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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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Youth centre conquers coast path challenge to get the Point Across

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YOUNG people from the Fishguard area recently stepped up to the mark to take on a walking challenge set by Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority Ranger, Richard Vaughan.

Members of the POINT Youth Centre had been tasked with completing a 22-mile sponsored walk along the Pembrokeshire Coast Path – one mile for each year Richard has worked for the Park Authority.

Richard said: “I was so pleased to see 17 young people take part in the Get the POINT Across challenge, some of them giving up three days of their summer holidays to boot.

“The POINT team certainly went the extra mile and more, walking from Poppit Sands back to the youth centre in Fishguard, which is a total of 27 miles.

“I’ve worked with POINT for around 15 years and have seen how the centre encourages young people to play a positive role in their community. It was great to help them raise some money to continue this work, while they also discovered parts of the National Park for the first time.”

POINT was set up to provide young people aged 11-25 gain the self-esteem, skills and self-confidence to cope with the personal problems during the transition from childhood to adulthood.

The drop-in centre provides a safe and welcoming place six days a week with a range of activities, community projects, workshops and trips. Many have a particular emphasis on the environment such as the John Muir Award and beach cleans.

All the proceeds raised during the walk will go to POINT and Get the Boys a Lift, a not for profit based community interest company (CIC) working to better improve mental health within the community.

To view a video of the Get the POINT Across challenge on the POINT Youth Centre’s YouTube channel.

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New mosaic for Pembrokeshire School

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PUPILS attending Haverfordwest High School after the summer holidays were welcomed back by two new mosaics at the main entrance.

The artwork was the result of a series of free summer workshops for families of pupils from the ten feeder schools aimed at aiding the transition from primary to secondary school.

The workshops were run by Springboard – a Learning Pembrokeshire project for families – and Haverfordwest High School and led by local artist Paul Webb.

Participating families were tasked with creating two large scale mosaics to welcome students at the main entrance.

The finished mosaics incorporate the emblems of all 10 feeder primary schools along with the new Haverfordwest High logo thus ensuring that new pupils feel the connection between past and present on the learning journey at their new school.

Amy Delaney, Springboard Advisor on the project, described it as a fun and rewarding way to enable families to support their children through transition to secondary school.

“Working with other families to produce this amazing piece of artwork has helped both adults and children to feel engaged with the school and more confident about the transition to secondary school.”

Heather Cale, the headteacher of St Marks,Church in Wales VA Primary School in Merlins Bridge, said: “The head teachers of the feeder primary schools have been delighted with the transition project. It has given pupils and families the opportunity to work together, make new friends and to get to know their new school.

“As head teachers we have committed to working more closely together across our cluster, for all learners from 3 to 19 years. This is a wonderful  beginning, and we thank all those involved for their commitment and participation.”

Lauren Davies, Head of Year 7 at Haverfordwest High said the school was thrilled with the success of the project and the positive impact it has had on so many families.

She continued: “We are committed to providing a smooth transition between primary and secondary school for all pupils in the Haverfordwest cluster, and we are continually reviewing and developing transition opportunities in line with the new curriculum.

“Springboard were able to support us with offering something creative and ambitious for last year’s transition. We are already planning another project for the current Year 6 pupils and their families from our partner primary schools.”

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UK’s top skaters and riders drop in on Llanelli youngsters to celebrate a special birthday

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THE WORLD’S and the UK’s finest skateboarders, BMX and Wheelchair Motocross stars will drop in on young people at a Carmarthenshire Ramps skatepark on Saturday 19 October 2019 from 11 am till 2 pm. The event was arranged to celebrate the £3 billion National Lottery players have raised for projects which have specifically helped children and young people develop and thrive in the UK over the last 25 years. £2 million of National Lottery funding has specifically been awarded to support and develop over 47 BMX projects in local communities for young people in Wales to enjoy.     

Wales and Pembrokeshire’s own wheelchair sports superstar, Lily Rice; the Olympic BMX freestyler from Swansea, James Jones; Britain’s leading street skateboarder and 2020 Olympic hopeful, Alex Decunha; and YouTube influencer, Jake O’Neill (aka Jake100), visite hundreds of youngsters at Ramps indoor and outdoor skatepark in Llanelli as part of the National Lottery’s celebrations.
More than £340,000 was awarded by the National Lottery in 2013 to develop and build Ramps Skatepark which now provides activities for over 15,000 young people a year.

At 15 years old, Lily Rice from Manorbier, Pembrokeshire, is a World Champion wheelchair motocross (WCMX) star. She was propelled to fame two years ago when she became the first female in Europe to achieve a wheelchair backflip, and only the second girl in the world to pull off the stunt. Since then, Lily has emerged as one of the global leaders of WCMX – wheelchair motocross.
She says: “By contributing towards building amazing facilities such as this indoor and outdoor skate park, National Lottery funding is helping thousands of young people of all abilities to reach their goals and discover new opportunities. I have trained and practised at numerous National Lottery funded skate parks and there is no doubt that the funding has helped wheeled sports, enthusiasts, to become healthier and more active.”

The National Lottery has inspired millions of people to get active in their local community, as well as supporting individuals and teams from grassroots to elite.

James Jones is a 25-year-old professional BMX rider from Swansea. James, who also celebrated his 25th Birthday this year,  is one of six world-class athletes who make up the Freestyle BMX Team GB for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. James honed his skills and practised his tricks at the Ramps skate park in Llanelli when he was growing up and highlights the importance of young people having access to facilities like this on their doorstep.
James Jones said: “I practised a lot here growing up and this facility has played a big part in my development as a professional rider and a person. I probably wouldn’t be where I am now without the support I got here. It’s not just about learning to ride or skate, there’s a real family vibe here, a great social aspect and it’s well supported by the community. The National Lottery must fund parks such as this one so that young people can have a safe space to pursue their hobbies and meet friends.”
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