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Trilingual music project hits the right notes in schools

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BBC National Orchestra of Wales

A PILOT project called ‘Listening to Language’, which aims to encourage language learning using music as a resource, is being delivered in ten primary schools across South West Wales. The trilingual music project addresses the decline of language learning in Wales.

Led by BBC National Orchestra of Wales, British Council Wales, ERW (Education through Regional Working) and University of Wales Trinity Saint David, musicians from the orchestra alongside language specialists have been working with teachers in schools across Swansea, Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion to develop creative approaches to learning Welsh, Spanish and English.

The project, which is funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, looks at how musical elements of language such as rhythm, repetition and rhyme can aid learning. The workshops are encouraging pupils to listen to the sounds of languages, to enhance the process of developing and understanding new vocabulary.

Both the Language Trends Wales report (2016) for British Council Wales and The Successful Futures report (2015) by Professor Graham Donaldson for the Welsh Government identified that language learning in Wales is in decline.

Chris Lewis, Head of Education at British Council Wales said: ‘Take-up of modern foreign languages in Welsh secondary schools has been in steep decline for more than a decade. Last year our Language Trends Wales report, the second national survey of modern foreign language teaching in Wales, found that schools are struggling to increase the number of pupils enrolling for GCSEs in foreign languages, with more disadvantaged areas seeing the lowest take-up. The report found that the majority of schools – more than two thirds – had less than 25% of pupils studying a modern foreign language at GCSE level.

“As part of its strategy to arrest this decline, the Welsh Government wants children to start learning languages earlier, and this project aims to support that ambition by working directly with teachers to develop new and exciting, arts-based approaches to language teaching and learning in a primary setting.”

‘Listening to Language’ also aims to develop and strengthen the relationship between Wales and Patagonia, following the 150th anniversary celebrations. Combined with developing language skills, pupils are learning through music about the history of Y Wladfa, the Welsh settlement in Patagonia. This project builds on the ground-breaking community residency that BBC NOW delivered in Patagonia, as part of their tour to South America in 2015.

The first two terms of workshops have looked at developing new teaching methods, using resources such as trilingual songs, written by Welsh composer Gareth Glyn. The third term will help teachers explore how these new methods can be put into practice. The final workshops of the second term, take place on 21 March in schools in Aberystwyth, Llandysul, Swansea and Kidwelly.

Deputy Head Teacher at Burry Port C P School, Odette Nicholas, said”‘Listening to Language’ is an inspiring opportunity to work in collaboration with teachers and creative partners to motivate and develop reflective, imaginative learners.”

Head of Partnerships and Learning at BBC NOW, Suzanne Hay said: “Listening to music in almost all circumstances evokes an emotion. ‘Listening to Language’ asks students to do this; listen to the sounds of a language and consider the emotion and its meaning. We are finding that by responding to the sounds of the words, children are developing a more meaningful connection to the language they are learning.”

Professor Mererid Hopwood from University of Wales Trinity Saint David said: “It has been an excellent opportunity to explore with primary school teachers how pupils respond to the sounds of words. The approach seems to be developing an appreciation of the importance of deep-listening and the need to create the right environment to encourage risk-taking as we learn new languages.”

‘Listening to Language’ is part of Paul Hamlyn Foundation’s £1m Teacher Development Fund, a UK-wide initiative to enable teaching professionals to access high quality, sustained professional development and support effective arts-based practices in the primary classroom.

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Police launch public appeal following Carmarthenshire burglary

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE is investigating a burglary at a property in Ponthenry.

People broke into a shed at a home in Victoria Road at around 8.30pm on Monday, 31 October, before leaving after spotting a CCTV camera.

They returned at around 10.15pm and again at around 10.55pm.

During their raids they tooka green Wolf motocross helmet with a full face with a peak and line green motocross goggles.

Officers are appealing for help to identify two people they would like to speak to over the incident.

Anyone with information that could help officers with their investigation is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.police.uk, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908. Quote reference: DPP/0756/01/11/2022/02/C. Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org.

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Morrisons Foundation supports children’s charity with grant for vital equipment

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The Morrisons Foundation supports registered charities that make a positive difference. They recently awarded national children’s disability charity, Cerebra, based in Carmarthen, a grant of £11,109.

This will fund the creation of writing slopes through the Cerebra Innovation Centre, which is partnered with the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and designs wonderful toys and equipment to help children living with a brain condition to learn and play.

The writing slopes are designed to help children who struggle with posture and fine motor skills. They also aid children with writing, drawing and hand control. Ross Head, Product Design Manager at the Cerebra Innovation Centre explains;

‘The slopes include a lovely wipe-clean surface for children to experiment with mark making, their own set of pens and a clever lid-free pen store to remove the challenge of removing lids for some children. We are so lucky to be able to do what we do and funding like this is so important to allow us to push boundaries and provide vital equipment that looks beautiful.’

At the start of 2022, the Cerebra Innovation Centre highlighted that they anticipated the need for an additional 20 writing slopes for children. Cerebra Fundraising Manager, James Hay then worked with the grants team at the Morrisons Foundation, who were delighted to support this project. David Scott, Morrisons Foundation Trustee said:

‘Cerebra is dedicated to helping families who have a child with a brain condition to discover a better life together, that’s why I’m delighted that we’ve been able to provide this support. The specialised writing slopes will make a huge positive impact on children with sensory and mobility issues, providing a great opportunity to develop their skills, which will last a lifetime.’

Grants like this are a vital source of funding for Cerebra so that they are able to continue to support children living with a brain condition and their families who face challenges every day. The Cerebra Innovation Centre is one of the many support services provided by the charity that so many families have come to rely on. James Hay adds;

‘Thank you so much to the Morrisons Foundation for this generous grant! We are over the moon as we know how much this project will change young lives. These are particularly challenging times for charities and so this funding from Morrisons for the creation of 20 writing slopes is warmly welcomed.’

You can find out more about Cerebra and how they help children and families by visiting www.cerebra.org.uk 

Writing Slope
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White Ribbon campaign supported by Carmarthenshire County Council

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CARMARTHENSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL says it is again showing its support for the White Ribbon campaign, which takes place on Friday, November 25 and is followed by 16 Days of Action.

White Ribbon is the UK’s leading charity engaging men and boys to end violence against women and girls.

While domestic abuse affects both sexes, the largest number of violent incidents involve men against women. But ultimately male violence against women is everyone’s issue, not just women’s.

The council was awarded White Ribbon UK accredited status for the first time in 2018 and is continuing to work to tackle such violence.

White Ribbon flags will be flying at County Hall in Carmarthen and town halls in Llanelli and Ammanford on White Ribbon Day (Friday, November 25). County Hall will also be lit up on the evening to show support.

The council is working alongside partners to raise awareness of the campaign across the county – from sports clubs, joint visits with the Police to licensed premises, our leisure centres and libraries to bus stations.

With this year’s White Ribbon Day falling on the same week as the start of the FIFA men’s World Cup, there has never been a better time to come together and start playing as a team to end violence against women and girls.

The council will be raising awareness of the campaign at special events including a Walking Football session at Amman Valley Leisure Centre on November 30 and at “An Evening with Sam Warburton” at the Lyric Theatre in Carmarthen on White Ribbon Day (November 25).

Cabinet Member responsible for Community Safety, Cllr Philip Hughes, said: “It’s vital that we raise more awareness about domestic abuse so that anyone affected can get help and support from one of our local services.”

Support locally can be found at: Threshold (Llanelli) on 01554 752 422 or www.threshold-das.org.uk; Calan DVS (Ammanford) on 01269 597 474 or www.calandvs.org.uk; Carmarthen Domestic Abuse Service on 01267 238 410 or www.carmdas.org and Goleudy on 0300 123 2996 or www.goleudyvictimandwitnessservice.org.uk or call the Live Fear Free Helpline on 0808 80 10 800 or visit https://gov.wales/live-fear-free for free advice and support 24/7

For more information on the White Ribbon campaign visit www.whiteribbon.org.uk

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