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Could history be a thing of the past?

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history a thing of the pastTHE WELSH Government’s Education Minister has launched a controversial new policy that could force schools to prioritise literacy and numeracy over all other subjects.

History, geography, and even science, could be side-lined as the Welsh Labour Government gets tough on alleged falling literacy and numeracy standards in our schools.

The new policy, known as the National Literacy and Numeracy Framework (LNF) is being introduced this term across both primary and secondary schools. The central idea of the framework is that ALL subjects across the curriculum will now be required to have embedded planning that takes account of literacy and numeracy skills.

Unlike in previous thinking, whereby teaching objectives were limited to those of the subject being taught, this would mean that additionally each subject teacher would also need to assess pupils’ achievements in literacy and numeracy, that some teachers feel is even being prioritised above the subject itself. One teacher, who wished to remain anonymous, said:

“This would mean that if I was teaching a lesson in history where I wanted my pupils to understand as to why the Holocaust happened, it would not be enough just to know they could explain this.

“Additionally, I would also have to plan for them to show me they were using literacy or numeracy skills as well, depending on how I could fit such an objective in. I think in such a lesson, surely, an understanding of such an awful and complex event is the objective, not for example as to whether they can spell Holocaust or not?”

The teacher added:

“The problem with this new framework is that it just adds more work to an already over-subscribed workload that teachers simply do not have the time to do.

“I got into teaching history to teach history, it is what I am qualified to do. You have to ask who is supposed to assess these additional numeracy or literacy objectives? Will it be me, who is not a specialist in these areas?”

More worryingly the teacher continued by stating:

“I attended a course for the LNF only a fortnight ago where I was told by the Course Leader that in the next five years it was possible that all primary teaching would be centred around literacy and numeracy, and all other subjects would be planned around these two core subjects.

“It is very worrying. It is all very well just teaching children to read and write, but if they do not have a much broader education and learn about the world, and people around them, then what will they have to write about?”

The Welsh Government responded to The Herald:

“The LNF has been designed to support teachers to embed literacy and numeracy across the curriculum. The LNF is made up of clear, precise expectation statements which will enable teachers and schools to judge with far more precision how learners are progressing and what specific support they require.

“If learners are not supported to develop excellent literacy and numeracy skills from the beginning of their education then they will not be able to access the subject specific knowledge within the National Curriculum Programmes of Study.

“We have issued guidance which explains that the LNF should be taught in subjects where there is a natural fit and there is no need to contrive ways to include literacy and numeracy into subjects where it simply doesn’t fit.

“We have also produced exemplar materials and classroom tasks which give teachers examples of how the LNF can be taught in a way that supports the wider curriculum and enhances the programmes of study for all of the subjects within the National Curriculum.

“We have seen many examples of schools that are teaching literacy and numeracy skills as part of the wide and varied curriculum which develops both learners’ skills and subject based knowledge in a joined up way”.

On the issue of teachers’ abilities to teach outside their subject areas, the Welsh Government went on: “The National Support Programme (NSP) offers tailor made support to schools in implementing the LNF, this could include developing the literacy and numeracy skills of teachers. The NSP also disseminates good practice examples of how schools can deliver the LNF in a meaningful and interesting way.”

Over the next year the Education Department will be anxious to see whether such a policy can start to achieve its aims. Parents and teachers will hope it does not detract from the importance of the learning of other subjects, essential to a holistic education for our country’s young people.

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Former Cardigan Castle director sentencing delayed

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THE SENTENCING of a former director of Cardigan Castle who has pleaded guilty to charges of fraud and theft totalling over £40,000 has been delayed.

Former director, Jac Davies, pleaded guilty to charges of fraud and theft was due to be sentenced on Wednesday (May 4) at Swansea Crown Court – but has now been delayed.

Davies who held the £40,000 a year post fraudulently obtained £33,098.75 and stole a further £7,932.97 from the award winning restoration project..

Davies held his position at Cardigan Castle from September 2017 to November 2019.

The defendant has pleaded guilty to fraudulently obtaining £4,143.20 from the castle on December 21, 2017.

Again Davies admitted to fraudulently obtaining £28,955.55 between February 4, 2019 and November 3, 2019.

Two further charges of theft were also admitted – one charge of  theft from the castle of £1,908.18 between May 2, 2018 and May 24, 2019 and a further charge of theft from Cardigan Castle Enterprises to the sum of £6,024.79.

Dyfed-Powys Police conducted a year long investigation after being contacted by the castle board of directors.

Financial discrepancies were identified during financial monitoring.

An internal investigation was launched and Davies left his position within the castle in October 2019 following a disciplinary process.

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Dyfed-Powys Police criticised for failing to record thousands of crimes

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A SHOCKING new report says that Dyfed-Powys Police failed to record thousands of crimes, despite being told to improve two-and-a-half years ago.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) found the force had documented just 87.6% of reported crime – meaning upto 4,400 crimes are not recorded each year.

The report highlighted that of violent crimes, 85.4% were registered, which means about 2,400 went unrecorded, some involving domestic abuse or the vulnerable.

The force said it had “plans in place to improve its crime recording.”

HMIC reached their conclusion by comparing the number of reports to the police with recorded numbers. About 35,900 were reported.

In 2018, HMIC found that our local force was too often not recording crimes. And in 2014 it was reported the force was one of the worst in the UK at recording crimes. 

Dyfed-Powys Police T/Chief Constable, Claire Parmenter was quick to respond to the shocking finding. In a statement emailed to The Herald she said: “We accept the concerns and recommendations published by HMICFRS in respect of crime data integrity. As an organisation, we are firmly committed to supporting victims and putting them at the heart of everything we do. The force has plans in place to improve its crime recording and I am determined we will get this right.

“Since the previous HMICFRS inspection in 2018 we have made significant improvements in our response to Domestic Abuse victims, creating the vulnerability desk which provides real time intelligence to officers attending incidents of Domestic Abuse and ensuring that safeguarding arrangements are in place through a new partnership hub. Recent audits in April evidenced we were achieving a 98% compliance for the completion of risk assessments. This ensures that every Domestic Abuse victim is looked after and kept safe.

“We have a programme of change already in place which will deliver significant process and cultural change. The elements of this programme will improve the forces’ ability to manage demand, support victims, improve the timeliness and quality of investigations and supervision of crime. HMICFRS were unable to take this project into account as part of this inspection. Delivery plans commence next month (June 2021).

“Since the date of this inspection, we are already seeing improvements as a result of the swift additional action we have taken, achieving 100% crime recording compliance in respect of anti-social behaviour for February and March 2021 which is positive.”

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Firefighters extinguish blaze at St Catherine’s Fort, Tenby

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A CONTROLLED wood fire earlier in the day caused a fire to break out on Tenby’s St Catherine’s Island on Thursday (May 6).

Heat that was caused by a wood fire earlier in the day caused a ignition on the unburned wood nearby that was needed to be extinguished by Tenby fire crew.

Taking to their Facebook page, St Catherine’s island thanked Tenby Fire Brigade for their assistance.

No serious damage was caused by the incident.

The spokesperson said: “A massive shout out to Tenby Fire Brigade last night who were called to the Island last night after we left following a long day working on the Fort and burning off all the old flooring, having now replaced it all. 

“We had spent at least half an hour making sure that our controlled barrel fire was out. Unfortunately the ground was so hot it transferred to the rest of the unburned wood. 

“Thanks to our amazing local Fire Service, they were on hand to help us out and no damage occurred.”

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