Reading Girls' School newsletter - 22 October 2021

Principal's Message: Celebrating Diversity at RGS

As I discover more about Reading Girls’ School I continue to be impressed at how much we are able to deliver in a week. Not only did we successfully run another STEM day for Year 8 with three notable guests:

  • Kate Baker, Principle Consultant, LEAP Environmental
  • Dr. Helen Baron, Hydrological Modeller, UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
  • Prof. Richard Allan, Professor of Climate Science, Department of Meteorology. University of Reading.

We also managed a successful Cultural Day this Friday. The whole school came alive with bright colours as students wore their national dress or the different colours of the flags of their country of origin. In addition the whole community came together to listen to music form Berkshire Maestros, who offer instrumental lessons to some of our students.

As we come to the end of this half-term, I am sure you will wish to join me in thanking the staff for all their hard work and dedication to all your children so far this year. Their commitment ensures that we are able to provide high quality education and rich experiences.

Finally, during half term it is important that your child continues with the LFD tests. The Local authority has advised the following:

  • In addition you should book a PCR test for you or your child if you are concerned that either you might have COVID-19 or have had contact with someone with COVID-19. If you don't meet any of the criteria for seeking a PCR test, please tick the box 'I've been told to get a test by my local council, health protection team or healthcare professional.'
  • Any child (primary or secondary) who has a household member test positive for COVID-19 to take a daily LFD test for seven days, in addition to taking a one-off PCR test.
  • Any child (primary or secondary) who is identified as a close contact of a positive case via NHS Test and Trace are advised to take a daily LFD test for seven days, in addition to taking a one-off PCR test.
  • Secondary school children should undertake a lateral flow test on the day before they return to school.

Please can you all ensure that your child does a LFD tests the day before we return to school, and then continue to do so every Wednesday and Sunday, and report each result using the link below.

If your child tests positive please notify NHS Track and Trace and self-isolate. Students will need to take a PCR test within 2 days and if they should test negative they may return to school; if not they are required to self-isolate for 10 days. While students are isolating they will participate in our online hybrid lessons, to enable them to continue with their learning.

I wish you all a very restful half term.

Marika Farrugia, Principal

Cultural Day 2021 @ RGS

Further Education Fair - 2 November

On Tuesday 2 November, we are holding a Further Education Fair starting in the last lesson of the day. Schools and colleges from the area will have stands so that students in years 9, 10 and 11 (who will be phased through in year groups) can find out more about choices for study and work after GCSE. The apprenticeship service and the careers adviser will also be attending. You may want to spend a few minutes with your daughter considering who they want to talk to and the questions to ask.

The event will continue after school and some students, particularly Year 11s, may want to stay to ask more questions and continue conversations. Please make appropriate arrangements for them getting home that day.

At Reading Girls’ School, we strive create an environment where girls feel valued and look forward to coming to school. We have high expectations for our student’s attendance and attainment and aim for all of our students to attend a minimum of 98% of time (less than 4 days off per year).

Significantly, we want our girls to achieve in every aspect of school life and the statistics show why good attendance is so important.

  • One day of school missed = 6 hours missed learning
  • One day off school per school month = approximately 57 missed lessons per year
  • 90% attendance for a year = approximately 4 weeks off school (over 100 lessons missed)
  • 90% attendance for 5 years = Half a year off school (over 500 lessons)

Minor illness are the biggest contributor to reduced school attendance and we appreciate it can be tricky deciding whether or not to keep your child off school. We follow NHS guidelines about school sickness, so if your daughter has a minor cough, cold, stomach ache or headache, our recommendation is they come to school to maintain a healthy attendance.

If your child needs to be sent home, one of our trained members of staff will be on hand to help. If your child is too unwell to attend school, please call the school absence line before school starts on the first day of absence and every subsequent day.

Please try to arrange medical and dental appointments for outside of school hours and therefore keep medical appointments in school time to a minimum. If on the rare occasion a medical appointments during school time is unavoidable, I ask that your child attends school beforehand and/or returns to school immediately that same day following their appointment. If a student is absent from school first thing in the morning or immediately after lunch then they cannot receive an attendance present mark for that session.

I would also like to remind parents that holidays during term time cannot be authorised.

You can find out what your child’s attendance is by going to www.schoolgateway.com. Enter your email address and mobile number that is registered with the school. Select Send PIN – your 4 digit PIN will be sent via text message to your mobile phone. You will need this PIN number each time you log in so keep it safe!

Word of the Week

Every week in school we share a Word of the Week. Pupils are given the definition and etymology of the word, synonyms for the word and examples of sentences using the word. The aim is to expand the girls’ vocabulary and they are rewarded with a Word of the Week token if they use the word in their writing or speaking. Please do discuss this word at home...This week word of the week is.....

Meteorology, Hydrology and Soil Science all featured gusts in STEM this week

This week we did not have one, not two but three guests speaking to Year 8 in STEM on Tuesday, coming from related disciplines which study the systems that govern our environment.

Building on the last day’s theme of Earthshot, we took the opportunity to explore the other categories which we did not have time to explore on the day guided by experts in their field. We welcomed to the school this week:

  • Kate Baker, Principle Consultant, LEAP Environmental
  • Dr. Helen Baron, Hydrological Modeller, UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology.
  • Prof. Richard Allan, Professor of Climate Science, Department of Meteorology. University of Reading.

Kate Baker opened the day with her passion for soil, speaking about how her job had many links to the curriculum including the most obvious of Geography and Chemistry to the less obvious ones including English – which of course, she uses very often for her report writing as a consultant. She had some surprising facts about the world we live in and how everything that we rely on starts with the soil.

Kate Baker speaking to the girls about how soil is made and giving surprising facts about how slowly soil will regenerate itself if not cared for properly.

Our next guest, Dr Helen Baron, followed on from this talk with a short introduction which really got the girls moving and out of their seats with a good stretch and lively activity to keep them alert and listening! After the girls sat back down they were treated to an introduction to hydrology and how Helen entered the profession and an overview about what her job involves.

After break the girls were split and rotated around different activities. Some girls were entertained by a board game which looked at flooding events with Dr Baron while, at the same time half of the year group were looking at climate change with Prof Richard Allan.

Professor Allan gave an enthusiastic and interactive lecture with girls learning about how he and his team of climate scientists study the atmosphere and how the atmosphere above us affects our daily lives. Some of the equipment he used might be more familiar in the current climate for testing people’s temperatures but actually was invented originally for measuring the temperature of the cloud base using infrared radiation measurements emitted from the sky!

Dr Richard Allan showing how an infrared thermometer is used to measure temperature before pointing it up to the clouds above the school from outside!

The lecture also had practical live demonstrations using girls to show how rising carbon dioxide levels had a feedback effect by first lining the girls up and then making them join in a circle which quickly showed how fast a stimulus within a closed loop system can affect itself over and over very fast indeed!

Professor Allan showing the nature of a linear versus a cyclic feedback loop system using girls as a closed loop climate system

The talk was well received and not only did we have fun by Richard wrote to us afterwards to say:

“I must admit I found it a bit nerve-racking not having done this for a while … but otherwise I enjoyed interacting with your girls who are really bright and well behaved.”

We are always grateful for people who give up their time to come and inspire our girls and it was wonderful to have such positive feedback from our guests.

Side by side with the lecture from Professor Allan, Dr Baron was running interactive games and after lunch looked at a live demonstration of her Geographic Information System (GIS). This tool is software that blends the power of a map with the power of a database to allow people to create, manage and analyse information, particularly information about location.

Mapping data reveals information about locations and populations vital for a range of sectors, across health, education, manufacturing and insurance. GIS means the latest mapping data can be communicated and used most effectively and is an important part of the Geography Key Stage 3 curriculum to know about.

After an information rich and fascinating day of linking ideas about the planet’s systems, all of the girls had also been able to learn about the finalists from this year’s Earthshot prize which was live streamed on the BBC this Sunday as their last activity of the day. Classes were able to watch and take notes on the prize winners throughout the green energy powered ceremony throughout the day.

Five, one million-pound prizes will be awarded each year for the next ten years, providing at least 50 solutions to the world’s greatest environmental problems by 2030.

The Earthshot Prize is about much more than awarding achievement – it is a decade of action to convene the environmental world with funders, businesses and individuals to maximise impact and take solutions to scale, to celebrate the people and places driving change; and to inspire people all over the world to work together to repair the planet.

Each of the five Winners will receive £1million prize money, a beautiful and one-of-a-kind Earthshot Prize medal, and a global network of professional and technical support to scale these cutting-edge environmental solutions.

We saw how includes incredible leaders, inspiring activists, brilliant innovators, a forward-thinking city and even an entire country are making a real difference. All 15 of the inaugural Prize Finalists will receive tailored support to help scale their solutions and realise an even greater impact with their ground-breaking work and we encouraged our own girls to look into ways in which they could compete for the prize themselves in the future.

Thank you for parents and relatives who have made contact about their own work in STEM. If you would like to come to speak to Year 7 or 8 about your work in STEM and even run an interactive activity on a Tuesday please get in touch with Mr Marsh and Mrs Thomson (dmarsh@readinggirlsschool.net, kthomson@readinggirlsschool.net ) with your contact details. We love to have local community and business involved in our STEM programme.

Increasing Student Participation

“Talking Tokens”

Talking Tokens are issued by the classroom teacher and/or teaching assistant to pupils who participate to questions and/or ask questions during lessons. Pupils are encouraged to write their name and year group on the back of the 'Talking Token' and place them into the relevant 'Talking Token' collection box for their year group. At the end of each term, all 'Talking Tokens' are placed together and a pupil is selected at random. The more 'Talking Tokens' a pupil collects for contributing answers to questions in class, the more chances they have to win a prize.

At the end of this week the following number of 'Talking Tokens' collected across the whole school are 753 Well done to all those who received a token for their contribution in their lessons. We are currently on a grand total of 3383.

“Has your lesson been REAL (Relevant, Engaging, Active Learning)?”

Using REAL tokens students have the opportunity to give instant feedback to staff about their experiences within the lesson.

Students are provided with a token and at the end of the lesson, are asked if their lesson has been R.E.A.L. (Relevant, Engaging, Active Learning). Students then place their token into the 'Yes' or 'No' box, which is in every teaching classroom. Staff then uses this information to make any modification to their delivery of their lesson. These tokens are then collected in at the end of every week and counted.

Results for this week:

  • YES – 3210
  • No – 280 tokens

Many of you will be aware that the RGS car park is busy this year and this is of course due to the continued growth of the school. Maximum speed limit is 5mph. Please ensure that you are not driving any faster than this as you enter, during and when you exit the car park. Parents who do not comply with this speed limit will be asked not to drive through the car park.

How can we all help with the congestion at the beginning and end of the school day?

  • Where possible girls to walk/ cycle to school
  • Parents to team up and run car shares so that less cars are coming to RGS, in addition to helping the environment!
  • Any cars who do have to come to RGS will be required to TURN LEFT out of the school carpark from MONDAY 13th SEPTEMBER

A reminder that it is also not permitted to stop on the very busy Northumberland Avenue.

Sports in Mind

October half-term short breaks

The following services are offering short breaks for children and young people with additional needs living in Reading borough this October half-term:

  • Chance to Dance Stars CIC – SEND Activity Days, 25-27 October. Dance and drama activity days. Ages 5+. £20 per session.
  • Multi-sports camps – delivered by RFC Community Trust, 25-27 October, 10.30am-2pm. Multi-sport activities alongside specialist sports. Ages 8-16. Taking place at The Avenue School. £20 per day.
  • Make Sense Theatre – 27-29 October. Drama and multi-sensory workshops. Ages 5-18. Taking place at The Avenue School. £20 per workshop.

Stevensons - your local and online school uniform supplier

We are delighted to be launching a second-hand uniform shop at RGS. Please send in any good quality uniform you no longer need. Mrs Emmett will be awaiting your deliveries! For further information please email selliott@readinggirlsschool.net