Talented musicians and current/former Y Pant students James Davies, Jack Langmead, Ashley Evans, Jack Isaac were always well known in school for entertaining us with their various bands and solo performances at events. Now they are set for even bigger success as they have signed a deal with London-based Right Recordings. They have recently recorded their debut album and will be embarking on a UK tour soon.
Former student and Oxford University First class graduate Alice Thompson is now writing a blog for her Post Graduate course in Journalism. The blog, entitled “From Bad to Verse” takes poems (some of which are from the WJEC English specification) and looks at different ways of analysing them.
One of our former French A Level students Charlotte Smith is currently out on her year out working in a french school as an assistant. We have made contact to organise a penpal exchange with our Year 8 pupils studying French. Year 8 understandably are very excited to receive news from a real Frenchie in the near future!!!
It will be great to talk to them about the region and it’s culture. Year 12 are also asking to be involved. When the letters arrive via snail mail I’ll be distributing them amongst the year group. There will be a club to help the weaker students with their letters.
Salam alaykum Y Pant. Greetings from sunny Afghanistan where I’ve been working for the last 9 weeks. I hope you had an enjoyable Easter break and that you are energised for an important Summer term of learning. The past 9 weeks have certainly been a steep learning curve for me and I imagine Adam Clayton, an ex- Y Pant pupil who left in 2007. We bumped into each other in the Camp Bastion cookhouse before we both flew out to our respective patrol bases. Adam was part of a team of eight from Y Pant who won the EBP Army Challenge Cup in 2006. This may or may not be due to the fact that they were the only team with a crusty old Army veteran as a teacher. Anyway I sincerely wish Adam a safe tour and hope he finds his time in Helmand as interesting and rewarding as I am so far.
I am in a patrol base in the Kopak district of Nad e Ali attached to an Infantry Company from the Royal Anglian Regiment who are recruited from the East of England. Our Company also has troops in 4 smaller checkpoints around the district and I spend my time visiting and patrolling from these different locations. Our main area of operations is in the ‘green zone’, a fertile agricultural region that is irrigated by the large Nahr-e-Bugra canal to the north. However our troops also patrol into the desert area called the ‘Dashte’ to the north of the ‘NEB’ canal.
Living conditions are comfortable but basic in the patrol base. The majority of us live in camp beds in large Army tents. We wash, shower and do our laundry by pumping water by hand from a well. This is a technique that would have been widely used in our communities at the beginning of the 20th Century and was used by Mr Sweet in Merthyr Tydfil until quite recently I believe. To do laundry, you fill bucket, put in washing powder and clothes, scrub and rinse out. To shower, you fill bucket, put in shower gel and yourself, scrub and then tip bucket over yourself. A little tip there for those of you off to university.
In the patrol base we have a chef with a field kitchen and a dining tent. There are fresh food rations and the food is of a very high standard especially considering the working conditions. We have access to 2 laptops between us with slow Internet access and a communal television that shows BFBS (British Forces Broadcasting Service) programmes. Out in the checkpoints the conditions are much more basic; no Internet or television and the food is all made from tinned or packet rations. Access to power sockets and night time lighting is also limited in the checkpoints which means plenty of reading by torchlight or Kindles for some.
I divide my time between my main patrol base, where I have computer access, can write up reports and phone my Headquarters, and the 4 checkpoints where I go out on patrols and meet the locals. We take an interpreter out on patrol with us and I speak to the farmers in the fields and groups of locals and elders in the villages. I ask them about a range of issues that affect them; agriculture, security, freedom of movement, access to water, irrigation, education and health. Unfortunately this is an area that has been especially hard hit by conflict in the past few years. Those of you who saw the Channel 5 series ‘Royal Marines in Afghanistan’ would be familiar with the area that I am working in. As a consequence of the conflict there has been a lack of development in the area; there are no schools or health facilities in the district. The area has become comparatively secure due to the hard work and commitment of the Royal Anglians (previously the Mercian Regiment and Royal Marines) and our partner forces; the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP). We are now in a position where we can mentor and guide the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) in implementing plans to improve public services in this district to improve the quality of life for its people. This is the job of the Military Stabilisation and Support Team (MSST) of which I am the representative in this area.
As the temperature rises here in Afghanistan the patrols get tougher and tougher. At the moment the thermometer is hitting about 38 degrees Celsius and will rise to a peak of 50 degrees in June and July. This is tough going if you’re reading a book next to a swimming pool in an all inclusive resort on your Summer holidays. Imagine being fully covered up, wearing 35 plus kilogrammes of body armour, weaponry and ammunition, water and rations, specialist communication equipment, helmet and eye protection and then trudging for hours through mud and deep irrigation ditches. Let me tell you it’s tougher than sitting through one of Mr Browne’s Physics lessons.
Now that exams time is upon us take inspiration from the troops who toil over here on a daily basis to make a more secure and sustainable future for others. Success is achieved through hard work and determination in whatever challenges you decide to tackle. There will be times when you will start to feel the pressure and feel that it would be easier to avoid the pain of failure by not trying or giving up. Like the soldier under the baking sun who is drenched in sweat, whose skin is burning and whose muscles are screaming for relief; grit your teeth, set your sights on your objectives and work hard to achieve them. There is no failure in trying your best and making the most of your opportunities. Like the soldier who finishes the patrol, removes his heavy burden and relaxes with a bottle of isotonic water and bowl of pasta whilst sharing a laugh with his friends, it is the knowledge that you have endured hardship and self sacrifice to achieve your goals that will allow you to sleep easy at night.
There is a phrase in the military; “Train hard; Fight easy.”
Revise well and discipline yourself. Put together a routine for study that will enable you to focus on your studies as efficiently as possible. Turn off Facebook! The world doesn’t stop turning because you haven’t updated your profile on a minute by minute basis. If you lack self discipline ask your parents to unplug and lock away your wireless router for specific hours in the day. You will open your results envelopes in August with the clear conscience that you could have not done any better. The soldier who returns from conflict or the athlete who competes in the Olympics will possess the quiet confidence that they pushed themselves to their limits and met the challenges that were set them. Y Pant School and your family equip you with the tools to succeed. You are the only one who can decide whether to use those tools or not.
Good luck with your exams and I hope to see all in the not too distant future. Onwards and upwards.
Congratulations to former Y Pant pupil Scott Andrews who wins his second international cap for Wales when he makes his first start for his country against Australia at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday 3rd December.
Scott joins fellow former Y Pant pupil Bradley Davies who is well established in the team.
Another former pupil Jevon Groves was in the World Cup winning Welsh 7s team.
Ex-pupil Sarah Ellis visits the Art Department to talk about her 2nd Year at Swansea Metropolitan University. (Thursday 9th of December 2010)
We were delighted to invite Sarah Ellis back to the Art Department to talk to our sixth form Students about what university life is really like. Sarah is now in her second year at Swansea Metropolitan University, studying the BA Hons Fine Art (Combined Media) Degree. After her Degree Sarah wants to stay at Swansea Met. as an Artist in Residence so that she can study a Masters Degree in Fine Art.
Sarah brought along some of her work and explained how her art has developed and matured in a very personal way. Her first main project focused on the industrial landscape of Swansea’s steel works. She had an opportunity to visit the site and was able to record many studies before producing the large mixed media painting.
Her second large project was based on the local area of Pontyclun. Sarah was inspired by walking through the local woods. She collected a large amount of leaves from her own path trail and with the help of the local Girls Club, was able to stich them together in strips, before attaching them back onto the trees. The site specific piece will remain until all the leaves have fallen to the ground.
A former pupil of the school is reaching dizzying heights in his sporting career and I put my questions to him at the start of the month.
Mark Wool left Y Pant in 2008 since then his rugby league career has chartered a course for the pinnacle of any young aspiring sportspeople. He has already racked up caps for Great Britain, Wales and Celtic Crusaders. Mark who resides in Headingly, Leeds is currently in his second year of studying Sports Development at Leeds Metropolitan University. Currently, he plays for Leeds Met. Rugby League – who have been the best university team in the country for the last five years, Mark also plays for the Great Britain Students team and was capped recently against Australia. Mark is in talks with a club in Championship One but he found time in his busy schedule to answer my questions.
MS: What is your fondest memory of mini rugby?
MW: I have two, one in mini rugby and one in junior. My mini rugby memory would have to be playing for Pontypridd Schools at Under 11′s. We got to the final of the D.C.Thomas Cup and played before the Principality Cup Final between Newport and Neath at the Millennium Stadium Vs. Cardiff Schools. My junior rugby memory would be at Under 16′s, when I was captained the side that went on tour to Italy. On both occasions we lost in the final very narrowly, but nevertheless they were both a fantastic experience.
MS: What would be your proudest moment in sporting terms?
MW: Winning my first full Welsh International Rugby League cap this August.
MS: When did you take up rugby league? Why? And did you find the transition difficult?
MW: I took up rugby league about 4 years ago, during the summer. I had wanted to play league through the summer for the two years previous to that but never got round to it due to injuries and not knowing the right people. It was something I had fancied attempting to see what difference there was, if any. The transition in actual rugby terms was pretty straight forward, the rules tend not to be as complicated as union, however, I found that I needed to be a lot fitter to play league than union.
MS: How were you informed that you were going to play for GB? And was it expected?
MW: When I was first selected for GB 18′s over 2 years ago, I received a phone call from one of Wales Rugby League members. It was totally unexpected as I was playing for Wales 18′s for the first time within a regional competition. I had absolutely no idea that it was being used as a trial for the GB side, so the phone call was a bit of a shock to begin with.
MS: Who do you thank the most for your success up to now?
MW: I often believe that I have been real lucky up to now with some achievements. But I have had some great coaches over the last couple of years that continue to make me a better player and improve my knowledge of the game. However, the support of my parents, especially my father, who have travelled all over the country to watch me has been a massive boost for me to keep wanting to achieve something more.
MS: What is it that inspires you?
MW: Pretty simple really. I hate to lose, I will do anything I can to win. I always want to be the best at anything, and I really get frustrated when I am not.
MS: You’ve had a few injuries, what do you think is key when recovering from an injury?
MW: Always think positive that you will come out of the injury stronger. But never rush out of the injury, make sure that you are 100% fit before you get back to playing. Continue to stay fit in other ways before you get to rugby based activities.
MS: What advice do you give to younger pupils in the school who are aspiring to be professional sportsmen and women?
MW: If you get knocked back in something, don’t settle for it. Keep going and work hard, eventually you will get your rewards.
MS: Were you nervous about leaving Pontyclun to go to University?
MW: Not at all. I couldn’t wait to get out of Pontyclun, I wanted to experience something different, and have my own independence. It was really exciting moving to a new city and country, meeting new people and getting used to new surroundings. However, it is nice to come back home every now and then.
MS: Do you miss Mammy and Daddy?
MW: Of course. It would be pretty harsh if I had said no. They are putting me through university aren’t they! But I speak to them, especially my dad quite often, at least once a week, and see them every month or so when I have games, so it’s not too bad.
MS: What do you find hardest about University?
MW: Getting my head around doing the work. It’s difficult when I’m so interested in the rugby and social side of it. I just need to organise my time to do work a bit better.
MS: Were you worried that your sporting career would be damaged when you went to University?
MW: Definitely not. The move to Leeds partly to improve my chances within rugby league as there are far more opportunities up north than there are in South Wales. So far the move has proved pretty successful, so it has not damaged my sporting career as yet.
MS: What are you aspirations for the future?
MW: Obviously, I would love to make a career out of rugby, which I my short term goal. But I am also aiming to achieve a good degree and go into a sports coaching role, with a possible move into primary teaching.
Congratulations to former 6th form student Thomas James who has won the title of Taf Ely Student of the Year! Tom was well known during his time at Y Pant for his excellent academic work (he gained one of the highest Design and Technology GCSE marks in Wales), working as a Buddy and also for taking an active role in many Drama productions over the years.
Outside of school Tom has worked as a youth leader, achieved his gliding licence with the ATC and excelled in many different sports.
Miss Charlotte Rees, a former pupil of the school, was made Professor of Educational Research at Dundee University earlier this year.
Charlotte left Y Pant School in 1991 and went to the University of Liverpool to study Psychology. Following this she spent 5 years at Universities in Plymouth and Exeter where she was a Senior Lecturer in Human Sciences, Communication Skills and Personal Professional Development. In 2007, she moved to Sydney, Australia and was Associate Professor in Medical Education and Director of Educational Research at the Office of Post Graduate Medical Education at the University of Sydney.
She is Deputy Editor for the journal of ‘Medical Education’ and has published widely in a broad range of journals.
We congratulate her on her very real achievements and wish her every success in her new position.