EDUCATION SECRETARY Kirsty Williams was presented with a radical new approach to teacher education during a recent visit to the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Medwin Hughes and Professor Dylan Jones, Director of Yr Athrofa (Institute of Education), put forward their ambitious vision to empower teachers and support schools to develop the education workforce.
Professor Jones introduced the three core strands of Yr Athrofa – the Professional Learning Partnership; Centres of Research and Innovation; and the Wales Education Commission – that build on the proud history of teacher education in South-West Wales.
The Professional Learning Partnership, built upon a genuine parity of esteem and shared accountability, was founded with a group of 120 schools across Wales and has re-defined how initial teacher education (ITE) and professional learning can be delivered.
The net result will be the development of a new ITE curriculum, with the university and partner schools jointly responsible for the construction and delivery of all training programmes.
It marks a radical departure from more traditional modes of teacher education and follows a clear directive from Ms Williams that Wales’ ITE system needs to change.
Professor Jones said: “The Cabinet Secretary has called for an overhaul of ITE in Wales and we recognise the important role universities, in partnership with schools, have to play in raising standards.
“It is imperative future and existing teachers have the requisite skills and knowledge to deliver Wales’ new national curriculum – and improving the quality of education and training available will be crucial.
“Huge potential exists within Wales’ education system and we are committed to playing our part in driving positive change and empowering schools for the benefit of all learners.
“The Professional Learning Partnership has responded positively to the Welsh Government’s blueprint for curriculum reform and ITE, with schools actively engaged in plotting a new and exciting course for both existing and future teachers.”
Headteacher Chris Parry was invited to share with the Cabinet Secretary his involvement in Yr Athrofa’s work.
Mr Parry is one of the founding members of the Professional Learning Partnership, which involves primary, secondary and special schools in both English and Welsh-medium settings.
Professor Hughes said: “It was a pleasure to welcome the Cabinet Secretary to the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and to provide her with an overview of our exciting plans for the future.
“The university is proud of its rich history in teacher education and, through our newly-established Yr Athrofa, looks forward to building a new and exciting legacy.
“We are wholly committed to transforming education and transforming lives – and consider it our national mission to harness the strength that exists within Wales’ education system and beyond for the benefit of all learners.
“The young people of Wales deserve the best education and the teachers of Wales deserve the best support possible. They will be at the forefront of our minds as we move forward onto our next chapter.”
WRU and unis combine on degree
THE WELSH RUGBY UNION (WRU), University of South Wales (USW), Cardiff Blues, and the Dragons have launched a new Foundation Degree in Rugby Coaching and Development which will combine study with practical experience to enhance students’ employability.
The two-year blended learning course will ensure the students gain hands-on coaching skills as part of the Dragons or Cardiff Blues community rugby teams while working towards a valuable qualification at USW.
The course is ideal for individuals who wish to work in the ever-expanding rugby industry, either as a coach, or as a member of staff working within communities developing and delivering sports initiatives.
On completion of the Foundation Degree course, students can progress on to a third year of studies to achieve a BSc (Hons) degree in Rugby Coaching and Performance.
The course allows students to study all sub-disciplines of coaching and gain valuable industry-recognised qualifications and will teach students aspects of children and youth coaching, rugby coaching, rugby development, social inclusion and sports management skills.
Paul Rainer, Head of Sports Science and Sports Coaching at the University of South Wales said “This is an excellent initiative and the collaboration between the University, WRU and the regions will provide the next generation of community coaches in Wales to support the development of the game at grass-roots level.”
“The course provides flexibility in how the student will study and provides an opportunity for the student to develop their vocational skills within the Dragons or Blues community programmes whilst working towards their Welsh Rugby Union Level 1 and 2 coaching certificates and working towards a degree qualification.”
WRU Head of Rugby Participation Ryan Jones said, “We are determined to continue to invest in coaches to safeguard the future of our game. This partnership is a great example of that, with key partners working together for the good of the students and the game.”
WRU Community Coach Development Manager Gerry Roberts added: “The rugby industry is a growing one and it is important that this course aligns the academic study of coaching with vital skills that can only be gained on the ground, working within the regional community teams on all aspects of community rugby.”
University nominated for LGBT+ Award
ABERYSTWYTH UNIVERSITY has been nominated for a public sector equality award at the 2018 PinkNews Awards.
The nominations were announced at a special PinkNews event held in the Senedd in Cardiff Bay on June 7.
Aberystwyth is the only Welsh university and one of three institutions from Wales on the longlist of 21 public sector organisations throughout the UK.
The award aims to recognise the contributions of public sector organisations in championing the inclusion and rights of LGBT+ employees and those in the wider community.
A panel of judges will decide the winner, which will be announced at the PinkNews Awards in London on October 17, 2018.
Ruth Fowler, Equality Officer in the Department of Human Resources at Aberystwyth University, said: “We are delighted that Aberystwyth University is flying the flag for the Welsh higher education sector in these important awards. Equality and diversity are embedded across the University. We have a range of policies and positive action plans in place to ensure Aberystwyth is an inclusive and forward-thinking place to work and to study for all, including an LGBT network for staff as well as a series of high-profile LGBT events.”
The annual PinkNews Awards has become one of the UK’s most significant LGBT+ events, championing the efforts of politicians, campaigners, charities, businesses, public sector organisations, broadcasters and journalists in the fight for equality for all.
WG backtracks on uniform grant
PARENTS in Wales will soon be able to access a new £1.7m fund to help cover the cost of school uniforms, school sports kit and for wider activities such as scouts and guides and sports outside of school.
The new fund, announced by Education Secretary Kirsty Williams, will also cover equipment for activities within the curriculum, such as design and technology.
In addition, parents will also be able to access funding for equipment for out of school hours trips, including outdoor learning.
The new fund, which will be in place ahead of the new academic year in September, will become another element of the Pupil Development Grant (PDG) and will be known as PDG – Access.
As well as making funding available for new uniforms and activities both in and outside the classroom, PDG – Access will be available to a wider range of pupils than the previous School Uniform Grant and attract a higher per pupil funding level of £125.
For the first time, learners in both Reception and Year 7, who are eligible for free school meals will fall within scope of the funding. Unlike the previous school uniform grant, all looked after children in these year groups will also be covered.
As with the previous scheme, the funding will be distributed via local authorities. The Welsh Government has worked with local authorities to develop the grant and will continue to do so to make sure that the funding is being used effectively and that good practice is being shared amongst schools.
Announcing PDG-Access today, Kirsty Williams said: “Reducing the attainment gap between pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds and their peers is at the heart of our national mission to raise standards.
“The Pupil Development Grant has already been described as “invaluable” by schools. PDG – Access will allow us to go that step further in supporting our disadvantaged learners to reach their full potential and narrowing the attainment gap between those learners and their peers.”
In addition to the grant, further consideration is also being given to current non-statutory school uniforms guidance and how it can be strengthened.
Commenting, Shadow Education Secretary, Darren Millar, said: “This announcement amounts to an embarrassing climb-down from the Minister, and comes after a huge backlash from all corners.
“Make no mistake, the Education Secretary has been forced into doing the right thing.
“We warned that scrapping the grant would hit the poorest pupils the hardest and thankfully the Welsh Government has seen sense.
“Labour’s bonfire of education grants is causing huge concern amongst parents and teachers alike, and this u-turn is a sad indictment of the Welsh Government’s mismanagement of its resources.”
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