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Education

Gold and silver for Aber Uni

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ABERYSTWYTH U​NIVERSITY has won the Postgraduate category in the What Uni Student Choice Awards 2018.

For the second year running, Aberystwyth also picked up a silver award in the International category at the What Uni awards ceremony held in London on Thursday 19 April 2018.

As well as the Postgraduate and International categories, Aberystwyth University had been shortlisted for a further five awards including University of the Year, Accommodation, Clubs and Societies, Course and Lecturers, and Giving Back.

Aberystwyth University also featured in the top 10 in the UK in all the categories for which it was shortlisted, including 5th overall for University of the Year.

More than 36,000 student reviews were collected and more than a hundred universities were visited in order to compile the shortlist.

For the 2018 awards, 43 higher education institutions were nominated across fifteen categories, recognised by their students for offering an incredible university experience.

The What Uni awards are based on averages taken from tens of thousands of reviews submitted by students and published on What Uni.com.

The annual survey also showed that Wales hosts the happiest students across the United Kingdom.

Now in their fifth year, the awards provide prospective students with an unbiased, student-led alternative to traditional university ranking systems.

Professor John Grattan, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Student Experience at Aberystwyth University said: “We are absolutely delighted to have won the top place in the Postgraduate category, the Silver award for International and to have been shortlisted in a further five categories. We know that Aberystwyth offers an exceptional student experience and what’s significant about the What Uni awards is that they are based on real feedback from students. These latest awards reinforce our outstanding results in the 2017 National Student Survey, which placed Aberystwyth students amongst the most satisfied in the UK for overall satisfaction. The quality of the education and wider student experience offered at Aberystwyth is also borne out by our accolade as the UK’s University of the Year for Teaching Quality in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018.”

Professor Elizabeth Treasure, Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth said: “This is wonderful news and richly deserved by everyone here at Aberystwyth University. We take great pride in the wonderful student experience we offer at Aberystwyth, and for this to be recognised by our students speaks volumes for the dedication of colleagues right across the institution who contribute so much to making Aberystwyth such a wonderful place to live and learn.”

Speaking ahead of the awards, Eleni Cashell, Editor of What Uni, said: “Being nominated for an award is a huge achievement, because the only judges at the WUSCAs are the students themselves. It showcases to both prospective students and the higher education sector that your institution offers value for money, provides a good student experience and has a highly satisfied and supported student community.”

Education

School’s concern over ‘inappropriate use of images of staff and pupils’

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THE HEADTEACHER of a Pembrokeshire primary school has written to parents and guardians following concerns over certain social media activity.

Mrs Clare Hewitt, of Neyland Community Primary School, said that it filled her “with great sadness” to have to email parents and guardians of pupils at her school.

She added that the school had alerted the police regarding the matter.

Mrs Hewitt said that it came to light that there had been “inappropriate use of images of staff and pupils for TikTok pages and Messenger groups.”

The school said it is asking that all parents, where their child uses social media, to check social media accounts to ensure that they are being used appropriately and safely,

Parents or guardians with concerns have been asked to telephone the school on Monday or to contact Mrs Hewitt by email.

Parents and guardians of pupils were contacted by email on Saturday night (May 15).

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Education

Major prize for UWTSD lecturer

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A UWTSD academic has been awarded the prestigious Henry Stopes Memorial Medal.
Based at the University’s Lampeter campus, Dr Martin Bates accepted the outstanding contribution award from the Geologists’ Association during an online ceremony on Friday 7 May. This prize is awarded just once every three years for exceptional work in the archaeological field and specifically ‘on the Prehistory of Man and his geological environment.’
During his career, Dr. Bates has been involved in several major discoveries within the UK archaeological field including the Dover Bronze Age Boat, the Clactonian Elephant butchery site in Ebbsfleet, the Harnham terminal Lower Palaeolithic site near Salisbury.
He discovered the Happisburgh human footprints in Norfolk (the oldest presently know in the world outside Africa).
It was noted during the presentation that the Henry Stopes Medal had been awarded to Dr Bates for his “significant contributions to understanding the geological environment of prehistoric human occupation of Britain and elsewhere over the last 40 years.”
It was also noted that in the spirit of the Geologists’ Association he was “generous with his time and expertise to colleagues, students and members of the public alike.”
Following the awards ceremony, Dr Martin Bates commented: “It is incredible to be recognised in this way and I’d like to thank the Geologists’ Association for this honour.  
“However, this award really reflects the support I have received through my career from a whole range of specialists who have provided me with the data I have used in my research. Without them I would not have been able to do what I have done”
“I think this all goes back to my very early days spent on the beaches of West Wales being dragged along on Saturday fieldtrips led by my father for students studying geology at Aberystwyth.  He has a lot to answer for!”

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Education

Students relying on free school meals fell further behind

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THE ATTAINMENT gap between disadvantaged primary school pupils and their classmates has grown in mathematics by one month since the onset of the pandemic, according to interim findings published this week by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF).

The findings are drawn from an ongoing EEF-funded study that aims to understand changes to the gap which might have occurred due to the periods of partial school closure resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.

While disadvantaged pupils’ outcomes in mathematics seem to have been hit hardest by the first national lockdown, the attainment gap did not widen (or shrink) during the Autumn 2020 term.

Thar suggests that gaps caused by Covid are unlikely to close without intervention.

The research is based on assessment data collected by FFT Education from 132 primary schools prior to and after the first national lockdown.

The report did not measure the impact of school closures on overall learning progress (sometimes referred to as learning loss) but, instead, looked at the differences in progress between pupils eligible for free school meals and those that are not.

Data from reading and maths assessments (PIRA and PUMA tests) taken in Autumn 2019 was used as a baseline to track the trajectory of the attainment gap.

Pupils whose data was included in the sample were all in Years 1 to 5 (5-to-10-year-olds) during the academic year 2019-2020.

Reading and maths tests were administered to these same pupils on their return to the classroom in September 2020, and then again towards the end of the Autumn term 2020.

Disadvantaged pupils’ performance in the tests was compared to that of their classmates to examine changes to the attainment gap which might have resulted from the first period of partial school closures.

The analysis of these results indicates that pupils from socio-economically deprived backgrounds have fallen further behind in maths since the onset of the pandemic.

Contrary to previous estimates, this study found no discernible change to the disadvantage gap in reading.

The findings also highlight the difficulty of combatting educational inequality in classrooms.

Data collected from PIRA and PUMA assessments taken at the end of the Autumn term 2020 indicate the return of all pupils to school in September has not been sufficient in narrowing the gap.

Further analysis is currently underway.

A final data set will be collected in June 2021 to examine whether the disadvantage gap narrows, widens, or remains stable.

Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and founder and chairman of the Sutton Trust, said: “Today’s research gives us more evidence of the enormous impact school closures have had on young people, especially those from low-income homes.

“The research indicates the need for long-term, sustained support for schools as they work to accelerate the progress of their disadvantaged pupils.

“To mitigate against the long-term impact of lost learning, large government funding is required. The cost of failing to act now will be a catastrophe for young people from low-income homes.”

Professor Becky Francis, CEO of the Education Endowment Foundation, said: “The pandemic has brought the significance of social and educational inequality into sharp focus.

“Research studies like this one are providing clear evidence that substantial existing gaps have grown further due to the disruption to learning caused by the pandemic.

“In strategizing an approach to recovery, we are presented with the opportunity to go beyond restoring the learning lost during partial school closures, and work towards rebalancing the scales for disadvantaged pupils.”

Researchers from FFT Education said: “Our study makes a fresh contribution to the research on the effects of COVID.

“We find that attainment gaps between disadvantaged students and their peers have widened slightly in maths, but not reading.

“We also find that there were surprisingly weak associations between school responses to COVID – for example, phoning students during the lockdown – and attainment.”

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