SPRING NEWSLETTER 2015 - Monmouth Comprehensive School

Monmouth Comprehensive School
‘Learning to Lead our Lives
Dysgu Trwy Arwain’
Dear Parents
Mrs Wendy Baker, who every term puts together our School Newsletter, has an onerous but delightful task in trying to,
within these few pages, record the lives and achievements of all our students. This term we have staged a school
production of ‘Sweeney Todd’, travelled to the frozen North to see the Aurora Borealis, entered Monmouth’s Got
Talent, been to the Mandhir in Regents Park, baked cakes for World Book Day, held our annual Eisteddfod, and hosted a
visit from a German colleague. And in all this in seven weeks!
A new development at school has been a project with Newport County Football Club. Mr P Hancock, a General teacher,
has led a Boys’ Literacy Project with the Club. A regular feature in the Club’s Programme on Match days is an article
produced by our students. A copy of the latest article can be found in this newsletter. The Club Chairman has written to
the school praising our work as well as the students’ exemplary behaviour when they have been invited to the Club to
watch matches.
At MCS, we aim to support every student in developing the skills for life. The school has received national recognition
for its work on developing emotional awareness and resilience in building and maintaining purposeful learning
relationships. We have received the National Restorative Quality Mark, the first secondary school, in the United
Kingdom. This work has been led by Mr Andy Williams at our school. Mr Williams has also started work with some of our
Cluster Primary Schools.
Developments with learning continue apace within our school. The School and Year Councils this term have worked with
Mrs R Gardiner, Miss E Biddle and Mrs C Guest in looking at assessment processes that support progress in learning.
Mrs R Fry, from the Geography Department, is leading research at our school about how we can use ICT to create a
stimulating, responsive and inclusive learning environment across the curriculum. Mr D Williams has been rolling out a
professional development tool for all staff that allows us to record digitally our practice in the classroom so that we can
share best practice and ideas for learning. At the same time, Mr T Bird is leading our work with the County Council and
Interserve on the design of our new school.
The world of education continues to change at a fast pace. Parents who have children in Years 9 and 11 will have heard
about some of the changes ahead through the Options and Curriculum Evenings held at school. Mr T Bird with Mr D
Egan, together with Progress Leaders have led these evenings. The Welsh Government has commissioned Professor
Donaldson to produce a series of recommendations for the future of education in Wales.
A summary copy of the report may be accessed by clicking on the following link
http://gov.wales/topics/educationandskills/schoolshome/curriculuminwales/curriculum-for-wales/?lang=en . As parents,
I hope you find this information from Donaldson useful. In the Summer Term we are hoping to hold further curriculum
evenings that will explain the work of the school in relation to the changes ahead.
There is also so much more to read about in the following pages. I would like to thank all
the students, staff and parents, particularly the Friends Association, for all their work and
help in providing a dynamic learning experience for all.
Congratulations to our new Sixth Form team: Philippa Parry (Head Girl), Reuben Pierrepoint
(Head Boy), Grace Allan (Deputy Head Girl) and George Baynes (Deputy Head Boy). I wish
them every success in the year ahead and thank Michael, Emily, Jack and Thea for their
service to the school this year.
With the holiday only a week away, the students, staff and governors wish everyone a happy and peaceful Easter Spring
R V Davies
Two Year 8 students, Ben Hopkins and Emma Lockyer (8CK) have been
selected to represent Wales Under-15s at the Royal Windsor Horseshow at
Windsor Castle in May, in front of the Queen. This event is a World
Championship event.
Following this competition, they will travel even further afield to Florida to
compete in the Under-17s World Team Championships.
Congratulations, Ben and Emma!
Preparation for Examinations
Mr Hampshire, with Miss Manners and the Year 11 Team, have been tracking the progress of students as they prepare
for the summer examinations. In my office, there is a board, with each student’s photograph which we use to plot and
chart progress against benchmark data. As we enter the final stages of examination preparation, we have published
below some guidance about revision.
Revise in short periods of no more than 30-40 minutes
At the end of each revision session have a treat – it always good to have
something to look forward to
Be strategic in your learning – have examinations papers in front of you
as you revise so you know exactly what to learn. Copies are available on
ILEARNWALES via the school website
Be ready to learn- do not sit with distractions around you (You can be without your mobile telephone for 30-40
minutes and Facebook will still be there when you have finished)
Talk about what you have learnt - to parents and friends. Talking through what you have revised helps to
consolidate learning.
Revise during the part of the day you know when you work best.
Preparing for examinations can be an anxious time and the more work you do helps to relieve the anxiety. Build
slowly and you will gain confidence and pace.
Regular meal times and sleeping times are important.
Year 11 students are coming in to school over the Easter break, by invitation from their teachers to continue preparing
for examinations.
Monday 30th March
Drama - 9 am
D&T Graphics - 9 - 2.30 pm
D&T Resistant Materials - 9 - 2 pm - Mr Bland
Music – 10 – 3.30 pm
Tuesday 31st March
Drama - 9 am
Art - 9 am
French - 9 - 2.30 pm
German – 1 – 2.30 pm
D&T Resistant Materials - 9 - 2.30 pm - Mr Nicolaides
Psychology – 9.30 am
Wednesday 8th April
Welsh – 9 – 12.30 pm
Friday 10th April
English Language - 9 - 12.30 pm
Attendance at school is essential for success. Every day away from school has an impact on the overall grades students
achieve. We will continue to monitor every student’s attendance on a daily basis and will be contacting home on the first
day of absence. We appreciate your support in making sure that your child attends regularly.
Close shave anyone ?
MCS students gave audiences the chills with
four nights of sheer brilliance as they wowed
everyone with their performance of Sweeney
A full report, complete with pictures, will
feature in The Leader 2015.
The annual Sports Tour will
be visiting Greece over
Easter and our footballers
will be heading to Real
Madrid. Students and staff
will also visit Munich on the
History Trip. Full reports of
all of our trips will feature
in the next copy of The
The Summer Term will be soon
with us and we will again be
holding our Summer Learning
Week. This is a time where we
go out into the community to
develop skills and learning that
is not always possible within
the confines of the classroom.
Thank you all for supporting the school in achieving our highest level of
attendance last year. Whilst this is a significant improvement, we know
attendance for some students could be much better.
You may not be aware that:
90% attendance rate
80% attendance rate
75% attendance rate
19 days missed from school
4 weeks
100 lessons
38 days missed
8 weeks
200 lessons
48 days missed
10 weeks
250 lessons
It is important to understand that for your son/daughter, the above
attendance rates can have a significant impact on their grades.
We understand that different holiday dates from different authorities cause
families difficulty with planning holidays, but currently we are experiencing a
high demand for absence during term time for family holidays. Whilst we
appreciate these are difficult times for many families, it is not appropriate for
us to support these requests given the impact on the young person’s
learning and the correlation between a drop in attendance percentage with
the drop in outcomes at KS3 and KS4. Lower attendance means lower
grades statistically.
Once again, we will be putting on a number of evening events at the school, during the week, for the whole
community. Some of these events will have been created by our students, some by the Friends Association and
then there are one or two surprises for the whole community. Summer Learning will take place from 22nd June
to 26th June. Put these dates into your calendar now and follow us on our website and Twitter to find out what
sorts of events we will be staging for everyone at this time.
For the students in Year 7, this is a wonderful opportunity to go to either Hilston Park, Talybont or Gilwern
Outdoor Educational Centres for two and a half days. The students have the chance to try a wide range of
exciting outdoors activities. May we politely request that outstanding payments for this activity be made as
soon as possible.
We realise that some students will have visited such centres before with their previous schools, however this
is an opportunity to work together with their new Form Groups. Previous groups have found that the bonds
that were formed during these stays have been far reaching and beneficial in terms of future learning. We
will raise money towards these activities during the year so that everyone can be included and benefit. The
information/consent letter is available to download from School website.
Monmouth’s Got Talent
A big thank you and well done to Michael Ellis,
Emily Pardington, Jack Whittaker, Thea Ward
and the rest of the Sixth Form team who worked
tirelessly to ensure the whole event went off
smoothly, complete with raffle prizes gathered
from the local community. Well done to the
MCS contestants.
When making payments for School activities and ‘topping up’ your
child’s lunch account, we recommend the security of using ParentPay
online – just visit www.parentpay.com
If you have already activated your email account and are receiving
printed letters for trip/activity updates then please click on the link in
the yellow box at the top of your home screen when you next access
Parentpay. This will enable you to receive more timely email
New Users - To activate your account please access Parentpay at
www.parentpay.com and follow the on screen instructions.
If you have not received details to access Parentpay please contact Mrs
C Williams by email [email protected] or
telephone 01600 775143.
Please note that, once activated, you may control alerts for low dinner
money balances and new items assigned to your child.
DofE Award
Our DofE students are currently engaged in completing the Physical, Skill
and Volunteering components of the award and looking forward to the
challenge of the expeditions. The practice expeditions for Gold and Silver
take place in the Easter break in the Black Mountains with the Bronze
practice in June. Numbers are very healthy this year with 25 Gold, 8 Silver
and 120 Bronze participants.
An information evening for Bronze on Wednesday 22nd April at 6pm in the
school hall will incorporate a local supplier and expert in outdoor activities
to give advice on expedition kit we hope to see you there.
Bringing Personal Items to
Whilst we do all we can to
secure our premises and onsite equipment, we cannot
be held responsible for
possessions. The school
advises that mobile phones,
iPods and other valuable
items are either stored in
school lockers or kept at
Friends AGM on Tuesday 5th May - Election of Chair
So far this school year 40
students and parents have
attended free emergency first
aid training organized by the
FA together with Heartstart
Monmouthshire. This British
Heart Foundation initiative
aims to train as many people
as possible in Emergency Life
Support Skills. Courses are
free and available to anyone
10 years and over. A number
of participants expressed an
Heartstart trainers (you can
find out more here). More
trainers means more places
available on future courses, so
more people trained to save
lives. We hope to run the next
course at MCS in the Summer
As we look forward to a new school being built, the Friends
Association is looking for a new Chair as Kirstie Pope will be
standing down (but staying on as Secretary to support the new
Chair). There is a great bunch of enthusiastic parents ready and
willing to manage projects. They need someone who will liaise
with, and be the main point of contact for, school and to chair
meetings. If you have not attended our meetings before, don’t let
that you put you off – please email Kirstie at the address below and
she will get in touch and explain what is involved.
Sweeney Todd
We really enjoyed dressing up and serving drinks and pies
during the performances. Thank you to everyone who
helped and congratulations to staff and cast – it was a great
Pre-used Uniform
Selling well! Please bring donations to
school reception and email your
requests to Sarah at
[email protected] .
Red Nose Day Baking
Thank you to everyone who baked
and sent in cakes to support the
Charity Committee’s fundraising
Parent Workshops
Emotional Intelligence and communication
How can we talk so they will listen and listen so they
will talk? On Saturday March 14th local professional
life coach and tutor, Jessie Paterson, ran a workshop
focusing on understanding and managing emotions
in the family, helping us to communicate better with
our children and support them. Many parents
commented, also, on the support they gained from
sharing experiences and listening to other parents,
realising that they are not alone in the challenges all
parents face.
How does your teen’s brain work? How can I support
my children’s studying or revision?
Next term we have asked local professional coach
and tutor, Frances Green, to run another Saturday
afternoon workshop answering these and other
questions. We will be sending out an email once
dates have been confirmed.
The workshops and childcare are free, funded by the
monies raised by everyone who signed up to support
Monmouth Comprehensive Friends Association at
www.easyfundraising.org.uk. Thank you to all who
have participated. If you haven’t signed up, please do
– it won’t cost you anything – and it will help us fund
more workshops, available to all.
Get involved
It’s great to see new faces at FA meetings and events. But please bear in mind that
getting involved does not have to mean a regular commitment: any help, big or small, is
much appreciated and will make a difference. So please don’t hesitate to contact us at
[email protected]
At Monmouth Comprehensive we are very proud of our uniform and work hard
to make sure it is worn with pride. May I respectfully ask that all parents support
with the wearing of school uniform. Uniform is checked every morning with Form
Tutors during Registration.
I have printed below a section of our Uniform Code.
Black jeans or jean like material are not allowed in school or any black trouser in
a jeans style with, or without, a metal press stud. All skirts must be to the knee.
Students who are not appropriately attired will receive uniform at school and
parents will be contacted. All footwear must be black with no logos or variation in
For students taking Public Examinations in the summer, it is a requirement that
school uniform is worn. It is part of our safeguarding and security for the
examinations that all students are in correct uniform.
27 March – INSET DAY
28 March – 4 April Greece Sports Tour
29 March – 3 April Italy Football
Development Trip
30 March – 10 April Easter Holiday
13 April – TERM BEGINS
w/c 13 April – Extra Curricular Buses
1 May – Non Uniform and Bake Sale
4 May – May Day Bank Holiday
8 May – Year 11 Leavers’ Ceremony
8 May – Year 11 May Ball
11 May – Exams start
11 May – Y12 Study Leave starts
21 May – Y13 Leavers’ Reception
22 May – Y11 Study Leave starts
22 May – Y13 Leave
25 – 29 May – HALF TERM
18 June Summer Concert
19 June – Extra Curricular Buses finish
22 - 26 June Summer Learning Week
24 June – Exams End
29 June – Book Return Day
29 June – New Entrants’ Evening
30 June – 3 July – Y6 Taster Days
3 July – Y6 Welcome Disco
17 July – TERM ENDS
13 August – A Level Results
20 August – GCSE Result
02 September - Y12 Registration
03 September - Y12 & Y7 Induction
04 September - Whole School
Spain Sports Tour 2016 – Please
see Mr Murphy as there are a few
places left on the Tour
Your support is greatly appreciated.
Revision Sessions Next Term
The Geography Department are holding the following sessions for
Year 11 students retaking their Y10 Geography exam:
Room G2 – 3-4 pm - GCSE Geography Core Topics
Monday 13 April – Rivers
Extra curricular activities and transport will run
from w/c 13 April to w/c 19 June.
Tuesday 14 April – Climate Change
Monday 20 April – Population
Tuesday 28 April – Development
Thursday 30 April – Globalisation
Monday 11 May - Tectonics
Just in case you need it…….
The number for the
Absentee Line is 01600 775284
On Friday 27th February, Katy Mather from 9GD
was chaired as the best poet in Year 7, 8 and 9 at
Monmouth Comprehensive School Eisteddfod. She
wrote an excellent poem about ‘Fy Arwr’ (My
Hero) which discussed how authors were her
heroes as they told her about things she may
never experience in real life.
The MFL Faculty were delighted to
welcome two visitors to the school this
Susi Schult, a German exchange
teacher who spent two weeks with the
and Silke Luhrmann of Wolfestone
Translation Ltd who spent a day with
students, helping them create and pitch
an advert for a German Supermarket.
This was the first
Chairing Ceremony
using our new,
handmade chair
kindly donated by
Mr and Mrs Clarke
who are parents
of past students.
They donated the
chair as a thank
you to the school
and also as their
daughters performed
on stage in the
Eisteddfod a number
of times.
The Welsh Faculty look forward to many more
Chairing Ceremonies using this beautiful chair.
Music at MCS
In February the School was delighted to host the
Band of Her Majesty’s Commando Training Centre
Royal Marines. The day was a huge success and a
full report may be found in this year’s edition of
The Leader
The Faculty are looking forward to
inviting Silke to work with our Sixth
Form linguists on translation, in
preparation for their exams in the
Susi has written an article for The
Leader, detailing her two weeks at
On 6th March, 10 school Music ensembles and
nearly 70 students attended the Regional Festival
of Music For Youth hosted by Gwent Music
Service at Newport Centre.
The Food Technology Department are delighted to offer you
Catering Exam Recipes from our Year 11 students.
240g canned chickpeas
2 garlic cloves
½ tsp bicarbonate soda 135g tahini paste
50ml ice cold water
Salt to season
2tbsp lemon juice
Drain the chickpeas and put in a food processor. Process until you get a stiff paste, then with the
machine still running add the tahini paste, lemon juice, garlic, and 1 ½ teaspoon of salt. Finally,
slowly drizzle in the iced water and allow it to mix until you get a very smooth and creamy paste,
about 5 minutes. Put in the fridge until serving.
Middle Eastern Mezze – by Louise Pardington
1 can of chickpeas (240g)
1 small garlic clove, crushed
2 tbsp finely chopped coriander
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp ground cardamom
1 ½ tbsp plain flour
1/2 medium onion finely chopped (40g in total)
1 tbsp finely chopped flatleaf parsley
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp baking powder
750ml sunflower oil
Salt to season
Drain the chickpeas well; combine them with the onion, garlic, parsley and coriander. Blitz in the food processor until
it is finely chopped, not mushy, and it holds itself together. Add the spices, baking powder, ¾ tsp salt, flour and
3tbsp water. Mix well by hand until smooth and uniform. Cover and leave in the fridge for an hour or until ready to
Fill the saucepan with enough oil to come 7cm up the sides and heat the oil to 180oc.
With wet hands, press 1 tablespoon of mixture into the palm of your hand and form a walnut sized ball. Press them
together well as they tend to crumble and break.
Deep fry the balls in batches for 4 minutes, or until well browned and cooked through. It is really important they dry
out in the middle so make sure they get enough time in the oil.
Drain in a colander lined with kitchen paper and serve.
Middle Eastern flatbread
300g/10½oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
200g/7oz strong flour
1 tsp fast-action yeast
1 tbsp caster sugar
1½ tbsp zaatar (a Middle Eastern spice mix now available in supermarkets)
1 tsp fine salt
325ml/11fl oz warm water
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for oiling bowl
For the topping - 3 tbsp zaatar
1½ tbsp sumac (available from some supermarkets and from Middle Eastern delicatessens)
For the dough, sieve both flours into a large bowl. Mix in the yeast, sugar, zaatar and salt. In a separate bowl mix the
warm water and oil together before adding to the dry ingredients. Mix until you have a soft, sticky dough then cover
with a cloth and set aside to prove for 10 minutes.
Turn out the dough onto floured surface, and knead the dough for 10 minutes until you have a soft, shiny dough (add
a little flour if needed).
Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and turn it round so that its entire surface has a thin coat of oil. Cover with cling
film and set aside to prove for up to an hour.
Flour your hands and knock back the dough by turning it over three to four times in its bowl. Transfer to a floured
surface and divide the dough into six equal pieces and form each piece into a ball. Roll each ball out to form a circle
approximately 18cm/7in wide and 3mm/⅛in thick (they do not need to be perfect circles). Place each circle on a lightly
floured cloth.
Spray the dough circles lightly with water and sprinkle zaatar and sumac over the surface. Leave to prove again for 30
Preheat the oven to maximum temperature; it needs to be very hot. Place an upturned roasting tray on the middle to
lower shelf (the more uneven the surface the better, so use an old beaten up tray if you have one). Leave the tray to
heat up for 20 minutes before baking the flatbreads.
Bake two or three flatbreads at a time for five minutes, or until the flatbreads are puffy and brown spots start to
develop. Keep the oven door closed to avoid cooling the oven and keep checking the flatbreads while they cook they can burn easily. Remove the flatbreads from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Cook the remaining dough
The Leader 2015
The Leader will be going to our printer at the end of
April – Mrs Baker would like to make one last call to
parents/students for out of school items, either
updates on information already sent or new items.
Don’t be shy, please email Mrs Baker at
[email protected]
Chocolate and Apricot Tart – by Jaisy Davies
For the pastry:
300g plain flour
For the filling:
40g butter
60g cocoa powder
For the topping:
30g flaked almonds
150g butter
40g ground hazelnuts
1 egg
20g caster sugar
20g self raising flour
40g apricots
For the pastry - Using a food processor blend the butter, flour and hazelnuts. Mix this up together until you get a
breadcrumb consistency. Then add water tablespoons at a time until you can form the mixture into a ball. Then wrap in
cling film and cool in the fridge for 10-15 minutes. Once cooled, roll out the pastry and line your tins, then blind bake
using baking beans for 5-10 minutes.
For the filling - First melt the butter, then add the cocoa powder and stir until it has a silky appearance. Then add the
egg, and the sugar and mix until combined. Then add the flour and mix for a final time. Add the mixture to the precooked pastry cases, fill until two thirds of the way full. Then add your halved apricots on top. Before putting them into
the oven sprinkle the flaked almonds over the top and then cook for 25– 30 minutes.
Our Young Ambassadors at MCS have been working hard, thinking
of ways to promote physical activity at MCS.
The programme is designed to inspire and empower others to take
on new challenges.
The Young Ambassadors have entered a Dragons Den competition
to try and win £500 for the school to use in promoting physical activity. Their proposal was accepted and
they will now be presenting their ideas to a panel of judges, with the change of winning the prize .
Congratulations to Year 13 French students Ellie Clutton,
Annie Pell and Kelly Dixon, who were runners up in a
debate on “Reality TV” competing against Crickhowell,
HMSG, Monmouth Boys.
They were victorious in their 1st round against Crickhowell
and represented the school with confidence, fluency and
convincing arguments.
On Saturday 21st March, just 4 days after representing the school at
the National Sculling Head at the 2012 Olympics venue, 72 rowing
athletes gathered for a fund raising half marathon in the Forest of
Dean. They were wonderfully supported by over 40 parents
manning drinks stations and participating themselves. The weather
was superb with Springtime blue skies and all the club members
completed the 13 mile distance with remarkably few blisters and
many smiles. The early total raised is a superb £8,756 which will
help to secure the future of the boat club at a time when the school
is keen to support rowing, but the limitations on overall school
funding are considerable, requiring rowing to be heavily self-funding. The
Boat Club is very grateful to all the sponsors in the school community, from teachers
and fellow students to family members and neighbours for their generous support.
Year 11 Rugby League
Year 11 Rugby league recorded a convincing 47point to nil win over Croesyceiliog to book their place in the
semi-finals of the Welsh School RL Cup. They will play St. Josephs (Newport) for the right to represent East
Wales in the final.
The First XV rugby team have made an outstanding start to the season. In the League they sit top of the table
after recording convincing double victories over Usk and with only Brecon College to play MCS are confident
of finishing top of the league.
Representative Honours
Rugby Union
Tom Reynolds has represented Crawshays this season, scoring the
winning try on his debut against Llandovery.
Well done to the Year 10 Netball team who have been undefeated in the
South East Wales League this season – unfortunately they were pipped to
the top of the League on goal difference.