Reading Girls' School newsletter - 2 OCTOBER 2020

Principal's message: "Relevant Engaging Active Learning"

Full S.T.E.M. ahead.....

Mr Marsh, who leads our STEM programme, at Didcot Steam Centre to plan STEM days for our Year 7 and 8 girls from January.

Now that the start of the year has settled down, we have caught up on our summer term activities and our impressive hybrid classrooms are up and running, I would like to use this week’s article to get back to basics and in doing so, remind us all why we do what we do at Reading Girls’ School.

Our whole curriculum provision is built on the principle that learning is relevant, engaging and active and that the knowledge and skills learned are applied to different contexts.

Our weekly Year 7 and Year 8 STEM curriculum days (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) are the ultimate example. In its third year, the quality of the STEM programme is getting stronger each year. Next January will be the pinnacle thus far. Mr Marsh has secured the services of Didcot Steam Centre to introduce our girls to a world of engineering that they encounter when travelling on trains without actually realising it or thinking about it. Didcot Steam Centre will host our girls and provide them with a real engineering experience, over a number of days.

The profile of females in STEM is at the heart of our programme. We are driven to broaden horizons and in doing so, break down barriers. To that end, there are a plethora of STEM partners that we are working with this year. Some of them include Oxford University Physics Department, IBM, McLaren Formula 1, Amazon, and University College London (UCL). In addition, we have appointed our first ever STEM Ambassadors this term who help lead workshops.

Our very own newly appointed STEM Ambassadors

‘Fingers on the buzzer…’

Even the theory can be learned in a fun active way. The concept of teacher-led lessons whereby teachers talk at the class, share anecdotes or pupils answering questions in a book is very much out-dated. ‘Active Learning Strategies’ is what drives our teacher-training programme. We are constantly developing ways to actively engage the girls in what may appear to be even the most theoretical concepts.

Mr Smith's Year 11 biology class using 'fingers on the buzzer' in a Q&A session.

How R.E.A.L are we…?

Every week we tally up all the tokens that the girls deposit to feedback to us how R.E.A.L they feel their lessons have been. We are aiming for 50,000 ‘YES’ tokens by the end of this year!

Jon Gargan, Principal

Once again the RGS girls have excelled themselves and delivered three hugely informative and welcoming Open Evenings this week.

Despite the strange times we find ourselves in, the girls were keen to find a way for Year 6 girls and their families to experience RGS in the flesh. This week they hosted three cafe style open evenings with families booking in and sitting spaced out around the hall enjoying the performances and information sharing all led by the girls.

The evenings culminated with some 'speed dating' where families were free to ask our girls whatever they wanted, in the full knowledge they would get honest and helpful answers. A huge well done to all the girls involved each night; they have all shown themselves to be confident and articulate students.

Now that the Open Evenings are over, we will be welcomIng families into school during the working day to tour the school in individual families and get an insight into life at RGS on a daily basis. Should you wish to book a tour before22nd October please follow the link below.

STEM Activities

The Year 8s had their first STEM day of the year this week. They had been asked to apply to be STEM Ambassadors to help lead activities and assist teachers and lots of applications were received. So it was decided to have one group as Ambassadors for a few weeks before another group takes over. Here are the first STEM Ambassadors looking smart in their hi-vis jackets!

Sadly, our first visitors had to cancel as their area went into local lockdown! The Antarctic Fire Angels are hoping to be the first all female team to ski coast to coast on a particular route across Antarctica. They are hoping to visit us later in the year and you can support their fundraising for the project here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/antarctic-fire-angels.

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 28 to Friday 2 October 2020

YES - 1976 tokens

No - 216 tokens

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 thtis week the following number of 'Talking Tokens' collected by each year group were:

  • Year 7 - 161
  • Year 8 - 134
  • Year 9 - 14
  • Year 10 - 28
  • Year 11 - 20
  • Total number of 'Talking Tokens' collected this year across the whole school are 1620.

Swimming sessions at Meadway Sports Centre are beginning again next week, whilst South Reading Leisure Centre is increasing the number of sessions it offers. Your place must be booked in advance, and you can view all the session times available at both centres .

Free flu vaccine for personal assistants - For the first time, this year, PAs are able to access the vaccine free of charge from GPs and community pharmacies, via the NHS Complementary Scheme. This vaccination is available now. To access the scheme, PAs will simply need to attend a GP surgery or community pharmacy and identify themselves as a PA. However, we are aware that individuals have been asked to provide proof in the past and we have therefore provided a letter that can be used for identification, as attached. The process for PAs to access the flu vaccination, is as follows:

  • Attached to this summary, there is a letter that can be printed.
  • The direct payment holder, as employer, will fill out this letter, to prove they employ the PA. Once the PA has this, this will act as their ‘letter of entitlement’ to the vaccination.
  • The PA will then need to visit their local GP or community pharmacist, who will be able to give them the flu vaccination. If they need to prove their entitlement, they can use the letter of entitlement and a copy of this guidance (when published).
  • The vaccination will then be given to them, free of charge.

Parenting Special Children have lots more online events in the coming months with just a £5 refundable deposit for Berkshire families.

AutAngel (a community interest company run by and for autistic people) have two upcoming online talks on Tuesday 29th September at 7pm is Recognising autism which explores where autism sits in the constellation of humanity and Tuesday 13th October at 7pm is The traits of autism which explains in more detail how human traits affect autistic people atypically. You can choose how much you donate to AutAngel (starting from £1) when you book places.

Short Breaks in half-term: Brighter Futures will be making a decision this week on the various bids to set up short breaks for children with special educational needs and/or disability in October half-term, and information about booking will go out asap after that. The government has made it clear that supervised activities provided for children, including youth groups and activities, and children’s playgroups are exempt from the rule of 6 as well as indoor organised team sports for disabled people.

Whitley Wood respite centre is opening again on 5th October, taking one adult at a time. Contact Reading Borough Council for more information rachel.jerrard@reading.gov.uk This is open to those who have had respite at Cressingham or Pinecroft, subject to an assessment.

Reading Gardening for Health and Wellbeing Network is a community group delivering Green Care and nature-based interventions to people with a wide range of needs in and around Reading, including disabilities. They have reopened. Email rgfhwn@gmail.com for further details.

The Royal Berks (RBFT) mascot competition has been extended from 1 and 16 years to include 16-24yr olds with SEND and EHCPs. The competition now closes on 31st October.

Remember the SEND Local Offer – www.readingsendlocaloffer.org has lots of information and advice pages on Special Educational Needs and/or Disability services and support. You can contact them on 0118 9373777 option 2 or email localoffer@reading.gov.uk

All meals are provided by Chartwells - a school meal consists of a main meal and a dessert for £2.40 a variety of snacks and drinks are also available.

Chartwells operate a cashless till system, operated by cards. The cards are topped up online using a secure website called ParentPay, if your daughter is eligible for free meals, £2.40 is credited to her card each day. Your daughter will be provided with her card and ParentPay login details on her first day at Reading Girls' School. You can find more information about ParentPay on their website http://www.parentpay.com. The school office is also happy to help with any enquiries.

Follow the link for details of the school menu.

Information from Highways England regarding further M4 closures this weekend.

Please read the message below from our uniform supplier Stephensons regarding the latest supply update information.