In September 2021 we welcomed pupils to a new school year and were optimistic that it would be a year where we would be able to offer students a more usual experience at school.

COVID-19 still posed a threat to our operations, and we retained safety measures which were reviewed on a regular basis based on latest evidence and guidance and adjusted as necessary. 

Pupils benefit from new build plans

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Cynefin Cymru Project gives Argoed High School pupils insight into town planning and the new school build.

Pupils from Argoed High school were lucky enough to meet architects from WEBco and RIBA who worked with them and Mynnyd Isa Primary School on creating a new town “Cynefin” (habitat or place of belonging).

Pupils looked at the design process and town planning, and collaboratively came up with a masterplan for their own town. Producing models which would be appropriate for the town’s ethos. Architects demonstrated industry-based modelling skills to the pupils before they produced their own

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Architects then talked pupils through the plans for the new 21st Century School build and how they dealt with the design issues they came up against.

Finally, there was a question and answer session which included questions on careers in architecture in Wales.

Live lessons prove a big hit with students and parents at Argoed High School

Students and parents alike have praised the unique approach towards online teaching from Argoed High School staff. During lockdown, staff delivered live, interactive lessons to students who followed their usual school timetable.

Headteacher Paul Smith said: “After the first lockdown we surveyed students on their experience of online learning. Many said they missed the daily contact with their teachers and the routine that school gave them, as a result we made the decision to deliver our usual timetable virtually, to give students the best learning experience we possibly could during those difficult times”.

After trialling online learning during the November “firebreak” staff continued to receive training in the technology and techniques that would make them more effective practitioners.

Mr Lofts, assistant headteacher for teaching and learning, takes up the story: “Student engagement has been fantastic. Over 90% of students log on to all their daily lessons and take an active part.

"Having watched a number of lessons, what has impressed me most is the engagement that students have in their learning.

The Leader: Mr Lofts, assistant headteacher for teaching and learning.Mr Lofts, assistant headteacher for teaching and learning.

"Lessons are highly interactive, with the sort of questioning that you would see in a normal classroom, indeed, the quality of work being produced by students has vastly improved from the first lockdown, now that students are being guided through tasks, and have the opportunity to ask questions via the chat-box."

Parents have also been impressed with the way students can follow their timetable and have the routine that they were missing during the first lockdown.

Parents commented: “Lessons have been great, it’s structured, consistent and I feel my daughter is still learning.”

“My son seems to thrive when completing active parts of lessons eg quiz’s and question sheets. This also helps maintain focus and also ensures tasks are completed by the end of lesson rather than having to then complete and hand in, in own time.”

While we cannot wait to welcome our students back into the building, we will do all we can before then to support their learning and wellbeing.

Accelerated Reader Programme

Students and staff at Argoed High School celebrated after being named a Renaissance Partner School. This is seen as just reward for the reading culture that has been established in the school thanks to the accelerated reader programme, which helps to make reading enjoyable and exciting for students.

Mr Lofts, said: “Since purchasing accelerated reader four years ago, we have seen student’s confidence and reading levels soar. The proof is in the pudding.

"Thanks to accelerated reader a majority of our student’s reading ages and scores have literally “accelerated” to levels we couldn’t have imagined."

Women in Construction Day

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In March, girls from Argoed High School attended a Women in Construction Day event, held at Coleg Cambria, Bersham Road campus. The students had a fantastic day. The girls were involved in various activities, including: plastering, joinery, welding, painting, plumbing, engineering, motor vehicle and technical construction. They also chatted to local employers such as Anwyl and Redrow to find out more about women working in construction and engineering.

Staff at Coleg Cambria praised the enthusiastic and mature attitude of the students, especially how engaged they were in the activities.

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A college member of staff said: "I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of your group, it was lovely to see the girls engaging with the activities and I hope they enjoyed it and it has given them something to consider moving forwards.
"They were so well behaved, and a credit to the school, it would be a pleasure to have you all back if we have another day like this again!"

It was a really positive experience for the pupils that gave them plenty to consider with regards to a career in construction

Book Day

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Staff and students took part in World Book Day. Not only does this day promote one of the most important skills a person can have; reading, but it is also a fun way to celebrate your favourite books and authors. With monies raised being used to purchase new books and resources for the school library.

Supporting the Ukraine Appeal

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Dawid Hughes along with help from Max Robinson, Cadogan Pritchard, Amelie Owens and Sophie Forster organised a collection to support the Ukrainian refugees. It is pleasing to see our students show empathy for their fellow citizens in such devastating times.

Young Enterprise

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The Year 10 Young Enterprise team held two very successful bake sales this year, they worked very hard to organise the sales and raised over £200 to fund their Young Enterprise project.

Public Speaking Team

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After winning the Welsh Championships our public speaking team travelled to Cambridge University to compete in the UK Grand Final. This is a prestigious event, attended by some of the highest performing schools in England. The team was not victorious this time, with a fourth place finish, but the students had a fantastic experience, visiting one of the best universities in the world and putting their skills to the test against some of the brightest students in the country. What is exciting, is our team came from Year 10 while many of their competitors were Year 11; this bodes well for next year.

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Well done to Amy Laird, Alex McLean and Jessica Evans. A big thank you also to Mr Lofts for supporting them and Mrs Smith and Mrs Edwards for accompanying them to Cambridge.

A focus on wellbeing

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In May we focused on wellbeing, particularly our Key Stage 4 students who are involved in exams. Laura Heywood from Scented Garden Retreat came into school to share techniques for relaxation and mindfulness. Running Calm Club on Monday lunchtimes for any students who wished to learn more about how to cope with stress and techniques to relax. Sessions included yoga breathing with essential oils, reflexology, meditation, how stress can affect your skin and Indian head massage.

Record of achievement

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May also saw us hold our Record of Achievement Ceremony in the Sports Hall, where we celebrated students’ achievements and marked the last five years in school, with many students receiving awards in recognition of their hard work and achievements.

Year 11 Leavers Prom

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Year 11 celebrated their Prom at the Flint Mountain Hotel on Thursday, June 30.

The Last week of term

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It has been a fantastic week to finish the term on. On Monday, July 11, we held our Expressive Arts Celebration and despite the blistering heat in our Drama Studio, it was a successful evening. Thank you to all the students who showcased their talents and to the parents who survived the heat.

On Wednesday, July 13, we held our annual Sports day for the first time in three years. That means that only our Year 10 students had ever participated in one before. Again, it was a delight to see the positive attitude that pupils displayed to each other.

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Encouraging and supporting one another, celebrating victories and consoling those not successful. Congratulations to Dwr House for winning the overall competition and to Elliott Hogg and Ffion Sheppard for winning the Victor and Victrix Ludorum for outstanding individual performances.

Exciting times lie ahead in September 2022, as we look forward to the start of construction of our 21st Century school.

 We look forward to welcoming our students back on Monday, September 5, for the start of the new academic year.

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