The RP Weekly: 7 January 2022
The weekly digital newsletter from Rydal Penrhos School.
The RP Weekly
7 January 2022
New Chair appointed
Rydal Penrhos is delighted to announce that Deborah McKinnel has been elected as the school’s new Chair of Governors.
Ms McKinnel is taking over the position from the retiring Mr Julian Barnes, who attended Rydal School from 1957 to 1967 before becoming a Governor of Rydal Penrhos 2012 and then taking the Chair of Governors in 2017.
Mr Barnes oversaw a distinguished but challenging period following the decision to cease boarding in 2018, and later throughout the COVID-19 pandemic – something the school is eternally grateful for.
Ms McKinnel has been a Governor since 2018 and is a Presiding Justice in both the Family Court and the Adult Criminal Court, having worked within the judicial system for 15 years.
She is also an appraiser, mentor and recruiter of Magistrates throughout Wales, and has previously served as a Regional Manager for Britannia (now Tui) Airlines.
Ms McKinnel, said: “Having been involved with our school since 2012, I feel both blessed and privileged to have been elected the new Chair.
“On behalf of all the Governors, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the previous Chair, Mr Julian Barnes, for all his invaluable hard work and dedication whilst working with our school.
“I would also like to congratulate the Rydal Penrhos community on its spirit of unity and resilience during the uncertain times of COVID-19. We are thriving on many fronts and I am proud of all of our parents and families, staff and above all, our pupils, who have helped to make this happen.
“The adaptability and teamwork of the Rydal Penrhos staff body have enabled us to continue teaching and nurturing our children. Their health, safety and wellbeing are of paramount importance.
“We all note how happy our pupils are, their laughter and chattering around our school are simply wonderful.”
As the school’s Safeguarding governor, Ms McKinnel’s expertise in the Family Court has been invaluable in assisting Rydal Penrhos staff in securing the highest safeguarding standards within the school, as reflected in recent inspections.
She has also been heavily involved in the Board’s support and challenge for all personnel matters during the conversion to a day school.
“Governors are volunteers and our main role is to work with our school ensuring your children, our pupils, receive the best education, achieve the best of their ability in a supportive safe setting,” added Ms McKinnel.
“As Governors, we are completely dedicated to our roles and responsibility. We all have different skills, but we could not do our job without the committed staff at Rydal Penrhos.”
Saturday 22 January
Rydal Penrhos Assessment Day
For September 2022 entry.
We warmly invite you to attend our Assessment Day, which is for all year groups and will take place on Saturday 22 January from 9am.
This is for any child looking to join Rydal Penrhos for September 2022 entry and the Assessment Day will all be conducted with consideration of COVID-19 safety protocols at the time.
Anyone wishing to register can do so by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, calling 01492 530155 or using the online form: https://rydalpenrhos.com/admissions/rydal-penrhos-assessment-day/
St Helens head coach praises Rydal Penrhos' exceptional facilities
Rydal Penrhos received a significant honour when rugby league giants St Helens chose the school as their base for a pre-season training camp in December.
The three-time defending Super League champions ramped up preparations for the upcoming campaign by using the exceptional facilities our pupils benefit from on a daily basis just before the festive period.
This included using the newly refurbished fitness suite, the 25-metre swimming pool and participating in a training session on Rydal Penrhos’ picturesque New Field surface, which parents, pupils and staff members were able to attend under strict COVID-19 guidelines.
The Saints squad stayed on campus and were treated to a lavish Christmas dinner at the Sixth Form Ferguson Centre courtesy of the school’s catering team, before using their final day to take part in a special conditioning session along the Colwyn Bay coastline situated just a stone’s throw from Rydal Penrhos.
This should serve the first-team squad well as they look to continue their phenomenal recent success when the new season begins later this year. Executive Principal John Waszek received a signed shirt from the team as a thank you for the school’s hospitality and members of Rydal Penrhos’ first XV received their new kit from established figures and international-calibre players within the Saints’ set-up.
GALLERY: St Helens training camp at Rydal Penrhos
Kristian Woolf, who is Saints’ head coach, had nothing but praise for the welcome they received at Rydal Penrhos when speaking to the St Helens Star and was also highly complimentary of the facilities used by his players throughout their stay.
“Rydal Penrhos did a really good job for us. They went above and beyond in making sure we felt looked after and welcome. The facilities we got to use, in particular, the indoor sporting halls and the gym were exceptional, and that really helped us have a successful camp.”
Rydal Penrhos has a vast array of facilities, including a Sports Hall and Fitness Suite that can be used for netball, basketball and indoor cricket nets, with the astroturf surface providing a floodlit training area for pupils and clubs across the region to utilise.
The school also has its own outdoor cricket nets area, no fewer than five immaculate rugby pitches, seven outdoor tennis courts, two squash courts, four Eton Fives courts and a dedicated short game golf area for anyone wishing to hone their bunker, chipping or putting skills.
If that wasn’t enough, Rydal Penrhos has an RYA accredited Sailing and Water-Sports Centre as part of our campus and this is also available to visiting groups.
Anyone wishing to enquire about the facilities hire should contact email@example.com or call 01492 530155.
Ensuring a safe return to school
Staff at Rydal Penrhos have worked tirelessly to provide a safe and happy environment for pupils throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whether that was during an exceptional online provision or when face-to-face learning resumed, the school’s left no stone unturned to ensure progress and academic development continued despite the obvious challenges.
This effort, coupled with outstanding support from the pupils and family members themselves – reflects the strong community spirit across Rydal Penrhos. Although many were enjoying the busy festive period away from school, staff remained vigilant when it came to making preparations for the new term under current Welsh Government guidelines.
Pupils were given a warm welcome back for the beginning of what promises to be a memorable spring term on Wednesday 5 January, with every possible precaution being taken to make sure everyone hits the ground running academically, during sporting activities and within the diverse range of extra-curricular opportunities available.
Rydal Penrhos COVID response team has done a remarkable job so far, reacting swiftly to any changes with the pupils’ interest at heart. Seeing children flourishing among their peers is down to the extraordinary activity going on behind the scenes, something everyone at the school is grateful for.
This is a fluid situation. But parents can rest safe in the knowledge Rydal Penrhos will always be at the forefront of safety measures relating to COVID-19 in pursuit of keeping staff and pupils healthy and well supported throughout their time at school.
We are indebted to our staff for all their outstanding dedication. The school has gone from strength to strength over the last two years – with pupil numbers increasing significantly thanks in no small part to Rydal Penrhos’ commitment to education in the face of some extreme disruption at times.
The school could not do this without the entire Rydal Penrhos community, who’ve all pulled together for the benefit of our incredible pupils. Thank you!
Preparing for GCSEs before they begin!
Making the transition from Key Stage 3 to GCSE level in Years 10 and 11 can be an extremely exciting prospect.
The chance to focus more on subjects of interest and earn valuable qualifications following their memorable journey through education at Rydal Penrhos makes this an important but thoroughly enjoyable period before another significant milestone begins within the school’s Sixth Form community.
Putting the interests of every pupil at the centre of the school’s approach is a key component behind some incredible success in recent years. This is seen not only in exceptional examination results but also in high value-added scores and encouraging development in and out of the classroom on a daily basis.
Teaching staff are always looking for ways to ease the burden on pupils. This comes through a comprehensive curriculum and additional learning tools provided to every year group either online or during enrichment.
Small class sizes are another way for staff to focus on the individual.
Learning what inspires and motivates them can make all the difference. Although pupil numbers have increased significantly over the last 18 months despite the challenges relating to COVID-19, Rydal Penrhos strives to protect the teacher-pupil ratio with strong recruitment when necessary.
Some upcoming workshops for Year 9 arranged by History teacher Maria Freeman will be predominantly skills-based and also set to cover content normally associated with GCSE modules throughout the spring term.
In addition to this, pupils will also be given experience and tasks that involve writing at length, which should stand them in tremendous stead when it’s time to begin assignments and in a more structured environment during examinations.
It’s the little things that make a big difference at Rydal Penrhos. We remain indebted to our teaching staff for their constant evaluation of methods as well as finding new and creative ways to ensure every pupil gets the very most out of their time at the school.
Hopefully, our next group of Key Stage 4 pupils can continue Rydal Penrhos’ proud history of academic achievements in the coming years.
Where wellies are part of the uniform!
Wellies are an essential part of the uniform at Rydal Penrhos Pre-School…
Creating happy, confident and resilient pupils has never been more important for schools, a mission we take very seriously here at Rydal Penrhos where children start from as young as two years old.
We are fast approaching a time when our new Pre-School children will never have known a time without COVID-19. Most of their life so far may have been spent with people wearing masks and they may potentially have had some or all the normal activities small children take part in restricted in some way or another.
Rydal Penrhos Pre-School is the perfect setting for young children, an education provider, not a nursery, an environment where it is all about helping the children to learn. A place focused on building a child’s self-esteem and confidence by making sure they feel safe and happy.
We see each child as an individual with their own passions and challenges, and we treat them accordingly.
It is honestly hard to imagine a more joyful place to begin a lifetime of education. The teaching team, headed by Pre-School manager Ms. Letitia Spencer – who also teaches ballet and yoga which the children enjoy enormously, have hit every challenge and hurdled everything that the pandemic has thrown at them.
They have been making life not only normal for the children but wonderful – with a song in their heart, a spring in their step and an awful lot of giggling along the way.
Learning how to learn is one of the first skills taught and from as early as two, our children begin to learn the basics: how to read, write and work with numbers, following the “Foundation Phase Profile”. But this more traditional classroom education is extended and enhanced using the wider school facilities for dancing, music, Physical Education and swimming as well as exploring the forest and the coast.
Our Pre-School mantra is about trying new things, letting children explore the world we live in, have adventures, and learn along the way, thus allowing each child to discover more about themselves socially, physically, emotionally, and academically.
Provision both for those children that have been identified as having learning needs and those who are gifted and talented is vital to the early development of our children. Something we track carefully with the use of key workers allocated specifically to a child.
We are fortunate to have exceptional facilities that enable our children to thrive further. Rydal Penrhos has its own swimming pool, Forest School, Music rooms and Dance rooms, situated just a stone’s throw from the Colwyn Bay beach, which is the home for our Coastal School activities and as we say wellies are essential!
Communication is another of our most important jobs.
It can be a nerve-wracking experience leaving your child in the care of others for the first time, but Rydal Penrhos Pre-School staff are constantly keeping parents updated on the “Evidence Me” app, which shows what the children are doing during the day with photos and descriptions, encouraging interaction from family members.
Pre-School children also benefit from trips out to further enhance their overall experiences and early development along with wrap-around care for families until 6pm and a Holiday Club run by their very own teacher Ms. Spencer.
Pre-Schoolers are part of the Rydal Penrhos family. Everyone from Pre-School up to Year 6 eats, plays, and dances together. Our recent Nativity Production “Lights, Camel, Action” was a fine example of this and an absolute triumph!
Pre-School forms the bridge between home and school and is a young child’s first experience of an educational environment. It is therefore an important stepping stone in a child’s life and there is no better place than Rydal Penrhos for this transition.
Success for Ella and Charlotte
An exciting recent addition to the provision provided by Rydal Penrhos saw the school become a member of the National Schools Equestrian Association.
This is the recognised body for equestrianism in schools throughout the UK, providing inter-school competitions for team and individual riders at state and independent education establishments as well as colleges.
Although still in its infancy, the newly formed equestrian team has hit the ground running thanks in no small part to the efforts of Ella and Charlotte Payne, a sister duo who boast a wealth of experience at competitions across the region.
Ella, who is also Prep Head Girl for the 2021/22 academic year, recently boosted her growing reputation in the sport by competing at an NSEA Showjumping Competition, where the pupil was looking to earn qualification to the Grass Roots Regional Championships.
Competing in the 60cm and 70cm classes, Ella held her nerve and put together a fantastic performance en route to fourth and fifth-placed finishes - which was enough to qualify for the competition at a date and venue to be confirmed.
Such was the quality of Ella's performance, she is also now eligible to take her place at the Grass Roots Festival in Hickstead as a result of her efforts.
There was further cause for celebration from a Rydal Penrhos perspective, with Charlotte finishing third in the 95cm Regional Points Class at the competition, which took place at Kelsall Hill Equestrian Centre in Cheshire.
The NSEA is an independent partner of the British Horse Society and works closely with other British Equestrian Federation member bodies on a number of projects in order to produce the best opportunities for inter-school equestrian sport.
We would like to congratulate Ella and Charlotte on yet another fine achievement, and anyone looking to join the Rydal Penrhos equestrian team should contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com for more information.
Year 8 parade highlights encouraging progress
A Rydal Penrhos extra-curricular opportunity that continues to go from strength to strength is the Combined Cadet Force initiative, which has proven most popular for pupils from Year 8 right up to Year 11 since its inception.
The programme builds key life skills they can take with them throughout education and later life and aims to promote responsibility, self-reliance, resourcefulness, and a sense of service to the community.
Year 8 cadets took part in their final parade of the term just before the Christmas break, where they were inspected by Lt Col Martin Stead and Captain Alun Brown on the school’s astroturf.
Captain Brown tested them on their basic knowledge of parts of the rifle, ranks and our sponsor regiment the 1st Queens’ Dragoon Guards. All cadets passed their inspection with flying colours, which was a testament to how hard each pupil has worked since joining the thriving provision.
Lt Col Martin Stead commented that many had improved significantly during the course of the term. Not all Year 8 CCF cadets were present because each half term a small section rotate onto outdoor education skills, where they have focused on indoor climbing led ably by Dr Jim Lewis.
The Year 8 CCF programme of training means that all cadets have the chance to take part in outdoor education skills as well as military training. This includes first aid, map reading, fieldcraft and leadership, all the while building friendships and communication skills along the way.
After the parade Sgt Phil Hilton conducted a training session in the Rydal Penrhos swimming pool, where very cadet took part in their military swim test which included treading water for four minutes and swimming 100 metres wearing their military trousers and shirts.
After the test, Sgt Hilton then proceeded to show the cadets how to create a flotation device using their trousers. Everyone involved enjoyed themselves themselves enormously and picked up some vital survival skills.
After the final parade, Evan Lewis-Stone and Cammie de la Mare Norris were promoted from Cadet to Cadet Junior Leader in recognition of their exceptional commitment. Well done to all our CCF cadets on their dedication during the autumn term.
Hockey & Football
Prep Inter-House titles decided
One of the most enjoyable occasions for our pupils throughout the academic year is house competitions. This has always been a source of great pride and something that further adds to the community spirit enveloping Rydal Penrhos on a daily basis.
Another shining example of this came just before the Christmas break, with pupils descending on the school’s astro-turf surface for the annual Prep Inter-House Hockey and Football competitions.
It was another fantastic showcase of young sporting talent, with pupils giving everything for their respective houses in pursuit of valuable points that will be tallied up at the end of the summer term.
Teams were split into Years 3 and 4/Years 5 and 6 and competed against one another in a round-robin format to determine the overall winners.
After a hugely competitive occasion for all involved, Pembroke did enough to emerge victorious from the Hockey tournament, with those in Snowdon and Brecon also performing exceptionally well throughout and coming away with a great deal of credit.
In the Football event, it was goals galore for Snowdon House as they took home the crown in fine fashion.
Everyone at Rydal Penrhos would like to congratulate each pupil for their outstanding commitment at the inter-house competitions, to the staff for organising such a superb occasion and to the captains of Snowdon and Pembroke for marshalling their houses to victory.
More events are scheduled during the spring and summer terms, which will be held in accordance with COVID-19 guidelines from the Welsh Government at the time.
Dr Baker's castle project could host I'm a Celeb again in 2022
The Gwyrch Castle restoration project started by former Rydal Penrhos pupil Dr Mark Baker could be in line to host the ITV hit show “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!” once again in 2022 depending on how COVID-19 health concerns impact potential travel plans to the Southern Hemisphere.
Dr Baker, who attended the school from 1996-2003, had a dream to restore the Grade I Listed castle back to its former glory when still a pupil after becoming mesmerised by the prominent landmark en route to Rydal Penrhos every day.
The Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust has done some truly incredible work restoring areas of the site which are now available for the public to enjoy. They were finally able to purchase the site in 2018.
The castle was left to rot for decades before Dr Baker’s plans began coming to fruition, which has seen the former pupil receive support from leading figures such as Prince Charles and Theresa May in recent years.
In addition to his efforts renovating the castle, Dr Baker is also the cabinet member for Arts, Heritage, Libraries and Culture at Conwy County Borough Council and recently managed to put plans in place to save the library in Colwyn Bay.
The ITV show recently concluded after an eventful three weeks, which saw celebrity contestants evacuated from camp for a few days and taken to separate locations without phones, internet or TVs as a precaution as Storm Arwen caused damage to the production.
A recent report indicates that I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here! could return to the site next year, with an ITV source telling The Sun newspaper that Gwrych Castle has already been booked for a third consecutive year as a likely contingency plan.
“At the moment it is pretty much nailed on for a third year in the castle. Australia is opening up but could also snap shut at any time depending on how things go so that situation is far from being on an even footing. The executives are happy to stick with Gwyrch Castle for another year and then after that, the show might finally get back Down Under. But the viewers are understanding because Australia is super-strict so they know that getting back to Oz isn’t really feasible at the moment.”
Dr Baker and Rydal Penrhos still have a close association. The school held a community action day during Activity Week, which saw pupils and staff travel to Gwrych Castle for a clean-up project to get the site looking fantastic for visitors.
2021 event a roaring success!
The Rydal Penrhos community pulled together to put on a fantastic Christmas Extravaganza for Pre-School to Year 6 pupils before the break, which featured an exciting array of activities to raise funds for two worthy causes in the region. There was plenty of festive spirit throughout the Prep site, which was hugely enjoyable for all in attendance.
Mrs Mary Richardson, who is a Religious Studies and PSHE teacher at the school, organised a group of Key Stage 4 (Years 10 and 11) pupils to run a mini-Christmas Market on the playground, with all proceeds going towards Ty Gobaith Children’s Hospice in Conwy and Disability Skiing Wales.
Another valuable contribution came from Pupil Welfare Assistant Miss Sarah James and Senior pupils, who took to the stage in the School Hall for a superb Nativity Play. They were in fine voice throughout the performance, signing plenty of festive carols throughout a very entertaining show.
A small group of Governors and Parents turned into Elves as the Secrets Room made a welcome return to the calendar, where they distributed and wrapped small gifts that were made in Rydal Penrhos’ Design Technology department for the occasion.
And what Christmas Extravaganza would be complete without a visit from Santa himself?!
Father Christmas had a busy afternoon, giving out presents to every single Prep pupil and chatting with them about their plans over the break. Mrs Williams and Mrs Roberts, the school’s trusty secretary and receptionist, played the role of Santa’s assistants.
Mrs Lucy Davies, who is Deputy Principal of Rydal Penrhos, said: “This year, as in 2020, we had to make sure that all COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines were followed and we were so glad that we were able to give our pupils such a magical experience.
“Thank you, everyone!”
St Helens train at Rydal Penrhos
Prep Club gets visit from Santa
Rydal Penrhos is always searching for ways to utilise its stunning location on the North Wales coast within the school’s exceptional all-round education.
This is done within a comprehensive curriculum that caters to the individual, a thriving outdoor provision and a diverse range of extra-curricular opportunities that build key skills away from the classroom.
One of the more unique opportunities for Rydal Penrhos pupils is Skiing. The school offers coaching from a very early age, with many pupils continuing their progression throughout their time with us, gaining regional and national competition success along the way.
Reception to Year 2 pupils have been working hard on boosting their confidence on the slopes throughout the autumn term under the supervision of staff, and they were rewarded for their incredible commitment during their final session with a special visit from Father Christmas himself.
Santa surprised those in attendance by coming down the slope at Llandudno Snowsports Centre to a joyous reception from pupils, who were tasked with decorating their ski helmets in fine festive attire to mark the occasion.
Not only did our skiers thoroughly enjoy Santa’s visit, but they all threw themselves into a series of tasks during the session to finish on a high.
We would like to commend our Reception to Year 2 pupils at Rydal Penrhos for their strong work ethic, boundless energy and helping one another reach their respective targets during the skiing sessions.
Hopefully, this will stand each of them in good stead when it’s time to return to the slopes!
Christmas Service 2021