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Education

Gold for Ammanford skills pair

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Joshua Richards: Faced network security challenges

A 15-YEAR-OLD from Ammanford has won a gold medal in the final of a national skills competition.

Backed by the Welsh Government through the European Social Fund, Skills Competition Wales is a series of events held in colleges across the country, designed to celebrate vocational skills and create highly skilled, talented employees for the Welsh workforce.

Shane Ellis, 15, who is currently studying for an Entry Level BTEC at Coleg Sir Gar, competed against students from across Wales in a wood working challenge. The competitors were tasked with creating a wooden box using different woodworking joints.

Shane said: “I’d heard about the competition from a friend, and at first I thought I was too young to apply. When I found out that I could actually go for it, I entered myself into the competition straight away.”

“I felt confident during the competition, because I’d practised using the saw on different joints in my carpentry classes lots before, in preparation for the competition.

“I really enjoy wood work, so I’m hoping to do more carpentry as part of my course next year, and hopefully become a carpenter when I finish college.”

Shane will be joined by 17-year-old Joshua Richard, also from Ammanford, who won a gold medal in computing.

Joshua is currently studying for a Level 3 BTEC in Computing at Coleg Sir Gar, and he competed against students from across Wales in a series of network security challenges.

The competitors were tasked with a range of challenges, from using a Windows virtual machine and setting it up with firewall rules and group policies to using a Cisco Packet Tracer simulation tool to set up a secure wireless network.

Joshua said: “I really enjoyed taking part in the competition this year. I competed last year in the IT Technician Skills Competition, so it was great to be able to compete again, but in a different category this time.

“Once I finish this course I’m hoping to go to the University of South Wales and do a degree in cyber security and forensics. I particularly enjoy learning about the crime side of IT security.

“I’ve loved computers since I was young. I enjoyed IT lessons at school but always felt that I wanted to do more, so working on computers became more of a hobby outside of school. My dad is always fixing computers too, so maybe my interest in computers had something to do with growing up watching him at work.”

More than 50 competitions are taking place this year, across a wide range of different vocations from bricklaying and hairdressing to aeronautical engineering and culinary art.

The successful youngsters may then go on to be shortlisted for the UK Squad, competing against the world’s most talented young people at the EuroSkills competition in Austria, in 2020, or the WorldSkills international final in Shanghai in 2021.

Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning, Eluned Morgan said: “Competitions like these are essential for establishing transferable skills for the future, and allow young people at the start of their careers to flourish.

“They provide individuals from Wales with the opportunity to demonstrate their skills as well as the chance to go further and compete on a national or even international level.

“I would like to congratulate Shane and Joshua on their brilliant achievements and wish them the best of luck in the next stage of the competition and I look forward to seeing them prosper in their future careers.”

Education

WRU and unis combine on degree

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New degree launched: Students will gain hands on coaching skills

THE WELSH R​UGBY UNION (WRU), University of South Wales (USW), Cardiff Blues, and the Dragons have launched a new Foundation Degree in Rugby Coaching and Development which will combine study with practical experience to enhance students’ employability.

The two-year blended learning course will ensure the students gain hands-on coaching skills as part of the Dragons or Cardiff Blues community rugby teams while working towards a valuable qualification at USW.

The course is ideal for individuals who wish to work in the ever-expanding rugby industry, either as a coach, or as a member of staff working within communities developing and delivering sports initiatives.

On completion of the Foundation Degree course, students can progress on to a third year of studies to achieve a BSc (Hons) degree in Rugby Coaching and Performance.

The course allows students to study all sub-disciplines of coaching and gain valuable industry-recognised qualifications and will teach students aspects of children and youth coaching, rugby coaching, rugby development, social inclusion and sports management skills.

Paul Rainer, Head of Sports Science and Sports Coaching at the University of South Wales said “This is an excellent initiative and the collaboration between the University, WRU and the regions will provide the next generation of community coaches in Wales to support the development of the game at grass-roots level.”

“The course provides flexibility in how the student will study and provides an opportunity for the student to develop their vocational skills within the Dragons or Blues community programmes whilst working towards their Welsh Rugby Union Level 1 and 2 coaching certificates and working towards a degree qualification.”

WRU Head of Rugby Participation Ryan Jones said, “We are determined to continue to invest in coaches to safeguard the future of our game. This partnership is a great example of that, with key partners working together for the good of the students and the game.”

WRU Community Coach Development Manager Gerry Roberts added: “The rugby industry is a growing one and it is important that this course aligns the academic study of coaching with vital skills that can only be gained on the ground, working within the regional community teams on all aspects of community rugby.”

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Education

University nominated for LGBT+ Award

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Delighted to fly the flag: Ruth Fowler, Equality Officer, Aberystwyth University

ABERYSTWYTH U​NIVERSITY has been nominated for a public sector equality award at the 2018 PinkNews Awards.

The nominations were announced at a special PinkNews event held in the Senedd in Cardiff Bay on ​June 7.

Aberystwyth is the only Welsh university and one of three institutions from Wales on the longlist of 21 public sector organisations throughout the UK.

The award aims to recognise the contributions of public sector organisations in championing the inclusion and rights of LGBT+ employees and those in the wider community.

A panel of judges will decide the winner, which will be announced at the PinkNews Awards in London on October 17, 2018.

Ruth Fowler, Equality Officer in the Department of Human Resources at Aberystwyth University, said: “We are delighted that Aberystwyth University is flying the flag for the Welsh higher education sector in these important awards. Equality and diversity are embedded across the University. We have a range of policies and positive action plans in place to ensure Aberystwyth is an inclusive and forward-thinking place to work and to study for all, including an LGBT network for staff as well as a series of high-profile LGBT events.”

The annual PinkNews Awards has become one of the UK’s most significant LGBT+ events, championing the efforts of politicians, campaigners, charities, businesses, public sector organisations, broadcasters and journalists in the fight for equality for all.

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Education

WG backtracks on uniform grant

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Kirsty Williams: 'Climbdown' claim on pupil grants

PARENTS in Wales will soon be able to access a new £1.7m fund to help cover the cost of school uniforms, school sports kit and for wider activities such as scouts and guides and sports outside of school.

The new fund, announced by Education Secretary Kirsty Williams, will also cover equipment for activities within the curriculum, such as design and technology.

In addition, parents will also be able to access funding for equipment for out of school hours trips, including outdoor learning.

The new fund, which will be in place ahead of the new academic year in September, will become another element of the Pupil Development Grant (PDG) and will be known as PDG – Access.

As well as making funding available for new uniforms and activities both in and outside the classroom, PDG – Access will be available to a wider range of pupils than the previous School Uniform Grant and attract a higher per pupil funding level of £125.

For the first time, learners in both Reception and Year 7, who are eligible for free school meals will fall within scope of the funding. Unlike the previous school uniform grant, all looked after children in these year groups will also be covered.

As with the previous scheme, the funding will be distributed via local authorities. The Welsh Government has worked with local authorities to develop the grant and will continue to do so to make sure that the funding is being used effectively and that good practice is being shared amongst schools.

Announcing PDG-Access today, Kirsty Williams said: “Reducing the attainment gap between pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds and their peers is at the heart of our national mission to raise standards.

“The Pupil Development Grant has already been described as “invaluable” by schools. PDG – Access will allow us to go that step further in supporting our disadvantaged learners to reach their full potential and narrowing the attainment gap between those learners and their peers.”

In addition to the grant, further consideration is also being given to current non-statutory school uniforms guidance and how it can be strengthened.

Commenting, Shadow Education Secretary, Darren Millar, said: “This announcement amounts to an embarrassing climb-down from the Minister, and comes after a huge backlash from all corners.

“Make no mistake, the Education Secretary has been forced into doing the right thing.

“We warned that scrapping the grant would hit the poorest pupils the hardest and thankfully the Welsh Government has seen sense.

“Labour’s bonfire of education grants is causing huge concern amongst parents and teachers alike, and this u-turn is a sad indictment of the Welsh Government’s mismanagement of its resources.”

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