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Education

Pupil Language Ambassadors’ key role

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EACH year Pupil Language Ambassadors (PLAs) from schools across the ERW region work hard to increase awareness of the skills and opportunities, which come from studying a language amongst their peers. They speak in assemblies and to groups of their peers at school events. Their ambassadorial role is wide and varied and each year they work with their teachers to increase the number of pupils studying language at GCSE.

This year, the focus has been to utilise the skills of language ambassadors to work with primary school children where these committed linguists go into their nearby primaries and speak to key stage 2 pupils about the benefits of learning an additional language. This has helped to fulfil a crucial element of the national and regional priorities as set out in the work of Global Futures, a Welsh Government funded scheme to promote language learning for all.

In addition to their fantastic and creative work and projects, in March these motivated ambassadors attended the annual ERW Pupil Language Ambassador training at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea. They met with other ambassadors from across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Neath Port Talbot, Pembrokeshire, Powys and Swansea to discuss their role and heaR from some inspirational speakers.

The purpose of the day was to help the pupils understand their role, to develop ideas for events they could run in their schools, to take part in language tasters and create a plan of action for supporting language learning in their school and their cluster.

The day began with a fantastic presentation from the Pupil Language Ambassadors from Ysgol Dyffryn Taf in Whitland. They spoke to the new PLAs about their achievements last year. They addressed the audience in many languages and set the tone for the day perfectly. The keynote speaker was Rhodri Bendle, Chief Consultant at Snowstyle Travel Company in Austria that specialises in Ski and Snowboarding holidays and tuition. He shared his own story about learning a German and how it has helped him to develop his own business.

Pupils then went into a series of workshops delivered by Routes Cymru, a team of professionals and student language ambassadors from Cardiff University who facilitated idea sharing and discussion about how to set up a language club and other ways of getting the message across about language learning.

Diane Evans, ERW, helped pupils to draw out their knowledge of the role of the ambassador across Wales and internationally. Pupils learned how to get their voices heard and how to make an impact in their time as language ambassadors in their community.

Alex Pickering represented the Goethe Institute at the event speaking with ambassadors about the importance of language in business. Ariane Laumonier, a consultant with the Institut Français ran a brilliant workshop on language and the world of work. Both Ariane and Alex used their own languages to convey the importance of learning a language and the benefits of developing multilingual learners.

Another aim of the day was to build confidence in ambassadors in learning and speaking an additional language. The language taster sessions from staff and postgraduate students at Swansea University all ran tasters that strengthen the priorities across Wales to learn and speak a new language. These were extremely well-received as always, pupils tried out languages that many of them had not learnt before including Polish, Italian, German and Mandarin.

Mererid Hopwood, Professor of Language at University of Wales Trinity Saint David inspired staff and students alike with her talk on the importance of striving for a Multi-lingual society in Wales with children and adults using their newly acquired language at every opportunity.

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Education

Funding package of £3 million to support ‘digitally excluded’ learners

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SCHOOLCHILDREN in Carmarthenshire will benefit from a funding package of £3 million to support ‘digitally excluded’ learners in Wales during the coronavirus pandemic.

Education Minister Kirsty Williams made the announcement as part of Welsh Government’s ‘Stay Safe. Stay Learning’ programme.

A digitally excluded learner is someone who does not have access to a suitable internet-connected device to take part in online learning activities from home.

The funding will be used to provide digitally excluded learners with repurposed school devices and 4G MiFi connectivity. Replacement devices will also be funded for schools out of the wider Hwb infrastructure programme.

In Carmarthenshire, schools have already started contacting parents and carers to identify digitally excluded learners, and the council’s IT department are identifying devices which can be repurposed with up-to-date software.

To date, more than 500 families who require further assistance with access to learning have been identified, with some further work to be carried out over the next week.

Executive Board Member for Education and Children’s Services Cllr Glynog Davies said: “We welcome this extra funding from Welsh Government to provide families with the support they need so that their children can continue to learn. No child should be left behind because they do not have access to a computer or broadband.

“This is a huge logistical effort and colleagues from across the council are working together to deliver this support for families as quickly as possible.

“I would like to thank the schools for working hard with us on this, we have already made a good start; and I would also like to thank parents for their patience, support and understanding whilst we put this into place.”

The council’s Education and Children’s Services department have put together a Distance Learning Plan which sets out the way forward for learning in Carmarthenshire during the coronavirus outbreak.

The main aim is to mitigate the impact of school closures on our children and young people as far as possible so that they can quickly catch up when schools reopen; and access to learning and connectivity is one of the key priorities.

Carmarthenshire’s Distance Learning Plan can be found on the ‘Information and support for Parents’ page on the council website, visit newsroom.carmarthenshire.gov.wales/coronavirus

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Education

Learning plan in place for Carmarthenshire pupils

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THE council’s education department has been working hard to develop a learning continuity plan for children and young people in Carmarthenshire during the coronavirus outbreak.

Following the closure of schools, a lot of good work has been carried out to mitigate the impact on pupils by providing appropriate activities and high-quality learning resources.

However, with the lockdown continuing for at least another three weeks, it is important that plans are in place to build on the excellent work carried out to date.

We would like to reassure parents that preparations are well underway, and that Carmarthenshire is in a strong position to maintain a constructive and robust learning continuity plan for our young people.

Officers from the education department have been working closely with Welsh Government, ESTYN, regional partners, headteachers and school staff to develop this new way of learning.

The aim is to motivate and engage with all our learners with a range of relevant activities to ensure both educational delivery as well as safeguarding their wellbeing.

Executive Board Member for Education and Children’s Services Cllr Glynog Davies said: “I want to thank headteachers, school staff and parents for all their support and for the highly commendable work that has been carried out to date, during such difficult circumstances.

“Our priority is of course to keep our children safe, but we also need to keep them learning so that they can catch up as quickly as possible when schools reopen.

“I have had lots of positive feedback from teachers and parents on the excellent work that is being done. We are very fortunate that we have access to digital learning platforms and the latest online classroom tools, and it is working well.

“Going forward, although we do not expect parents to be formal teachers, we do need to provide support to help them help their children. This also includes support for their mental and physical wellbeing, which is equally as important, especially at this time.

“I am satisfied that we have a good plan in place to help continue and build upon all the fantastic work carried out so far.”

Schools will be in direct contact with parents with further information on the continuation of learning for pupils.

Parents are being asked to answer this Welsh Government survey on learning at home whilst schools are closed.

Further information on Welsh Government’s Stay Safe, Stay Learning: Continuity of Learning Policy Statement can be found on its website.

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Education

Sculpture students to exhibit in New Mexico

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Students from Coleg Sir Gâr’s Carmarthen School of Art will be exhibiting their work in a student exhibition of iron sculpture at New Mexico Highlands University in the USA.

No stranger to visiting America, the department has long-established links within an exchange programme at Kansas State University.

The exhibition takes place from August 17 to September 18 at the university’s Burris Hall Gallery.

Lisa Evans, programme director of the degree honours programme in sculpture at Carmarthen School of Art has connections with arts professor David Lobdell at New Mexico Highlands University. She said: “We are thrilled to be invited to this prestigious event and students are currently preparing work which will be molded, cast and finished by the university in the next few months.

“The work is an open brief, we just have to ensure that we use material that can be used to make moulds and be cast in iron.”

Lisa has also been invited as a panel member at the Western Cast Iron Art Conference at the University of Dakota. The panel addresses international and collaborative activities including iron pours, workshops and performance.

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