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Pencoedtre High School hub in lockdown praised by pupils

A HUB for pupils struggling in the coronavirus pandemic has been praised by users.

Pencoedtre High School, on Merthyr Dyfan Road, opened a hub for vulnerable students and children of key workers on January 6, with just three pupils attending. Demand has risen and 51 students regularly attend the hub, which has a focus on pupil wellbeing along with aiding their learning.

Year Seven pupil, Lucas Hollinshead, said: “The hub was the best experience of my life, because I was in school and not home. I liked the online work and made new friends.”

Group of Year 7 students completing a blended learning session

Group of Year 7 students completing a blended learning session

The hub has included an array of activities, such as Cardiff Blues coach, Gavin Clement, coming in twice a week for training sessions with pupils.

Year 10 pupil, Ellie Osborne, said: “I enjoyed when we all did our lessons and then we would have free lessons to cook and workout with Cardiff Blues. They even treated us to a movie and games day, and then had chips for lunch.”

Joshua Macauley, also in Year 10, added: My time in the hub was great because I made new friends and the teacher of our group, Miss Taylor, was amazing!”

Wellbeing LSA Vickie Leckie presenting Year 10 student with National Pizza Day award in recognition for their hard work

Wellbeing LSA Vickie Leckie presenting Year 10 student with National Pizza Day award in recognition for their hard work

The hub has been supported by numerous businesses – including Boygues UK, ConnectED Cymru and the Principality – with 110 Chromebooks given out to pupils.

Learning and Wellbeing Lead at Pencoedtre High School, Angela Homer, said: “There was a real buzz around the school with various activities – such as quizzes, cooking sessions, and arts & crafts – to keep everyone busy and engaged.

Mrs Homer, Vicki Leckie (wellbeing staff), and Louis Johnson (successful futures manager) also organised a trip towards the end of lockdown in which pupils walked from Jackson’s Bay to Barry Island, attempted a climbing wall, enjoyed beach activities, and finished with a sandwich from Gregg’s.

Wellbeing LSAs Will Grenter and Vickie Leckie with Teacher Shona McLoone

Wellbeing LSAs Will Grenter and Vickie Leckie with Teacher Shona McLoone

Headteacher, Lee Humphreys, said: “Pencoedtre High School prides itself in being a fully inclusive community that supports all.

“For the entire period from January to April, up to 85 pupils attended the ‘PHS Hub’ daily, to ensure those pupils who were most vulnerable, and children of keyworkers had a safe place to go; where their academic progress and wellbeing could be cared for, during the most challenging of times.

“I cannot thank enough my staff for how they supported our children during this period. It was inspiring.

“Pupils who attended were able to fully engage in their ‘Blended Learning’ experiences, socialise with friends, albeit only those that were in their bubble and be supported in their wellbeing.

“I think it is safe to say that all pupils really enjoyed and appreciated ‘HubLife’. We at Pencoedtre are not just a school, we are a family.

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