Reading Girls' School newsletter - 11 JUNE 2021

Principal's message: The next round of Covid-19 home testing...

With the increase rate of positive Covid-19 cases in recent weeks, we have received today from the Government, a timely delivery of Covid-19 home-test kits. We will distribute kits to pupils on Tuesday 15th June 2021 during lunchtime.

As per the distribution process at the beginning of last month, each girl will be given ONE BOX of testing kit. Each box contains SEVEN TESTS which will therefore last for 3.5 weeks. Again, we await further details if the Government intend to distribute more closer to that time.

I would be grateful if the girls could carry out tests on WEDNESDAYS and SUNDAYS as per the schedule below and parents please report results (even if negative) to NHS www.gov.uk/report-covid19-result and to school https://forms.office.com/r/LAnwQnVCzZ

Jon Gargan, Principal


This week in STEM we were fortunate enough to have two groups for the day: Mace, who are global experts in shaping the built environment. From development and consultancy, to construction and operations, they connect expertise across the entire property lifecycle. Mace has an impact everywhere: from skylines in cities around the world to the infrastructure that communities depend on to live, work and play. They employ over 6,300 people across five global hubs in Europe, Middle East and North Africa, the Americas, Sub Saharan Africa and Asia Pacific and their projects include: The London Eye, The Venetian in Macau, The Emirates Airline, The Shard at London Bridge, Tottenham Hotspur stadium and most recently the NHS Nightingale Hospital in London.

They wanted to challenge the girls to see every problem as an opportunity to dream bigger and bring ambitions to life by designing their own space firstly by finding a place to develop, then decide what the local community would want and then design their own construction projects. The girls then had to present to their groups to win a place to present to Sue who gave feedback and asked some very difficult questions indeed! We thank Sue for her time and availability throughout the day.

Many of the girls were inspired to dive deeply into their imaginations and solve complex problems with their ideas which included water parks made of glass in the shape of a starfish to be built in Cornwall and even a set of underground offices that could be converted into a homeless shelter which the girls really enjoyed asking difficult engineering questions to the team about how they would get their project completed on time and accurately.

Didcot Stem Centre gave their second session to the penultimate group of girls who worked on which shapes are the strongest; concluding the triangle was the least able to flex and distort. How to make a truss and cantilever bridge and competed in a competition to use nuts, bolts and trusses to design and compete in crossing a span across a lab sink which ultimately saw the yellow team romp home to success with the most elegant and safe crossing of their steam carriage.

The girls were very pleased with the day as always and enjoyed the visitors throughout the events which they all found adequately challenging.

Stevensons Appointments

Your local branch of Stevensons have allocated appointment times to maintain social distancing in stores - further information can be found on the link below. Appointments can be booked online from 17th May.

Now that we are back in school the students have been busy relaunching their projects and events. They continue to support others and raise money for charity and good causes.

With a shortened timescale we have set a target of £500 to be raised by the end of the academic year and as of this week we are already at £297 for various charities such as Unicef, The British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research. Plenty of events are booked for the coming weeks supporting a variety of charities including The Children’s' Palestine Relief Fund and BLISS for premature or sick babies.

Well done ladies and keep up the excellent work!

To help celebrate Pride month there is a display in the English corridor focusing on reading. Ella and Cerys from our SSLT team have done a brilliant job coordinating and preparing some eye-catching materials.

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!


An active learning strategy we used this week was 'Connect 4'. Mrs Smith's Year 10 class used it to re-cap their recent work on Macbeth. The girls worked in pairs recalling information from the first four scenes of the play and, as in the original Connect 4 game, the winner was the first to get four correct answers in a row. This became very competitive!


The inaugural International Young Philosopher of the Year Awards took place virtually last week. Our students, from years 7-10, submitted their group projects centred around the philosophical theme of ‘Solidarity’. Schools from countries including England, Germany, Mexico, Romania, the Netherlands, and Russia entered the International Young Philosopher of the Year Awards 2021. Reading Girls’ School had more finalists across all award categories than any other school, internationally. Our students’ groups claimed four runner’s-up spots, along with four highly commended places and one of our Yr. 9 groups won their award category (seeing off competition from a grammar school in the process). This is a remarkable achievement by our students and with the high standard of projects they submitted, it is truly well-deserved.

Solidarity was, and remains, a theme at the forefront of many of our minds, as it is perhaps more crucial now than ever, so that we might collaborate and co-operate toward building a better tomorrow. This project granted students the chance to discuss, research, form philosophical questions and offer their collective responses to the importance of solidarity in our times, whether it is in the context of taking a stand against racism, not tolerating sexism, promoting inclusivity and acceptance, celebrating diversity, facing up to our collective responsibility around the pandemic, or fighting inequality more broadly. Solidarity and showing unity are part of who we are – it forms the foundation for our shared identities, our school, our community, our families, our sense of togetherness, of belonging, of saying everyone has a place and everyone’s voice should be heard.

Our Ethics lessons are about creating a forum in which students can share their perspectives; listen to other’s views; debate respectfully; and realize the value of collaboration, empathy, contemplation, creativity and critical thinking, thereby flourishing into becoming virtuous citizens of the future. The aim is that, through engaging in critical thinking at an early stage, students will appreciate the value of asking questions, exploring and accessing their innate sense of curiosity, as Aristotle said, “Philosophy begins in wonder”.

Huge congratulations to all students who submitted their projects for the International Young Philosopher Awards 2021! We will be celebrating the students’ success at an assembly soon.

You can watch the winning entry from Khadeeja Bint Urfan, Sidrah Ayub, Asmaa Torkia, Eachhaya Bhattarai, Simone Khadka and Eunice Pun here:

And see a full list of the awards here:

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 by each year group for this year to date are:

  • Year 7 – 7201
  • Year 8 – 4685
  • Year 9 – 907
  • Year 10 – 3302
  • Year 11 – 1659
  • Total number of ‘Talking Tokens’ collected this year across the whole school are 17,754
“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 7 May to Friday 11 June 2021

YES – 1407 tokens

No – 159 tokens

Berkshire CAMHS is working to improve the support they offer to young people who are experiencing a crisis. A crisis can be different from person to person, but they are likely to happen when a young person is in danger of hurting themselves or others. They are looking to set up a new service, which will provide a short, intense level of support immediately after a crisis. To make sure the service they offer works for our young people, they are really keen to hear from you around what it has been like when you have worked with crisis services in the past, and what you think might be helpful if you are experiencing a crisis in the future. In particular, they would like to hear from parents and young people on:

  1. How have you found crisis services in the past?
  2. What would really help you if you were having a crisis?
  3. What might be difficult for them in helping people who are having a crisis?
  4. Would you like to work with them to further develop and implement this service?

Please reply by 1st of June to Daryl.Nicholas@berkshire.nhs.uk

The Charity Contact By Your Side team is running virtual coffee mornings for parent carers who have a child who has regular hospital appointments or stays. They are happening from 11am - 12 noon on 8th June 13th July and 14th September. The parent advisers can help with the most pressing issues including benefits - such as disability living allowance payments when in hospital, education, helping your child to sleep, and encouraging positive behaviour. Parent carers can book a free place on as many of the coffee mornings as they'd like. To book the virtual coffee mornings go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/by-your-side-team-30668015824

You can also listen or share the latest episode of contact’s podcast: The helpful podcast for families with disabled children, where By Your Side Senior Parent Adviser Ruth shares the team's top tips for hospital appointment stays. https://anchor.fm/contactfamilies

Swings and Smiles, the accessible play and support centre for disabled children has a new timetable for June at https://www.swingsandsmiles.co.uk/our-sessions

Thumbs Up Club is offering a summer holiday club for children with additional needs aged 3 – 19. The club is at Addington School but is open to Reading children at other schools who can’t access mainstream holiday clubs. Bookings are live now until 6th June at 8 pm. Clubs will be held from 26th July to 20th August (9:30 to 3:30 each day and 9:30 to 1 on the last day) £15 per half day and £30 per full day. To book go to https://summer.thumbsupclub.co.uk. Please contact support@thumbsupclub.co.uk for any help with booking.

Parenting Special Children is holding a transition to adulthood workshop for parent carers of young people who have been diagnosed with Autism and/or ADHD or are on the waiting list for an assessment. The workshop will be on Thursday 17 June: 10am-12pm with Speaker Kate Stonehouse, Family Support, Reading Mencap. Reading Families’ Forum will also be there. To book go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/transition-to-adulthood-workshop-berkshire-west-registration-154821225453

PSC is also running Autistic/ADHD Girls and Young Women Monthly Workshop and Support Group for all families with girls or young women of any age who are pre- or post-assessment for Autism and/or ADHD. Topics covered include:

  • Topic based workshops
  • Questions & Answers
  • Opportunity to talk to other parents and carers

£5 per person (plus Eventbrite booking fee) for Berkshire parent/carers. The guest speaker in June is Mairi Evans (Clinical director and Neurodiversity Lead, doctoral researcher, and systemic psychotherapist) is reaching the final stages of a professional doctorate studying the affordances and constraints of diagnosis for the mothers of autistic girls. In this workshop she will share a summary of her research findings and the implications for parents, practitioners and professionals. She will also share advice from the mothers involved with her research for other mothers who are at the start of the journey towards diagnosis for their own daughters. Suitable for parent/carers, teachers and other professionals working with neuro-divergent girls. Thurs 24 June: 7-8.30pm (Bookings will open after Half Term). To book go to: http://www.parentingspecialchildren.co.uk/events/

The local carers hub, TuVida are holding a carers week from 5th – 12th June with a number of sessions open to parents of disabled children:

  • 5th June Breathe Body and Mind. Yoga (floor & seated) with Harpal Sahota from 10.30 - 11.30 am
  • 7th June Nina Crispin from Reading Borough Council will be doing a talk on 5-ways to Wellbeing from 3 - 3.30pm
  • 8th June Speak Clearly workshop - Have you ever wanted to speak more clearly, with pow[1]er, authenticity and passion to show professionals how valued you are? to book a place - https://www.notacareintheworld.co.uk/event-details/speak-clearly from 11 - 12.30pm
  • 9th June Sarah Waddingham, Professional Counsellor. Join Sarah for a session of Mindful exercises, with visualisation and breathing techniques, to help you relax and improve your wellbeing. From 1 – 2pm.
  • 10th June Moving and Handling with Sue Player. From 10 – 11am
  • 10th June Breathe/Relax/Reset workshop - Simple, yet effective: a journey to deepen your relationship with yourself using the breath. To book a place - https://www.notacareintheworld.co.uk/event-details/breathe-relax-reset-1. From 10.30 – 12pm
  • 10th June Geoff Hammond from Remap Talks about the service they provide. From 4 – 4.40pm (adapting equipment for disabled children and adults
  • 10th June join Jarnail Singh for Bhangra dancing from 6 - 6.30 pm
  • 11th June Mindfulness During Lockdown and Beyond with Soranny Perone from 2:30 – 3:30 pm

All sessions will run on Zoom/ MS Teams. For the links required to book on any of the above sessions, please contact them on Tel no: 0118 324 7333 or email: berkshire@tuvida.org

Special United will be having our next event on Wednesday 16th June from 5:30 to 6:30 on Zoom. The Information Advice and Support Service for Special Educational Needs and/of Disability (IASS for SEND) will be joining us to explain how they can support young people and hear their views. £10 Amazon voucher for all young people who take part. All Reading young people aged 8 – 25 with additional needs and/or their siblings can join us. Please email lisaharry14@aol.com to book

Reading Families’ Forum will be holding our next coffee morning on Wednesday 16th June 11:30 – 12:45 with a speaker from Parenting Special Children to talk to us about managing aggression in our children with additional needs. To book email fran.morgan.rff@gmail.com

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 fran.morgan.rff@gmail.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?familychannel=3