Sixth Form students from Ysgol Aberconwy have had the opportunity to direct and star in their own professionally filmed LGBTQ+ film. A group of 15 students spent two days working with a professional film crew, as a result of coming first in the Iris prize script writing competition selected from schools across Wales. The short film will premiere in January 2020 at Cineworld, Llandudno Junction.
The students, who are all studying media and film related courses, attended an Education Day in January 2019 where they learned about the Iris Prize script writing competition. Working in collaboration over a number of months, they came up with a script called ‘Our Souls’. It is an ‘Educating Essex’ style documentary/drama centring around one of the students in the group and the shocking ways in which homophobia has affected him.
Student Freddie Triggs who plays the central character said, “I decided to audition for Ryan as I thought the role would be quite challenging and it’s different to anything I’ve ever done before. Playing the role was fun but more importantly it gave me an understanding of the difficulties and also the hostility that the LBGTQ+ community may face and how it feels to be on the receiving end of bullying.”
Student Joshua Baxter said, “I play the film’s antagonist, who is initially homophobic and derogatory towards Ryan, but then becomes more aware and accepting of people’s sexual orientation. I hope that when people see the film they understand the message and realise that being prejudiced and bullying people is not OK and learn, like Ben, to become more accepting and tolerant of others.”
Iris Education/Outreach is a project funded by Ffilm Cymru Wales which allows the Iris team to work with students from schools across Wales to tackle homophobic bullying and other LGBTQ+ issues.
Teachers Mrs Jenny Ohlsson and Miss Amy Grimward said, “We’re so proud to have such talented students to work with. It's been such a fun experience and we feel lucky to be a part of it. We’re really excited about the premiere, albeit a little nervous about seeing ourselves projected on a massive cinema screen! Keira Knightly – watch out!”
We are proud to announce that four of the original 10 script writers, Ryan Mackale, Anna-Lyssa Roberts, Faye Thomas and Caitlin Hughes, have successfully gone on to university studying media, film and fashion related degrees. The remaining students originally involved in the project, continued on with the monumental task of planning, casting, directing, staging, rehearsing and then producing the film itself.
Student Kieran Roberts, who plays his namesake in the film, said, “It’s opened many doors to me in the future, by doing this I’ve met great people and it has been a real opportunity. I feel like this could be the start of something great.”
Hollie Owen agreed saying, “I have been involved with ‘Our Souls’ from the beginning. It’s been a great opportunity for us, as a whole group, and has allowed us to get an insight to the hard work needed to create a film. I'm very grateful for the whole experience.”
'Our Souls’ will premier in January at Cineworld, Llandudno Junction and will be entered into another Iris Prize competition that could see them win a £250 prize to make further films. In addition to this, Ysgol Aberconwy will welcome the Iris Outreach film crew back to the school in January as we host the Iris Outreach Education Day 2020, welcoming students from other schools to join us in workshops and to network with industry professionals. Mark Williams, Iris Outreach and Education Manager said, “We’ve had an amazing couple of days filming. We are very impressed with the pupils, their patience and how hard they have worked. I can’t wait to see the finished film in January.”
Ysgol Aberconwy proudly invites you to come and see the film and show your support for the LGBTQ+ community and our fantastic students, past and present. It will premiere on the 22nd January 2020 at Cineworld, Llandudno Junction, alongside other competition entries. Free entry for friends and family of Ysgol Aberconwy students.
Ysgol Aberconwy is proud to present Billy Elliot The Musical.
Our students have been working hard to prepare for this fantastic show which is now just around the corner!
Performances are taking place on the 25th, 26th, 27th, 28th and 29th November.
Doors open at 6.45 pm with performances starting at 7 pm.
Call 01492 593243 to book tickets. £8 pp for adults and £5 pp for Children, Students and OAPs.
Ysgol Aberconwy students have achieved the best GCSE results in the school’s history, with over 75% of them achieving at least five GCSEs at A*-C and more than a quarter achieving five or more A*/A grades.
Special congratulations go to Libby Bond, Marnie Cockrill, Nathan Cuthbert, Thomas Kiddell, Ewan Marshall, Louis Morris, Ella Owen, Hannah Partington, Lois Porter, Elin Watson and Mabli Watson-Jones all of whom achieved at least 9 A*/A grades.
Head teacher Ian Gerrard praised the hard work of students and staff. He said,
“We are proud of the achievements of all of our students in a wide range of traditional academic subjects like Science, Welsh, French and German, as well as in vocational subjects such as Product Design, P.E., Motor Vehicle Maintenance and Hair Dressing.
It is so important that we provide a curriculum that meets the needs and interests of all and we are delighted that students benefit so much from their experiences here. The school has improved its academic performance in all of the performance measures used by Welsh government and we are extremely pleased with the progress we and our students are making.”
Aberconwy students are now looking forward to the next steps in their journey, with record-breaking numbers set to return to the school’s Sixth form.
Ysgol Aberconwy students and staff are celebrating the school’s best ever A Level results: every student successfully gained entry into their choice university and the school’s performance places it in the top 25% of Sixth forms in Wales and England.
Special congratulations go to Ruth Dean [A*, A*, A] who has moved a step closer to achieving her ambition of becoming a Doctor. Ruth will go to the University of Cardiff to study Medicine, following a gap year volunteering with a medical charity in Israel. We are also very proud of Tom Rushton who achieved an amazing 5 A levels [A*, A, A, B, C].
Other outstanding performances were made by Charlotte McNabb [Sport and Exercise Science – Worcester], Miriam Allardyce [Natural Sciences – Durham], Elizabeth Morgan [Maths – Aberystwyth], Shona Roberts [Sport Rehabilitation – Salford], Alex Miller-Smith [Business and Accountancy – University of Manchester] and Luca Hughes [Quanity Surveying – Oxford Brookes]. Special congratulations go to Spencer Ward who will receive a scholarship from Aberystwyth University to study Human Geography.
The school is especially proud to report that all the students who applied to Universities are now looking forward to going on to study a wide variety of exciting degree courses including English and Media, Aerospece Engineering, Civil and |Environmental Engineering, Drama and Theatre studies.
Headteacher Ian Gerrard congratulated all students and staff on their results and wished them all the very best for their future. He stated, “I’m delighted in the achievements of our students this year and I’m encouraged to see that such a wide and varied selection of courses are being followed by our young people across the UK. We wish them well for the future and look forward to hearing of their continued success in the years to come.”
Ysgol Aberconwy are proud to announce that, after an appraisal visit from CReSTeD (Council for the Registration of Schools Teaching Dyslexic Pupils), the school has been awarded CReSTeD status, once again, for the eleventh year.
Ysgol Aberconwy is only one of two secondary schools in Wales to feature on the CReSTeD schools register and, following the visit, the CReSTeD Board has approved the school for another three years.
CReSTeD status recognises that, Ysgol Aberconwy, as a whole school, meets specific criteria for providing support to students with specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD as well as ASD.
Headteacher Mr Gerrard, Helen Samuel Dyslexia Specialist teacher for ABCD (Conwy’s Local Authority dyslexia resource within Ysgol Aberconwy) and Clare Hodgson ALNCo, are pleased that the school has maintained its CReSTeD status.
The visit entailed a rigorous scrutiny of records, discussions with parents and students, as well as lesson observations, and took into account all areas and aspects of the school, not just the ABCD resource. The CReSTeD representative commended, amongst other things, on the school’s provision for all students to read for 20 minutes in school every day, and this policy has inspired other CReSTeD headteachers to look at introducing this policy within their own schools.
Mr Gerrard stated, “As a school we are incredibly proud to host the ABCD resource as part of the support we are able to offer to students studying at Ysgol Aberconwy. It is important to give students additional support where it’s needed, whilst at the same time allowing them to continue in mainstream education - this is something we’re fortunate to have.”
Year 12 student April Ehlke-West recently sat the HSK Chinese proficiency test Level 1. One of Ysgol Aberconwy’s most advanced students in Mandarin Chinese, April was awarded full marks - 100/100 which is a superb achievement.
China’s Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi, known as the “HSK” or the Chinese Proficiency Test, is a standardized test developed by the HSK Test Centre at Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU). It is meant to assess the Chinese language proficiency of non-native speakers and provides a global standard that can be used in university admissions and job applications.
The first student from Ysgol Aberconwy to sit the HSK test, April travelled to Manchester University in March to take her exam. April’s attainment is made still more special because she learns Mandarin in her spare time in addition to studying full-time for her A-levels. We are very proud of her success. Zhùhè April!
From the Conwy Marathon to the Paris Marathon and not forgetting the renowned London Marathon, four colleagues from Ysgol Aberconwy have recently all successfully completed marathon achievements!
We caught up with each marathon runner to find out the details…
Lynn Jones, PA to the Headteacher, set herself the goal of completing her first marathon this year. After completing various half marathons, she wanted a bigger challenge. She decided to take part in the first ever Conwy Marathon, which included two incredible challenges being the Orme and Penrhynside Hill. As far as first marathons go, she certainly pushed herself to the limit with this one! Now the dust has settled Lynn explained “I’m extremely proud of my achievement and especially because I didn’t stop once! Although in the days following the event I had said I would never run another marathon again, I think I’ve caught the marathon bug, as I’ve entered the ballot for London 2020!”
Teacher Ricky Jones also shared Lynn’s achievement of completing his first ever marathon this year too although he took to the streets of London where he enjoyed the crowds who had gathered from across the world. He stated, “I was aiming for under four hours which I achieved so I’m delighted with that. I also raised over £2,500 for Save the Children, which is a fantastic amount to help such a worthy charity for the work they do with children across the UK and throughout the world.”
Hot on Ricky’s heels was another teacher called Liz Brookes, who joined Ricky and the other 42,547 runners who crossed the finishing line in London this year. Liz has applied 10 times to get a ballot place for the London Marathon and this year was her lucky year! Liz has completed a few marathons previously but as she describes, “nothing compares to the size and noise of London, it was such a unique experience. I was also running to raise awareness and money for Young Minds. The charity supports young people with their mental health and lobbies the government for more funding. I’d love to do the London Marathon again if I’m lucky enough to be given a place.”
Finally but by no means least is teacher Ann Bradshaw, who decided to visit the sights of Paris on her marathon achievement. Ann will also admit she’s a marathon chaser with next year’s place in the Paris Marathon already booked and another marathon in October this year! Catching up with Ann she explained “it doesn’t matter how many times I run a marathon, on the morning of the event I always feel very nervous and my stomach turns, but once the race gets underway and I settle down into a routine I start to enjoy it again. This year I also managed to raise £250 for Alzheimer’s Society which I’m really happy about too.”
So there you have it, four staff members and four marathon achievements! Well done to each and everyone one of you, as a school we’re proud of you all on your marathon achievements.
Assessors from the Welsh Assembly Government Healthy Working Wales Team, recently visited Ysgol Aberconwy to carry out an inspection in the two key areas of the standard, organisational support and specific health issues. Following the inspection, the school have been awarded the Corporate Health Standard Silver Award.
The assessors recognised the changes that had taken place over the last five years, the role of the Headteacher in leading the change, and the determination to put people first by involving both students and staff not only in the scope of policies but also in an extensive range of activities and initiatives to support health and well-being.
The Corporate Health Standard is a continuous journey of good practice and improvement, and it can be used as a tool to support the development of policies that promote the health and well-being of employees. The standard is measured on two aspects, organisational support which considers the ethos and culture within an organisation and looks at areas such as senior level commitment, employee engagement and managing for health and safety. The second aspect, specific health issues, which looks at the management of key preventable ill-health issues in the workplace, focuses on areas such as mental health and well-being, diet and physical activity.
The report highlighted many benefits at Ysgol Aberconwy in terms of the Corporate Health Standard for example, the appointment of a Well-being Co-ordinator and the emphasis on safety, health and well-being evidenced throughout the school and our close working partnership with Sodexo.
Rhydian Jones, Ysgol Aberconwy’s Well-being Co-ordinator stated, “I’m delighted as a school that we have achieved the Silver award. I’m even more thrilled with the fact we’re actually the first secondary school in Wales to have achieved this status too. It demonstrates the clear and strong commitment we have within the school to both student and staff health and well-being.”
“As a school we take health and well-being seriously and I’m pleased to see the hard work from staff and students has been rewarded with the achievement of the Silver Corporate Health Standard Award. Moving forward are sights are set on the platinum award and we will as one team work towards this, whilst following our school well-being motto of, we work well when we are well for work.” Added Ian Gerrard, Headteacher.
Following a tough and rigorous application process, three Ysgol Aberconwy students were chosen to receive the prestigious Worshipful Livery Company of Wales Schools Award. On Friday 12th April, Jean Bryson presented students Nina Rowlands (Year 9), Edward Griffith (Year 10) and Geneva Henson (Year 10) with their awards, after they successfully passed a formal interview, which took place in February 2019.
The Worshipful Livery Company of Wales was set up to promote education, arts, science and technology and through their awards, they’re able to develop the talents of young people throughout Wales. Jean Bryson explained, “We would normally choose two students to win the award however, due to the extremely high standard of applications this year, we decided to award three students. It is my pleasure in presenting these students with their awards, not only will this help with their current education but it also sets them on the right path for the future that lies ahead of them too.”
All students were presented with framed certificates and they were awarded a financial prize to support their ongoing educational needs. We caught up with each student to find out what they plan to spend the money they’ve been awarded on.
“I’m delighted to have been awarded £250 which I will be using towards the purchase of an Electro-Acoustic guitar. This purchase along with my ongoing vocal tuition will boost my confidence further, enabling me to feel more comfortable when performing to different audiences.” Stated Edward.
Meanwhile Nina told us she plans to use the money towards buying a new laptop, “I’m over the moon to have been chosen to receive £125 which I will use to buy my very own laptop. By having my own laptop, it means I can cut down on the number of books I carry and it will also allow me to link to my school account, where I can finish school work at home, as I’ll have full access to Office 365.”
Geneva added, “I’m really grateful to have received £125 which I will be using on a private tutor for maths to help me improve my grades further and give me more confidence in the subject too!”
Following the presentation of the awards Mr Ian Gerrard, Headteacher stated, “I’m delighted we’ve been awarded not two but three prizes this year, to students who have demonstrated their hard working and conscientious approach to their studies. As always it’s an absolute pleasure working with Jean and the Guild and we’re extremely grateful for the opportunity they’ve given to our students.”
At Ysgol Aberconwy, we are pleased to see the facts are in the figures. Statistics recently released by ‘My Local School’ highlight that the plans we have introduced at the school, are already showing significant improvements to our performance overall.
The website for My Local School, provided by the Welsh Government, has been designed to give parents, guardians and others with an interest in their local school, the ability to access school data and share information about school performance. This provides a transparent and open source of information widely available to everyone, whilst allowing users to cross-reference performance of local schools in their area.
At Ysgol Aberconwy, we are delighted to be placed in the top two English medium secondary schools in Conwy, with the attendance of our students being the best in the county and the number of students achieving 5A*/A’s at GCSE level reaching a record high.
Not only that, we are also the only secondary school in Conwy to have 100% of students achieving at least five GCSE’s (A*-G). We also have three quarters of our students achieving the level 2 threshold (five GCSEs at A*-C) with over half of these including English/Welsh and Maths at GCSE too.
Our exam results along with the comments made by Estyn in their latest inspection of the school indicate the positive direction we are heading at Ysgol Aberconwy. The inspectors identified the “inclusive, supportive and nurturing ethos”, we provide here at the school, which “has a significant beneficial impact on students’ wellbeing and personal development.” Together with the unshakeable belief that students thrive in a supportive, well organised environment that combines traditional values with modern resources, all the evidence points towards our increasing success as a school.
Mr Gerrard, Headteacher, stated “We are extremely proud of our students and their achievements. They have been described as courteous and respectful and have a positive attitude to learning. We recognise the need to equip our students with the skills they need in the modern world and seek to guide them on the path to being happy and confident individuals through a balanced blend of experiences and qualifications.
Moving forward as a school, we will continue working on the school’s development plan, with the help of parents, carers, students and staff, as we strive to live our mission to inspire, support and succeed.”
To find out more about My Local School please visit http://mylocalschool.wales.gov.uk/?lang=en
Cerys Eless who is currently studying a BTEC in Popular Music at Ysgol Aberconwy, has been selected to perform live at Focus Wales, an international showcase festival focusing on emerging talent, in May this year. Not only that, she’s also recently recorded two of her new songs which have made it to radio and she’s secured herself a space at the prestigious BIMM Institute in Manchester!
Cerys has always had an interest in music from a young age, from writing songs at 11 years old to performing live at 15 and now she’s achieving national radio coverage, there really is no limit for Cerys and where this may take her next. In September 2019, she’ll start a song-writing diploma at BIMM and with her focus and dedication this will springboard her career within the music industry.
Cerys wants to make a career out of what she loves doing the most. Her music is described as a blend of indie pop and soul, with a dash of blues too and she draws upon her musical influences to inspire her to create new songs. Cerys said, “The best time to create a new song is when my emotions are going into overdrive. The feeling from a raw emotion is best directed towards song writing, you have to do it in the moment and not lose the chance, because sometimes this is when you create your best pieces.” When she’s not writing her own songs, she loves listening to Adele, Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran, Emeli Sande and Lewis Capaldi.
Cerys not only juggles life as a teenager and student, with school holidays spent in local recording studios, she’s also appeared as a guest on Calon FM (Wrexham) where she performed two of her new songs, one from her current EP and chatted to host Pete Rogers about her forthcoming appearance at Focus Wales. It’s not just Calon FM who have noticed her talent too as Adam Walton has played three of her original tracks, including one of her new songs ‘Emotionally Unattached’ to his listeners on his BBC Introducing show Saturday night.
We caught up with Cerys to find out what she’s most looking forward to in the future. Here’s what she had to say…
“As I’m preparing for Focus Wales I’m starting to feel a mixture of nerves and excitement but I guess that’s normal. I’m looking forward to taking to the stage and performing my songs, to what will be the largest audience in my music career so far.
The feeling I get when I perform on stage is incredible and I want to experience this feeling every day, performing to different audiences so they can hear what I’m all about and what I have to offer.
I’m lucky to have my family and friends around me who provide me with support and I can’t thank my dad enough, as he is the one who drives me around to all my lessons, gigs and auditions.
I’m so excited about starting at BIMM in September, as this is my opportunity to focus on doing what I love and taking my music career to the next level!”
Andrew Umpleby, Ysgol Aberconwy Sixth Form Popular Music teacher stated, “We’re all incredibly proud of Cerys’ achievements so far. She has a natural talent for writing and performing and with a little bit of nurturing she’ll go far. It’s an exciting time for Cerys and her family and we can’t wait to see what’s next for her.”
Written by James & Lewis, Y10 Media Students
Ysgol Aberconwy Year 10 media students are delighted to announce ‘Land of the Dragon’ will be performed by award winning puppeteers from PuppetSoup, in the main school hall on Wednesday 13th March at 7pm.
Tickets are on sale now and cost £5 per person. They are available in advance from the school reception, with a limited number of tickets available on the door too.
‘Land of the Dragon’ has been described as a visually and emotionally arresting piece of five star theatre suitable for all ages. During the show, you will experience an adventure through time, landscapes and legends into the world of the Welsh Dragon!
Award winning PuppetSoup explained, “We will take you to the edge of your seat and the brink of your imagination in this touching new tale inspired by the folklore and legends of Wales. Intertwining rarely told myths and spellbinding tales, journey to a magical world where wise men are grown from witch’s cauldrons and dragons really do exist!”
Year 10 media students have been working together with PuppetSoup to help promote this exciting production to the local community and by selling tickets to the evening’s performance. This is one show you don’t want to miss! Buy your tickets today before it sells out.