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Tonypandy Community College Head Teacher Personal Statement

Tonypandy Community College has been taken out of special measures following a glowing report by education inspectorate Estyn.

The move to put the college in special measures came after concerns were raised about its standards. However, inspectors stated that all six key recommended areas of development had witnessed “strong progress”.

Praising the decision, Headteacher Kirsty Retallick said: “We are absolutely delighted with the news that Tonypandy Community College is no longer in special measures and look forward to a bright future as a successful and thriving school.

“This has been a long and challenging period but due to the total dedication and determination and hard work of staff, governors and students we have been recognised for the major progress which has taken place here and the significant impact this had on student achievement.

“The report identified those key areas that required development and we implemented many positive changes which have greatly increased standards across all area of the school.

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“Our expectations are high and we are committed to ensuring every student expects more of themselves and as a staff we deliver a provision of the highest standard.

“We pride ourselves in providing the very best education and learning environment for our students and can now move forward with renewed confidence and determination to succeed.”

Tonypandy Community College went into special measures in March 2015 following an inspection during the previous November when Estyn saw the need for development in six key areas

Strong progress has since been recognised in all six areas of Raising Standards Key Stage 3 and 4 Teaching and Learning, Improving Behaviour, Improving Quality of Teaching and Assessment, Improved Development of Literacy and Numeracy, Quality of Leadership and Accountability and Improved Focus of Self Evaluation and Planning.

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Chair of Governors Eddie Griffiths said: “The college has seen a total transformation since the initial Estyn report was published and I have nothing but praise and admiration for the sheer determination of all involved.

“The college is currently going through a huge period of change and this news has helped place it on strong foundations for the future.”

Mrs Retallick, who was appointed as headteacher earlier this summer, will oversee the creation of a new 3-16 school which will open on the Tonypandy site in 2018.

To ensure a smooth transition period, her colleague, Nathan Prygodzicz, will become acting headteacher of the college in January 2017 until the new site is completed and will ensure the college continues to thrive.

Plans to build the new facility on the college campus are being delivered by Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council as part of their improved performance in education provision and the requirements of the Welsh Assembly Government’s latest National Policy Qualified for Life.

The project is financed by the 21st Century Schools Programme, a collaboration of Welsh Assembly and local authorities in Wales to create the right schools in the right places.

Here's how the development at the school is coming along:

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The Mighty Marvels Programme helps us win the kids, and our wide-ranging events programme serves to quicken the relationship building process. But as the kids grow and they graduate to the Comps, it would be remiss of us to not have an avenue to build upon the work done with the children in the Mighty Marvels Programme. Thankfully, with a full-time presence in Tonypandy Community College, Ferndale Community School and for the first time, Ysgol Gyfun Cymer, we have the opportunity to do just this. How do we it?! The All-Star Programme!

Without doubt, the All-Star Programme has become the ‘Jewel in the Sporting Marvels Crown’ over the years as it has produced some remarkable young leaders. The primary goal is to “influence the influencers”. In other words: our goal is to win the kids to Sporting Marvels, help them grow into quality young leaders and to fulfil their potential!

And if you’re wondering if it works, yes it does: Smithy, Chelsea, Jody, Lauren, Hiedi, Connah, Naomi, Taylar, Lucy and Deanna were once All-Stars who now, as outstanding Marvels, directly influence hundreds of kids every week!

Usually 10 boys and 10 girls are selected at the beginning of Year 7, the first year in the Comp. However, this group usually whittles down each year, with pupils perhaps not reaching the standard in terms of commitment levels, attitude or behaviour. What we are left with becomes the core!

When they reach Year 10, they graduate to the All-Star Leadership Academy which lasts until Year 13 when they leave school. The Academy focuses more on helping the All-Stars become confident and competent young leaders, it provides them with lots of opportunities to gain leadership experience, and role-modelling for the younger All-Stars. This greatly enriches their files and personal statements when applying for university, and helps them stand out from the crowd.

The All-Star Programme though, is no easy ride! The All-Stars are expected to comply to a schedule that includes character coaching, sports and leadership sessions, as well as attendance at a weekly registration slot where the Marvels develop a ‘core value’ or ‘leadership principle’ for the week.  On top of all that there’s the awesome after-school clubs and special events itinerary!

The All-Stars are involved in all the out-of-school events like Adventure Days, Summer Camps, Sports Days and Water Days. In fact many of these events couldn’t take place without the All-Star Leadership Academy who help our numerically limited team of Marvels cope with the 150+ youngsters that attend the events. Some instruct, many lead and all support the cause by manning stations and generally helping steward the various days. (which the Marvels are very grateful for!!)

The All-Stars are so important, we’ve even given them their very own All-Star Presentation Evening which, this year brought the All-Stars from Tonypandy Community College, Ferndale Community School & Ysgol Gyfun Cymer together, and the All-Star Fancy Dress Christmas Party or Boot Camp and the biggest one of all: the All-Star trip to East Africa which takes place every two years for Leaders in the sixth form.

Six All-Stars made the inaugural trip to Tanzania in October 2009 and two now wear the Marvels uniform – Chelsea, and Smithy. In October 2012 of this year another, an even bigger trip departed, taking 10 All-Stars to East Africa! On that trip was now full time Marvel workers, Sam, Lauren and Naomi.

The regular All-Star diet is energised by the weekly after-school clubs which see the biggest gathering of kids by far for any regular out-of-school activity anywhere in Rhondda.

The aim of the after-school clubs is to bring the All-Stars together from right across the age range, in a kind of All-Star ‘family‘. It promotes team, and it helps with identity, builds confidence and encourages right development. The Leadership Academy pupils then become role models for the younger All-Stars and help them develop through the Programme.

The All-Star Programme presents us with the opportunity to mould individuals, and to build their character on a foundation of good values. While the Programme focuses on smaller numbers than say the Mighty Marvels Programme, the intensity is much greater and the depth of relationship all the more, building a strong platform to influence young lives for the better.

You can read more regarding our All-Star Programme in our In Focus Magazines, but if you’d like to know more a bit more detail about the Programme then please click the link below…

To view an informative video on the All Star Programme CLICK HERE

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