We have been spending time today reflecting on the remarkable life and reign of Queen Elizabeth II. As well as discussions in tutor groups and a whole-school virtual assembly at the start of the day, a lot of informal conversations continue to take place in classrooms, corridors and on break about her dedication to service, her enduring sense of duty and the example that she sets to us all. In her speech on her 21st birthday in 1947, the then Princess Elizabeth said "I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service", and her unwavering dedication to this promise is something that is an inspiration to so many people throughout the country and around the world.
We all felt that she would somehow be with us forever, and the sense of loss expressed by many students and staff this morning reflects the very particular place that she occupied for so long in our national life.
Some students have asked whether they are permitted to wear black ties for the period of national mourning, and we have agreed that it is a good idea for students from any year group to do so if they wish. We await further announcements from government regarding other arrangements to come.
As noted in the welcome letter at the start of term, some themes emerged from the latest parent and carer survey. Many thanks to everyone for taking the time to participate and for your constructive suggestions. As you can see below, your feedback has informed further action and future school planning.
Wellbeing curriculum. We asked about the topics you’d like to see covered, and this prompted the largest set of responses. We have taken all of your suggestions and requests into account when planning the new Wellbeing curriculum that launches this term, with increased time on the timetable to meet student needs. In addition, central to this curriculum will be regular and frequent opportunities for student voice and feedback. We will also return to this theme in future surveys with you. Furthermore, we will continue to offer a range of in-person and online information sessions for parents and carers, as there continues to be a strong interest in learning more about this very important aspect of our curriculum. Details will be in a future newsletter.
Communication. You had a number of very helpful suggestions, and the predominant theme was being able to know who to go to with a query. This is entirely understandable in a large organisation with around 180 staff. As a result, we are making changes on our website to provide all parents and carers with the contact details of all form tutors, as they are the daily first point of contact. This will be under the Our School/School Staff menu. We will also ensure that the details of the whole Wellbeing Team are more readily available on the same page, and will re-issue the details of the Wellbeing Team more frequently. Additionally, other changes to our website such as making the calendar and term dates more accessible and an imagery refresh are underway.
Newsletter. The weekly newsletter has been well-received since we introduced it in 2021; thank you for your kind comments. A number of comments asked for a fuller breadth of school life to be captured, and we are working hard to expand the range of activities and experiences that are included.
Uniform. We have formalised our approach to summer uniform following your feedback and our experiences during the exceptionally hot weather at the end of last term. From now on, summer uniform will be able to be worn from the start of the summer exam period in May to the end of the academic year. Summer uniform entails the blazer being optional (i.e. it can be left at home), and the usual options (e.g. shorts if preferred). In addition, we will continue to circulate details of second-hand uniform as well as uniform grant opportunities from Welsh Government as they come up. We have also increased the flexibility of generic items, so that they can be bought from anywhere as long as they are an exact style and colour match to the uniform available from our named retailers. Full details are on our website here.
Equipment. There were some questions about equipment expectations. Our new Ready To Learn approach at MCS supports students in being fully and properly equipped for school every day, so that learning time is not lost. Tutors will carry out a daily check at the start of the day, and we will provide loan equipment if necessary. We will also let you know if there is an emerging pattern of your child being insufficiently equipped for their lessons. The equipment list is found here. (I apologise for the mistake (which was entirely my own) in including a book cover on the list that was intended to be generic but is, in fact, an out of print book. The image will be replaced!). Following student requests we have also provided all students with a paper planner, into which they can stick their timetable. It can be kept in their blazer pocket for easy reference. This planner is not currently a compulsory piece of equipment, so if they prefer to just keep their paper timetable separately, as was the case last year, then that is fine.
School Cloud. Although the majority of respondents said that School Cloud and online meetings meant it was more likely that they attended the parent evenings, a minority said that they did not prefer the platform. We will keep our approach to this under review during the academic year, and will return to it in a future survey.
Google Classroom and Guardian function. Following feedback in the survey we will provide further opportunities for parents and carers to become familiar with the Guardian function on Google Classroom, which enables you to have the overview of the work set for, and completed by, your child on Google Classroom. Details will be in a future newsletter.
Starting the term...
As the term begins, could we please remind parents to ensure their child's name is on all items of uniform, including ties (either labelled or with their name written on garment label). This ensures that any uniform handed in at Reception will be promptly returned to the correct student.
If you have any MCS uniform which your child has grown out of, or you have unwanted uniform from a child who has left us, we would be most grateful to receive this. The Friends will see that it is laundered and passed to Bridges Community Shop, to allow parents to access reasonably priced uniform. Any donated uniform may be left at Reception.
The new menus are on our website, along with other information you might find useful (CLICK HERE).
The menus start on Week 3 on Monday 12 September.
A small number of students have been coming into school this week with a supply of energy drinks in their bags. Energy drinks are not permitted in school. Could we please ask that students bring a reusable water bottle, which can be refilled from our water fountains.
We are particularly delighted with the success of all our students this summer and proud of all the hard work that they and their teachers have put in over the last two challenging years of study.
53% of grades achieved this year in Year 13 were at the very top A*/A grades and 87% of students achieved A*- C. In contrast to a national picture of a reduction in top grades, 45% of MCS students achieved at least 3 qualifications at A/A*. Over a quarter of grades awarded were at the very highest A* grade.
A number of students achieved the top grades across all their examination courses, including Rowan Wilde, Lizzie Lane, Eloise Best, Cameron Mills, Carys Hurst, Joel Dubé, Mason Rugen-Hankey, James Johnson, Thomas Powell, Alex Wakerley and Alisdair Woodward.
The overwhelming majority of students have secured their first-choice university place and are preparing now to take their next steps in their lives. Students have been accepted onto highly competitive courses such as French and Italian at Oxford University, Medicine and Veterinary Science. Students have also secured places on higher level apprenticeships, including Aston Martin and Accountancy, a wide range of Russell Group University courses and degrees in midwifery and nursing.
Over the last five years, the school has been recognised by ALPS as achieving excellent outcomes at Sixth Form, and this year was no different with MCS placed again in the top 10% of schools across the UK.
Over a third of all grades awarded to Year 11 students were A*-A, and 82% of all results were at C grade or above. Over 1/3 of students achieved 5 or more A*-A grades, with 15% of students achieving 5 or more of the very top A* grades.
A number of learners achieved top grades across all subjects including; Matthew Keenan, Sam North, Alex Orledge, Nelly Penny, Seren Van der Horst, Alice Chinchen, Phoebe Hodgson, Rosie Powell, Ruby Scott, Dorothy Johnson, Tom Lambe and Helen Young.
With all this collective success, it is the individual stories of perseverance and determination to achieve their very best that reveal the resilience and excellence of students.
Helping your child stay safe online
Online spaces, games and media offer young people platforms to connect with others and to learn. At Monmouth Comprehensive School, students will be working across a number of digital platforms both in and out of the classroom, which can of course present risks. These include:
• Exposure to inappropriate content
• Sharing too much personal information
• Connecting with harmful people
• Spending unhealthy amounts of time online
One of the best ways to help young people stay safe online is to talk to them about what they do. If you understand the situations they encounter you are better placed to offer them advice on how to deal with them.
This Hwb resource contains a series of helpful guides to develop your own understanding and education resources you can use with your children to teach them about the importance of safe and responsible use of technology.
School photographs will take place next week on Tuesday 13/Wednesday 14. Years 7, 8, 9 and 10 will take place on Tuesday with Years 11, 12 and 13 on Wednesday.
As well as the individual photographs, this year we will be able to take the Year group photographs for Y11 and Y13 on Wednesday morning. There will also be an opportunity for sibling photographs, details of which will be given to students by their Form Tutors next week.
Safety in the Bus Bay/Drop-off Zone
We have welcomed all students back to School this week and would like to remind you about safety on and around the School site. At the start of the day the safe ‘drop-off’ point for students arriving by car is at the rear of the School in the car park accessed via the Dixton Road. Students can also be safely collected from the car park at the end of the school day from 3.20pm, once home to school transport vehicles have exited.
We have received some concerns this week from residents at Llangattock Court and the Burgage about cars using the area to drop off and collect students. We request that parents arriving in vehicles refrain from using the Burgage road, which is narrow and busy with students, and instead use the rear entrance to the School.
Your ongoing co-operation is appreciated.
Music Peripatetic Teaching Lessons and Timetable
Peripatetic instrumental lessons will resume next week. Anyone interested in signing up can do so on https://www.gwentmusic.co.uk/ and click for ‘enrolment’ on the right hand tab. Specific lesson times will be communicated to parent/guardians via Gwent Music.
If you have any further questions please come and see a member of the Music Department!
NB: (Ukulele and Guitar lessons will also be available- days TBC)
Year 10 'Blood Brothers' Theatre Trip
Our Year 10 students have the fantastic opportunity to experience one of their GCSE English Literature texts, ‘Blood Brothers,’ performed live at the Wales Millennium Centre on Wednesday 30th November. Taking place outside school hours, watching this timeless and gripping production can truly enhance students’ appreciation of the characters and their stories, in turn benefiting them in their preparation for their GCSE Literature examinations. It also happens to be a fantastic production!
To book and complete the relevant trip information, please log in to ParentPay.
The final deadline to reserve a place on this trip is Thursday 15th September.
If you have any questions, please contact Mr Phillips by email - firstname.lastname@example.org
A Summer in Pictures
School Absence Line
Reporting an absence
Please note that the direct number to report your child's absence is 01600 775284. Please note this is an answerphone which is available 24/7 for you to leave a message.