AT THE end of school year, Education Secretary Kirsty Williams has set out what has been achieved through Wales’ national mission for education and what these changes mean for pupils, teachers and parents.
Last September, the Education Secretary announced a national mission to raise standards, reduce the attainment gap, and deliver an education system that is a source of national pride and public confidence.
At a conference held in Cardiff today, the Education Secretary explained how major changes to what pupils are taught, how they are taught and how their teachers are trained and developed are helping to transform schools as we know them.
One of the most significant and wide-reaching of these changes is the new curriculum to be rolled out from 2022. Over 200 pioneer schools across Wales are involved in developing six different Areas of Learning and Experience. This work includes embedding digital competence into all areas of teaching and learning and supporting teachers to develop the new curriculum.
A new independent report published today found that these schools strongly support the changes being made and are enthusiastic about their part in developing Wales’ new curriculum.
Teachers’ professional learning and development has been similarly instrumental to the national mission for education, with this school year seeing:
New professional standards for Teaching and Leadership developed with the profession, for the profession;
The establishment of a new National Academy for Educational Leadership to support all leaders in education at all stages of their careers;
New accredited Initial Teacher Education programmes to be delivered in the academic year 2019/20;
Plans for a new part-time PGCE and Employment Based Route into teaching from 2019/20.
Teachers and pupils will also soon begin to see the benefits of a £36 million fund to reduce infant class sizes, with the appointment of over 80 new teachers across Wales and a capital fund to build new classrooms.
Reducing unnecessary bureaucracy for teachers continues to remain a priority, with this year seeing a £1.2 million investment in the appointment of school business managers – helping headteachers to manage their workload and focus on raising standards and school improvement.
Kirsty Williams said: “When I announced our national mission for education last September I said that we would never be able to achieve our ambitions if we just stayed still.
“That’s why the past year has been all about momentum – a drive for self-improvement that reaches right across our education system.
“We still have much work to do but I’m proud of the reforms that we have introduced in a relatively short space of time. I am also genuinely impressed by how everyone in the education system has responded.
“When I visit schools and talk to teachers and pupils, I am always struck about what they’re achieving and how they are improving – whether that’s in developing the new curriculum or discovering new ways of teaching and learning.
“In return, we are introducing the most comprehensive changes to teacher training and development in years, ensuring that our teaching profession are fully prepared and equipped when they start to teach our new curriculum.
“Our schools are changing, education in Wales is changing and I’m confident that our national mission is well on course to deliver the wholesale reforms that we need.”
Carmarthenshire Labour targets Council reserves to fund Carmarthenshire school buses
Plans have been unveiled by the Opposition Group on Carmarthenshire Council that would see the recently cut school routes being reinstated, along with an ambitious plan to purchase low emission buses over the next three years.
Carmarthenshire Labour, working alongside Nia Griffith MP and Lee Waters AM, have announced that they intend to force a vote on utilising the Council’s general reserves, which currently amount to around £10 million, in effort to support hard-pressed families and the local environment.
School pupils in Carmarthenshire have seen many of their school bus routes cut in recent months, as a result of the introduction of new regulations by the UK Government. The regulations, passed in 2000 and phased in over several years, restricts the types of vehicles the bus companies could use to ensure that all vehicles can accept wheelchairs. The changes have caused a number of school bus routes to be axed with around 500 pupils directly affected.
Labour state that temporarily funding the axed services could cost approximately £400k and would provide the necessary time needed to establish a long-term solution to the issue.
Alongside Carmarthenshire Labour’s plans to use general reserves to support the reintroduction of vital bus routes, the Group also intend to vote for £3 million of capital reserves to be earmarked for the purchase of ultra-low emission buses, laying the foundations for a new sustainable bus service for the county.
Councillor Rob James, leader of Carmarthenshire Labour, stated “I am proud to announce Carmarthenshire Labour’s ambitious plan to address the Carmarthenshire school bus crisis affecting hundreds of school pupils.
“Having spent months consulting with colleagues across the region, and working with families to find a solution, the self evident answer to this crisis is for Carmarthenshire Council to temporarily fund the bus services and set about establishing a long-term, sustainable solution.
“Carmarthenshire is at the back of the pack when it comes to connectivity. Communities, businesses and families across Carmarthenshire experience the daily struggles associated with years of underfunding on transportation. It is now our vulnerable children that are suffering from this Council’s inaction.The reinstatement of the school routes will safeguard and support our pupils to travel to their place of study.
“This is also an opportunity to address the poor connectivity and lack of public transport that have suffocated our county for many years. We can address the climate crisis, the bus crisis and drastically improve public transport in Carmarthenshire with this plan. I sincerely hope that the Plaid Cymru and Independent coalition back the proposals.”
Rethink For Ysgol Dewi Sant Development
Carmarthenshire Council have announced that the controversial rebuild of Ysgol Dewi Sant on recreational playing fields is no longer going ahead.
The contentious plans for the new £9.1 million primary school in Llanelli were on hold whilst the Welsh Government considered a call-in request.
Teachers and governors have been informed that it would not a good use of public resources to continue with the site previously selected and that the Council had already begun work on identifying a new site.
Carmarthenshire Council carried out a public consultation prior to submitting a planning application in April 2018. A design and access statement noted that Llanerch fields were felt to be the most appropriate of the nine sites considered.
Cllr Rob James, local member for Lliedi and Opposition Leader, stated “A meeting has been held with Council Officers, Governors and staff to discuss the rebuild of Ysgol Dewi Sant, where those present were informed that the school would not be built on Llanerch field.
“It was stressed that the funding of the new school has not been lost and that work has already begun on identifying a suitable location for the school.
“A decision has now been made on the future of Ysgol Dewi Sant that provides clarity to pupils, parents, teachers, staff and residents.
“I appreciate the patience of all involved, as this has been a very sensitive matter.
“As a local member, and governor of Ysgol Dewi Sant, I will be working intensively with Council Officers, the school, pupils, parents and residents to ensure that we identify a suitable site for Ysgol Dewi Sant as soon as possible.
“It is my ambition that we can identify a new site and gain planning permission by the end of the year.
“Ysgol Dewi Sant has a tremendous reputation, not just in Llanelli, but across Wales as the first Welsh medium school to be run by a local authority. It is the desire of all involved to ensure that a 21st century school is build for the pupils and teaching staff that will enable the school to continue to thrive.”
Award wants to unearth College talent
THE SEARCH is on to find the cream of Carmarthen’s creative photography and film talent, as one of the nation’s most prestigious student photography awards is now open for entries.
The annual ‘EIZO Awards’ organised by a leading manufacturer of monitor solutions, EIZO, is designed to champion creativity behind the lens and provide a vital career kick-start to talented students looking to follow in the footsteps of the UK’s photography greats.
Coleg Sir Gar students across creative disciplines such as commercial and editorial photography and film direction can enter the awards to be in with a chance of winning the top prize – an EIZO ColorEdge monitor and exclusive placement with one of the world-renowned judges.
This year, the EIZO award is open to film submissions as well as photography entries.
Now in its 4th year, the judges for this year’s awards are all UK-based professional photographers and include; Tim Flach a London based animal photographer; Helen Jennings, an esteemed editor, consultant and curator whose specialisms include visual arts and Alistair Taylor-Young, a British photographer and film director whose impressive client list boasts Dior, Bloomingdales and Fendi.
There will be three total winners, one chosen by each of the judges. One of the former winners of the 2018-19 award is Jimmy Lee (26), a previous student from University for the Creative Arts in Farnham, who commented: “I entered the award as EIZO is a well-established brand in the creative industry. It was a great opportunity to connect with professionals in the creative network. My advice would be to be yourself and submit the work that you really enjoy!”
Hayley Osborne, Head of Marketing and Communications for EIZO Limited, added: “There is a wealth of photography talent across the UK and so our awards are designed to unlock that skill, flair and imagination. By working closely with universities, we want to champion the creative photographer film and image-makers of the future and give students the best possible platform to showcase their work. We’d love to see what the students of Carmarthen have to offer!”
Both universities and students can now download a copy of the EIZO Awards brief and find details on how to enter including terms and conditions at www.eizocolour.com/eizo-award/. Entry submissions are now open and close on Thursday 14th May 2020. Judging will commence in May next year, before the winners are announced in June 2020.
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