Tuesday 13th July 2021
End of term and key dates for the academic year 2021/22
I hope you and your family are well. Firstly, I would like to thank the whole school community for its support and resilience through this most unusual of academic years. It would be remiss not to thank parents/carers for the way in which they have supported their children through home learning during the winter months. When parents/carers work together with the school the child benefits hugely. This has been evident, and very much appreciated since pupils returned to school in March/April, when they began having to wear masks in the classroom as well as around the school. Your collective efforts and support have made the management of the Covid-19 restrictions more straight forward allowing the focus to return to pupils’ learning and wellbeing.
Year 11 Pupils
Congratulations to Year 11 pupils on achieving an outstanding set of provisional GCSE grades. Parents/carers of Year 11 pupils will receive a separate letter from Mr. Owens (Deputy Headteacher) to explain how GCSE results will be distributed on Thursday 12th August. Pupils will be invited into school to collect their results in a controlled way. There shall be an option to have the results sent electronically if preferred – more information to follow.
Year 10 Pupils
Due to the recent self-isolation period Year 10 pupils will now be completing their assessments (Welsh orals) up to and including Thursday 15th July, therefore attendance is especially important. Year 10 pupils were due to sit a GCSE English Language controlled assessment this term but this has now been postponed to September so that pupils can be fully prepared for the assessment.
End of term and Sports Day
We are pleased to inform you that we are able to hold a Sports Day on Thursday 15th July for year 7,8 and 9, in school. This will include inter-form competitions in cricket, long ball and rounders. The sunny weather forecast is welcomed, however, please ensure your child brings sun protection and a water bottle with them. Drinks will also be available to purchase on the school field. The Sports Day will last for 2 to 3 hours though when you add in the break and lunchtime some pupils could possibly be out in the sun for 4 hours. After such an extensive winter lockdown it is great to see pupils enjoying the outdoors once more, though we want to ensure we continue to do so safely. Thanks to staff for providing the return of after school extra-curricular opportunities, these have been very well attended with regular updates on the School’s Twitter accounts.
The last day of term is Friday 16th July, which will be a non-school uniform day (no donations required). Buses will leave at the usual time at the end of the school day.
Last Friday we learned that the new operational guidance, to be implemented from September 2021, means some fundamental changes. We will need to evaluate how the new guidance can be properly applied to the context of our school. I shall be writing to you again before the term starts in September when final details can be confirmed, though the main changes are outlined below:
- Welsh Government will no longer be recommending the routine use of face coverings in classrooms.
- Contact groups/bubbles will no longer be recommended by Welsh Government. The school will liaise with NHS Wales TTP where there are positive cases.
- Normal session times will resume – no staggered end of the day. All pupils will finish at 3pm.
Key Dates for 2021-2022
All pupils in Year 8, 9, 10 and 11 should return to school on Monday 6th September.
Year 7 (current Year 6) and STF pupils will start on Friday 3rd September. The current Year 6 pupils did not have their usual physical transition visit this year, which was a consensual decision between the six cluster schools, to mitigate against Covid-19 transmission and potential further self-isolation.
The INSET days for next academic year are:
Thursday 2nd September 2021
Friday 3rd September 2021
Friday 8th October 2021
Tuesday 4th January 2021
Monday 28th February 2022
Monday 6th June 2022
Swansea Council’s term dates for 2021/2022 can be found by clicking on this link: https://www.swansea.gov.uk/termdates2022
All schools in Wales have an additional bank holiday next year. After consultation with headteachers Swansea Council are hoping for consensus on Friday 29 April 2022, with an expectation that cluster schools work together on this date. Cluster schools (partner primary schools and Pontarddulais Comprehensive School) have agreed on this joint date to allow families to spend time together in keeping with the spirit of the bank holiday. This is a provisional date because no GCSE examination timetable has been released for next year. We shall confirm this date as soon as is possible.
I would like to take this opportunity to bid farewell to members of staff who will not be returning in September. Since the inception of the school’s Special Teaching Facility (STF) in 2007 Mrs. Julie Gibbs (STF Coordinator) has led a high-quality provision for numerous pupils with profound and multiple learning difficulties. She is retiring at the end of the summer term. In recent years Mrs. Sue Francis (STF teacher), also retiring, has worked closely with Mrs. Gibbs to collectively ensure that the pupils’ quality of life is significantly enhanced. Mrs. Francis also joined the school through working in the STF in 2007 and has previously held the position of Additional Learning Needs Coordinator in the mainstream school for a number of years. I wish them a healthy and happy retirement where they can spend more time with their families and loved ones. Miss Lucy Brown (Humanities teacher) and Miss Nicole Heal (English/Humanities teacher) have successfully secured teaching positions in other schools. Both Miss Brown and Miss Heal, who have been covering teachers on maternity leave, have become valued members of staff at Pontarddulais.
I would also like to pay tribute to the school staff who throughout this year have: determined Year 11 pupils’ GCSE grades; provided emergency childcare; delivered a high-quality home learning provision; hand delivered learning packs to pupils’ homes; made phone and video calls to check in on pupils’ learning and wellbeing plus many other innovative ways of supporting pupils during national lockdowns and self-isolation periods. Once again staff have demonstrated a strong moral purpose through prioritising pupils’ academic progress and wellbeing.
The school’s values of inclusion, respect and resilience have been the bedrock of the school community’s approach during the ongoing pandemic. Pupils, parents/carers, governors and staff have pulled together to keep each other not just safe but to ensure that high quality education continues.
Finally, a huge thank you for your patience and support through what has been a challenging and frustrating time for so many people. I sincerely hope you and your family can enjoy some relaxation during the school holidays and we look forward to welcoming back all pupils in September.
Mr. G. Rees