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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 Chequers nightclub to reopen

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AN APPLICATION for a new premises licence for the former Chequers night club succeeded at a meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council’s Licensing sub-committee on Thursday (Aug 22).

The former nightclub closed its doors for the last time in 2003, when it ran as a private members’ club, having had an application for a full on-licence rejected.

After failing in an attempt to close the club on that occasion, Pembrokeshire County Council became the only local authority in Wales to classify mobile homes as permanent residences in an effort to shut down the club once and for all.

The new applicant, Mrs Carmen Clemas applied for a new premises licence in respect of the club, which will be renamed the Queen of Clubs.

The Committee heard objections to the licence from local residents and heard representations from both the Police and Fire Service which pointed out that the building would need significant remedial works to it before it could re-open.

While Penally Community Council objected on the basis of events and problems at the premises almost twenty years ago, neither the Police nor Fire Service had an objection to the Club’s re-opening in principle.

Both emergency services emphasised that, even though they had no objections, they had concerns that had to be addressed.

The Committee granted the application, refusing permission for licensable activities at the Club on Sundays, apart from Sundays before Bank Holidays, and imposing strict noise control measures.

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St Davids RNLI to feature in new series of a popular TV documentary

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THE volunteer lifeboat crew of St Davids RNLI will be taking to the small screen next week as they will feature twice in the first episode of the BBC TV series Saving Lives at Sea.

Now in its fourth season the documentary series, which showcases the lifesaving work of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), will be aired on BBC Two on Tuesdays at 8 pm, as well as being available on the BBC iPlayer following the broadcast. The new 10-part series features real rescues carried out by the charity’s volunteer lifeboat crews and lifeguards around the UK and Ireland – including St Davids RNLI.

Each programme gives a unique insight into the lives and work of the charity’s lifesavers who are needed more than ever before, rescuing thousands of people and saving hundreds of lives around our coastline and on inland waterways every year. The new series features more dramatic real-life rescue footage, accompanied by emotive testimonials from the volunteer crews, lifeguards and the people they rescue and their families.

This forthcoming episode, on 27 August, sees St Davids RNLI launch to a crashed plane in one shout, and tow a yacht stranded in a shipping lane in another. These shouts are shown alongside rescue stories from their colleagues at other stations and beaches around our coasts.

Judd Kohler, Station Mechanic at St Davids Lifeboat Station, said: “The first episode of Saving Lives at Sea shows two very different shouts that St Davids RNLI responded to. The programme is a great chance for RNLI supporters to catch a glimpse of the work that their kind donations go towards. We want to say a huge thank you to supporters of the RNLI, who help us to save lives at sea.”

Filming took place over the past year, with lifeboat crews and lifeguards carrying special cameras and welcoming film-makers into their day-to-day life. Rescues from the RNLI’s archives are also revisited, and we get a glimpse into the everyday lives of the thousands of men and women who give up their time to save lives.

Last year alone, RNLI lifeboat crews around the UK and Ireland rescued 9,412 people, saving 211 lives, while the charity’s lifeguards aided 32,207 people and saved 118 lives on some of the UK’s busiest beaches.

Saving Lives at Sea begins on Tuesday 27 August at 8 pm on BBC Two, and will continue throughout August, September and October.

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Pembrokeshire schools celebrate GCSE results

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PEMBROKESHIRE’S schools are celebrating students’ success in this year’s GCSE exams.

 

“On behalf of staff and governors at Milford Haven School, I would like to congratulate all Year 11 pupils on their GCSE results, reflecting the efforts and commitment they have shown over the last two years and also thank their parents/carers for their support and cooperation,” said the Head Teacher, Ceri-Ann Morris.

 

“We are pleased with a number of individual successes, in particular, our top performers include, Izzy-May Solomon (10A*, 3A’s and B), Megan Owens (12A* and A), Megan Clarke (8A* and 4A’s), Finlay Ryder, Gareth Maclachlan, Evan Price, Molly Griffiths, Elanor Evans, Beth Lewis and Lucie Mathias.

 

The school is pleased to say that all pupils left school with qualifications which will help support them to follow the path of their choice, whether that be into the sixth form, college, apprenticeships or employment.

 

We wish you all good luck in your future careers.”

Among those receiving their results was Joseph Jenkins, a 14-year-old Year 9 student, who achieved a Distinction in Advanced Mathematics.

At Ysgol Y Preseli 100% of pupils achieved qualifications equivalent to 5A*-G; 91% 5A*-C and 37% achieved at least 5A*-A grades.

Across the core subjects, the pupils achieved the following results at A*-C – Welsh 86%; English 91%; Mathematics 82%; Science 84%.

The Head Teacher, Mr Michael Davies, commenting on the results stated: “We are very proud of all the young people who have worked tirelessly to achieve these results. I would also like to thank the staff for their willingness to go the extra mile to ensure that all pupils fulfil their potential at Ysgol y Preseli.”

Amongst the top performers were: Seren Allen – 13 A*, 1 A; Nuala Camplin – 8 A*, 4 A, 2B; Cerys Chadwick – 14 A*; Annest Davies – 6 A*, 4 A, 1B; Thomas Elliott – 9 A*, 4 A, 1 B; Gethin Greenhalgh – 9 A*, 5 A; Cara James – 5 A*, 8 A; Casey Lambert- 7 A*, 7 A; Alexander Larsen – 10 A*, 4 A; Tom Palfrey – 9 A*, 3 A, 1 B; Kate Thomas – 5 A*, 5 A, 3 B; David Varney – 7 A*, 4 A, 3 B
Education Minister, Kirsty Williams, has congratulated GCSE students on their results, as overall performance across Wales has improved.

This summer’s results mark the end of the significant GCSE reform journey undertaken in Wales. The last seven of reformed GCSE subjects are awarded this year including History, Computer Science and Welsh Second Language.

Speaking during her visit to King Henry VIII School in Abergavenny, Kirsty Williams said: “Today we have seen an improvement in overall performance across Wales. I would like to congratulate all learners receiving their results today and to thank the teachers who have worked so hard to deliver these new qualifications.

“Last year we saw a dramatic increase of 50% in entries for science GCSEs. I am pleased to see that entries and results are continuing on the upward trend, with more pupils gaining A*-C and more achieving the very top grades in Biology, Chemistry and Physics.

“This increase in learners being entered means more young people are accessing qualifications that lead to greater opportunities for further science study and careers, paving the way for the future scientists of Wales.”

Following the publication of yesterday’s GCSE and Welsh Baccalaureate results David Evans, Wales Secretary of the National Education Union said: “We congratulate all students who have collected their GCSE and Welsh Baccalaureate results from today and wish them all the very best for the future. It is particularly pleasing to note that overall GCSE performance in Wales has improved by 1.2% especially given the fact that all examinations have been subject to reform in recent years. This progress is a testament to the time and effort put into their studies by pupils across Wales and the unstinting dedication of education professionals in our schools.”

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