My visit to Pen y Dre High School

Veronica and pupils from Pen y Dre High School

Last week I had the privilege to visit Pen y Dre High School to hear about the brilliant community group activities that their pupils have been up to.

I arrived early so I could attend one of the weekly fundraising coffee mornings. It was clear from the very beginning that this is something that everybody looks forward to and it really was lovely to be welcomed to such a friendly atmosphere.

Each year group chooses a charity, then at the coffee mornings a year representative is invited to speak to raise awareness for their chosen charity. A grand total of £5000 has been raised throughout the year already!

Following the coffee morning, I visited a classroom to hear about the schools ‘Linking Hands Across the World’ project. Here I heard how this group grows from strength to strength raising awareness of their work with Eqinisweni School in South Africa. The pupils managed to raise enough money to fund a visit to S. Africa where they worked with their peers from Eqinisweni school making improvements like painting, gardening etc. I must say it really was inspiring to hear how passionate everyone was!

Talking of inspiring, it was absolutely brilliant to hear of some of the Peer schemes that the school has been running. Firstly, there is the Peer Mentoring Scheme. Here Year 12 students, trained by ‘Safer Merthyr Tydfil’ in mentoring skills, work with vulnerable Year 7 pupils who find the experiences of transition from junior to secondary school a traumatic experience. The Buddy Scheme is similar, where trained Year 8 students help out those in Year 7 that might be having a tough time in school. Finally, there is the Hype scheme where Year 12 pupils, who are trained to become drug awareness peer tutors, work with Year 8 pupils on drug related issues.

That is basically the schemes in a nut shell, but in truth I haven’t done them justice as they are a great deal more thorough and brilliantly organised. It was fantastic seeing how the pupils work together to help out those pupils that might be struggling with school life. Young people often don’t want to talk to their parents and their teachers, this scheme gives them someone else to turn to. A special mention must go to head pupil Rebekah or ‘Rea’ Hughes for all of her hard work in setting such a good example for the students at the school

What a pity that Sky News didn’t come to film here at Pen Y Dre in the Gurnos. This would have given a very different picture of the young people of Merthyr than was portrayed in the programme ‘A Town Called Merthyr’.

I look forward to visiting the school again – but it will have to be on a Friday – the cakes are so good!

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