Principal's message: "It was so good to get back to 'normal'..."
A school is a mere office building, without its pupils and staff. It was such a surreal feeling to return in January without our girls. Live online lessons are a reasonable consolation for not being in school but there’s only so much “use the chat to answer”, “you’re on mute” and “can you see the screen”, that any pupil or staff can take.
Schools are about people of all ages and cultures interacting with each other on a daily basis and becoming a better person for the experience. Welcoming the girls and staff back on the 8th March was the lift that we all needed. It might have only been for three weeks but, we carried on as normal. See for yourself…
Have a great Easter break.
Jon Gargan, Principal
We have had some lovely feedback from our new year 6 parents following their tour of the school:
"Many thanks for accommodating us for our visit this morning. It was great to see RGS in action and we were so impressed with everything we saw. Please do pass on our thanks to our fantastic Yr 8 tour guides and the staff whose doors we peered into, too. I thought you might like to know that we were greeted with smiles from the students as we passed classrooms and invariably had doors held open for us. Our daughter had been a bit nervous about starting secondary school, but she said afterwards that everyone seemed so nice that she wasn't worried any more. You must be extremely proud of them all."
"Thank you for organising the tour for us. It was very much appreciated and answered more questions than we realised we had. I'm looking forward to our daughter getting started and I think she's rather lucky. It sounds like she feels much better, but always hard to get straight answers from kids. I'm sure there will be first day nerves mixed with a generous amount of excitement."
On Tuesday Year 7 were able to participate in Hearth Month with the British Heart Foundation taking themselves through a carousel of activities which looked at the effect of exercise, on diet with Mrs Van Wyngaardt and also how the heart itself works by making a working model with our own biochemist Dr Routledge. Before their activities started Mrs Thomson took the year group through a follow up skills course activity from Barclays Skills for Life using a neat piece of origami called a “chatterbox” which was used as a conversation starter and to ask through provoking questions about their skills.
After splitting into smaller class-sized groups they explored engineering connections, which is how seemingly unrelated ideas in other technology led to record breaking new projects which drew inspiration from innovative designs from all walks of life and history. In the mathematics department, they finished a heart word search, maths heart proportion activity, body trivia trade game and finally, a question and answer heart quiz with Mr Fyffe.
Work is continuing during STEM days on the Museum of English Rural Life's 51 Voices project for their 70th anniversary, and the Year 7 students had their last session this week. The artist, Maisy Inston, was talking with the girls about her plans for the final piece. She also gave them tips for improving their own art projects including advice on showing texture, colour and contrast. She also encouraged them to think about the process of building their pictures, practicing with new techniques and experimenting with different materials. Following her guidance, they drew some wonderful pipistrelle bats.
Looking ahead after Easter we are starting to welcome visitors back into school, Ericsson have sent us teasers for their workshop here which will be running for Year 8 the first week back after the holiday. If you want to see what they might be talking about, we also have their preview video for us here.
We are thrilled that the girls are able to access such a wide range of content and STEM subjects through the programme and are very much looking forward to what the summer term has in store for our Year 7 and 8 girls.
University of Reading Year 10 Scholars
Some Year 10s are working with the University of Reading on their Scholars project. This gives students the opportunity to find out about university life and study, and find out if university is for them. This week the Year 10s had their third virtual meet up with staff and students from the University, and also with other schools involved in the scheme.
After an ice breaker quiz (our girls won two of the four rounds!), they heard about synthesising information and went into break out rooms to find out about debating and developing arguments. We then had a break out session with just our students and a mentor who will be working with us. Using Padlet they were able to ask questions about the research project they have been asked to try their hand at, and about university life in general.
As the University can't treat the students to a visit and lunch at the University in person, they arranged for a delivery of pizza for lunch which the students loved!
This is a fabulous opportunity to find out about University and what it could do for them, and we are delighted to have our students involved in this excellent scheme.
Book reviews-new feature!
After the Easter break we will be introducing a new feature to our weekly newsletter. Some of our staff members have written a review of their favourite book. We will be publishing one each week.
Hopefully, by reading these, you might be inspired to try reading something new and different. We are sure you will agree that by reflecting on other people’s thoughts and feelings about their reading material you can make informed choices about your own.
Please let us know what you think and contribute your own review if you are motivated to share your opinions on something you have read.
Short Story Collection
Following our recent virtual visit from author Kath Kirkland, a short story collection has been published on Amazon. This is available to purchase now and is a fantastic opportunity to read work submitted by some of our Year 7 and 8 pupils. Well done girls!
GCSE Art students have been working on applying the influence of other artists to their own practical work. Year 8's looked at Fauvism and the work of Henri Matisse. Students practised the use of bold colours and thick brushstrokes.
Year 9 and 10 worked on their landscape paintings, focusing on the work of Monet and applying pointillism as a technique.
Students also produced wallpaper prints based on the work of Sophie Munns.
Art For Research Reading Competition
Online exhibition - Year 7, 8 and 9 students
The AFRR Committee and judges are looking forward to receiving entries from our students and there will be prizes from the judges as well as the public's choice (the most liked picture on our Facebook page).
To enter, parents need to take a photo of their daughter's artwork, inspired by the theme 'The Environment' and upload it to the AFRR Facebook page with their daughter's first name, year group and school and make a £2 donation (for cancer research: UK’s children and young people campaign) via their ‘just giving page’.
- Art For Research Reading Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/artforresearchreading
- Just Giving link for AFRR (suggested donation of £2:
- Email address (entries can be sent here if parents do not have access to Facebook): email@example.com
- Please also email a copy of any entries to Ms de Witt: firstname.lastname@example.org
Increasing Student Participation
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 by each year group were:
- Year 7 – 111
- Year 8 – 56
- Year 9 – 24
- Year 10 – 9
- Year 11 – 0
- Total number of ‘Talking Tokens’ collected this year across the whole school are 17,061
“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 theen 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: Monday 29 March to Thursday 1 April 2021
YES – 765 tokens
No – 59 tokens
Easter Short Breaks
- Challengers Reading Youth Scheme for ages 13-17 including for children with severe and complex needs.
- Make Sense Theatre Drama Workshop mainly for ages 12 - 25 but will consider children 6 – 11 as well. The short break leaders have considerable experience with children and young people who have severe and complex needs.
- Multi Sports run by Reading FC Community Trust for ages 8-16 with special educational needs and/or disabilities.
- Reading Play for ages 8 – 13 with special educational needs and/or disabilities. For details of all the above servicesguide.reading.gov.uk
- There are also a number of online activities if your child/young person is still shielding.
Information and Support
Berkshire Healthcare Foundation Trust provide Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy and Speech and Language Therapy for children with Education, Health and Care Plans but they also have a wealth of advice on their website of exercises and games to do with children to improve their speech and gross and fine motor skills and when and how to refer your child for additional support.
Autism Berkshire has asked us to remind those of you whose children have DLA that transferring to Personal Independence Payment PIP requires a full application – you can’t just say your child was receiving DLA on the form. Autism Berkshire, Stepping Forward and Reading Mencap are all on the Local Offer below and can offer advice and support with this to help you get it right first time! Autism Berkshire has a series of benefits online advice workshops for autistic young people & adults (aged 16+) and the parents and carers of autistic children and young people who live in Reading, Wokingham and West Berkshire. These workshops will help you to understand their entitlement to benefits, how to make an application and the appeals process, including what supporting evidence should be included in an application and how to present it.
They will all take place from 10.30 am to 12.30pm on Mondays. Places can be booked for the following benefits advice workshops:
- April 12: For autistic young people and adults aged 16+, and their parents and carers, looking at applying for Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
- April 26: For autistic young people and adults aged 16+, and their parents and carers, looking at applying for Universal Credit and Employment & Support Allowance (ESA).
- May 24: For parents and carers of autistic children aged up to 15, looking at applying for Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
- Find out more about these workshops and register for free places.
Autism Berkshire’s benefits advisers are also able to help with enquiries about the benefits listed above and to provide individual advice about mandatory reconsiderations and appeals, if initial applications are turned down. They can be contacted by email at email@example.com or by calling 01189 594 594 (option 2) and leaving a message, including a daytime phone number.
Need support for yourself?
Parents of disabled children are under a lot of extra pressure at the moment. TuVida can carry out parent carer needs assessments looking at what support is available for you.
Chances to Have Your Say
Brighter Futures for Children and Reading Families’ Forum want your help to develop better services for young people who are diagnosed with autism after the age of 11 or are waiting for an assessment of autism. This short survey will be used by Brighter Futures for Children and Reading Families Forum to plan the support that young people want.
The first 5 people's names selected out of hat on 27th April 2021 will win a £20 Amazon gift voucher. The survey report will not name individuals and any personal details will not be kept after the prize draw.
Reading Borough Council has launched a pre-planning exhibition for proposals to transform play at Prospect Park, including relocating and enhancing the children’s playground. Find out more here - including draft designs for the mini-golf, alongside draft development layouts and elevation plans.
- The proposed new multi-use community hub and activity centre will include:
- accessible outdoor family adventure 9-hole mini-golf.
- a café facility with indoor and outdoor seating.
- new toilet facilities (including an accessible changing places facility)
- multi-function room for parties, meetings and teaching, including those with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) or excluded from mainstream education.
The playground has been prioritised as urgently needing improvements, particularly free accessible equipment for children of all abilities. Details of the proposals for relocating and enhancing the children’s playground will be available alongside the Play Centre information.
To find out more details on the above plans and to tell RBC what you think, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Special United will be having our next event this Thursday, 1st April 5:30 – 6:30 on Zoom. We will be joined by Leah Archer-Hall who is a Senior Mental Health Practitioner at the Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. Leah will be offering some practical advice about mental health- including the physical effects of mental health, coping strategies and where to go for professional support. She is also happy to answer any questions/queries you have concerning mental health. £10 Amazon vouchers for all young people who take part!
1st July 2021 9:30 – 2:30 Transition Conference for Preparing for Adulthood, jointly hosted by Reading Families’ Forum and Parenting Special Children. Join the conference to hear a disabled adult's personal experience, hear about the law from Professor Luke Clements and more. To book email email@example.com
Remember that the Local Offer has lots of information about local services for families of children with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). They have a friendly team who can answer all your questions about local support. 0118 9373777 (Option 2) (73777) https://servicesguide.reading.gov.uk/kb5/reading/directory/family.page?
Wishing you all a good week - Reading Families Forum