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Education

New alliance with Big Learning Company

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THE UNIVERSITY of Wales Trinity Saint David has signed a strategic partnership with one of the UK’s leading digital learning organisations.

The big Learning Company (BLC) will support the Institute of Education’s plans for teacher education and further enhance the opportunities available to partner schools and Yr Athrofa staff.

It is anticipated that the university’s Yr Athrofa will work with BLC to provide new digital education content, teacher development programmes and state-of-the-art education technology.

The partnership will also see the creation of Yr Athrofa: Cardiff, a new satellite centre for the institute’s work in the welsh capital.

Yr Athrofa: Cardiff will be based at BLC’s headquarters in Tramshed Tech, near Cardiff Central Railway Station.

BLC and the university have already announced a partnership in relation to Yr Egin, the university’s creative and digital media cluster based on the Carmarthen campus.

BLC is working with the Welsh Government to expand the number of ‘Code Clubs’ in Wales and has attracted high praise from Education Secretary Kirsty Williams.

Professor Dylan Jones, Director of Yr Athrofa, welcomed the partnership and the many possibilities it brings.

He said: “BLC has developed a strong reputation as a leader in the field of digital learning and technology and we are delighted to be working so closely with them.

“Their expertise will be invaluable as we look to further develop our professional learning partnership of schools across Wales and we are exploring a number of exciting projects to support our new teacher education offer.

“Having a permanent base for Yr Athrofa in Cardiff will open new doors for us in the Welsh capital as I’m sure colleagues will also benefit from having a BLC presence in Carmarthen.

“These are exciting times for Yr Athrofa and the signing of this agreement is further evidence of our lofty ambition for teacher education in Wales.”

Louise Harris, Chief Executive of BLC, said: “We are delighted to have this opportunity to cement our long-standing relationship with UWTSD – one of Wales’ foremost HEI’s in the field of education and training – to develop teacher education and the EdTech sector generally in Wales.

“Working in tandem with the university’s Yr Athrofa: the Institute of Education on innovative digital services, technology products and high-level digital content across the whole of the education sector, this new strategic partnership will create a range of exciting possibilities for both parties: both through the creation of Yr Athrofa: Cardiff at BLC’s headquarters in the heart of the Welsh capital at Tramshed Tech; and through working closely with Yr Athrofa in Carmarthen to deliver digital training and education services.”

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Education

Teacher’s gruelling challenge to help visually impaired child

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TEACHER Sion Jenkins is running 100 laps around a famous Pembrokeshire landmark to raise money to help a visually impaired child in his class.

He is aiming to raise £2,000 on crowd funder platform Go Fund Me by doing laps of Carew Castle and Mill in just 24 hours, about one hundred miles in total.

Sion said: “I decided that I wanted to raise money to help purchase a trike/adapted bike to help a visually impaired child in my class.

“Due to his sight, he isn’t able to ride a bike – and is desperate to gain some independence/confidence and ride a bike like every other child.

“On the back of a challenge set by school, to complete the ‘100 challenge’ as a tribute to Captain Sir Tom Moore, I decided to tie the two together and have a go at completing this gruelling challenge.

“100 laps of Carew Castle and Mill will total just under 100 miles – in less than 24 hours.”

If you would like to contribute to this epic challenge this is the link:

https://uk.gofundme.com/f/carew-mill-100-laps-in-24-hours?

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Education

Schools partnership promotes the benefits of outdoor learning

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OUTDOOR learning across the county has received a welcome boost over the past 12 months as a result of additional funding secured by the Pembrokeshire Outdoor Schools (PODS) project, which has covered the cost of a Co-ordinator working directly with schools.

Thanks to financial backing from the People’s Postcode Local Trust and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Trust, the PODS Co-ordinator has been able to help with the delivery of high quality, curriculum-linked learning experiences in school grounds and local outdoor spaces.

Part of the Co-ordinator’s role is also to bring together local and national organisations, including Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority’s Discovery team, teachers and head teachers. Pooling their diverse knowledge and expertise, the partnership seeks to share good practice and promote the benefits of taking lessons outdoors.

Pembrokeshire Outdoor Schools Co-ordinator Bryony Rees said: “Last summer, the Welsh Government recognised the importance of outdoor learning in the post-lockdown return to school. We have been working hard to support this by giving children and teachers increased opportunities to take their learning outdoors.

“We have already engaged with a number of schools across Pembrokeshire and produced some live webinars. Supporting resources for these can be found on HWB. This has made it possible to reach out to even more schools with practical information, inspiration and advice on delivering outdoor learning programmes.

“Several schools have taken the opportunity to develop their school grounds to support outdoor learning and more recently, Neyland Community School has introduced outdoor lessons every Friday.”

During the most recent lockdown, work has continued online and the PODS website has been developed to provide teachers with some learning resources. Outdoor learning ideas and inspiration for teachers and parents are also shared on the PODS Facebook page (Pembrokeshire Outdoor Schools) and on Twitter @PembsOutdoorSch.

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Education

Education announcement welcomed by Pembrokeshire County Council

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THE LOCAL AUTHORITY has said that it welcomes the Welsh Government’s announcement today (Friday, 29th January) that schools will be the first to reopen when Wales’ current lockdown restrictions are lifted.

First Minister Mark Drakeford has announced that the ‘alert level four’ restrictions will remain in Wales for three more weeks but following that period, there would be a ‘phased and flexible back-to-school approach if coronavirus cases continue to fall’.

He said primary school children would be the first to return, if the public health situation continues to improve, and that students studying vocational qualifications would also be among those prioritised for the phased return to colleges.

Mr Drakeford said: “We’ve seen a really welcome fall in cases of the virus all over Wales, but they are still too high and the NHS continues to be under intense pressure.

“We need to keep the lockdown restrictions in place for a little while longer to help us bring rates of the virus down further. If we can do this, we will create the headroom we need to get children back to school after half term – starting with the youngest at primary schools.

“We will work with teachers, colleges, local authorities to plan for the safe return of children to school over the next couple of weeks and keep parents updated.”

Pembrokeshire’s Director of Education, Steven Richards-Downes, will be meeting virtually with Welsh Government ministers today together with other Education Directors.

Mr Richards-Downes said: “We welcome the Welsh Government’s statement that schools will be the first to reopen, whenever that may be.

“We will continue to work directly with unions, headteachers, governing bodies and other Council services to ensure that schools are Covid-safe when they are re-opened.

“Distance learning will continue for now and parents should contact their schools directly if they have any queries regarding this.”

He added: “Any parent experiencing difficulties with digital exclusion should contact their school directly.

Free school meals payments will continue to be paid to families who have applied for them, as planned. The next payments will be made on Thursday, 4th February.

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