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Education

Home-educated children to be registered

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'An invisible child': Seabridge case leads to registration

THE WELSH G​OVERNMENT is to create a statutory register for home-schooled children. The announcement by Cabinet Secretary Kirsty Williams follows a review of the safeguarding of home-schooled children in light of the Dylan Seabridge case.

Dylan Seabridge died in 2011 of what was diagnosed as scurvy during a post-mortem examination. To all intents and purposes, Dylan had been invisible to social and education services in Pembrokeshire until concerns about the wellbeing of him and his siblings were raised following an industrial tribunal hearing regarding his mother’s employment in a Ceredigion school.

Dylan’s parents denied Pembrokeshire Social Services the chance to assess the wellbeing of Dylan or his siblings and, due to the way the law is drafted, there was no way of compelling his parents to give access.

Dylan Seabridge had no direct contact with agencies such as doctors, nurses and teachers from the age of 13 months, a Child Practice Review later found. His death resulted in a wide-ranging review and, in 2016, its author Gladys Rhodes White said current legislation was in ‘stark contrast’ to the Welsh Government’s commitment to the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child.

There are wide ranges of reasons why families choose to home school their children: distance or access to local school, religious or cultural beliefs, or philosophical or ideological views. Guidelines for home schooling vary depending on where you live in the world. Home-schooled children in Scotland have to be registered whilst there is only a requirement to de-register in other parts of the UK.

Responding to a question from Simon Thomas AM, Cabinet Secretary for Education, Kirsty Williams, said: “I am committed to ensuring all children in Wales receive a suitable education, are safeguarded, and have the opportunity to benefit from universal services.

“I have accepted, in principle, the recommendation by the Children’s Commissioner for Wales for a statutory register for home-educated children and will be working with the commissioner to take this forward.

“To help support local authorities identify home-educated children in their area I will be challenging current ways of working to ensure we maximise opportunities for further strengthening collaborative approaches to protect the rights of these children to receive an education and to be safe.”

An NSPCC Cymru / Wales spokesman said: “We have long supported a compulsory register for children who are educated at home and it’s encouraging to see the steps being taken by the Welsh Government to make this a reality.

“Every family has a right to educate their child as they choose and home learning alone is not a risk factor for abuse or neglect. But home educated children are at increased risk of becoming invisible to authorities and it is absolutely vital that councils are able to identify those children in their area and ensure they receive the education, safeguarding and support they need.

“We know that parents want a safe learning environment for their children. A register would help to ensure this is the case for every single home educated child in Wales.”

Former Children’s Commissioner for Wales, Keith Towler, is to lead the task and finish group.

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “We have listened carefully to concerns about safeguarding children who are educated at home and have accepted, in principle, the recommendation of the Children’s Commissioner for Wales for a statutory register for home-educated children.

“We are currently exploring the options available and will continue to liaise closely with the Children’s Commissioner as we progress this work.”

Speaking before Christmas, Cllr John Davies, Chair of Pembrokeshire County Council’s Education Scrutiny Committee, said: “This is a serious issue. We have seen here in Pembrokeshire, first hand, where the system doesn’t always accommodate for the well-being of an individual that is home-educated.

“The trend is telling us there are now more people electing for home education, a 52% increase between 2013-16. Therefore there is more of a reason to reflect on the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny have quite rightly referred to the need, one that would not infringe on the rights of individuals, to have a one-a-year visible contact with a child. This is about sharing the responsibility that everyone has towards children and young people.”

Education

Extra investment in 21st Century Schools

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Announced £100m extra: Kirsty Williams

£100​M ​is to be invested over the next three years to accelerate the delivery of the flagship 21st Century Schools and Education programme, Cabinet Secretary for Education, Kirsty Williams and Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning Eluned Morgan ​has said.

An extra £75m, has been allocated to the 21st Century Schools and Education Programme a major, long-term and strategic capital investment programme to modernise education infrastructure.

In addition, £30m will be released from the programme in future years for immediate investment in capital projects that will contribute to the goal of reaching a million Welsh speakers by 2050. This is a shared priority with Plaid Cymru.

The money will bring the total invested over the life of the programme to almost £3.8bn. The first phase of the programme will finish in 2019 having invested £1.4bn to support the rebuild and refurbishment of more than 150 schools and colleges across Wales. The second phase will see a spend of £2.3bn.

Kirsty Williams said: “Our national mission is to raise standards, reduce the attainment gap and deliver an education system that is a source of national pride and confidence. Our 21st Century Schools and Education Programme plays a key part in this and is the largest investment in our schools and colleges since the 1960s.

“Having a comfortable, modern, fit-for-purpose environment in which to learn is vital to ensuring young people have the best possible education. This extra funding will mean that even more of our students will be able to benefit from having the best possible facilities in their schools and colleges.​”​

Eluned Morgan said: “Reaching a million Welsh speakers by 2050 is a significant challenge and education is key to the success of this ambition. This means we need to invest in new Welsh medium schools and improve and increase the teaching of Welsh in English medium schools. Bringing forward this funding for immediate investment allows us to ensure there is no delay in the work to achieve this target.”

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Education

Aber hots Apple programmers’ conference

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Aberystwyth: Firmly on software development map

IOSDEVUK, the UK’s leading conference for Apple software developers, will be returning to Aberystwyth in September 2018.

Now in its eighth year, iOSDevUK is hosted by Professor Chris Price and Dr Neil Taylor from the Department of Computer Science at Aberystwyth University.

The dates for iOSDevUK 8 have been confirmed as 3-6 September 2018, with the list of speakers and themes due to be announced in the coming weeks.

Further-more, the Aberystwyth based conference has been voted one of the World’s top 10 iOS conferences for 2018, the only one in the UK, by tech website www.raywenderlich.com.

Last year’s iOSDevUK 7 saw representatives from thirty nationalities travel to the three day event at Aberystwyth, with all 200 delegate places taken.

Professor Chris Price said: “We are delighted to confirm that iOSDevUK will be returning to Aberystwyth once more this year. Over the years iOSDevUK has put Aberystwyth firmly on the software development map, and we are delighted that so many developers from around the world feel it is worth their while travelling to Aberystwyth. Indeed, for many it has become an annual pilgrimage.”

“From the outset, our aim with iOSDevUK has been to encourage creativity by sharing expertise and experiences and we are confident that this year’s conference will once again achieve this, both for our delegates and for our students who will be able to attend free of charge.”

Previous iOSDevUK gatherings have focused on the most recent developments announced by Apple and this year’s conference will be no different.

One of the features of the conference has been the end-of-conference hack which challenges delegates to work together to develop innovative and exciting applications using Apple’s latest software.

The most recent hack focused on ARKit – Apple’s latest augmented reality software, which has proved so popular in games such as Pokemon Go.
Further details about the conference will be released on the iOSDevUK website.
Organisers also plan to announce the ‘Early Bird’ offers online in April 2018, for those who want to avoid disappointment.

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Education

Night on the tiles for students

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Master ceramicist: Richard Miller speaks at Coleg Sir Gâr

A​SPIRING​ ceramicists at Coleg Sir Gâr’s Carmarthen School of Art welcomed a master craftsman from the BBC’s The Great Pottery Throw Down into college recently for a bespoke lesson in tile-making.

Richard Miller is a Surrey-based ceramicist who runs his own business, Froyle Tiles, which produces traditional, contemporary and bespoke tiles for both domestic and business environments. The company works with​ ​independent retailers as well as undertaking luxury projects in London with clients including Wagamama and BBC.

The ceramicist gave a talk to ceramics degree students on his work on the BBC show and how he grew his business.

Thomas Fisher, Carmarthen School of Art ceramics lecturer, said: “Students learned about what inspires Richard’s work and how he responds to individual, business and agency briefs.

“They really benefited from his experience of such a wide range of clients and briefs, from English heritage to modern architecture, and how he grew his business to the materials and processes used in his company.”

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