A CARMARTHEN school has been honoured in the 2021 Pearson National Teaching Awards for its outstanding commitment to changing the lives of the children they work with every day.
The Canolfan Elfed Inclusion Centre at Queen Elizabeth High School has won the Silver Award in The Lockdown Hero Award for Learner and Community Support, and has been shortlisted to win one of just 15 Gold Awards later in the year, in a programme which will be broadcast on the BBC.
The Silver Award winners are being honoured as part of the wider celebrations for ‘Thank a Teacher Day’, a national campaign to honour and recognise school staff for their incredible work.
The Canolfan Elfed has a highly skilled and dedicated staff that provide a person-centred approach so that pupils and their parents/carers can be an integral part in planning their learning and school experiences. Pupils have an individualised programme of study that provides specialist teaching and access to mainstream teaching where appropriate. This allows pupils to benefit from the advantages of specialist and mainstream provision whilst working towards achieving their future aspirations.
To celebrate the fantastic achievement, Minister for Education and the Welsh Language Jeremy Miles visited the centre to congratulate staff and pupils and see first-hand the excellent work that is being carried out.
The Minister said: “I am delighted to see the efforts and commitment of teachers and staff at QE High School recognised by this award. I have been especially pleased to learn more about how the school have adapted to the challenges presented by the pandemic while continuing to provide incredible support to pupils, parents and the local community through the Canolfan Elfed.”
The Pearson National Teaching Awards is an annual celebration of excellence in education, founded in 1998 by Lord Puttnam to recognise the life-changing impact an inspirational teacher can have on the lives of the young people they work with.
Carmarthenshire County Council’s Executive Board Member for Education Cllr Glynog Davies said: “This award recognises the excellent work that is being carried out at the Canolfan Elfed by the staff, the learners and their families. There has never been a better time to appreciate our exceptional staff and the vital work they do, having worked so incredibly hard during an extraordinarily challenging time for us all.
“I would like to offer my congratulations to everyone involved, you really are an inspiration to us all and it has been a privilege to visit the centre and see for myself the wonderful work that is being carried out.”
Manager of the Canolfan Elfed Lisa Thomas said: “On behalf of Canolfan Elfed I’d like to thank Pearsons for this award. It is recognition of the work carried out during the last 16 months to support pupils, parents, families and each other as staff. We are delighted to accept this award on behalf of all other professionals in mainstream and ALN settings who have strived to maintain strong links within their communities. In our eyes, we are all stars.”
Headteacher Dave Williams said: “We were very privileged to have a visit to the school from the new Minister for Education and Welsh Language in Wales Jeremy Miles. This was his first visit to a school in Carmarthenshire, and one of his first visits to a secondary school in Wales.
“During the visit we were able to share with him some of our recent successes, including our orchestra winning first place in the Urdd Eisteddfod and Canolfan Elfed’s Silver Award in the Pearson National Teacher’s Awards.
“Mr Miles was able to meet with staff, pupils from Year 10 and students from Year 12. We shared with him our experiences of lockdown and the pupils and students were able to ask Mr Miles, often searching questions, regarding the future direction that education and qualifications would be taking in Wales, as well as asking about Mr Miles’ personal journey and career path and any advice that he could offer to them.
“Mr Miles concluded his visit with a tour of Canolfan Elfed to congratulate staff on their Pearson’s Teaching Award.
“Accompanying Mr Miles was Diane Pritchard, ALN Legislation Manager at Welsh Government, who took the opportunity to talk to staff in our ALN department and to tour Canolfan Elfed. She took a keen interest in the experiences of staff and pupils during lockdown and to discuss with members of the leadership as regards the forthcoming reforms in ALN education.
“This was a really rewarding day for all involved and we would like to thank the minister for taking a personal interest in our school and our community.”
Helen Starkey, Chair of Governors of Queen Elizabeth High School, said: “As Chair of Governors I am fortunate to have regular opportunity to witness first-hand the excellent practice within Canolfan Elfed, so I am not surprised by this prestigious acknowledgement of good work, however I am delighted for our learners, their families, the centre staff, QE High School and the community we serve.
“As a Governing Body we are proud of the inclusion centre and its contribution to establishment of the inclusive ethos and community spirit of our school. Many congratulations to our dedicated team!”
New Year start date for new state-of-the-art Pembrey primary school
WORK will get underway to build a state-of-the-art primary school in Pembrey in the new year.
Carmarthenshire County Council has unveiled plans for its latest new school, part of its multi-million pound Modernising Education Programme, jointly funded by the Welsh Government through its 21st Century Schools initiative.
The new modern purpose-built £8.25million primary school will be built next to the existing school site on Ashburnham Road.
On completion it will provide high-quality teaching facilities for 270 primary pupils and 30 nursery pupils.
It will also incorporate a Flying Start facility for younger children, located in a mobile classroom on the current school site.
The school has been designed by Carmarthenshire County Council’s own architects and the work will be carried out by Carmarthenshire-based TRJ Construction Ltd, selected from the South West Wales Regional Contractors Framework.
Headteacher Helen Jacob said: “Teaching staff, pupils and families are excited and looking forward to seeing our new school come to life. Our children will benefit from seeing every phase of their new school being built right alongside us – it has been designed to enhance learning and teaching and it is very much deserved.”
Cllr Glynog Davies, Cabinet Member for Education and Children’s Services, added: “We are proud to be delivering yet another fantastic new school in Carmarthenshire as part of our Modernising Education Programme.
“The new Ysgol Pen-bre will provide an excellent learning and teaching environment and will also benefit the local community, with many features built into the design that can be used by local people when it opens.
“We look forward to seeing construction start in January.”
By the end of the 2020/21 financial year, Carmarthenshire County Council will have invested £295million in transforming its network of nursery, primary and secondary schools.
Since the programme was launched, 12 new primary schools and two new secondary schools have been built and a number of other schools have been remodelled and refurbished to provide top-class learning and community facilities.
Find out more at www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales/education
Well-loved teacher receives many tributes after brave cancer battle
CARMARTHEN primary school teacher, Siân Axford passed away following her fight against breast cancer.
Siân Axford was only aged 48 when she passed away in the early hours on Tuesday, August 24.
She has been described by those close to her as being passionate about teaching. She was well respected by all members of staff and pupils at the town’s Ysgol Y Dderwen where she taught for almost 20 years. Her passing has affected many people in the school.
Siân Axford was originally from Kidwelly until she moved to Carmarthen. She was married and was the mother to two young boys.
She was set to return to teaching on September 2 for the new school year, where she would teach years three and four.
Ysgol Y Dderwen’s headteacher Dylan Evans went to school with Mrs Axford, and described her as a good friend as well as a colleague.
He said it was with a very heavy heart that he had to break the news of her death to staff and parents as the summer break was coming to an end, adding: “As a school community our hearts are completely broken.”
“Siân had been a colleague and a close and supportive friend to many of us over the years.
“She was a prominent member of Y Dderwen family for nearly 20 years and we remember with appreciation her great contribution and determination during that time.
“Our thoughts are with Sian’s family and we extend our deepest sympathy to them in their bereavement.”
Mr Evans has also said that the school will have bereavement support in place for pupils upon their return.
He said it is important for parents to listen to their children during this difficult time, as children can respond to loss in a variety of ways.
Mr Evans said: “When we return we will arrange help and support for the children in an age appropriate way at school.”
The school has also held a fundraiser for the oncology unit at Llanelli’s Prince Philip Hospital where Siân had received treatment following her cancer diagnosis.
Mrs Axford was also a member of Carmarthen’s Capel Y Priordy Chapel, which will also be assisting children at the school over coming weeks.
Reverend Beti-Wyn James said Mrs Axford played a huge part in the chapel and would be greatly missed.
She added: “She had a zest for life and helped out with the Sunday school at Priordy.
“She was always full of energy and drive, had a real passion for things and she loved music and was also a choir member of Côr Seingar.
“Her death is a tremendous loss to the community and she came from a very close-knit family.
“Our thoughts are with her parents, sister, husband and two boys at this time.”
Children become ‘Wild World Heroes’ in Summer Reading Challenge
BOOKWORMS across Carmarthenshire are being challenged to enjoy stories and help save the world over the school summer holidays.
Carmarthenshire libraries take part in the Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge, and bookshelves and reading spaces are being transformed into jungles and rainforests as staff get on board with this year’s wildlife theme.
This year’s challenge is being run in partnership with WWF with award-winning writer and broadcaster Dara McAnulty and award-winning explorer, presenter, and writer Steve Backshall, as ambassadors for the scheme.
Children aged four to 11 can visit any of the Carmarthenshire County Council run libraries to become a ‘Wild World Hero’ for free.
They will be given a collector poster to keep a record of their Summer Reading Challenge journey and receive special stickers, games and more as they read more books.
Library teams are also hosting various activities, events and film shows throughout the summer.
By taking part children will not only improve their reading skills but gain knowledge about environmental issues, from plastic pollution and deforestation to wildlife decline and nature loss, joining story characters to help solve some of these threats.
Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths, the council’s Executive Board Member for Culture, Sport and Tourism, said: “The Summer Reading Challenge is free and fun and will help inspire children to read over the holidays, making use of our fantastic libraries and mobile library vans that travel to rural parts of Carmarthenshire.
“We are committed to supporting children and families to improve their literacy, and this year’s theme ties in well with our mission to tackle climate change. We hope to see as many children as possible signing up and becoming ambassadors for environmental issues whilst enjoying books over the summer.”
Steve Backshall, Summer Reading Challenge ambassador, added: “Wild World Heroes will spark conversations about the issues facing our planet, from plastic pollution to wildlife decline, and will show how we can all work together to look after our world. By taking part in the challenge, children will unlock the benefits of reading for pleasure – it’s never been more important for young people to keep up their reading skills and confidence over the summer holidays.”
For more information on the Summer Reading Challenge and Carmarthenshire’s library services, visit www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales/libraries
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