Dozens of youngsters have headed back to the classroom for summer to get a taste of life at high school.
Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan at Abergele opened its doors to the 11-year-olds to give them a sneak preview of what to expect when they enrol in September, learn their way round the campus and meet older learners.
Parents also had an exciting chance to see what their children have been learning during the ‘holidays’ when the young participants gave a presentation showcasing science, design and technology, maths, literature and arts work they created over the course of the nine day summer school.
The open day also included a vibrant street dance performance with all pupils staging an energetic routine choreographed by dance teacher Laura Jones.
Laura, who also teaches at Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan’s after school club, said: “This is a great way for the newcomers to meet up in an informal, relaxed environment before the term proper starts.
“Getting them involved in a dance project like this is a chance for them to have some creative fun together, gain inspiration from each other and work as a team.”
This year’s summer school attendance was up by 85 per cent, compared to previous years, said Laura, with enthusiasm at an all-time high.
Sarah Banim, leader of Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan’s transition team overseeing the transfer of pupils from primary level into secondary education, said: “The summer school plays an important part in making that transition as smooth as possible and this year we were overjoyed that so many learners attended.
The initiative has won praise from staff, parents and pupils for offering a positive introduction to the school in the approach to the 2016-17 educational year.
The daily timetable included literacy and numeracy lessons, design and technology, sciences, engineering, PE, dance and recreational activities, including archery and a trip to Piggery Pottery ceramics workshop in Caernarfon.
It was also an opportunity for new learners to integrate with some of their soon-to-be fellow learners for the first time.
Sarah, an art teacher, has 20 years of experience at Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan where there are more than 1,100 learners.
She said: “As a mum of two I know that the move to ‘big school’ is an anxious time for parents as well as learners. We do everything possible to make it as easy as we can, practically and emotionally.”
She added: “The September intake will include learners from primary schools all around the area, not just from Abergele itself. These include a few small primary schools where there might only be one or two learners coming up.
“They may feel daunted about making the big step from primary to secondary education. That’s where summer school helps. They can familiarise themselves with the school environment, meet teachers and mix with children from other schools who will be starting here in September.
“What’s been so nice is that pupils from last year’s summer school volunteered to come in to welcome the newcomers and show them around the building while it is not so full. I’ve spoken to several of 2015-16’s intake and they told me how they genuinely appreciated the summer school experience last year. It gives new starters more confidence, encourages them to feel less anxious and they also get the chance to improve on language, reading, writing and mathematical skills in readiness for the new term.”
Emily Hatton-Hunter and Ryan Hill, both aged 11, said they enjoyed all the summer school sessions.
“We have learned a lot in just a few days and we’ve got to know our way round the school. I think I’ve just about got the hang of it now, though there are a few corridors I haven’t got to grips with,” said Emily, who is moving up from Ysgol Maes Owen in Kinmel Bay.
Ryan, a leaver from Ysgol Y Faenol, Bodelwyddan, said he enjoyed the reading sessions and was especially impressed with the well-stocked library at Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan.
He said: “There are many of us coming here from Ysgol Faenol, so I won’t be on my own, but it has been good to make friends with pupils from the other schools who will be here with us in September.”
Also a big fan of the library was Yu Ting, of St George Church in Wales Primary School, Abergele, who couldn’t wait to make her choice from the array of books stocked on the library shelves.
Sarah added: “The time seems to have gone by very quickly yet we have packed a lot into it. Every day has been run like a normal school day, with pupils split into different groups and moving between classes as they would in term time. It gets them familiar with the school’s routine.”
Eleven-year-old twins Luke and Lucy Yorke are looking forward to the move from Ysgol Sant Elfod, Abergele, along with friend Tom Gizzi, also 11.
“The summer school’s been great fun, but we’ve also learned a lot too, and the teachers have been great,” said Tom.
Hollie Garrity, an 11-year-old leaver from Ysgol Maes Owen school added: “I really liked the dance sessions and especially learning how to street dance.”
Headteacher Lee Cummins said” The summer school is another part of the wide range of provision on offer at Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan. It is always a very positive experience for all those who take part.”
Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan, which dates back to 1899, has more than 1,400 learners with 140 teaching and support staff.