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Education

Swansea Uni to deliver advanced therapies

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A significant opportunity: University a centre for cell and gene therapies

SWANSEA U​NIVERSITY’S​ Medical School, through its partnership with Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, is to be one of the centres to deliver advanced medical therapies to Wales, which is part of a major investment announced by Welsh Blood Services.

A recently formed health consortium, jointly led by the Welsh Blood Service (on behalf of NHS Wales) and the National Institute for Health Research Birmingham Biomedical Research Centre, has been awarded £7.3M of UK Government funding to ensure more patients benefit from a new generation of breakthrough therapies.

£1.5M will come directly to NHS Wales and £550K to Trakcel, a Welsh software company developing scheduling/tracking software for advanced therapies which is based upon technology developed at Swansea University.

The funding will support the Welsh Government’s commitment to developing an Advanced Therapies Strategy which will enable these therapies to be brought to Welsh patients and Advanced Therapy Medicinal Product (ATMP) companies to reach the clinical market, whilst building expertise, capability and capacity across NHS Wales to benefit patient outcomes.

Speaking of the award, Frank Atherton, Chief Medical Officer for Wales, said: “We welcome the announcement of the successful partnership between Birmingham, Nottingham and Wales NHS centres in bidding for Innovate UK monies. The project is aligned with our ambition to support the development, availability and adoption of new innovative therapies for patients in Wales. Cell- and gene-based advanced therapies offer exciting opportunities, not only for the way we treat people with previously incurable conditions, but also how we work together with industry and NHS Wales in bringing these treatments from bench to bedside.”

The NHS Wales role in the MW-ATTC consortium was led by the Welsh Blood Service, with support from Abertawe Bro Morgannwg and Cardiff & Vale University Health Boards along with the Life Sciences Hub Wales Special Interest Group on Cell and Gene Therapy, which brings together expertise from the Welsh NHS, Universities and industry in the Life Science sector.

As part of the contract award, one of the first advanced therapy treatment sites in Wales will be established within Abertawe Bro Morgannwg at the Joint Clinical Research Facility (JCRF) at Swansea University’s Medical School. The focus of the centre will be to develop the infrastructure, processes and skilled workforce required to enable patients to be cared for, from diagnosis through to post-treatment follow up.

Cath O’Brien, Director of the Welsh Blood Service and MW-ATTC Co-Director, said: “A significant opportunity exists to position Wales as a leader in clinical trial and routine delivery of cell and gene therapies to maximise Welsh patient benefit and opportunities for the national economy. The Welsh Government is committed to exploring these revolutionary developments in healthcare and we are excited to have worked alongside our consortium partners to secure funding through what was a highly competitive tendering process.”

One of the first products that will pass through the Welsh centres is that being developed by one of the consortium partners, Rexgenero and is intended to prevent the need for diabetes-related lower limb amputations for some no option patients. The incidence of diabetes is continuing to increase in Wales and already accounts for ~10% of the NHS Wales budget (£500M) with 200, 000 sufferers today rising to an estimated 500,000 by 2025. Currently around 2000 patients in Wales have non-healing lower limb ulcers that result in approximately 330 amputations per year.

The Midlands & Wales Advanced Therapy Treatment Centre (MW-ATTC) will identify barriers, challenges and solutions to facilitate future deployment and adoption of these transformative therapies within the UK healthcare system.

Advanced treatments, such as cell and gene therapies, show great promise for patients with chronic and terminal conditions that currently cannot be cured. Unlike conventional medicines, these new approaches often aim to selectively remove, repair, replace, regenerate and re-engineer a patient’s own genes, cells and tissues to restore normal function. The project will include potential treatments for arthritis, liver disease, several types of cancer, and diabetic ulcers.

Education

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A MASTERS graduate from UWTSD recently won the Student Dissertation category at the prestigious Celebrating Outdoor Learning Awards 2018 ceremony.

John Godley received his prize at the Celebrating Outdoor Learning Awards are presented to Outdoor Learning professionals and organisations in recognition of their outstanding work as well as encouraging excellence.

Scooping the student award, John’s dissertation looked at how disconnection from social media contributes to young people’s experience and learning on a 3-day outdoor education residential.

Celebrating dissertation work completed by students as part of an undergraduate or post-graduate course the category was open to students who had successfully completed their course during the three years to September 2018.

The judges looked for evidence of the choice and focus of the subject; the clarity of purpose and structure; research and review; methodology; analysis and interpretation of results; communication as well as conclusions and summaries.

“I’m really pleased to have won the dissertation award,” says John, a Further Education college lecturer. “The course was a fantastic experience that allowed me to explore issues and perspectives that I had not even known about beforehand. I was able to take part in some really memorable practical experiences which were blended with the academic content and which were great opportunities to meet experts in their fields and the other students on the course. The skills I learned on the course have really benefitted my teaching through the advanced academic and critical thinking skills developed. The tutors’ support has been excellent throughout and they have been central to giving me the confidence to enter the competition.”

In what was a highly contested category, another UWTSD Masters graduate, Anna Gordon, was also highly commended and featured as one of the three category finalists. Anna’s dissertation was an exploration of how women perceive the presence of others to affect their freedom in outdoor activities.

Having both graduated with an MA in Outdoor Education in July 2018, their dissertations were submitted with the support of UWTSD’s MA Outdoor Education Programme Director, Dr Andy Williams who attended the ceremony and collected John’s award on his behalf.
“John’s success in winning the Student Dissertation Award at the national conference for the Institute for Outdoor Learning is a terrific personal achievement and reflects well on his commitment to further study and his competence as an early career researcher,” says Andy.

“The study is highly topical, focussing on how a disconnection from social media on a residential outdoor experience might contribute towards changing attitudes and behaviour around future use.

“I am delighted to say that he has already looked to share his conclusions with a broader audience in Horizons – the professional journal for Outdoor Educators. As important is John’s continuing desire to constantly improve his own teaching and outdoor practice through his involvement with the MA Outdoor Education programme at UWTSD.

Speaking of Anna’s achievement of reaching the final three, Andy is again delighted to see another of his students attain success and recognition on a national level.

“Anna Gordon’s success in being shortlisted for the Student Dissertation Award at the national conference for the Institute for Outdoor Learning is well deserved,” continues Andy.

“At a time when society has reawakened to issues of equality and opportunity Anna’s study is highly topical for Wales and the outdoor community focusing as it does on Women’s perceptions of the presence of others to affect their freedom in outdoor activities.

“Anna’s dissertation success draws from her MA Outdoor Education studies (2016-18) and builds on her previous undergraduate success on the BA Outdoor Adventure Education degree at UWTSD where she studied from 2013-16. Anna lives locally and works as a freelance outdoor instructor with many local groups and organisations. As a graduate of UWTSD we are proud of her academic success and pioneering work as a role model for young women developing a career in the outdoors.”

UWTSD’s Outdoor Education courses are now offered at the University’s new Outdoor Adventure Education Centre in Carmarthen called Cynefin – an accessible hub for the University’s BA Outdoor Adventure Education and MA Outdoor Education students enabling them to further enhance their skills and develop their understanding of Outdoor Adventure.

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Education

Noteworthy £3m for music education

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THE MINISTER for Education, Kirsty Williams, confirmed £3m for improving music services in schools across Wales over the next two years.

The fund aims to increase access and opportunities for children and young people in Wales to learn new instruments and study music. It builds on initiatives such as Anthem and will offer opportunities to ensure the provision of high quality, universal access to musical education for all learners.

£1.5million will be spent in 2018/19, with a further £1.5 million allocated for music services next year. This includes £1million per annum as agreed as part of the two-year budget agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru and £0.5m as announced in yesterday’s final budget allocation.

Local Authorities have received £1.4million via the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) which may be used to support a variety of services including:

• Purchasing new and endangered instruments
• Ensuring all pupils have access to lessons, exams and courses
• Covering costs of attendance at orchestras, choirs and bands
• Initiating a ‘rock and pop’ ensemble
• Supporting music co-operative arrangements
• National Youth Arts Wales has received £100,000 to continue their music services, including youth ensembles.

Kirsty Williams said: “Music is at the heart of our nation’s rich heritage and I am absolutely committed to ensuring all our young people, whatever their background, have the same opportunities to develop their musical talent and reach their full potential.

“Schools will already be delivering musical education as part of our progressive new curriculum, and this additional funding will help break down barriers, such as costs for exams and access to instruments.”

Bethan Sayed AM, Committee Chair of the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee, said: “I’m pleased by this announcement and that more money has been committed to this than initially proposed in the Welsh Government, Plaid Cymru budget agreement.

“People across the sector, throughout Wales, have been calling for extra, targeted support and I hope that the funding announced will start to reverse the decline we’ve witnessed in music in schools.

“The Education Secretary has worked with me and others in good faith and this is a testament to what can be achieved when there is consensus on an issue.”

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Education

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A COLEG SIR GAR apprentice hairdresser and an aspiring retail designer have proved they have world-class talent following their selection to the WorldSkills UK Squad.

Ellie Hanley, 19 from Haverfordwest, and Phoebe McLavy, 20 from Carmarthen, have both been selected for Squad UK to train for a chance to represent Great Britain in Russia next year at WorldSkills, the globe’s biggest biennial skills competition.

Apprentice hairdresser Phoebe, who is employed by Morgan Edwards in Carmarthen has been successful in a range of regional and national competitions including WorldSkills UK Live, a competition final held every year at Birmingham NEC.

Edward Rees, owner at Morgan Edward has been supporting Phoebe through her competition journey and providing training within his salon. He said: “Two years ago Phoebe began her WorldSkills journey as a young, motivated but very inexperienced hairdresser.
“Through her hard work and dedication to her craft, she has competed all over the country and won several awards along the way.

“Today she is a highly qualified and talented member of the UK Squad and, as a salon, we have committed time and energy into her development and now have an asset in Phoebe.
“I would urge other employers to guide their staff down this exciting career path.”
Phoebe McLavy added: “Competing and training has been an amazing experience which has taken me as far as Budapest and Italy for the EuroSkills training camp and locally, my employer and college are investing in additional training.

Ellie Hanley, who has been selected for Squad UK’s visual merchandising team is also familiar with competition success and has taken part in a range of regional and national events including WorldSkills UK Live in Birmingham where she won a silver medal in 2016. She said: “’Going to WorldSkills Live at the NEC was a truly incredible experience.
“Transforming a plain window booth into a fashion-focused display with hundreds of onlookers was very scary and incredibly pressurising.

“I am overjoyed to have been selected for Squad UK and I cannot wait to get stuck into all the intense training over the next few months.”

The Inspiring Skills Excellence in Wales (ISEiW) project is a Welsh Government funded initiative that encourages and supports all Welsh competitors taking part in WorldSkills competitions and offer support across the board, from regional Skills Competition Wales events to international level.

Paul Evans, pan-Wales coordinator for ISEiW said: “It’s a tough competition process but it’s highly supportive of competitors to ensure they are competing at world standard level.
“It’s also a highly competitive process which involves an intense training regime, supported by WorldSkills mentors, employers, training providers and colleges to ensure the very best are selected for Team UK to compete at WorldSkills.”

WorldSkills is the equivalent of the Olympics in skills and the 2017 Abu Dhabi event attracted 1,251 competitors from 59 countries which attracted more than 150,000 visitors.

Coleg Sir Gâr has a reputation for success in competing on a global level since 2009, representing areas including web design, carpentry, plastering and dry lining, restaurant services and hairdressing.

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