16 October 2020

Dear All

I hope that you are keeping well. It continues to be a strange time for us all, and with further restrictions on the way, it’s an uncertain time for everyone. I would like to thank you as parents once again for your unwavering support of the school. Most pupils remember to bring a mask to school and almost everyone remembers to follow the one way system around the school. These measures are a key part of our effort as a school to reduce COVID-19 transmission within the county. Thanks to you as parents for constantly reminding your children of the importance of these rules and encouraging them to follow them at all times.

The next few weeks

As you now know, a new lockdown is on the horizon. There is a week of school until half term, and then if the rumours and the leaks are correct, we will enter a new lockdown next Friday 23rd at 6pm, as half term begins. What happens to schools after half term is unclear at present, and we’ll probably know more after Mark Drakeford’s announcement at lunchtime tomorrow.

Looking ahead, and to prepare for every eventuality, there are things that we can do to make life easier:

  • Pupils need to take all their books home with them
  • Pupils need to complete the live learning contracts
  • Parents need to complete the live learning contracts
  • Year 9+ need to make sure their school iPad is working, or that their home computer is logged on to Hwb
  • Pupils of all ages need to remember their Hwb login and password
  • Pupils need to register with all their classes on Google Classroom by going to wal.broedern.cymru
  • Pupils and parents need to make sure they are logged in to their respective ClassCharts apps, with the unique codes that have been sent to you via your child

Live learning

The new arrangements for any pupils self-isolating from Bro Edern involve live learning. The group of 33 year 8 pupils who have been isolating for a week are in the middle of their stretch of live learning, as are a group of year 10 boys. A group of year 12 pupils have now returned to school, without missing a single lesson with their teachers. I would like to thank these pupils and their parents for their support for the new arrangements which have been put in place. The parental feedback has been extremely positive, and the year 8 parents have stated in their daily questionnaires that this system is much easier than the lockdown period, as teacher support is available for their children throughout the day and that this has therefore taken pressure off parents. Parents also note that having to follow live lessons gives their children’s day a distinct structure, unlike the lockdown period, and that this has meant no falling out between parents and their children. Our teachers have invested a great deal of time in training and preparing for the huge logistical task of providing live learning at Bro Edern, and I thank them all for being so willing to provide these lessons for your children. It has been quite a challenge juggling provision for the pupils at home while the rest of the class is in the lesson, but our teachers have done their best to meet everyone’s needs.

From now on, if any pupil needs to self isolate, or if the school needs to close after half term, we are planning for live learning. During the lockdown, the most consistent comment we received from parents was a request for “lessons on Zoom” because working independently at home was a challenge for the vast majority. This is to be expected, because pupils need their teachers, and with the work in Welsh, we understand that parents could not help their children with any problems. Our lessons will be hosted on Google Meet via the Welsh Government’s Hwb platform, as this is linked to each class’s Google Classroom. In order for your child to have live lessons, all parents and pupils will need to complete the live learning contract. Thank you to the hundreds of parents and pupils who filled this in immediately after it was sent to you. If you have not yet had the opportunity to complete the contract, then you need to do so urgently.

If / When the school needs to turn to live learning, parents and pupils will be issued with very clear instructions about what / where / when / how. Not to worry!

Parental Contract: https://forms.gle/p8B753Aq17JDuY647

Pupil Contract: https://forms.gle/hs3XEBazfv9cuywt5

Some parents have complained about our contract, but I would like to explain that the clauses stem from the county’s guidance given to us before the summer, which in turn is a directive by Welsh Government. Protecting pupils and staff alike is a priority for us, and enables everyone to face this challenge without worry. Some clauses are absolutely necessary e.g. the need for us to record lessons and archive them, in case of safeguarding issues arising. Also the need for pupils to be fully dressed, that pupils do not record the screen or take pictures of their lessons, behavioural standards on screen etc. There are other clauses that we may discuss with parents, as and when needed e.g. one of the self-isolating Sixth Formers had to follow her lessons in her bedroom; because her mother was a childminder, the social areas of the house were full of toddlers and she had to self-isolate away from anyone else. The parents noted “I agree” to the statement, showing that they understood that a social space was the standard requirement, and then they stated in the last box what the particular circumstances were for them as a family, but still supporting the school’s aims. We ask you to do the same, agree with the statement, and then provide an explanation for any clauses where you need to explain. Without agreement, there will be no lessons for your children.

A small minority of  parents have compared our agreement with those from other schools, or with the lack of contract in other schools. I have little interest in the arrangements of other schools, as the pupils and staff of Bro Edern are my sole responsibility. We follow all required procedures and understand that the vast majority of our parents fully support this. Thank you for your support.

Chromebooks for Year 7 and 8

Thanks to our parents for your patience with the lack of year 7 and 8 devices, especially year 8 parents who have been waiting a year for tangible news. On Friday we were told by the county that Chromebooks will definitely be coming for year 7 and 8 pupils, for use in lessons and for completing homework. Like older years with their iPad, pupils take these devices home with them every night to complete homework. It is a great relief that we finally have something definite to tell you.

Therefore, to confirm the arrangements for new parents: Chromebooks will be supplied free of charge for all pupils in years 7 and 8 to use for school work, homework and any blended learning, including live learning. We haven’t had a definite date for their arrival, but it’s “soon”, whatever that means. The only thing that parents need to pay is a contribution towards the insurance. This contribution has been around £50 in the past – and lasts for the duration of your child’s time at school. In order for your child to receive their Chromebook, you will need to sign the school’s Acceptable Use Agreement and we will require a minimum payment of £10 towards the insurance. Christmas comes early to Bro Edern!

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the agreement will need to be completed online, payments will be made via ParentPay, and there will be no meeting for parents to collect the Chromebooks, as happened in the past with the iPads. Once everything is in place, we will set a date to release the Chromebooks for the pupils to bring home. We have a meeting with the county tomorrow (Monday) and are waiting for a date when the Chromebooks will arrive. It could be very soon, or it could be in a while! Once we know, we will contact you with the Acceptable Use Agreement and details of the insurance payment.

November Exams

In the midst of all this, we understand that the intention at this stage is for the November GCSE exams to continue. This is to be confirmed. Pupils in Maths sets 1 and 2 will sit their Higher Tier Numeracy examinations, and some year 12 pupils will re-sit English Language.

The Maths Department has kindly arranged online revision sessions for every morning of the half term week, so that our pupils have the best chance of success. Mr Chappell will conduct these Higher Tier revision sessions on Google Meet at 9am from Monday morning to Friday for one hour each day until 10am. Another member of staff will be present in the online lessons. In order to access these important revision lessons, the live learning contracts must be completed by this Wednesday 21st.

Presentation About Revision for Year 10 and 11 Parents

In order for parents to familiarise themselves with the latest revision techniques and procedures for different subjects, Miss James will be holding a parents’ meeting on revision skills this Wednesday 21st at 5:30pm in Welsh and 6:15pm in English. These have been useful for parents in the past. The format will be similar to the recent online meeting for year 11 parents, and an opportunity for you to ask questions. Mr Chappell will make a ‘guest appearance’ to talk specifically about Maths revision techniques. Pupils will bring a leaflet on revision skills back home with them on Wednesday evening for your reference during the session. You will need a biro, but you won’t need to log in – you should be able to get into the meeting straight from the link below.

Link to meeting in Welsh at 5:30 pm:

https://teams.microsoft.com/l/meetup-join/19%3ameeting_Y2UyOGNjMDctZjIzMi00OGI0LTljOWYtOTNmMWQ2ODZmNmIy%40thread.v2/0?context=%7b%22Tid%22%3a%224f3f0e52-b734-4164-9409-1b601d147993%22%2c%22Oid%22%3a%2295c7aaaf-4b91-444f-8fe0-cdb13941754c%22%2c%22IsBroadcastMeeting%22%3atrue%7d

Link to meeting in English at 6:15 pm:

https://teams.microsoft.com/l/meetup-join/19%3ameeting_NzUyNGE1MDctOTZjOS00ZWJjLWIxZjYtMTAzOWFjNWYzY2My%40thread.v2/0?context=%7b%22Tid%22%3a%224f3f0e52-b734-4164-9409-1b601d147993%22%2c%22Oid%22%3a%2295c7aaaf-4b91-444f-8fe0-cdb13941754c%22%2c%22IsBroadcastMeeting%22%3atrue%7d

Welshness

We are always looking for ways to promote the Welsh language and to encourage pupils to use Welsh in all aspects of their lives. The summer playlist has been in use since the Tafwyl weekend, so it’s time to change the tunes and change the season. Here’s the Autumn @BroEdern list, with some songs ready for a socially distanced Hallowe’en party! https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5VOWJCKkOGzbzComtHMHVJ

You can listen to Spotify free of charge; you only need to register.

Mrs Furci recently sent you a letter about various aspects of the Welsh language. If you have not yet had the opportunity to read the letter, here is the link again. A parental questionnaire is included in the letter: https://drive.google.com/file/d/110vpfj40BuwWgoLYAkrXPWuv7wLX5wbQ/preview

The Urdd

In Mrs Furci’s letter, we urge our families to join the Urdd. If you haven’t had a chance yet, then please consider joining the Urdd in order to support the organisation at this crucial time. Things are very difficult for the Urdd at the moment, with Glan-Llyn and Llangrannog closed, and so many activities having to be cancelled. A family can join for £25 or £9 for an individual. It’s easy to join online: https://www.urdd.cymru/en/join/

Parent Governor Election

I would like to express my gratitude to all parents who have been members of the Governing Body over the past four years. The time has come for us to elect new parent representatives to serve on the school’s Governing Body for the next four years.

There are currently six vacancies for parent governors on the Governing Body.  I would like to invite you to consider serving as a parent governor and below is an explanation of the role of the governing body.

The Governing Body’s core responsibilities:

  • Standards – ensuring a strategic and systematic approach to promoting high standards of educational achievement, attendance and behaviour, including the rigorous review of published performance data;
  • Targets – acting as a “critical friend” setting targets by which progress for pupil achievement and outcomes can be measured;
  • Curriculum – ensuring all learners have access to a broad and balanced curriculum and that all statutory requirements are met;
  • Determining the aims, policies and priorities of the school – involvement in the School Improvement Plan, School Self Evaluation and renewal and approval of statutory policies and documents;
  • Finance – determining and monitoring the school budget
  • Staffing – deciding the number of staff and involvement in all staffing processes including pay, staff appointments, performance management, suspension, disciplinary issues and dismissal, grievances;
  • Providing parents with information – Annual Report to Parents, School Prospectus and meetings requested by parents;
  • Inspection preparation and follow up – including producing an action plan and monitoring progress following an Estyn Inspection;
  • The well being and safeguarding of learners including the promotion of Healthy Eating;
  • Awareness of their responsibilities in equality matters and where to seek advice;
  • Evaluation of the Governing Body’s own performance as and when required.

Who are Parent Governors

Parent governors are elected as representative of the interests of the parents of pupils.  However, parent governors are not mandated delegates of parents.  They are a member of a corporate body – the Governing Body – and have the same powers, duties and responsibilities as all other governors.  Unless specifically instructed by the governing body, they have no individual powers to make decisions.  Parent governors are entitled to exercise the same powers, duties and responsibilities as other governors and have the same rights as other governors.  Parent governors are a distinctive category of governor and, as elected representatives, are well placed to understand the needs and points of view of parents.

Parent governors are elected to serve a term of office of 4 years.

What qualifications do School Governors need?

No special qualifications are needed to be a governor.  Governors are given full information on their role from the Local Authority in addition to the opportunity to attend training courses. 

All new governors have to complete a mandatory induction training programme.  New governors and those undertaking a second term of office also have to complete mandatory training on data.  Details of this will be provided by the Local Authority.

What do I do next?

If you would like to be a parent governor you need to fill in the nomination form attached to this letter and return it to school by Friday October 30. Any nominations received after this date will not be accepted.

https://forms.gle/ftDg1LxhGzG8qVq38

If more nominations are received than there are vacancies, an election will be held which would be decided by a simple majority.  The timescale for any election would be as follows:-

Closing date for nominations:                                       Friday October 30

Issue of ballot papers (if election is required):        Friday November 6

Return of ballot papers:                                                  Friday November 20

I hope that you will think about becoming a School Governor.  The governing body would welcome your involvement in their essential work to promote the achievement, well being and development of all pupils at the school. 

Cyfeillion Bro Edern PTA

The first meeting of Cyfeillion Bro Edern (PTA) this year will be at 6pm this Wednesday, 21st, on Zoom. Everyone is welcome, especially our new parents. Here are the official details to join the meeting:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86713223436?pwd=VGh6VmE4SE5ENmF2RGJWTXZ5TllqQT09

Meeting ID: 867 1322 3436 Passcode: 682754

Fundraising with EasyFundraising

Thanks in advance to the parents who will attend our Cyfeillion meetings this year. Organising social activities is impossible, so fundraising is a bit tricky. Because of this, the Cyfeillion have signed up for EasyFundraising. By visiting this site before you shop online, the school will receive a percentage of your spending from the company where you have been shopping. It costs you nothing.

Hundreds of companies are involved in the scheme, and here’s a taste of the contributions they will make to the school from your usual shopping activity. Here are some of the companies:

  • eBay up to 1%
  • Amazon up to 1.5%
  • John Lewis up to 2%
  • M&S up to 2%
  • H&M up to 3%
  • Interflora up to 3%
  • Bloom and Wild up to 7.5%
  • Argos up to 0.75%
  • Asos up to 3%
  • New Look up to 2.5%
  • Peacocks up to 2%
  • Boots up to 2.5%
  • Sports Direct up to 2.5%
  • JD Sports up to 3%
  • White Company up to 1%
  • White Stuff up to 1.5%
  • Majestic Wines up to 2%
  • Etsy up to 1%
  • Lego up to 1.5%
  • Paperchase 4%
  • Apple up to 2%
  • Dell up to 2%
  • Currys PC World up to 1.5%
  • QVC up to 2%
  • Thorntons up to 2.5%
  • Hotel Chocolat up to 3.5%
  • Leekes up to 2%
  • Clarks up to 2.5%
  • Mountain Warehouse up to 5%
  • Domino’s Pizza up to 1.5%
  • Just Eat 1%
  • Photobox up to 2.5%
  • Waitrose 50c
  • British Gas various contributions
  • Also insurance
  • And holidays – not much use at the moment!

So that’s your online Christmas shopping sorted!

You can get an app for your phone. Search for Cyfeillion Bro Edern PTA within the app.

You can also set a reminder on your computer browser. We are trying to promote this far and wide before people start to get to grips with their Christmas shopping. Feel free to pass the details on to family and friends. The more the merrier! £3.49 has already been raised in less than a week. Look after the pennies, and the pounds will look after themselves!

Here’s the Bro Edern link:

https://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/causes/cyfeillionbroedernpta/?utm_campaign=raise-more&utm_content=cpl

Bro Edern Eisteddfod Chair

Finally, a plain and simple good news story from Bro Edern, as we unveil our brand new Chair for the School Eisteddfod (when we can finally hold one!) Mrs Bethan Frost has designed and created this beautiful chair for us. Her special design is inspired by the rivers of Wales, as our school houses are Hafren, Rhymni and Taf. The design also alludes to the antlers of St Edern’s deer, as seen in our school logo. It has been a labour of love and months of work for Mrs Frost and we are very grateful to her.

That’s it for today! Once we hear the announcement from Mark Drakeford tomorrow, we will be working hard behind the scenes and then blogging again to keep all parents in the loop.

Best wishes to you all and thank you once again.

Take care

Iwan Pritchard
Headteacher

Gadael Ymateb

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