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Education

Overhaul of Welsh curriculum announced

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Shadow Secretary: “Significant questions remain.”

Shadow Secretary: “Significant questions remain.”

ASSEMBLY GOVERNMENT Education minister, Huw Lewis, announced this week that his government would be accepting the Donaldson report recommendations in full. Donaldson’s ‘Successful Futures’ proposed radical change in the Welsh curriculum, and after a consultation period with the public and academic bodies, the Welsh Curriculum is now set for a complete overhaul.

Speaking about the changes Mr Lewis said: “Successful Futures provides the foundations for an ambitious, engaging 21st Century curriculum shaped by the very latest international thinking. Together, we now embark on the next stage of the journey. I was heartened by how the people of Wales engaged with the Great Debate that followed the publication of Successful Futures. They understand how crucial this moment is for the future of education in Wales and there is enormous appetite for change. That’s why, after consulting with them, I am accepting Professor Donaldson’s recommendations in full. The teaching profession must now play a central role in delivering the new curriculum. Pioneer Schools will be asked to work closely with a range of partners but they will lead on the design and development of the new curriculum.”

He went on to state that the curriculum that embraces four key purposes, supporting children and young people to be:

  • Ambitious, capable learners ready to learn throughout their lives;
  • Enterprising, creative contributors, ready to play a full part in life and work;
  • Ethical, informed citizens of Wales and the world; and
  • Healthy, confident individuals, ready to lead fulfilling lives as valued members of society.

He was keen to express what these changes would mean to the profession, saying: “I appreciate we are asking much of our teachers, lecturers, leaders and support staff. But I know the commitment exists within the workforce to deliver the very best for our young people and we will support them on this challenging, exciting journey. Our New Deal for the Education Workforce provides teachers with the opportunity to access high quality professional learning at every stage of their career. It has been developed with the requirements of the new curriculum in mind so it enables us to prepare the workforce for the changes that lie ahead. It’s crucial too, that we ensure new teachers are fully equipped to deliver the new curriculum. Professor Furlong’s report clearly and convincingly articulated the implications of the new curriculum on initial teacher training and I’m delighted he has agreed to support Professor Donaldson on the Independent Advisory Group.”

The Minister finished by saying: “Change on this scale is too important to rush but the process will evolve with purpose and momentum. We have a clear blueprint but I am not setting a timetable for implementation. We will take views from the Independent Advisory Group and others, as part of our continuing Great Debate and I will report back in the autumn.”

Commenting on his report’s acceptance, Professor Donaldson said: “I’m delighted the Minister plans to take forward the recommendations of Successful Futures but it is only one stage in a very long and important process. What we’ve done is to make clear what our aspirations are and set some sign posts for how we should move forward. The critical thing is to turn those aspirations into reality and that depends on everyone across Wales engaging in that process. We need to ensure the way in which the review was conducted, with a strong sense of inclusion and ownership of the direction we want to go in, is maintained.”

However, Welsh Conservative Shadow Education Minister, Angela Burns AM, added a note of caution, stating: “An overhaul of Welsh education is long overdue – but significant questions remain over its implementation.Those reforms will inevitably mean increased workloads for teachers. Given the amount of hours lost to stress-related illness, it’s absolutely crucial that appropriately training and re-skilling staff is top of the agenda. Labour has held the reins of Welsh education for 16 years – and standards have fallen dramatically. There are too many young people beginning secondary school unable to read and write properly – and too few who are sufficiently literate and numerate when they leave full-time education. I now hope to work with the minister on a system of implementation that keeps disruption to both pupils and staff to a minimum.”

Plaid Cymru’s Mid and West AM Simon Thomas said of the radical overhaul: “Plaid Cymru welcomed Donaldson’s recommendations for a more agile and flexible curriculum that sets out objectives rather than overly-prescribing content. While welcoming that the Minister has accepted Donaldson’s review in full it is disappointing that this was announced on the BBC rather than to Assembly Members in the Senedd. The Party of Wales has called for a simple and understandable curriculum that allows teachers to deliver the objectives set out by the government. We have called for more freedom for teachers to be flexible and to challenge pupils in the classroom. A less prescriptive curriculum allows teachers more freedom and gives them more responsibility. We therefore need to build the capacity of the education workforce. It is hoped that, following recent recommendations on teacher training, the Welsh Government will professionalise the education workforce and trust the education professionals to improve education standards.”

The Shadow Education Minister, was keen to extol the virtues of a skills-based curriculum, adding: “Schools need to enable young people to develop the skills they need in a competitive global economy and also the skills they need for life. We have long called for digital literacy to be given equal status to literacy and numeracy and for pupils to learn how to create as well as use technology. We welcome the recognition that young people need to be equipped to become lifelong learners and that, as well as being well-qualified when they leave school. They should have an understanding of citizenship, wellbeing and health. We have called for citizenship to be taught in schools; for the development of pupils’ social and emotional skills; and for ensuring that all pupils receive good-quality physical education that is relevant to their needs and interests.”

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Education

Improving the behaviour of Carmarthenshire Secondary School pupils

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“IT’S almost uncool to want to learn as vaping and bad language is like the new thing”

“It’s very, very, heart-breaking to see a child vaping at age 11”

“I’m genuinely really scared for the generation coming through”

These are some of the comments Carmarthenshire pupils and teachers voice in a campaign which aims to improve behaviour in the authority’s Secondary Schools.

The campaign is a joint effort between the County Council and C.A.S.H – Carmarthenshire Association of Secondary Headteachers.

Across Wales, many teachers have shared experiences of witnessing a deterioration in some pupils’ behaviour since returning to formal education after covid lockdowns. Examples of such behaviour include using offensive language with classmates and teachers, being rude in lessons and vaping in toilets during lessons.

For the benefit of pupils and teachers, Carmarthenshire Council supports their Headteachers in their attempt to act to remedy the situation.

Pupils and teachers from ALL the County’s schools attended an experience-sharing session at the County Hall in July. A cross-section of comments was recorded and used to create a video that is part of the campaign. The video will be shown in all Carmarthenshire Secondary Schools in September and will be shared through social media. Information on the campaign posters and banners will direct pupils to sources where they can get further advice about the importance of improving behaviour.

On behalf of C.A.S.H, James Durbridge said: “As teachers, we understand that there are sometimes complex reasons behind pupils’ misbehaviour and, without a doubt, we want to support those pupils.

“But as the title of the campaign video explains – Our behaviour affects everyone and everything. A teacher cannot teach and a pupil cannot learn in a class when a minority behaves offensively and without respect.

“The behaviour of our pupils today influences their tomorrow.”

Noting that the campaign is an opportunity to press the reset button on behaviour and establish better habits, Councillor Glynog Davies, Cabinet Member for Education and the Welsh Language, said: “Our aim in Carmarthenshire is to create young people who, after being educated here, create a life here and contribute to our community.

“Offering them the best possible guidance on how to behave in a way that gives them the best chance to succeed in life is our duty as an authority.”

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Education

Teacher drink-driving on way back from camping trip smelled ‘strongly of intoxicants’

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A TEACHER “stupidly stopped for a drink” on his way home from a family camping holiday before getting behind the wheel, a professional panel has heard. Huw Davies, a former English teacher at Ysgol Bro Teifi in Llandysul, Ceredigion, was more than three times above the legal alcohol limit for driving when he was stopped by police, a professional conduct committee has been told.

The Herald understands that the incident took place on the A40 St Clears to Carmarthen Road on July 30, 2021.

Witnesses were apparently called police after he pulled into a garage and appeared drunk with red eyes and dilated pupils, the Education Workforce Council (EWC) committee was told. Then the teacher came out of the garage. and went “all over the road”, EWC implementation officer Clare Hastie told the Fitness to Practice Committee.

He said police were alerted to a vehicle possibly being driven by a drunk driver on the A40 from St Clears to Carmarthen just before 3pm. Brother Teifi’s police eventually caught up with Davies at the Tesco car park in Carmarthen, where he was seen sitting in the vehicle with the keys in the ignition. When they opened the door, it smelled “strongly of intoxicants”.
breath tests showed he was more than three times the legal alcohol limit for driving and he was charged the next day.

Davies, who appeared at the September 2 virtual hearing, said he was ashamed of his actions and relieved that no one was hurt. But his actions have the “potential to put others at risk,” Hastie said. he told the panel.

The English teacher admitted he “stupidly” stopped for a drink on his way home from a camping holiday while the rest of his family returned separately. Davies told the committee that he has received help from Anonymous and the DDAS Adult Substance Abuse Service.

“I am very ashamed of what I did on July 30 and I am very happy that no one was harmed as a result of my actions,” he told the panel.

Davies described camping with his family in St Davids, Pembrokeshire before the incident.

The weather was rainy so he broke down the tent while the rest of the family left, he told the panel.

Ms Hastie said Davies began teaching English at Ysgol Bro Teifi in 2016 but has had spells of absence and left by mutual agreement with the official departure date at the end of the summer break of 31 August 2021.

Most recently he has been working as a substitute English teacher through an agency at Queen Elizabeth High School in Carmarthen. Davies told the hearing that he felt supported in his part-time job and fortunate to be receiving help from Alcoholics Anonymous and that he has yet to return to driving due to health issues.

Colin Adkins, a NASUWT teachers’ union official representing Davies, described him as a recovering alcoholic and said he was getting the help he needed. The committee had received good character references from Queen Elizabeth High School and Davies had no previous failures in his teaching career.

“We accept that driving a motor vehicle exceeding the limit three times is potentially dangerous for Mr Davies and other road users. Nevertheless, there were no accidents,” Mr Adkins told the panel. “While I don’t want to downplay the seriousness of the crime, I do want to put it in the context of it taking place entirely in his personal life.” and no other person was harmed by his conduct.”

Mr Adkins added: “Here you have someone who is a recovering alcoholic who is receiving medical support. Davies was faced with two allegations, both of which he admitted and which the EWC Committee found to be substantiated.”

The allegations were that he was found guilty of driving under the influence on August 19 last year after a breathalyzer measured 120mg in 100ml of breath, resulting in a council order and a nine-month driving ban held a license and that the conviction constituted an “offence” relevant to his eligibility as a registered teacher.

In issuing a reprimand, the committee considered his open admission and remorse at both the trial and the professional hearing. Committee chair Michelle McBreeze said Davies took steps to address the personal and health issues that led to her. She said the teacher provided positive testimonials and character references, including from her last manager at Queen High School, Elizabeth, and although there was a risk of recurrence, it was small.

McBreeze called it “a serious incident.” conduct,” but Davies “took full responsibility for his actions and has shown clear remorse and remorse.” An asset to the profession, he added.

“The purpose of a warning is not a punishment. Mr. Davies’ behavior was unacceptable and must not happen again. The warning lasts two years and will be disclosed to employers,” said Ms McBreeze.

Mr Davies has the right to appeal to the High Court within 28 days

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Education

Carmarthenshire GCSE students celebrate results

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CARMARTHENSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL is congratulating all of the county’s students that are receiving their GCSE results today, Thursday 25th August 2022.

This year’s assessment and qualification process have returned to the pre-COVID-19 pandemic format of examinations which included adaptations to accommodate the ongoing effects of the pandemic that leaners and teachers have had to contend with. After two years without exams, students have had the opportunity to show what they’ve learned and what they can do through exams and assessments.

Whilst this year’s results are not directly comparable with any other year, overall in Wales, outcomes are higher than when exams were last sat in 2019 , but lower than 2021 when there was a different method of assessment.

In Carmarthenshire 72.1% of all entries have been awarded an A*-C grade representing an increase of 1.2% since examinations were last sat in 2019. This is higher than the national average of 68.6%.

27.2% of entries achieved an A*-A grade representing a significant increase of 5.9% in comparison to 2019 and again higher than the national average of 25.1%.  91.6 % of entries achieved an A* – E grade.

Speaking on behalf of Carmarthenshire County Council, Cllr. Glynog Davies, Cabinet Member for Education and Welsh Language said:

“We are so happy for those young people who are receiving their well-earned GCSE grades, congratulations to you all.”

“Carmarthenshire County Council is very proud of our young people’s achievements, as are we of the support and commitment given by their teachers, support staff, families and friends. Thank you all for your hard work in what has been a challenging couple of years, due to the COVDI-19 pandemic. We wish you all well in your future endeavours.”

In a joint statement, Carmarthenshire County Council’s Chief Executive, Wendy Walters and Director of Education and Children’s Services, Gareth Morgans added:

“We are extremely proud what of has been achieved by our learners and they fully deserve these results. This year, for the first time since the outbreak of COVID-19, our GCSE learners have sat examinations. The pandemic, however, has loomed large over their preparations and they, along with their teachers, support staff, families and friends, have had to display resilience and dedication to achieve these fantastic results. We are grateful to you all.”

“We would also like to thank our schools and their staff for their continued hard work and commitment to providing our learners with the very best opportunities to succeed.”

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