The RP Weekly: 2 December 2022
The weekly digital newsletter from Rydal Penrhos School - 2 December 2022 edition.
The RP Weekly
2 December 2022
A New Home for our Prep in the Historic Heart of Rydal Penrhos
Originally built as New House and facing the original Rydal School Old House building, Hunt House was constructed in 1901 and is the only school building proudly displaying ‘RS’ (Rydal School initials) as part of its facia.
The exterior of Grade II listed Hunt House features the same stone as seen across the school's campus. Many of the original features including the vaulted ceiling at the top of the stairs remain, along with the exquisite, mullioned windows. This is a building that has seen generations of Rydal Penrhos pupils pass through its classrooms and corridors.
Hunt House following completion in 1901
In 1914, James Hunt joined Rydal School as a master teaching Classics, becoming a senior master just one year later, a post he held until his retirement in 1949. New House was renamed Hunt House in recognition of a lifetime of service dedicated to the pupils of Rydal School. Interestingly, Mr Hunt was also a passionate gardener and the boarders' flower beds adjacent to Hunt House were his particular pride and joy.
Mr James Hunt (front, second left) on the occasion of AJ Costain’s retirement in 1946
Hunt House has served as both a boarding house and a classroom building; having undergone an extensive conversion in the years following World War II, it became an academic hub for the school. In the 1960s, the top floor housed the Sixth Form Study Rooms with the Fourth Form (our current Year 9 pupils) on the lower floors. Hunt House was also home to the celebrated Rydal tuck shop, which was later replaced with the current Food Technology rooms.
In more recent years, Hunt House has been the site of our Computer Suite, which, prior to the introduction of iPads throughout the school, offered the only form of access to online and tech resources. As we redevelop Hunt House to become the new Prep, our Food Technology rooms will be moved into Costain, which is already the home of our science and language faculties.
Hunt House (circled in blue) as seen in this aerial shot of the school.
Hunt House sits at the heart of the Rydal Penrhos campus, facing the original Rydal School buildings and with direct access into the newly refurbished Osborn Hall. The building enjoys a 360-degree vista overlooking the site, from the original 1892 buildings up to the more recent Ferguson Centre and Sports Complex. Our Prep pupils will now be able to see our hockey champions in action on the Astro Turf, where once James Hunt and his classics pupils were able to catch a cricket match on Top Field.
The newly constructed playground will sit partially on the site of the original Top Field (now the Astro Turf) and it is fitting that we restore part of the site to its original use as a play area, allowing our youngest pupils to enjoy the outdoors.
For the week ahead at Rydal Penrhos
Upcoming Events this week at Rydal Penrhos
Monday 5 December
Tuesday 6 December
Wednesday 7 December
Year 9 Songs and Scenes of Christmas - 09:00
Pre-School Magical Christmas Forest
Senior Inter-House Cross-Country - 14:00
Year 10 Parents’ Evening - 16:00
Friday 9 December
Saturday 10 December
The Watkinson Library
Enabling reading to thrive
Our incredible staff are constantly exploring avenues to enhance the provision of Rydal Penrhos pupils. This is done in accordance with the school's long-term strategic development plan and is bringing outstanding development across all year groups in addition to exceptional examination results consistently.
One prominent feature that became a priority during recent upgrades across the site is The Watkinson Library, which bears the name of the much-loved Peter Watkinson, Rydal School's Headmaster from 1968-1991 who sadly passed away in August 2020.
Originally a library, the room was later used as a teaching space, it returned to its roots and is now the library for those pupils in Years 7-11.
The Watkinson Library is the hub of the school's new accelerated reading scheme, Renaissance Accelerated Reader, which aims both to improve ability and to encourage pupils to engage in independent reading.
A key principle of the scheme is that reading ability is most effectively improved when the difficulty of material falls in a happy medium between too challenging and not challenging enough.
Renaissance Accelerated Reader calls this happy medium the "Zone of Proximal Development" and the scheme’s whitepaper describes it as the range of difficulty in which pupils "are challenged and presented with new vocabulary, but are also given enough context to construct meaning without being frustrated".
The scheme is part of a wider strategy at Rydal Penrhos that builds reading into pupils’ daily routines. There are also specified library sessions, and the Watkinson Library now has a dedicated reading room – a calm and cosy space where pupils can sit and read comfortably.
Mr Steve Williams, who is Language, Literacy and Communications faculty leader at Rydal Penrhos, said: “The Watkinson Library is a significant asset to our pupils. One that promotes reading and its importance during an ever-increasing digital age.
“We were thrilled to receive a donation from the Watkinson family to assist the next generation of pupils with their development. Something that will become an integral part of the wide ranging academic provision throughout our wonderful senior school site.”
The inspirational former Headmaster
Mr Peter Watkinson held the position of Rydal School Headmaster from 1968-91 and was responsible for significantly positive changes across the site during his tenure.
He oversaw the transition from an all-boys school, introducing more female pupils from 1970 before becoming fully co-educational with the opening of two girls’ boarding houses.
Edenfield opened its doors in 1977 and Heathfield followed shortly after in 1980. This was a landmark change for Rydal, which had been male-only since 1885, and Mr Watkinson’s forward-thinking played a leading role in this landmark move which continues to have a positive impact to this day.
Mr Watkinson’s passion to make the school a better place was evident throughout the entirety of his time as Head. The Art Studio was officially completed from 1969-70, and two squash courts were also constructed around the same period.
In 1984, Mr Watkinson oversaw the construction of Rydal’s Technology Centre that houses the school’s Design Technology department, and a Music School was also completed during this time period.
Mr Watkinson had the honour of being Headmaster for Rydal’s centenary in 1985, at which time there were more than 500 boys and girls in the Senior and Prep Schools combined.
He stepped down from his post in 1991 and was replaced by Nigel Thorne, but Mr Watkinson’s legacy at Rydal Penrhos will live on forevermore.
In recognition of his exceptional dedication to the school, the Watkinson Library was named in his honour, which is now a thriving hub for reading that is a tremendous asset for pupils from Years 7-11.
Mr Watkinson kept a keen interest in all things related to the school in his role as an honorary member and life vice-president of the Rydal Penrhos Society. He sadly passed away aged 89 in 2020 and he remains deeply missed by the school community.
Christmas at the Prep
Advent Day and the Big Switch On
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Rydal Penrhos Prep School.
Pupils and staff have been getting into the festive spirit this week with a series of fun-filled activities to kick off a busy schedule of events before the end of term, which is something everyone looks forward to enormously.
Classrooms were a hive of activity on Advent Day at the Prep. Under the supervision of teachers and their assistants, pupils got creative to decorate trees and create Christmas decorations to give each learning area across the school a sense of colour, glitter and a truly festive feel.
A number of Prep pupils also came together to formally switch on the Christmas tree lights. Excitement filled the cold evening air as children counted down before colour enveloped everyone in attendance.
An inter-house paper chain-making event also took place at the Prep, which was arranged by House Captains and saw hundreds of metres produced in just 20 minutes! An outstanding effort.
Stars of the Week
2 December 2022
Prep School Stars & Readers of the Week
Reception - Jane
Year 1 - Nel and Morgan
Year 2 - Edith and Tiffany
Year 3 - Eleanor and Josie
Year 4 - Henry and Hania
Year 5 - Max and Hannah
Year 6 - Buddy and Freddie
Performers - Connie, Freddie and Isaac (Year 6)
Good result for First XV rugby side
Hockey Stars shine for Eirias HC
The level of progress shown by Rydal Penrhos’ first XV rugby side throughout their current campaign has been nothing short of outstanding.
It’s been a busy term of fixtures for the squad, who’ve acquitted themselves extremely well in the face of high-quality opposition across North Wales and the North West to continue their exceptional development.
Head of Rugby Ryan Kirby is working tirelessly with the team during coaching sessions and pupils are also benefitting from a superb conditioning programme within the school’s Fitness Suite, which was refurbished recently and provides a safe area to enhance physical performance.
Another tough test awaited Rydal Penrhos when they visited Oswestry School last weekend. However, a fine display of discipline rugby and teamwork enabled the squad to come through the challenge with flying colours en route to a convincing victory on their travels.
It was a collective effort in all phases as Rydal Penrhos secured a 37-7 triumph. The defensive organisation was a notable element of their overall performance, with plenty of attacking flair thrown in for good measure during a very worthwhile day at the office.
This was another confidence-boosting result. One that is sure to stand the team in good stead upon returning from their well-deserved Christmas break.
Hockey is thriving across all age groups at Rydal Penrhos. Many school sides have already qualified for the next stage of their respective quests for national recognition in the coming months, with pupils also gaining additional experience for club teams across the region with similar success.
One of the biggest examples of this comes within Eirias Hockey Club, which has a strong connection with Rydal Penrhos. Youth sides are coached by Prep School teacher Jude Pyves, with a number of pupils progressing through various age grades and in Alex Starling’s case, into the men’s senior squad.
There was further cause for celebration as four aspiring stars assisted Eirias Hockey Club U16s to yet another North Wales title following an unbeaten qualifying effort in Pwllheli.
Fflur Pierce, Keira Luke, Lily Copeland and Charlotte Payne played a significant role in the team’s success. Libby Thomas – the daughter of Assistant Principal Mr Andy Thomas – captained the squad.
Eirias Hockey Club began the day with a hard-fought 1-0 victory against Pwllheli, which was swiftly followed by a 3-0 triumph over Caernarfon 2nds and a 3-1 victory versus Bangor.
With Caernarfon 1sts also unbeaten through three contests, the onus was on Eirias Hockey Club to continue their momentum against Ruthin. Something they managed to accomplish thanks to a narrow 1-0 success after Lily made one chance count in fine fashion.
This set things up for a final game showdown with Caernarfon to see who secured bragging rights. A gutsy effort from Eirias Hockey Club saw them prevail 2-0 and book their place in the next stage of the competition.
Eirias Hockey Club will now progress to the Welsh U16 semi-finals on Sunday 15 January 2023 in Newtown. If they are successful, then the national finals in Swansea await.
Rev. Keith Tewkesbury
Sad passing of former School Chaplain
It is with great sadness we inform you of the passing of Rev. Keith Tewkesbury following a short illness.
Keith was School Chaplain at Rydal Penrhos for 11 years up to August 2009 and was a much-loved member of the staff team, contributing significantly to the development of pupils and also promoting the school’s proud ethos.
Since leaving the school, Keith served for 10 years as Superintendent Minister of the Conwy and Prestatyn Methodist Circuit. Following his retirement in 2019 at the age of 75, Keith became a part-time chaplain at the Coed Craig Methodist Home in Rhos on Sea.
Keith will be very much missed by all who knew him and we extend our deepest sympathy to his wife Rachel, his children and the rest of his family at this sad time.
The Funeral will be held at St John's Church on Wednesday 14th December at 2.30pm. For any alumni who would like to attend, please let us know by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Assessment Day 2023
Rydal Penrhos warmly invites you to attend its 2023 Assessment Day, which is for all year groups and will take place on Saturday 21 January from 9am.
This will be open to those looking to join the Rydal Penrhos community from September 2023 across Years 7-13. Academic scholarship premiums are available in Years 7-10 for anyone that demonstrates potential from their Cognitive Abilities Test and during an interview with a senior staff member.
The school is offering several free day places for Year 7 and Year 12 entry in 2022, which is a means-tested scheme that has proven hugely popular since the initiative was launched.
All applications must be in by Friday 13 January.
It is an enormously exciting time to join the Rydal Penrhos family. The school achieved exceptional results at A Level and GCSE this summer, which also came with some truly outstanding value-added scores.
This added to the rich history of academic achievements across the school, which is coupled with an outstanding extra-curricular provision and leadership opportunities available to further enhance development.
Here is a more in-depth look at the initiatives available for incoming pupils.
Academic Scholarship Premiums
Academic scholarship premiums may be awarded to children on entry to any academic year (from Year 7 upwards).
These scholarship premiums are open to pupils already within the school and those joining the school and are based on clear testing/results and interviews. There is no limit to the number of these awards.
These awards are not means-tested and the reward is the title of scholar and also a £500 contribution each year for the pupil from the school to further their academic studies through the purchase of books etc.
A mentor will be attached to the pupil for this purpose and would meet half termly to discuss progress in that area and help the money be spent wisely and appropriately.
Art, Drama, Sport and Music scholarship premiums may also be awarded to pupils with “exceptional talent” at any point during their senior school years. They do not require an application.
Fully-funded day places
Rydal Penrhos offers fully-funded day places based on academic ability and financial eligibility. Occasionally, the number of places in Year 7 and 12 may increase, or the scheme may become available for entrants into other academic year groups.
The Year 7 places are awarded based on school reports, a Cognitive Ability Test (CAT) and an interview with a senior staff member.
These are means-tested awards, intended as an “opportunity” for an academically able child or young person residing in North Wales who is currently being educated within the state school system.
The scheme is transparent and is based on financial criteria.
Eligible candidates are part of a financial assessment which only considers families in which family income is less than £35,000 per annum and there are no other significant assets that could be monetised.
An external assessor carries out a thorough assessment, including publicly available data that is not part of the submission and carries out a home visit to establish the family’s suitability for the award.
Once a candidate is awarded a place, they will have it until they leave assuming they continue to be an exemplary member of the Rydal Penrhos community and are not subject to a significant change in circumstances.
Anyone wishing to register can do so by emailing email@example.com, calling 01492 530155 or using our online form which can be located at this link.
North Wales Wildlife Trust
Rydal Penrhos hosts Annual General Meeting
All at Rydal Penrhos remain enormously proud of our association with the community in which we reside.
For more than 100 years the school has valued being part of the locality. It recognises the beauty and safety, adventures and hospitality the location affords, quite often the decision-maker for our boarding community in the past and more recently the reason behind many of our current families relocating to North Wales.
Many clubs, groups and associations from across the region benefit from Rydal Penrhos’ first-class facilities on campus. This includes use for corporate events and sporting teams that make full use of areas such as the swimming pool, sports hall and picturesque New Field playing surface.
Rydal Penrhos is also thrilled to host the North Wales Wildlife Trust, a group of volunteers who work tirelessly to protect wildlife across the region, both on their 35 nature reserves and through partnerships.
The trust recently held an informative lecture at Rydal Penrhos on Saturday 26 November, centring on "What is progress?" and was led by Craig Bennett, the inspirational trust leader. It addressed current concerns about the environment and the economy, how the two impact each other and what people can potentially do to help.
There were also wildlife-themed stalls, a Christmas gift shop and a raffle to raise much-needed funds for the trust.