remain at home this week for what will hopefully be the final few days of their online learning before making their own anticipated returns on Monday 22 March, which is the last week of the spring term.
Things have not been easy for anybody over the last 12 months. But with COVID-19 cases falling across the country and vaccine distribution continuing at a rapid rate, there is now some light at the end of the tunnel.
Rydal Penrhos has left no stone unturned in its pursuit of providing a safe environment for pupils young and old to thrive at school, which has involved a significant amount of work behind the scenes from senior leadership and support staff.
Breaking the remote barrier
It has been argued that pupils with Additional Learning Needs have been disproportionally affected by the various lockdown periods over the last 12 months due to COVID-19.
However, at Rydal Penrhos, the level of support has not only continued, but in some areas has increased to ensure that pupils can access regular check-ins, wellbeing support, organisational assistance as well as academic overlearning, planning and support.
Recent Guidance from the UK Government stated:
The aim of education is to deliver a high-quality curriculum so that pupils know more and remember more. Remote education is one way of doing so. The aim of high-quality remote learning is to ‘dissolve the screen’ to remove the remote barrier.
This is something that has been especially evident at Rydal Penrhos during the second educational lockdown. The introduction of free iPads for all pupils has been a major asset in the current climate, with ALN staff encouraging the use of this state-of-the-art technology to improve independent learning.
Sarah Seenan, head of Rydal Penrhos’ ALN department, said: “The iPad voice to text dictation facility has allowed pupils who often find putting their ideas down on paper to independently create imaginative pieces of writing.
“The immersive reader facility then allows them to independently review and check their work for errors. Those pupils who have Bluetooth keyboards have stated that they have transformed their iPad into a mini laptop.”
A recent study from the Education Endowment Foundation examined the best evidence for supporting pupils to learn remotely identified five key areas:
Teaching quality is more important than how lessons are delivered
High-quality lessons have continued at Rydal Penrhos over the last 12 months thanks to the sterling commitment of staff. This has ensured goals remain unaltered and there has been a minimal loss of learning despite the obvious disruption.
Ensuring access to technology is key, especially for disadvantaged pupils
The introduction of free iPads has ensured each pupil has access to the technology required to engage with live lessons, in addition to receiving expert support and guidance from teaching staff whenever they require it. This has been highly beneficial from a learning standpoint, which will be brought back into face-to=face learning when all pupils return by Monday 22 March.
Peer interactions can provide motivation and improve learning outcomes
Rydal Penrhos introduced virtual form time activities to encourage peer interaction along with lesson activities. This was implemented with a view to enhancing the wellbeing of pupils in such an uncertain time and included things such as bake-offs, puzzles, desert island discs and many more fun-filled activities.
Supporting pupils to work independently can improve learning outcomes
The IT skills of the pupils have taken a sharp upturn thanks to their exceptional ability to adapt to an ever-changing environment. The use of Microsoft Teams, OneNote and OneDrive have given pupils an added dimension to their learning, which were incredibly well received and even fun to learn for young and old.
Different approaches to remote learning suit different types of content and pupils
The commitment to pastoral care has ensured that pupils’ individual needs are recognised constantly at Rydal Penrhos. Children’s mental health matters are more important than ever before and this is something that has been recognised throughout the school before COVID-19 and will be at the forefront of educational planning long after pandemic concerns have diminished.
Alison Hind, Head of Pastoral Care at Rydal Penrhos, added: “The wellbeing of all our pupils is of paramount importance, hence a number of initiatives were launched to help all members of the community feel connected and supported
“This included Health and Wellbeing sessions via Teams, live workouts delivered by members of the Health and Wellbeing faculty and a new reading initiative and various related activities have also been launched.
“Form Tutors are always in regular contact with their tutees and are there to assist with any concerns in the first instance.
“Our Heads of Key Stage are very experienced in pastoral care and, alongside a number of other members of staff, have undertaken Mental Health First Aid training to provide an added layer of support and identify and liaise with support services as required.
“Reverend Nick Sissons, our Chaplain, also holds qualifications in MHFA and, as ever, was on hand to help when required.”
Superb iGCSE results from Year 11!
Rydal Penrhos has worked exceptionally hard to provide a thorough online learning provision over the last 12 months amid the lingering fears surrounding COVID-19.
This has enabled every pupil to suffer a minimal loss of learning despite the uncertainty surrounding them and also ensures that individual goals remain on course at various stages of development in both Prep and Senior schools.
One critical area of importance is obviously those embarking on examination years. The Welsh Government has issued changes to the way these results will be graded once again due to the second educational lockdown that will formally come to a full close at Rydal Penrhos next week, but a group of Year 11 pupils managed to sit their iGCSE Mathematics papers in the school’s impressive Memorial Hall prior to the closure.
This came after just two terms of learning the syllabus under the guidance and support of committed teaching staff, who had to cram a lot in during a short space of time to give each pupil the best possible chance of succeeding.
To say they managed to achieve this would be something of an understatement. As results were revealed earlier this week, no fewer than 83 per cent of pupils who sat the examination recorded an A*-A grade, which is a remarkable achievement in the circumstances.
Every pupil deserves an enormous amount of credit for not only their application in the lead-up to their exams, but also the adaptability demonstrated during ever-changing times that could have had a detrimental impact on pupils had the school not reacted quickly to the coronavirus pandemic.
These tremendous follow on from Rydal Penrhos’ historic results at both GCSE and A Level last summer, which were the highest-ever recorded by the school and a further testament to the nurturing environment to progress and thrive.
All these little things make a substantial difference. Attaining some semblance of normality in troubled times is absolutely critical to a child’s learning and with the structured online learning, together with constant support and guidance, pupils at Rydal Penrhos are being put in the best possible position to maintain their high educational standards and attain specific objectives.
We would like to offer our sincere congratulations to Year 11 on their superb iGCSE results. You deserve all the credit in the world and we are incredibly proud!
Saxophone grading success for trio
There has been a lot to celebrate from a pupil perspective at Rydal Penrhos in recent weeks despite things being difficult thanks to the ongoing presence of COVID-19 restrictions.
The school community has rallied together to make the most out of a bad situation and this has not only ensured learning continues impressively both on-site and virtually, but also building key skills outside of their structured timetable.
One of the biggest areas this is prevalent can be found with the talented young musicians across the school. Their progression in pursuit of examination achievements from various boards has been eye-catching and it is something that has seen a large number of Prep and Senior pupils achieve some notable accolades throughout the spring term as a result of their efforts.
This is a testament to each pupil’s willingness to improve no matter what the circumstances. Another fine example of this was three pupils all gaining another step on the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music grading ladder, something that will serve the trio well when they return to face-to-face tutoring in the very near future.
Ivo and Ada Vonbank, who are Year 10 pupils at Rydal Penrhos, both sat their Alto saxophone ABRSM grade 5 assessment despite taking up their studies for the examination relatively late compared to a normal situation.
Regardless of this predicament, both pupils picked things up incredibly well and this was reflected in their final marks, which were outstanding.
Ivo came through the examination with flying colours to earn a Distinction with a score of 132, with Ada also shining on her way to a Merit and a 123 mark.
This was an amazing achievement from the duo considering they only started studying for their Grade 5 exams in November.
Another pupil who was celebrated a thoroughly deserved assessment triumph was Noah Roberts, who is a Year 6 pupil and is currently Prep School Head Boy.
He sat his Alto saxophone grade 1 and passed with Distinction – attaining a mark of 132.
On behalf of everyone at Rydal Penrhos, we would like to congratulate all three pupils on their achievements and hard work in the circumstances.
Positive response from Parents
The ability to adapt has been an ongoing process throughout Rydal Penrhos over the last year.
The ongoing worry surrounding COVID-19 has forced staff and pupils out of their normal routine thanks to the educational lockdowns, which has seen most of the school community embark on a thorough online learning provision that has ensured minimal loss to development despite the difficulties in the current climate.
With coronavirus cases continuing to fall and vaccine rollouts increasing across the country, the large majority of Rydal Penrhos pupils are now back in school and with the arrival of Years 7-9 on Monday 22 March, it will see the entire pupil population back on-site for the first time in 2021. They will be greeted with a safe and happy environment upon their return, with every possible precaution being taken to keep children happy and thriving.
Rydal Penrhos staff deserve an exceptional amount of credit for keeping pupils progressing in the right way from the comfort of their own homes. But there is simply no substitute for face-to-face learning and the benefits of interacting on a daily basis.
This outstanding approach to remote study has been reflected by a recent parent survey, which gave the school some deserved praised from family members who have been so supportive throughout the online period of study.
Quotes from the survey:
The availability and hard work put in by Mrs. D – truly exceptional- could not have asked for more.
Given the situation, there is a clear plan, good communication and fantastic execution.
I am very impressed with ingenuity shown by the teachers, cooking remotely was brave to take on and fun for the students.
The daily lessons and interaction with the teachers are good.
The support the teachers have given the students is excellent. I have also had regular contact and updates from the school which has been amazing and helped us monitor my child.
The support from the teachers has been second to none. If my child has any queries or does not understand something, he will contact the individual teacher, who always provides support. Also, the wellbeing sessions after the school day. I think the school has handled the lockdown so well, and we do not feel that our child has been disadvantaged by it. Thank you!
The technical set-up and online sessions work very well.
Lessons are well structured; teachers are ensuring that all pupils are engaged throughout the lesson. The amount of homework is manageable.
Active online lessons all day, but without excessive homework to be done outside of those lessons.
Online parents’ evenings work MUCH better than the chaos of face-to-face ones – we hope you will continue to do them online.
The timetable and schedule are very clear and straight-forward. Mrs. Culver has raised the bar to what we’ve known from our previous school to a level we never thought would have been possible. We are forever grateful for the lovely support for our child, which is not easy due to her being fairly new in class.
Structured timetable and online teacher presence. iPads have been fantastic.
Thanks for your digital efforts and moving to the Teams platform/iPads. Considering the whole crisis, we’re comforted to know that our daughter’s academic progress is continuing.
A Level group continues to excel
Getting Years 10-13 back into school physically this week has been wonderful.
The place just hasn’t been the same without them and although each Rydal Penrhos pupil deserves a tremendous amount of credit for the way they’ve applied themselves during the various lockdown periods, there is simply no substitute for face-to-face learning.
One of our creative hubs in school is the art department and the two Art teachers, Mark Sherrington and Suzy Morris, have gone above and beyond the call of duty with exciting projects and support throughout the last year.
They have continued to provide online teaching and motivation throughout and have introduced “mercy drops” of textile materials, canvases and any art materials that will enhance the pupils’ learning experience.
The Art department epitomises the ethos of the school – it is an area where pupils get to explore a wide variety of different things to find where their passions and skills lie.
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 on 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.
Stars of the Week!
Prep School Stars of the Week - 19 March
- Pre-School: Nel and Dylan – for super creative work
- Reception: Tiffany – hard work in all of her lessons
- Year 1: Pearl – fantastic progress with her high-frequency words
- Year 2: Hania – a fabulous diary entry for this week
- Year 3: Rose – brilliant progress with her handwriting in just one week
- Year 4: Alexandra – super poetry
- Year 5: Charlie – sensible and conscientious work in all lessons
- Year 6: Tom – going above and beyond with his fantastic geography project
Artist of the Week
- Oscar in year 4 – a super portfolio of lockdown art
Retired American Bishop delivers message
Reverend Nick Sissons, who is Rydal Penrhos’ incredible Chaplain, has enlisted the assistance of plenty of high-profile figures for his Celebration Chapel services during the last 12 months, which have been held in virtual format due to ongoing restrictions surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.
This has enhanced the structure of a school day despite the uncertain times, keeping some semblance of normality for those pupils on-site and learning from the comfort of their own homes.
Although the school is getting every year group back on Monday 22 March for the first time this year thanks to the Welsh Government‘s decision to relax measures, the school will still be holding assemblies and chapels virtually to comply with social distancing regulations.
Rev’d Sissons has been at the forefront of this initiative and this week’s edition of Celebration Chapel features Kenneth Lee Carder, a retired American Bishop of the United Methodist Church, elected in 1992.
Bishop Carder distinguished himself as a Pastor, a member of Annual Conference and General U.M, in addition to being a successful author.
The respected figure graduated with honors from East Tennessee State University in 1962, and from Wesley Theological Seminary in 1965. In 1980 he earned a Doctor of Ministry Degree from Vanderbilt Divinity School.
Bishop Carder was elected to the Episcopacy in 1992 by the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference of the U.M. Church. At the time he was the Pastor of the Church Street U.M.C. in Knoxville.
He was assigned to the Nashville Episcopal Area before moving to the Mississippi Area in 2000 where Bishop Carder served until retiring in 2004 and joining the faculty of Duke University Divinity School.
Currently, Bishop Carder serves as the Ruth W. and A. Morris Williams, Jr. Distinguished Professor of the Practice of Christian Ministry Duke Divinity School, which is situated in North Carolina.
He is the author of five books and numerous articles
On behalf of everyone at Rydal Penrhos, we would like to thank Bishop Carder for giving up his time to support our Celebration Chapel.
Teacher of Languages - Welsh, Spanish and French
Teacher of Languages – Welsh, Spanish & French
We are currently seeking an excellent Teacher who can deliver a number of languages to a high standard for Rydal Penrhos Senior School from September 2021, or as soon as possible thereafter.
Rydal Penrhos follows the Teachers in Wales pay scale and the successful applicant will be paid on his/her point on the pay scale.
This is an exciting opportunity to join a thriving independent day school with 350 pupils and over, 45 teachers and over 100 staff to teach and make a significant contribution to the school’s pastoral and broader life.
The closing date for applications is Friday 26 March 2021. Interviews will be conducted later in April 2021.7
More information can be found in this digital document:
TEACHER OF LANGUAGES VACANCY