Prep School newsletter: January 2020
The digital monthly newsletter from Rydal Penrhos Prep School.
Rydal Penrhos Prep School newsletter
Meet the Head magazine feature
Which school and university did you attend?
Worcester Grammar School for Girls followed by sixth form in Rydal School (yes, the school I am now working in!). I then went to Durham University to study Anthropology. Later I received my teaching qualification from Exeter University and in 2017 I attained my Masters in Educational Leadership from Chester University. One could say that I like learning!
Which subjects were most enjoyable for you at school?
In primary school I loved maths, I seemed to be quite good at it at this stage! Later I chose History, English and Geography for my A levels as these were the ones linked with my desire to travel and find out about the world. In pre-internet days you had to actually go to the places to find out about them; it’s true to say that I have never forgotten about drumlins, a glacial feature
I had to measure in miserable weather during an A level geography fieldtrip. I have now visited drumlins across the world, life’s more interesting with a good education!
What made you decide to become a teacher?
My parents were teachers and I knew how much hard work it was, as a teenager I felt there must be easier ways to earn a living! After my degree I travelled for a year and then settled to a graduate job with IBM in London.
I found myself organising the recruitment office and someone said; ‘You’ve missed your vocation, you should be a teacher!’. I applied, was accepted and thirty years on I never regretted the decision, not once!
Have you always hoped to become a head teacher?
Absolutely not! This is my third Headship but I was well into my forties before I took my first one. Teachers love teaching; managing a school is not why we come into the job.
However, once I got used to not having a class (this was a real wrench, I was quite possessive about my pupils and worried I wouldn’t see any if I was in an office all day) I began to see that, working together with the whole school team, I could influence more children’s lives by building truly inclusive and inspirational places to learn.
What drew you to Rydal Penrhos?
If you go to a good school as a pupil I think this stays with you for ever as a remembered passion. The opportunity arose for me to be the Head of the Prep School at a time of change for the school (moving from boarding to day) and I felt that I could make a positive contribution.
I still feel as passionate about the school as I did all those years ago and I want to make sure that the current pupils gain as great an all-round education as I did.
What’s been your proudest achievement during your time at the school?
Well, I’ve only just got here, this is my first term! At the moment it’s managing to walk up and down the hill three times a day without having a red face at the top!
I’m quite proud that I learnt all the pupils’ names in my first month. It’s a silly thing but I feel so proud hoisting the school flag up the flagpole; I watched this being done as a pupil and can’t believe that it’s now my responsibility.
I never realised it was quite so complicated, I have had to learn the correct knots quickly…wouldn’t want the flag flying off out to sea!
What do you still hope to achieve?
The school has great plans for the future and is currently finalising its next five year strategic plan. Pupil consultation has been vital in this process; they have great ideas for how and what they would like to study and we listen and act on these suggestions.
I hope to be able to be part of the staff team that brings their dreams for the school, and indeed their futures, to fruition.
What’s the toughest part of your job?
Trying to make sure that everyone feels valued and listened to. There are so many different adults who work for and in the school, everyone plays a vital role.
There are many pupils of all different ages, our two year olds are just as important as our older pupils. I need to make opportunities every day to get out of the office and talk, listen and engage with everyone.
It’s a cliché but it’s true…there really are not enough hours in the day!
What’s your favourite part of the school day?
I’m a morning person…I get to my desk at 7am and it has the most beautiful view over the North Wales coast.
At the moment I watch the sunrise as the parents walk their pupils through the school gates and, as I go outside to greet them, I enjoy the feeling that every day holds new opportunities and that I am truly part of a very special school.
Now accepting children aged two
Rydal Penrhos’ Pre-School department is now accepting children from aged two.
Those wishing to attend the Prep School can now do so from an earlier age than in previous years thanks to a significant investment in equipment in order to make the transition to accommodate this particular age group.
This includes a specialist play and learning area for younger members of the Pre-School community, which was constructed by Rydal Penrhos’ maintenance team, in addition to changing facilities for children who are now yet potty trained.
Pre-School staff have received specialist training ahead of the move, which is the latest positive move implemented by Prep School head Lucy Davies following her appointment at the start of the academic year.
The Pre-School department consists of a large open plan area with units for role play, circle and story time, classroom activities/numeracy and literacy groups, construction/small world, art and wet activities, reading and computer activities.
There is also a secure, fully enclosed and well-equipped outdoor area.
Anyone wishing to find out more about Rydal Penrhos Pre-School can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01492 530381.
Penguin Sculpture completed
We are delighted to have recently received our fantastic Eco penguin sculpture, designed by Jacha Potgieter and built by local blacksmith Gerallt Evans.
The sculpture was inspired by Jacha’s impressive rhino sculpture in Betws y Coed, which is a community art project to raise awareness of the problems and dangers facing rhinos in the world.
Jacha visited Rydal Penrhos a few years ago to talk about his work with the charity Orangutan Appeal UK and to highlight the problems facing orang-utans in Malaysia and Indonesian Borneo. Following his visit, a competition was held to design the school sculpture and the winning design of a penguin by Tilly Trueman was chosen.
The Eco Committee then held numerous cakes stalls to raise funds to pay for the sculpture to be constructed and they were delighted with the support from the pupils, parents and staff in their fundraising initiatives.
Now that the sculpture is in place, it will be filled with the plastic lids from bottles such as milk cartons, juice bottles and water bottles.
The children will be able to bring in clean plastic lids of any colour from home, which will then be collected by the Eco Committee for counting before being put in the sculpture.
We hope that the sculpture will help to raise awareness of the problem of plastic in the environment, in particular our world oceans, and the need to recycle and reuse plastic.
Most importantly, we hope it will help everyone understand the importance of reducing our use of plastic by finding sustainable and environmentally friendly alternatives.
Thank you to everyone for their support in this project and to Jacha and Gerallt for making such an amazing sculpture for the school.
Mrs J Woodthorpe
Senior School activity afternoon
The enthusiastic Year 6 contingent participated in an integration afternoon, which is one of a series of visits to during the academic year to assist each pupil with the transition to a new environment.
They were split into two groups, with one taking part in a special Design and Technology session with Deputy Head Phil Sutton and Technician James Bonser.
The group honed their woodwork skills to create a personalised toy, which saw each pupil use the tools and machinery available under supervision within the impressive facility.
Another group headed to the Food Studies department for a cake-making afternoon with Laura Gardener, which produced plenty of tasty treats after all demonstrated their cooking skills throughout.
Pre-School & Pre-Prep Musical
There plenty of excitement in the air for this year’s Pre-School and Pre-Prep Christmas Musical, which was entitled ‘Christmas with the Aliens’ and drew a large audience to the Prep School Hall for the occasion.
The story centred on a group of aliens played by Archie Green, Layko Driver, Angus De Ferranti and Jacob de la Mare Norris, who came to earth around the festive period and heard the story of Jesus Christ and the reason behind celebrating Christmas Day.
William Culver and Eglantine Chasteau portrayed Joseph and Mary, who were guided by and Angel Gabriel (Svaksh Singam) to Bethlehem where they were given shelter by Innkeepers Isla Oleszka-Lightfoot and Ellis Owen.
They were greeted following the ‘birth’ by Shepherds (Phoebe Jewsbury, Wilfred Jones and Jacob Skinner), the Three Kings (Olly Craig, Owain Roberts, Jack Brookes-Fazakerley) and the angel quartet of Camilla Simmons, Margot Gilmartin, Hania Ffowcs-Williams and Carys Winfield.
The musical was narrated superbly by Rufus Glanville, and the performance of ‘teacher’ Hannah Pittaway was another notable highlight.
Pre-School children were also in fine voice throughout, enhancing the production considerably with their passionate singing in eye-catching costumes.
Fancy dress and festive cheer aplenty!
The Preparatory School was full of festive cheer during their annual Christmas Party celebrations.
There was plenty to enjoy for pupils and staff alike thanks to a fun-filled schedule prior to the break, which began with a fancy dress parade in the School Hall during Assembly.
All age groups came in either their own clothes or made a special effort in fancy dress with a ‘H’ theme for the occasion, with staff also getting in the spirit with some fantastic costumes.
There was everything from Harry Potter, Hot Dogs, the Incredible Hulks and Horse Riders on show throughout the day, with the Year 6 duo of Will Glanville and Lucy Ranales-Griffiths coming dressed as Prep School Head Lucy Davies.
Pre-School, Pre-Prep and Prep pupils also welcomed a special visitor in the form of Father Christmas, who chatted with each pupil and gave them a gift following their wonderful Christmas dinners which went down extremely well with those in attendance.
The day concluded with both Pre-Prep and Prep pupils taking part in their own special parties, with plenty of games and dancing for them to enjoy.
Stunning wreaths created at Christmas workshops
Parents and family members got creative during one of the most popular events on the festive schedule.
The annual Christmas Art Workshops were brilliantly organised once again by Mrs Morris, with those in attendance working alongside their children in a relaxed and friendly setting to create their very own Christmas Wreath.
These were then placed in St John's Church on proud display during the school's end of term events and the Carol Service in aid of the RNLI.
Saltmine company perform panto at RP
Prep School children were treated to a special festive performance from a leading theatre group thanks to the generosity of a governor and former parent.
Mr John Payne again sponsored the whole school visit to see the Saltmine Theatre’s Christmas production, which kicked off a busy series of activities heading into the end of term.
Those in Reception to Year 6 made the short trip down to the Senior School’s impressive Memorial Hall to see the theatre company’s version of the Nutcracker, which proved to be an exceptionally entertaining afternoon for those in attendance.
Joining the Prep School at the event were children from nearby St Joseph's Catholic Primary School in Colwyn Bay, who also enjoyed the festivities.
Following the performance, a select number of Year 2 pupils got the chance to meet some of the cast members and talk about their work and what inspires them.
"On behalf of everyone at Rydal Penrhos I would like to offer a sincere thank you to Mr Payne for helping us start off the Advent season in style.
A fabulous message of forgiveness was given throughout the play as well as lots of Christmas favourite songs. Great fun was had by all."
St Joseph's Church visit
On the first Monday in Advent Year 3 walked down to St. Joseph's, our local Roman Catholic church, where Sister Joy Elder greeted us.
This was a church known to some of the children but not to others and we began by listening to Sr Joy tell us about why the church was special to her and what it meant to belong to it.
When asked, the children showed good knowledge of Christianity and the importance of Jesus within it.
Next Rev'd Sissons read out some riddles to help the pupils identify some of the key objects within the church, e.g. the altar, font and lectern.
Finally, to complement the classroom work that the children have undertaken this term, they completed a worksheet on symbols, which involved hunting around the church to locate the picture clue and then trying to establish what the symbol was meant to represent or communicate.
We ended with an open question session and then lit a candle to close with a prayer.
The children wanted to say the Lord's Prayer, which they learn in Monday assemblies, and Sr Joy was suitably impressed.
This is the first time Year 3 have gone out on an RS visit and the pupils were wonderfully well-behaved and engaged on the experience; as always we would like to thank our friends at St Joseph's, and Sister Joy in particular, for their kind welcome and hospitality.
Greenacres Animal Park trip
Pre-School children got into the festive spirit with a special trip to a prominent tourist attraction.
The youngest members of the Prep School community spent a very enjoyable day at Greenacres Animal Park, where they took part in a series of exciting Christmas-themed activities.
This included feeding the various farm animals on site during a session with staff, and they also got up close with the stunning Wolf Hybrids residing at the facility.
They toured the Park to witness animals such as Snakes, an Ostrich and Lemurs, and there was a special visitors to the site in the form of Father Christmas himself.
Each Pre-School child got the opportunity to speak with Santa for a brief period about their plans for the Christmas break, and they all received an early festive gift before heading back to Rydal Penrhos.
Christmas singing at Merton Place
Pre-School children at spread some festive cheer to residents of a Colwyn Bay care home.
The youngest members of the Prep School community made the short trip to Merton Place as part of their ongoing community interaction with the facility, and there was a Christmas theme surrounding their latest visit.
Each child, together with staff members, each child joined together to sing songs from their annual Christmas Musical, which went down extremely well with those in attendance.
They also treated the residents and staff members at Merton Place to a series of popular festive songs including Jingle Bells and We Wish You a Merry Christmas, with the Pre-School children given a rapturous round of applause for their efforts.
This is the latest in a series of visits to Merton Place throughout the academic year, which involves the children socialising and taking part in various activities with residents.
Mrs Roberts, said: “We always look forward to our visits to Merton Place and they have proven to be hugely beneficial to our Pre-School children. They were in fine voice during their Christmas singing session and thoroughly entertained the wonderful residents at the facility.”
Successful Christmas Concert held
The annual Christmas Concert featured a host of individual and group performances full of festive cheer.
Those in attendance were treated to a host of group songs from Years 3-6, and the concert also featured some notable individual contributions in the Memorial Hall.
Aspiring harpists Martha-Rose Johnson, Amelia Williams and Lucy Ranales-Griffiths performed exceptionally well as a trio, and a stunning piano solo from Oscar Jewsbury was another notable highlight from the event.
Year 6 pupil Will Glanville demonstrated his professionalism to overcome an instrument problem to play a superb flute solo, with the duo of Lily Copeland and Head Girl Fleur Roberts also lending their support to the concert with an excellent piano piece.
The Treble-Makers and Prep School Choir were in fine voice during their respective songs, and the concert concluded with the entire Prep contingent singing some Christmas carols that also encouraged audience participation.
Community singing a success!
The school choir, which consisted of both prep and senior pupils, took part in two special community carol-singing sessions.
Shoppers at the Victoria Centre in Llandudno were greeted with a variety of festive carols on the tour’s first stop, where the group were also raising money for charity via collection boxes.
This was followed by a visit to nearby Merton Place Care Home in Colwyn Bay, Merton Place Residential Home in Colwyn Bay, which saw the choir in fine voice throughout their hour-long mini-concert for residents of the facility.
Their performances were extremely well received at both venues during the annual initiative, which was one again a tremendous success and is the latest in a series of community-related schemes run by Rydal Penrhos throughout the academic year.
"This is something we have done for a number of years now and it was another fantastic way to bring some Christmas cheer to the community.
I would like to thank each member of the choir for their attitude, dedication and commitment to what was a tiring day for them, but they handled themselves impeccably and hopefully got a lot out of the experience themselves."
Snowdon claim inter-house title
The annual Prep Inter-House Cross-Country competition saw some thrilling finishes and outstanding performances during what was another hugely successful event.
The Year 3 boys’ race saw Harrison Simmons take control from the outset to cross the line in first place after a fantastic display, with James Mart coming in second and Freddie Griffin in third.
A strong effort from Ella Craig saw he come away with the Year 3 girls’ crown for Snowdon, narrowly pipping housemate Beatrice Brookes-Fazakerley and Pembroke’s Ella Ffowcs-Williams, who came second and third respectively.
The Year 4 boys’ race saw Oscar Jewsbury of Pembroke come away with bragging rights ahead of Finlay Brown (Brecon) and Charlie Lister-Brookes (Snowdon), and a thrilling girls’ event saw Snowdon’s Eryn Mart cross the line first over Ella Payne (Snowdon) and Ifana Wynn Jones (Payne).
Much was expected of Brecon star James Davies in the Year 5 boys’ competition and he duly obliged with a first-place finish, with Pembroke duo Felix Griffin and Jorvan Toor digging deep to secure podium places.
The Year 5 girls’ race was equally as competitive, with Harper Burke rallying late on to finish in first spot to secure points for Pembroke, ahead of Amelie Skinner of Snowdon and Brecon’s Sophie Morris.
All eyes were on the Year 6 boys’ event thanks to a standout field of aspiring athletes, and Head Boy Rupert Barrington-Chance (Pembroke) produced another memorable performance to secure first spot for the second straight year in his age group, with the Snowdon pair of Dominic Chamberlain and Nathan Richards securing second and third.#
Rounding off the event was the Year 6 girls’ competition, which saw Snowdon’s Lily Copeland extend her impressive recent run of results to attain first spot, with Charlotte Payne and Head Girl Fleur Roberts in second and third.
After all points were tallied, Snowdon took home the overall team crown ahead of Pembroke and Brecon, with Head of Games Jamie McLeod also praising Jorvan Toor, Nathan Richards, Gethin Winfield, Charlotte Knight, April Williams and Siham Clarke for their exceptional commitment throughout the cross-country season.
The overall Endeavour Trophy went to Year 6 pupil Tilly Trueman, who has experienced pain in her foot and ankle of late but still managed to complete the course with her customary smile in another demonstration of her guts and determination.
Football & Hockey
Inter-House double for Snowdon
The annual Inter-House Football and Hockey tournaments were held prior to the festive break, which saw year groups join forces and work together in the pursuit of bragging rights.
It proved to be another memorable performance from Snowdon House, who managed to add to their recent Cross-Country triumph by taking home the Hockey title in fine style thanks to standout contributions from skipper Charlotte Payne, Lily Copeland, Cammie de la Mare Norris and Eryn Mart.
There was further cause for celebration from a Snowdon perspective in the Football competition, which saw the house emerge victorious following a thoroughly competitive affair throughout.
House captain Nathan Richards played a prominent role in his side’s success, as did the likes of Will Glanville and Dominic Chamberlain.
Both Pembroke and Brecon competitors performed exceptionally well during both tournaments.