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Education

Thousands of people in Carmarthenshire could now be eligible for free courses

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THOUSANDS of people in Carmarthenshire could now eligible for free training to rewrite their career by setting up a Personal Learning Account.

As part of the Welsh Government programme, Coleg Ceredigion and Coleg Sir Gar are running several courses in sectors that are ripe for job opportunities, including construction, finance, IT, health and safety, project management and engineering.

The programme is aimed at those who are currently on furlough, on a zero hours contract, or whose job is at risk, providing they are 19 or over and earning under £26,000.

Following a successful pilot with Coleg Gwent and Grwp Llandrillo Menai which saw around 500 people across Wales enrol on fully-funded part-time courses, Personal Learning Accounts are now being rolled out nationally to help thousands of people in Wales boost their skills and employability.

All courses have been specifically designed to match skills gaps already identified in priority sectors in Wales. Employers and stakeholders have worked in partnership with colleges to develop courses that are relevant to sectors which are expected to create job opportunities now or in the near future.

All courses are part-time and are truly flexible, designed for study around other commitments such as a current job. Many are being delivered online meaning learners can study remotely and in the evenings and weekends.

Some of the courses running at Coleg Ceredigion and Coleg Sir Gar throughout January and February are aimed at people running their own business and include Brand Strategy, Social Media for Business, Coaching and Mentoring, NEBOSH Managing Safely and IOSH Working Safely.

Minister for Education Kirsty Williams said: “The impact of the pandemic has unfortunately affected many industries, with many people looking at ways to gain new work skills, perhaps at their local college.

“Personal Learning Accounts are designed to help people in employment and whose jobs may be at risk. If you’re worried about the certainty of your employment, or you’re on furlough or a zero hours contract, accessing a free Personal Learning Account could provide you with the skills and qualifications to embark on a new and rewarding career.

“As we work towards a Welsh right to lifelong learning, the PLAs show what can be achieved for individuals, the economy and the country as a whole.”

One learner who has already taken part in the Brand Strategy course is self-employed personal trainer, James Cartwright. The gym James works at was closed over lockdown meaning James was unable to continue his work. James completed the Brand Strategy course to help boost his business and has since signed up for a six-week course in Social Media for Small Business.

He said: “I thoroughly enjoyed the course and can’t wait for the next one. From the first session it’s really provoked a lot of thought into what I’m doing and given me so much clarity already on where I need to take things.”

Jemma Parsons, PLA Project Co-ordinator, Business Development and Employer Engagement Team at Coleg Ceredigion and Coleg Sir Gar, said: “We are delighted to be working with Welsh Government and the Regional Skills Partnership to deliver the Personal Learning Account. We look forward to supporting individuals in their training and development to progress in current and new careers and fulfil their aspirations. This funded training has come at what is a very difficult time for all.

“We hope to support individuals through face to face learning where possible, adhering to Government restrictions to ensure that all of our learners and staff keep safe, but have developed the New Year Provision to include online and Virtual Classroom learning.

“We look forward to offering individuals and employers the opportunity to upskill in areas such as Digital and Technology, Media, Health and Social Care, Construction and Creative Industries. We have some very exciting collaborations planned which will further the opportunities for individuals and employers in the region.”

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Education

Work to start on new £7.4m primary school for Pembrey

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WORK will start on building a new £7.4million primary school for Pembrey before the end of the summer term.

The new school building will be constructed on recreation ground/playing field immediately adjacent to the existing school site on Ashburnham Road.

It will provide high-quality teaching facilities to improve the overall learning experience, as well as benefitting the local community.

The school will have capacity for 270 primary pupils, 30 nursery pupils and incorporate a Flying Start facility which is currently located in a mobile classroom on the current school site.

Headteacher Helen Jacob said: “We are looking forward to having our brand-new school building at Pembrey where we can continue to provide quality educational opportunities and experiences for our children.

“Everyone is excited at the prospect of learning in a modern purpose-built school that will be at the heart of the community.”

The project is part of Carmarthenshire County Council’s Modernising Education Programme, and will be jointly funded by Welsh Government through its 21st Century Schools initiative.

It has been designed by the council’s own architects and the work will be carried out by local contractor TRJ Ltd.

The estimated completion date is the summer term of 2023.

Director of Education and Children’s Services Gareth Morgans said: “We are delighted that work will soon start to build a new school for Pembrey which will provide state-of-the-art facilities and accommodation fit for 21st century learning.

“Building the new school on the adjacent recreation ground means that we can reduce disruption as much as possible and at the same time extend the school site to provide the facilities that the pupils and staff deserve.”

The recreation ground is currently held in trust by the council, but will be transferred to Pembrey and Burry Port Town Council, in order to secure the use of the land for the new school.

Local residents and other interested parties in the community have been consulted as part of the process.

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Education

Older learners return to school

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OLDER learners in primaries and secondaries across Carmarthenshire have returned to school.

All primary school year groups are now back in the classroom for face-to-face learning.

Headteacher at Ysgol Y Bryn in Llanelli Stephen Thomas said it had been a pleasure to see all pupils return to school.

“Our pupils came back to school with beaming smiles and these have continued throughout the week,” he said. “After speaking with many of the children, they are expressing how happy they are to be back with their friends, to be back in the classroom with the teachers, off devices and how nice it is to be able to get out of the house and find some routine again.

“The focus for us now is reconnecting pupils with their friendship groups, promoting physical exercise daily following long periods of a lack of activity and simply allowing time for pupils to build their self-esteem and be happy again.

“We will continue our planned learning journey with the pupils, and I must say they have been fantastic getting back down to business. They have shown a real appetite for learning since returning to school and we are looking forward to seeing the progress they make for the remainder of the academic year.”

Secondary schools have welcomed back learners in years 11 and 13, as well as offering some flexibility for learners in years 10 and 12.

Pupils in years 7, 8 and 9 are also being given the opportunity to check-in with their teachers ready for a full return after the Easter holidays, as long as coronavirus rates continue to fall.

Headteacher at Ysgol Dyffryn Aman Nerys Nicholas said the school has welcomed back learners in a phased return which would help them to prepare for the summer term.

She said: “It has been lovely to welcome back our older pupils onto the school site in a phased return programme since March 15 which has promoted increased confidence in all stakeholders.

“This period before the Easter break has allowed us to rekindle those positive relationships onsite which form the heart of the school community here at Ysgol Dyffryn Aman. Seeing familiar friendly faces, even behind the face coverings, has been wonderful.

“Both staff and pupils have been eager to re-familiarise themselves with health and safety strategies and to re-focus on the challenges ahead. I thank everyone for their continued co-operation, and we all look forward with hope to a full re-opening of schools in the summer term.”

The safety measures in place in all schools have been reviewed in line with Welsh Government’s latest operational guidance. Face coverings, social distancing, classroom bubbles and frequent handwashing/sanitising are now part of the new normal, along with lateral flow testing.

The testing is being offered to learners in years 10 to 13, along with all school staff to carry out at home twice a week; and the aim is to quickly identify those who are unknowingly carrying the virus so that they can self-isolate to prevent more people from catching it.

However, it is important to remember that the purpose of the testing is to complement the safety measures that have already been put in place in schools, and a negative test result should not be read as a means to relax or ignore social distancing or other measures to help reduce transmission.

Director of Education and Children’s Services Gareth Morgans said: “It is wonderful to see so many of our learners back in the classroom with their teachers and friends.

“We will be supporting our schools to help pupils with their learning, and to focus on their wellbeing which is equally as important. It has been an extremely difficult year for everyone, but our young people have been affected by the pandemic in a number of ways, and we must not forget how hard it has been for them, not seeing their friends and teachers, and unable to take part in the various activities they enjoy both in and out of school.

“I would like to thank all our schools and teaching staff for all their hard work this past 12 months, the dedication and resilience they have shown has been extraordinary. And I would also like to thank parents too for all their support and co-operation, having to juggle work with helping their children with home learning and all the other family pressures I know has not been easy.

“By working together we can keep our schools safe and open, and we can welcome back even more children after the Easter holidays.”

For further information on schools during the pandemic including further information on lateral flow testing please visit the Carmarthenshire County Council website: carmarthenshire.gov.wales/education

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Education

Older learners return to school

Published

on

OLDER learners in primaries and secondaries across Carmarthenshire have returned to school.

All primary school year groups are now back in the classroom for face-to-face learning.

Headteacher at Ysgol Y Bryn in Llanelli Stephen Thomas said it had been a pleasure to see all pupils return to school.

“Our pupils came back to school with beaming smiles and these have continued throughout the week,” he said. “After speaking with many of the children, they are expressing how happy they are to be back with their friends, to be back in the classroom with the teachers, off devices and how nice it is to be able to get out of the house and find some routine again.

“The focus for us now is reconnecting pupils with their friendship groups, promoting physical exercise daily following long periods of a lack of activity and simply allowing time for pupils to build their self-esteem and be happy again.

“We will continue our planned learning journey with the pupils, and I must say they have been fantastic getting back down to business. They have shown a real appetite for learning since returning to school and we are looking forward to seeing the progress they make for the remainder of the academic year.”

Secondary schools have welcomed back learners in years 11 and 13, as well as offering some flexibility for learners in years 10 and 12.

Pupils in years 7, 8 and 9 are also being given the opportunity to check-in with their teachers ready for a full return after the Easter holidays, as long as coronavirus rates continue to fall.

Headteacher at Ysgol Dyffryn Aman Nerys Nicholas said the school has welcomed back learners in a phased return which would help them to prepare for the summer term.

She said: “It has been lovely to welcome back our older pupils onto the school site in a phased return programme since March 15 which has promoted increased confidence in all stakeholders.

“This period before the Easter break has allowed us to rekindle those positive relationships onsite which form the heart of the school community here at Ysgol Dyffryn Aman. Seeing familiar friendly faces, even behind the face coverings, has been wonderful.

“Both staff and pupils have been eager to re-familiarise themselves with health and safety strategies and to re-focus on the challenges ahead. I thank everyone for their continued co-operation, and we all look forward with hope to a full re-opening of schools in the summer term.”

The safety measures in place in all schools have been reviewed in line with Welsh Government’s latest operational guidance. Face coverings, social distancing, classroom bubbles and frequent handwashing/sanitising are now part of the new normal, along with lateral flow testing.

The testing is being offered to learners in years 10 to 13, along with all school staff to carry out at home twice a week; and the aim is to quickly identify those who are unknowingly carrying the virus so that they can self-isolate to prevent more people from catching it.

However, it is important to remember that the purpose of the testing is to complement the safety measures that have already been put in place in schools, and a negative test result should not be read as a means to relax or ignore social distancing or other measures to help reduce transmission.

Director of Education and Children’s Services Gareth Morgans said: “It is wonderful to see so many of our learners back in the classroom with their teachers and friends.

“We will be supporting our schools to help pupils with their learning, and to focus on their wellbeing which is equally as important. It has been an extremely difficult year for everyone, but our young people have been affected by the pandemic in a number of ways, and we must not forget how hard it has been for them, not seeing their friends and teachers, and unable to take part in the various activities they enjoy both in and out of school.

“I would like to thank all our schools and teaching staff for all their hard work this past 12 months, the dedication and resilience they have shown has been extraordinary. And I would also like to thank parents too for all their support and co-operation, having to juggle work with helping their children with home learning and all the other family pressures I know has not been easy.

“By working together we can keep our schools safe and open, and we can welcome back even more children after the Easter holidays.”

For further information on schools during the pandemic including further information on lateral flow testing please visit the Carmarthenshire County Council website: carmarthenshire.gov.wales/education

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