More Able and Talented News

July 2017


Year 8 pupils attended a MFL course in Swansea University on Monday 10th July:

The pupils thoroughly enjoyed their time at the University.


"Our trip to Swansea University was a very educational experience, filled with tips on how to read, write and speak German. We translated a whole book and even found out that Haribo is a German company. It was amazing, I hope to go again". Manon Bradbeer


"It was very interesting and informal. It taught me things about Germany and the German language that I had never learnt before. I would highly recommend it if you have never been before. You also get to experience the university and what it is like to be in a university. You also get to learn new German words and phrases, which is good to know. I did enjoy it and would love to go again." Ellie Stephens.


June 2017

Dong Sha spent her time at the school educating the MAT pupils in Mandarin. A great challenge for the pupils.

June 2017

A trip was arranged for the MAT pupils alongside other groups of pupils to attend the Hay on Wye Book Festival.

The pupils thoroughly enjoyed.


Aspire/Inspire Key stage 3 MAT Project

19 pupils from years 7 and 8 identified on the MAT register were selected to participate in the Aspire/Inspire ‘Inspiring Purpose Global Citizens in the making’ programme.

 Inspiring purpose is a personal development teaching resource. It uses unique poster templates and young people are guided through a journey on self-reflection and inspiration where they reflect upon their own personal strengths, explore who and what inspires them and then use this insight to write about their future aspirations. 

10 pupils completed the project and worked proactively with Mrs Williams HLTA under the direction of Mrs K MacDonald, MAT co-ordinator and Head of ALN.

The majority of young people attended Homework Cub to complete the posters. This was run after school by Mrs Williams who provided support and  guidance. As a result, the pupils were able to set goals and identify their weaknesses  in moving forward with their educational goals.

Mrs MacDonald, Mr Toghill and Mrs Williams judged the young people’s projects and nominated the 5 most inspiring pieces. They have been entered into the national final judging process.

Well done to all that entered.

March 2017

MFL MAT news

Every Thursday lunchtime : A Languages club is run by Year 10 pupils as part of their Welsh Bacc project. Year 7 MAT pupils are given the opportunity to learn basic French, Spanish and Italian as well as further improve their German.

Year 10 pupils attended a Language Ambassador Training day at Cardiff Library in January. They took part in different workshops

Year 8 pupils took part in a Languages workshop here at school with some students from Cardiff University.

MAT year 10 Oxford University Visit

 On the 28th February, a group of 10 pupils embarked on a trip to  Oxford University. We were told that we were beginning our visit  at Somerville College. We arrived in Oxford and the first thing that  we all thought was how beautiful the architecture was! We were  welcomed into Somerville College and were given a brief  introduction about university life and how the day was going to be  structured.

Following the introduction at Somerville College, we were taken, by a guide, to Worcester College. This involved a brisk walk through Oxford town, giving us an opportunity to embrace the ‘hustle-and-bustle’ of life in Oxford. It gave us an insight into a town that is student orientated.

We arrived at Worcester College and were lead on to the courtyard, which was home to an award-winning lawn. The next stop was the chapel which has a beautiful, original mosaic floor and a mesmerising ceiling design. We then moved on to the dining hall, which looked like something out of Hogwarts! The high ceilings and long dining tables really contributed to that, along with the large portraits hung up on the walls. We were then guided up a beautiful spiral staircase to the libraries. The first library was amazing! Floor to ceiling covered in bookshelves, full of ancient books that were too delicate for people to touch. It was beautiful, like nothing I had ever imagined. The next library was slightly underwhelming compared to the first one, but impressive nonetheless. It had so many books, so perfectly organised by subject for anyone to take out and use - I know we were all wishing we could have something like that in our school! Our guide then took us onto the gardens where we were greeted by a gigantic lake. It was so peaceful.

Whilst still in Worcester College, we participated in three small activities led by current Oxford students on the social setting in Oxford, how to cope with academic life at Oxford University and how to deal with the transition to university. This gave us the opportunity to ask any questions we wanted to the Oxford students and it was an opportunity for them to give us any advice they had from their personal experiences to us, pupils who are aspiring to go to University in the future.

After the interesting activities, we stayed in Worcester College to eat our lunch before heading back through Oxford to Somerville College, sadly getting caught in the rain in the process!

At two o’clock, all the schools met together again at Somerville College. We were welcomed back and introduced to three more current students, who were going to give us a taste of what lectures were like by delivering three mini sessions to us. First, we listened to Elena, a scientist who talked about HIV, T-Cell clones, the immune system and how they all linked together. She told us about her PHD and how she was trying to find a vaccine for HIV. Next up was James, a philosopher from Wales. He gave us a very interesting and incredibly intense talk on how we can think of things but we cannot perceive them. He showed us a picture of a duck/rabbit according to how each person perceives it. Then he told us it was neither a rabbit or a duck, just a picture of them, but it could also just be a black line. We were all extremely confused! The last one was geography. Our lecturer, Thomas, taught us about how physical and human geography can be linked to every subject, including politics. He also gave us an insight into how subjects change between school and university.

Throughout all the lectures, we had to write down one point and a question for each and we all got an opportunity to ask questions at the end; the lecturers were impressed and praised us for our questioning skills!

Overall, we all found the experience to be extremely beneficial. It gave us a real insight into life at a prestigious university. It also cleared up some of the misconceptions we had about university life and we know a lot more than we did previously. The day has definitely made us more excited about going to university!

-          David Wheeler, Alice Sparkes, Angharad Davies and Gemma Tazzini-Lloyd: Year 10.

January 2017

Literacy MAT Day

On Friday 27th January, 30 Year 6 primary school students visited us at St John’s for a Literacy MAT day. Students arrived with bundles of enthusiasm, which continued throughout the day.


Upon arrival, pupils were greeted by 6th Form Buddies and Mr Toghill, Assistant Head. 6th Form Buddies continued to work with students during literacy sessions and guided them around the school, providing year 6 pupils with a great opportunity to share their concerns and ask any questions about life in secondary school.


Throughout the day, students attended literacy workshops in English, History and Art based on the theme of ‘War and Peace’, designed to provoke thought around the topic. To continue this theme, students completed their ‘Literacy Ration Book’ as they progressed through the day.


From Wilfred Owen, to Banksy, to survivor accounts of war, students enthusiastically engaged with literacy tasks which culminated in a snowball debate about war and peace at the end of the day. Students were challenged throughout each session, developing all three of their literacy skills: oracy, reading and writing. Particularly pleasing was the students’ readiness to participate in workshops and share ideas with their new friends from different primary schools.


After receiving their well-earned certificates and being congratulated by the Head Teacher, Dr Mitchell, students left St John’s after a thoroughly enjoyable day. We look forward to welcoming back many of these conscientious pupils in September!




On January 31st the ICT Department at St John’s welcomed 28 Year 6 MAT students from our local feeder schools. The aim of the day was to give the students experience of using a range of programming languages to begin to explore the exiting world of computer coding! Using the ‘Hour of Code’ website, student used a mathematical LOGO style language to teach the computer to draw shapes of increasing complexity on screen.


Next came SCRATCH programming and developing a cool interactive Shark Attack game. Finally, students used the BBC MICROBIT, a piece of computer hardware that fits into the palm of your hand but is nevertheless a fully functional computer in its own right; complete with buttons, sensors, microprocessor and an LED screen! After writing their programmes on the main computer, students uploaded their programmes to the MICROBIT, with the fruits of their labour appearing on the MICROBIT LED screen.


Everyone threw themselves into the task at hand and it was pleasing to see students from different schools making new friends and sharing ideas. We were amazed at how quickly the students picked up new concepts and coding skills. Everyone had a great time and there were lots of smiles, intermingled with the serious faces of focused students deep in thought. They even had enough time to play a little volleyball with Year 11 students in the hall during their morning break! They all behaved impeccably and were a credit to their families and their school.We thoroughly enjoyed working with such a bright and motivated group of students and we wish them well with their future endeavours in the ever changing world of computer programming. Who knows, there may be a new Bill Gates or Steve jobs amongst them!



MAT Nominations 2017


We are in the process of compiling a register of pupils who are considered more able and talented at St John’s.  Besides academic excellence, we also wish to include those children who excel in areas such as dance, singing, sport, etc.

There are a number of children we are unaware of who do activities out of school. With this in mind, I should be grateful if you would notify the school if your child excels in a particular activity. Once notified, we will make every effort to accommodate and develop this 'talent' in whichever way we can. 

Please note, I will need written notification from the relevant club/organisation which your child attends.

Inclusion on the More Able and Talented register will be in accordance with set criteria drawn up by the school.

Many thanks for your co-operation.  If you have any questions regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to contact me. 

Thank you. Mrs Karen MacDonald

October 2016


Mrs Karen MacDonald ALNCo was invited to attend and present at the National ALN Capita Conference in the Hilton Hotel on October 18th. The conference was addressing SEN and MAT provision.


A big well done to the following pupils who presented confidently at the conference:


Matthew Birch year 12

Owen Instrell year 11

Emily Lewis year 10



MAT extra curricular activity GCSE Law - April 2016

I am a year 10 pupil at St. John’s and along with other students in years 9, 10 and 11 have been given the opportunity to study law as an additional GCSE. This extra curricular lesson is held weekly and led by Mrs Price. I have found the lessons very interesting as they have enabled me to learn more about the courts and the legal profession in general. Studying law has also helped me to develop important life skills such as decision making, as well as making me more aware of the rights and responsibilities of us, as human beings.

Last month as part of our studies, Mrs Price organised for pupils to visit Cardiff Crown Court. I found the visit extremely enjoyable. Firstly, we were given a tour of the building and were shown into one court room and also the library, where barristers have the opportunity to study and prepare for their cases. We were lucky enough to meet a barrister there and he chatted to us about his job and even let us try on his wig! Then we were very fortunate to be able to view some real life cases in court which enabled us to experience first hand the roles of the judge, barristers and jury. As well as finding out more about the daily running of the courts, the visit also developed our understanding of the British Legal System.


By Amelia Warren

Year 10


Dec 2015

November 2015

Congratulations to Emily Lewis year 9 who has been highly commended out of hundreds of entries for her entry in the NACE National Poetry competition for More Able and Talented pupils.


September 2015



June 2015

June 2015

On Tuesday 9th June, Emily Lewis, a pupil in Year 8 at St John Baptist High School sat the UKMT Junior Kangaroo Mathematical Challenge.

The UKMT is an organisation set up to challenge more able pupils in Mathematics and tests are sat by pupils across the whole of the UK and beyond. Having done exceptionally well in the UKMT Mathematical Challenge in April, Emily proceeded to the next round in which only a select group of pupils across the whole of the UK are able to sit. The Mathematics department at St John’s are very proud of Emily’s achievements. 


April 2015


St John Baptist Church in Wales High School is the 32nd school in Wales, and the 337th school overall, to achieve the prestigious NACE Cymru Challenge Award for More Able and Talented Pupils. This Award is given for high quality work by the whole school, teachers and governors, in challenging all pupils, including those with high abilities, to achieve their best.

NACE Chief Executive Rowena Gaston said: “St John Baptist Church in Wales High School has worked hard to win the NACE Cymru Challenge Award status. It has shown itself to be committed to developing a school where all pupils are challenged to be the best they can be. The more able and talented children are challenged and this helps the other learners to see what can be achieved.”

The Award is given by NACE: the National Association for Able Children in Education, a leading national education organisation and registered charity established for over 30 years. The association exists to help the daily work of teachers providing for pupils with high abilities whilst enabling all pupils to flourish. It provides advice, training and resources for teachers, including The NACE Cymru Challenge Award Self-Evaluation Framework which St John Baptist Church in Wales High School has used to audit and plan what it provides for more able and talented pupils. Many thousands of primary and secondary schools are using The NACE Cymru Challenge Award Framework to develop their work.

The Assessor Julie Elliott, who spent a day in our school, was impressed by strong leadership and management of provision which keeps the needs of more able learners at the forefront of the school’s work and the good support and challenge provided by the Governors. Assessors judged the quality of the school’s work by observing lessons, interviewing the pupils, teachers, parents and governors and by looking at the pupils’ work.

The Award is given when schools demonstrate that they meet the criteria of the Award and will remain committed to continuing to ensure high-quality provision for more able and talented pupils.

March 15

Rowena Gaston, Chief Executive


March 2015

We are delighted that we have been awarded the NACE Cymru Challenge award which looks at the provision for our More Able pupils.  During the assessment, lessons were observed, pupils, staff and governors were interviewed, pupil work was scrutinised and documentation reviewed.  The assessor highlighted our strengths, including our ethos of celebrating achievement, the way we identify pupils, how pupil progress is tracked, the range of teaching styles used, training for staff and listening to learners.  Thanks and praise go to pupils, staff, and in particular Mrs Karen MacDonald



February 2015

Aberdare Cluster Transition MAT Languages Day

St. John Baptist MAT students thoroughly enjoyed participating in this event which was held on 9th February 2015. The pupils worked well with primary school pupils and pupils from Aberdare Community School.

Here they are pictured with Miss Chao (Mandarin Teacher at St John’s) & Mr Parry-Jones (Deputy Head-Teacher & teacher of Latin.)


MI5.5 Code breaking

A code breaking activity called M!5.5 was held recently for Year 9 MAT pupils. A spy master came to school to deliver an introductory session on code breaking. The pupils are extremely excited about moving on to the next level of this unique acitivity.

Following on from this the spy master stated:

"I had the pleasure of working a number of your young people this morning on a MAT activity involving codebreaking.  All your young people were extremely courteous and enthusiastic and achieved much in the session.”

January 2015

Congratulations to Emily Lewis Year 8 who came third in the NACE National Poetry competition. There were over 1,000 entrants for pupils of secondary age up to 18 years old. A fantastic achievement!

Please click on the link at the bottom of the page to view the NACE 2014 poetry competition Ebook. 

December 2014

MAT provision at St John’s

The provision for more able and talented pupils both within and beyond the curriculum is extensive and well co-ordinated.

There is an extensive range of well-attended sporting, cultural and additional study activities, such as astronomy and psychology GCSEs for more able pupils.


November 2014

Year 9 MAT pupils have the opportunity to study Mandarin. We welcome Miss Chow to St John’s.

September 2014


September 2014

Welcome back! Congratulations  to the pupils who sat their extra GCSE in Psychology or Astronomy as part of the MAT programme. Some excellent results!


June 2014

Literacy and Numeracy (LAN) Marathon launch

Year 7 MAT pupils enthusiastically embraced the LAN Marathon Challenge.  In order to become a Marathon Champion they must tackle 13 cross curricular literacy tasks and 13 cross curricular numeracy tasks. Good luck to them all!


May 2014

Congratulations to the following pupils on achieving the Key Skill of Working with Others at Level 2.

Year 8: Rebecca Horton, Payton England, Bethan Jones, Amelia Warren and Alora Walters

Year 9: Matthew Birch, Hannah Rees


April 2014 - MAT Astronomy GCSE

At the start of the academic year I had the honour of attending an Astronomy GCSE class after school. Every Monday we would go to room twenty two for two hours as Allan from Dark Sky Wales taught us the wonders of the universe.

Our first and biggest topic was Constellations. Here we were taught about the near infinite amount of stars and galaxies, and how our ancestors had joined imaginary dots together to create magnificent images and patterns. We also learnt how to identify where Polaris is in the sky by following the three pointer stars in Orion’s belt. We had to go out and do observations by sketching three constellations and describing what we saw. This would lead onto our first piece of coursework that would take many weeks. We had to create a plan of how we would observe three famous constellations, and then write an analysis and an evaluation on how it went.  This was extremely interesting and required a lot of time and effort.

Once we had finished that and handed it in we were all solely focused on the exam in June. At the moment we are speeding through fascinating topics such as the moon and the solar system. We are also working towards our second piece of course work, which will be done on the sun and sun spots.

Overall, it is very enjoyable and definitely worth the time and effort being put in by all of us.

By Matthew Birch Year 9


January 2014

Dear Parent/Guardian of Year 7 pupils,

We are in the process of compiling a register of pupils who are considered more able and talented at St John’s.  Besides academic excellence, we also wish to include those children who excel in areas such as dance, singing, sport, etc.

There are a number of children we are unaware of who do activities out of school. With this in mind, I should be grateful if you would notify the school if your child excels in a particular activity. Once notified, we will make every effort to accommodate and develop this 'talent' in whichever way we can. 

Please note, I will need written notification from the relevant club/organisation which your child attends.

Inclusion on the More Able and Talented register will be in accordance with set criteria drawn up by the school.

Many thanks for your co-operation.  If you have any questions regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours faithfully,

Karen MacDonald


November 2013

Year 8 have been busy working on a Level 2 Essential Skills Wales project of Working with Others. They are approaching the end of this project and their work will be sent to the WJEC for accreditation in February. Year pupils’ project have already been accredited.

One of the projects involves collecting used stamps. We would be very grateful if you could keep any used stamps and donate them to the school. The stamps will go towards the Great Ormond Street Hospital appeal, so get collecting the stamps from your Christmas cards! Many thanks!