The weekend is here, at last! We hope you are all fine and that your child has had another successful week online. A quick word to thank you and your children for your perseverance throughout the week. Keeping going is a bit of a challenge by now, but everybody – pupils, parents and staff – must be commended for all their efforts.
This week, our staff have started to phone all Bro Edern homes, in order to see how things are going with our families, and to check that our pupils are coping with their online learning. We would like to say a big thank you to the parents who have already received calls – your warmth towards the staff and your wholehearted support of us as a school and our aims make things so much easier for us.
Our Live Learning continues, and we are so pleased that these lessons provide a seamless education for your children. The teachers are working hard throughout the day planning and delivering live lessons for everyone. We believe that our arrangements give our pupils the best chance of success in the longer term.
Our parents’ encouraging responses to the questionnaire sent out last week suggest to us that we are on the right track. The figures speak for themselves, so thank you once again for your support. Live Learning online is absolutely impossible without the complete support of our parents.
There were 271 responses to the questionnaire, from parents of the following year groups:
This shows how many lessons pupils have accessed:
Lastly, this chart shows the fact that our parents are extremely happy with our provision. We have 2 unhappy parents, and one “very unhappy” – which was submitted at 2:41am under the name of a year 13 pupil who doesn’t exist. We think it’s safe to ignore that one!
Some comments have cropped up more than once in the parental questionnaire, so here’s a brief summary of the headlines:
- parents raise the fact that some pupils are late for their lessons, so their child has to listen to the same explanation twice by the teacher and that teachers are therefore unable to progress with the lesson. On behalf of the punctual pupils – and staff – could we please encourage all parents to ensure that their children arrive at their lessons on time.
- some parents are concerned that other pupils are phoning their children during lessons and they would like us to solve this problem. It appears that some pupils are keen to Facetime each other during lessons. Again, we rely solely on the support of our parents to ensure that every pupil in Bro Edern has the best possible chance of success. It is impossible for pupils to focus on their work, and on teachers’ explanations if Facetime is running in the background. If necessary, you will need to confiscate your child’s phone during the day.
- some parents have noted that some lessons last for the whole 53 minutes, right until the bell, and that there is no gap between lessons for pupils (or staff) to organise themselves for the next lesson. We have raised this with our teachers. Some teachers become totally engrossed in their subject, and lose track of the time. We will try our best! Since completing all our risk assessments last week, some staff are now teaching from home – where there is no bell!
- some parents have noted that their child has been marked as absent, even though they were in the lesson. As we make further enquiries, these children have usually arrived late for the lesson, after the teacher has finished taking the register. Because so many things are open on the teachers’ screen during a live lesson, the register needs to be moved off the screen when completed, and also it is not clear to staff that someone has just joined, unless the pupil announces their presence. The easiest thing is to be punctual!
- a few parents have said that their child does not want to ask the teacher for help if they do not understand the work. This is understandable, but the whole purpose of having live lessons is for staff to be there to help our pupils at all times. Our system should ensure that there are no confused pupils, and parents who are unsure how to help. Pupils can raise a virtual hand during a lesson, write a message in the chat (when open), ask for help or e-mail staff with any queries. We constantly remind staff to give pupils plenty of opportunity to ask questions within lessons, so pupils need to take them up on the offer.
- some parents are not sure whether their children are attending all lessons and completing every piece of work while they are at work. We have now released attendance to each parent’s ClassCharts account, so you can see the situation from lesson to lesson. You can see your child’s progress from the green and red points and check attendance at the same time. You can see from the photos below that this is an easy way of supporting your child’s progress. If you require your ClassCharts login, please do not hesitate to contact Mr Gary Ellis: GEllis@ysgolbroedern.cardiff.sch.uk
Please remember that all our live learning guidelines for the January lockdown are here, if you need to check anything:
In November, a number of year 11 pupils sat their Maths Numeracy exams early with WJEC. It now turns out that these will be the only exams that they sit during year 11! The pupils and staff worked very hard before the exams to make sure everyone was ready, as year 11 pupils had lost so much teaching time during year 10. It’s clear that all the hard work has paid off, and that the revision sessions during the October half term were very beneficial. The results have arrived and many pupils have achieved the highest grades – congratulations to you all. Congratulations also to the group of year 12 pupils who re-sat their English Language exams – we are also very proud of these great results. Hard work pays off.
Announcement about Exams and Assessments
On Wednesday, the final plans for GCSE / AS / A Level qualifications in Wales, offered by WJEC and regulated by Qualifications Wales, were announced . This announcement is not relevant to courses offering Level 2 or 3 accreditation e.g. BTEC, Criminology, Medical Science, because these qualifications are regulated by Ofqual in England.
For WJEC courses in Wales, the Minister confirmed that “centre designated grades” will be used this year to determine the final grade for your child. In practice, this means that the school will use a range of evidence of work completed by your child during the course, in order to determine the final grade.
Here is the range of evidence that schools will be required to use in determining final grades:
- exams that have already been sat
- speaking assessments
- listening assessments
- practical work
- anything else that is relevant
Unlike last year, we have plenty of warning this time that the marks will be decided in this way by our teachers. It is vitally important, therefore, that your child continues to put 100% effort into the tasks set for them by their teachers so that they, as an individual, can achieve the best possible mark.
This is a golden opportunity for everyone to work quietly and diligently on all aspects of their courses and do the best they can, without the dreaded WJEC exams looming. The message is clear to schools that the focus should definitely be on teaching and learning, on completing the content of courses, on ensuring that pupils’ knowledge and understanding is sound and that they develop all the skills involved in their courses. As there are no exams, there is a clear and fair opportunity for pupils to demonstrate their understanding in each subject, showing their teachers everything they know and can do. This will enable all pupils to be ready for the next stage in their lives – be it year 11 pupils ready for A levels, Level 3 or college courses, or year 13 pupils ready for university and the world of work.
If your child has received module results during their various courses e.g. year 11 pupils who sat modules during year 10, these will now be used as part of the evidence to help us determine the final grade for your child. Coursework marks, samples of work or non-examination assessments will no longer be sent off to WJEC, but these will continue to count, because the school will need to use them as part of the evidence to determine the final grade. This is why it is important for your child to continue to work hard across the subjects, and complete all pieces of work to the deadlines set by teachers. This is especially important in the Bac, where it is 100% coursework, and the evidence we have are the challenges completed by pupils. The crucial extended projects for the Bac are also great preparation for the next phase – be it sixth form or college courses, work or university.
This year, year 12 pupils will receive grades from their teachers at the end of year 12, but these will not contribute to the final grade in year 13. The main purpose of the grades at the end of year 12 will be to give pupils an indication of their current attainment, so that they can choose appropriate university courses and also have their grades ready for their UCAS forms when applying for university places. Year 10 pupils will not receive individual module grades, but if they have sat and completed a full qualification early in Year 10, they will receive a grade for this.
A full timeline for pupils and staff is yet to be announced, but on Wednesday headteachers were told that this year, pupils would need to be taught much later into the summer than usual. This is because there are no exams, and the need to make up for the loss of so much schooling over the last year. We have been told to anticipate that pupils’ lessons and the evidence gathering for final grades may need to continue until the end of June or early July. At present, we kindly ask parents of year 11, 12 and 13 pupils not to book holidays during this period, pending further details from Welsh Government. Not that going anywhere is an option at the moment, of course!
In terms of the next steps, WJEC and Qualifications Wales are drawing up an Assessment Framework, setting out their assessment expectations for schools. All schools will then create their own Assessment Plan based on this Assessment Framework. We will share these details with our pupils and parents once completed, so you know exactly what will be in store for your child between now and the summer.
It is extremely important that your children do not worry about the situation, and do not think that making a mistake means that they are unable to reach a certain grade. The received wisdom says that we learn from our mistakes. It is essential that pupils continue to ask questions in lessons, and continue to seek help when needed. Asking a question or asking for help will not be perceived negatively in any way. It’s only January, so there’s a long way to go, and you need to make sure that your child is comfortable enough to ask for help or more information in lessons over the next six months. And, it goes without saying that the school will do everything it can to ensure that your child achieves the grades he or she deserves at the end of this year.
Here’s the link to a letter to pupils from Qualifications Wales explaining the situation:
Our pastoral registration sessions for pupils to meet their form tutor have started this week, with a high attendance throughout the school. This is an opportunity for pupils to receive the latest announcements, as well as a chance to raise any issues with their form tutor. It is essential that pupils attend these registration sessions for a check-in and a catch up. Years 7, 10, 11 will continue to register at 8:35 on a Tuesday morning and years 8 and 9 on a Thursday every week. The codes for the registration Google Classrooms are all on our Wal:
#HerYrHaul (Sunshine Challenge)
We are very keen to support the wellbeing of all our pupils, and keeping a sensible balance in our daily lives is currently a difficult consideration for us all. Although we firmly believe that 6 live lessons are the best way to ensure a smooth continuity of learning for our pupils, we are aware that this involves a lot screen time. However, our 6 lessons take a lot of pressure off parents compared to the first lock-out period, and this has been fully confirmed in our recent parental questionnaire. However, we want to support parents to keep their child away from any screen after 3:25 pm. It’s currently dark by 5pm, so there’s a small window of opportunity for your children to get out into the fresh air.
To help you, we are launching #HerYrHaul to encourage your child to leave the house immediately at the end of their lessons, whether it’s for a walk, a bike ride, a run or to take the dog for a walk. Pupils can also read, write, draw or do mindfulness tasks in the open air or close to a window.
It is a well-known fact that there is a shortage of Vitamin D in our bodies in the winter months, and that the best way to tackle this situation is to get outdoors. Daylight and fresh air, even on a miserable day, benefit us all. Out you go for #HerYrHaul! If you want to take photos outdoors, please tag @BroEdern with the hashtag #HerYrHaul
*** Please remember that Welsh Government rules still say that it is not permitted to arrange to meet other people, even outdoors, so any activity will need to take place within the family bubble. The numbers are still high: there have been 594 new positive cases of COVID-19 in Cardiff between Monday and Friday this week. Please help keep everyone safe.
Sixth Form Applications
Everyone in year 11 had a meeting with Mr Voyle at the end of one of their lessons on Thursday morning to hear how to apply to stay at Bro Edern and be part of our Sixth Form. You may remember that we held our online Parents Evening in November. You can watch the presentations once again here:
Our prospectus, with the details of every subject, is available for you here:
Here’s the Google Form for you to apply for a place at our Sixth Form:
Year 9 Parents’ Evening
Thanks to everyone who has already booked for the Year 9 Parents’ Evening which is next Thursday 28 January. 60% of our parents booked immediately when the system opened. Everyone should have received a special code as a text message on their phone in order to be able to log in to the School Cloud system. Here is the link to access the system: https://broedern.schoolcloud.co.uk/
Here is Mr Voyle’s video once again to remind you how the system works:
Free School Meals
If you are eligible for free school meals, then you should be receiving regular vouchers to spend at supermarkets. If you are having difficulty receiving these vouchers then you can contact Cardiff Council at email@example.com with the following required information:
- Your home address
- Your child’s name and date of birth
- A confirmation of the relevant dates for the vouchers you require
Extra curricular activities
Despite all the restrictions, some online extra curricular activities are continuing. Congratulations to the pupils who took part in the Matrix Challenge last weekend. This competition was really tough, and our pupils did brilliantly, competing against pupils from schools far and wide.
Next week, a group of year 8 and 9 pupils will compete in the English Speaking Union public speaking competition. Their topics will be “Is America still the land of opportunity?” and “Gender is only a construct”. Two very interesting and timely topics – good luck to the pupils, and thanks to the teachers who continue to provide important extra-curricular activities like these.
The Cyfeillion continue to work diligently to fundraise on behalf of the school, and their latest venture is a competition to guess how many sweets are in the jar for Santes Dwynwen Day. Here are the details – you need to compete through ParentPay and pay £1 by Monday 25 January.
£273 has now been raised through EasyFundraising. Even though Christmas is over, many of you will probably continue to shop online while so many shops are closed, so please use the app at every opportunity, especially as it costs you nothing:
The Cyfeillion also have a new Twitter account for everyone to follow their tweets. Please remember to follow them: @CyfeillionBroEd
Show Racism the Red Card
The school is keen to raise pupils’ awareness of the need for us all to fight racism of all forms, so while they are at home, we will be arranging for pupils to take part in competitions organised by “Show Racism the Red Card ”.
There are a number of categories, and pupils will receive full details from the relevant subject teachers and will complete the work as part of their lessons:
Category – Clothing Design Years 7, 8 and 9
Category – Creative Writing in English Year 8
Category – Creative Writing in Welsh Year 9
Category – Digital Media Years 7, 8 and 9
Category – Special Years 7, 8 and 9
Pupils must submit any work through school, therefore everything needs to be submitted via the relevant Google Classroom.
Full details about the competitions can be seen here:
Questionnaire from the Children’s Commissioner for Wales
Sally Holland, Children’s Commissioner for Wales, is running a survey to capture the views and opinions of children and young people in Wales. She is researching the effect of the pandemic on various aspects of their lives. The closing date is 29 January 2021.
The link to the survey is here, if you would like your child to participate: https://www.childcomwales.org.uk/coronavirusandme/
Welshness and speaking Welsh
We continue to try to give our pupils plenty of opportunities to have as much contact with the Welsh language as possible, despite being at home. Clearly, during this lockdown, the 6 live lessons a day really help your child to hear Welsh regularly.
With Santes Dwynwen Day on Monday, we have been organising various thematic lessons linked to this day, and we have a new playlist of songs for the day:
Santes Dwynwen @BroEdern: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/1rkpKi9tl3mxmGYDhjs7vz
The Story of Santes Dwynwen
You may not be familiar with the story of Santes Dwynwen, or you may have forgotten some of the finer detail, including the block of ice, so here is a link for your family to share this very depressing but notable story:
Sgiliau (Skills) Homework
Sgiliau homework continues to be the only homework set for year 7, 8 and 9 pupils during this lockdown. Once again, our aim is to send the Welsh language into all Bro Edern homes, while improving our pupils’ basic skills. Many parents have praised the fact that their child always has a good selection of S4C programmes weekly as part of their homework. Here is the Sgiliau website:
And that’s us done, another long blog finished!
There will be another blog sometime soon, but at least we currently don’t have a daily blog due to an increasing number of self-isolations. The 2m stick of doom has been idle while the pupils are live learning from home! That is a huge relief for everyone, knowing that our pupils are safe, learning at home, preventing the spread of the virus.
We currently have no idea what the arrangements will be for pupils returning to school, and when that will be. As you know by now, Welsh Government makes their decisions every three weeks. The next three-weekly Government update is next Friday, 29 January, when we fully expect the announcement to say: no change to current arrangements, for now. But we will have to wait until Friday to hear what the official announcement will be!
Best wishes to you all