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Principal's Blog 15th November 2019

15 November 2019
Principal's Blog 15th November 2019

Remembrance Service

Head Boy Max Allen proudly represented 1244 Swindon Air Cadets Band. Max was not only representing the band but lead them in the Swindon Remembrance Day Parade. What an achievement. Well done Max, showing the true spirit of The Ridgeway School.

Anti-Bullying Week

This week staff and students have been promoting Anti–Bullying week through a range of mentoring resources and promotion of anti-bullying across the school with this year’s theme ‘Change Starts With Us.’ Activities have included understanding the difference between bullying and banter; how to report bullying and concerns in school and the community; Watching Jessy Nelson’s documentary – Odd One Out.

Our Year 11 Prefects have been promoting the #choosekindness hashtag around school and will be leading a ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ day this coming Monday.

Litfest 2019 – Ali Sparkes

LitFest 2019 kicked off in school with over 260 of our partner primary pupils joining us for a presentation by Ali Sparkes. Ali is a former Blue Peter Book Award winner and author of over 50 published titles all perfectly suitable for the 8-12 age group. We went back in time with the magical whirly thing and experienced a young Ali’s journey from unconfident reader and writer to the inspirational author that she is today; all punctuated with a plethora of audience participation.

Litfest 2019 – Jenny McLachlan

A visit from author Jenny McLachlan has been long overdue since her book Stargazing for Beginners won our inter-school Gr8 Book Debate in early 2018. Jenny ran creative writing workshops with Year 9 and 10 taxing both the students and Mr B’s brain as he experienced a lesson from the other side of the desk. Year 8 attended talks from Jenny which saw them acting out a scene from her new book The Land of Roar, hearing about the inspiration for her plots, and getting gripped by the story as Jenny read out a short passage. Visitors from all year groups swarmed to the LRC at break and lunch to quiz Jenny about everything from being an author to the publication process.

The commercial side of the publishing process had us all hooked and we learnt that unsurprisingly, the more successful the author, the bigger their name on the book cover. The author has very little say on cover design or title. The most successful words sale-wise in the title of a book currently in the UK are lost/gone/girl/murder/death, and the most frequently used words in the text of a similarly successful YA novel are girl/boy/moon/wolf/vampire/glass. Who knew?

Here is what some of our Year 8 students thought about Jenny and what she had to say -

Freddie – I loved how she described the plot.

George – The plots are realistic and appeal to me because they have elements of truth in them.

Esme – She connected with all of us.

Hope – The books are really relatable.

Year 9 Trip to Spain

We had a fantastic time in Spain with our students (40 year 9s). We went from 17th to 21st of October to different places in Cataluña such as Tarragona where we saw the Roman ruins, Montserrat, Barcelona where we saw Camp Nou Stadium, Poble Espanyol, Olympic Stadium and Colonia Guell. In addition, students had the experience of seeing one of the most famous wineries in Spain, “Freixenet” where they learnt the process of making and history of cava.

Motivational Speech

This week we have had our second session with Cameron Parker (external motivational speaker), he is working with Year 10 and 11 boys to help raise their aspirations and goals. This week he presented Cleve in Year 10 with a brand new basketball - as you can see from the pictures we could not remove the smile from Cleve's face he was so happy.

Cameron gave Cleve the ball as a present for achieving his commitments that he had set last session - his old ball was like a "pumpkin" where Cleve plays basketball so much. Hard work, effort and determination are starting to pay off.

ASC Social Training - Bus Trip

The first steps in what the ASC SRP calls “Bus Training” were taken on Wednesday, when a group of students took a bus to Old Town and were given the task of shopping for three grocery items. When it comes to autism, buses and shops are generally avoided from a very early age as parents seek to avoid the number of public ‘meltdowns’ (shops are getting better, with some introducing Autism Hour; but buses remain a challenge).

The students’ behaviour was generally good; the bus was full but not crowded which made the rest of the trip easier from a sensory aspect, ie the students were not too overwhelmed to enjoy the shopping, especially as we had chosen items that were not easy to find. One brave student volunteered to ask an assistant where the mincemeat was. Another displayed the seeds of leadership skills as he chose an item and then persuaded the group to replace it with another on the basis that was better value for money.

The students had the task of handing over payment and receiving change (more interaction with strangers!) which they handled very well. All our students rose to the challenge and enjoyed the trip; hardly realising that their resilience had been gently strengthened in preparation for individual bus training later on, in preparation for sixth form or college.

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