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Education

Wales Outdoor Learning Week launched

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NATURAL RESOURCES WALES (NRW) is launching the first ever Wales Outdoor Learning Week with the Wales Council for Outdoor Learning. 

The campaign, which runs from 1 – 7 April, encourages teachers, learning groups and families across Wales to make outdoor learning part of everyday life.

It aims to celebrate and promote the multiple benefits of a classroom without walls while sharing practical outdoor activities to try at home or at school.

Sue Williams, Senior Education and Skills Advisor for Natural Resources Wales said: “Evidence shows that learning in the natural environment improves knowledge and understanding, helping us recognise the impact we have on the environment now and in the future.

“It can also improve our health and wellbeing by helping to guard against obesity, increase physical activity and reduce the symptoms of stress.

“This is why we are asking teachers, parents and learners of all ages to get outside, enjoy and connect with the natural environment.

Education groups can use the great outdoors all year round to teach a wide range of subjects, from measuring trees in maths to studying sand dunes in geography.

“While families could try making bird feeders, creating natural art or going for a walk to see which animals or plants they can spot along the way.”

During the campaign, NRW will host training events for teachers and group leaders to help raise awareness of the outdoor classroom and its benefits.

A celebration event is also being held in Clocaenog Forest, North Wales, where schools will plant oak trees grown from local acorns.

The acorns were collected during the annual Acorn Antics campaign which asks schools and education groups to collect acorns and help NRW plant trees that have been grown from local seed.

Sue continued: “This is an amazing opportunity to showcase Wales’ largest and best classroom – our natural environment.

“We hope to see lots of schools and families from across Wales getting involved and sharing their experiences.”

People can share their outdoor learning pictures with NRW and the Wales Council for Outdoor Learning by using the hashtag #WalesOutdoorLearningWeek.

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Education

Tenby student’s unique coffee business helping to improve sustainability

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A SWANSEA UNIVERSITY student is providing customers with a sustainable coffee experience thanks to his growing business venture.

Luke Green, 20, a second year student with the School of Management, founded GoGo Coffee in February where he serves coffee from the back of his low carbon emitting Smart Car.

The coffee machines are battery operated from the boot of his car, while he uses locally sourced coffee and bio-disposable cups.

Having already purchased the car himself, his vision and ethos came to fruition as part of an entrepreneurship module on his course.

He also secured £2,200 worth of funding from GoCompare, which offers out a share of a pot of funding to various businesses. This investment enabled Luke to pay for vehicle insurance, stock and a secure storage unit.

“I love that I’m able to work on my passion of running my own business alongside my studies,” said Luke, who hails from Tenby.

“Independent learning is a big part of my course which it’s a mature way of studying as it’s down to you to put the work in and make sure your time is well spent.”

“I use locally sourced organic coffee which means I’m helping to support other local businesses, as well as the fact that the drinks are served in bio-disposable cups. I also offer a discount to customers who come to me with a reusable cup.”

“Setting up my own business as part of my degree was a big commitment, but it is great to know that I already have that in place when I graduate.”

However, Luke admits that it wasn’t always coffee that he had in mind when he first thought about setting up his business.

“While I was at Pembrokeshire College, I had an idea to run candyfloss and ice cream carts from a bike,” he said.

“But when I passed my driving test I explored other options which would enable me to travel further and serve a larger audience. This is when GoGo Coffee was established.

“Being able to drive to various places and serve coffee has really helped get my business off the ground.

“In the future I hope to have franchises running GoGo Coffee businesses across the UK.”

If you want to sample Luke’s coffee then you can catch him at Swansea University’s Bay Campus, as well as at Uplands market and in the Quadrant Centre from 24-30 June.

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Education

Pupil Language Ambassadors’ key role

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EACH year Pupil Language Ambassadors (PLAs) from schools across the ERW region work hard to increase awareness of the skills and opportunities, which come from studying a language amongst their peers. They speak in assemblies and to groups of their peers at school events. Their ambassadorial role is wide and varied and each year they work with their teachers to increase the number of pupils studying language at GCSE.

This year, the focus has been to utilise the skills of language ambassadors to work with primary school children where these committed linguists go into their nearby primaries and speak to key stage 2 pupils about the benefits of learning an additional language. This has helped to fulfil a crucial element of the national and regional priorities as set out in the work of Global Futures, a Welsh Government funded scheme to promote language learning for all.

In addition to their fantastic and creative work and projects, in March these motivated ambassadors attended the annual ERW Pupil Language Ambassador training at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea. They met with other ambassadors from across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Neath Port Talbot, Pembrokeshire, Powys and Swansea to discuss their role and heaR from some inspirational speakers.

The purpose of the day was to help the pupils understand their role, to develop ideas for events they could run in their schools, to take part in language tasters and create a plan of action for supporting language learning in their school and their cluster.

The day began with a fantastic presentation from the Pupil Language Ambassadors from Ysgol Dyffryn Taf in Whitland. They spoke to the new PLAs about their achievements last year. They addressed the audience in many languages and set the tone for the day perfectly. The keynote speaker was Rhodri Bendle, Chief Consultant at Snowstyle Travel Company in Austria that specialises in Ski and Snowboarding holidays and tuition. He shared his own story about learning a German and how it has helped him to develop his own business.

Pupils then went into a series of workshops delivered by Routes Cymru, a team of professionals and student language ambassadors from Cardiff University who facilitated idea sharing and discussion about how to set up a language club and other ways of getting the message across about language learning.

Diane Evans, ERW, helped pupils to draw out their knowledge of the role of the ambassador across Wales and internationally. Pupils learned how to get their voices heard and how to make an impact in their time as language ambassadors in their community.

Alex Pickering represented the Goethe Institute at the event speaking with ambassadors about the importance of language in business. Ariane Laumonier, a consultant with the Institut Français ran a brilliant workshop on language and the world of work. Both Ariane and Alex used their own languages to convey the importance of learning a language and the benefits of developing multilingual learners.

Another aim of the day was to build confidence in ambassadors in learning and speaking an additional language. The language taster sessions from staff and postgraduate students at Swansea University all ran tasters that strengthen the priorities across Wales to learn and speak a new language. These were extremely well-received as always, pupils tried out languages that many of them had not learnt before including Polish, Italian, German and Mandarin.

Mererid Hopwood, Professor of Language at University of Wales Trinity Saint David inspired staff and students alike with her talk on the importance of striving for a Multi-lingual society in Wales with children and adults using their newly acquired language at every opportunity.

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Education

Over 100 schools at WRU Urdd 7s

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THIS month, the largest schools sevens tournament in Wales, the Urdd WRU 7s will be held at Pontcanna and Llandaff playing fields in Cardiff between 8-12 April and in Llandudno/ Colwyn Bay 3-4 April. Between both events, more than 100 schools, 431 teams and over 5,000 players are expected to take part. For the first time, a rugby festival for participants with disabilities will also be included this year.

Wales Grand Slam winner, Dragons back row Aaron Wainwright won the tournament with Bassaleg School just three years ago. He said, “I have very fond memories of the event. It was great to be part of a tournament like that and be successful with your school mates, some of whom didn’t play regular rugby so it really helped develop skills and fitness. It really helped me, I think I was picked up by the Dragons soon after that.

“It’s fantastic to see how the tournament has grown since then, moving to a bigger site, engaging more boys and girls and now involving a disability element too.”

Wales Women international Manon Johnes won the senior girls’ tournament with Ysgol Gyfun Glantaf two years ago and went on to represent Wales U18 Sevens at the Youth Commonwealth Games later that summer, winning Bronze, and travelled to Brisbane as part of the Wales Women Sevens squad within the same year. She now has seven senior caps under her belt and is still a pupil at Glantaf will return to the competition next month as coach of the school’s Year 7/8 team.

She said: “The Urdd 7s is fantastic, especially for girls’ participation in the game.

“It’s fun, the short games mean lots of game time and everyone can pick it up quite quickly.

“It was great to win the tournament with my own year group two years ago, and now, as a coach, I can see even more value in it.

“We’ve been training for the Urdd 7s already, the girls are excited. As a coach, I’ll try not to be too competitive but that won’t be easy, I can’t help it!

“We’ve got such big girls’ playing numbers in school now that we’ve been able to play 15 a side matches this year. The girls love to train but once they get a taste for rugby, they want to play games so it will be good to have a full day of competition.”

Eight schools are expected to take part in the disability festival on 12 April which will form part of the Cardiff event.

WRU Community Director Geraint John said: “Welsh rugby is a vital part of the fabric of our nation, I think the whole world has seen that since our Grand Slam win on the weekend. “Thanks to sharing a set of goals and philosophies with Chwaraeon yr Urdd, we are able to harness our combined resources and use the power of Welsh rugby to inspire the next generation and promote another intrinsic part of our culture – the Welsh language.

“Playing sevens in a school environment is a fantastic way to develop skills, fitness and game awareness while having great fun with your school friends. Whether they go on to represent the senior Wales sides such as Aaron (Wainwright) and Manon (Johnes) and many others who competed at the Urdd in their younger days or go on to play for their local rugby teams for years to come, the pupils participating in the Urdd WRU 7s next month are the future of our national game.

“Along with the wider benefits of this partnership with the Urdd, such as the collaboration between our respective apprentices to take rugby opportunities to non-traditional communities, the competition helps support our core aims of more boys and girls enjoying rugby – and developing better players for the game at all levels.

“Sevens is such an accessible format that can be played with fewer pupils in school year groups, and by boys and girls who are new to the game. There’s more space and more touches on the ball.

“We feel strongly that there is a place in rugby for everyone and are thrilled that for the first time, a rugby festival for participants with disabilities will also be included in the programme.

Sian Lewis, Chief Executive at Urdd Gobaith Cymru said: “Our partnership with the WRU continues to go from strength to strength as we strive to develop and enhance the provision and experience for all. Rugby is a game for everyone and we are especially pleased to announce the inclusion of the rugby festival for children and young people with disabilities as part of the 2019 event.”

“The Urdd WRU partnership enables us both to achieve key goals by increasing rugby participation and developing skills while also encouraging the use of the Welsh language outside of the classroom in a fun and informal environment.”

Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Dafydd Elis-Thomas AM added: “I am very grateful to the Urdd and the WRU for continuing to work in partnership with more than 100 schools across Wales to put on an event which involves thousands of children up and down the country. I hope that the fantastic efforts of our national women’s, men’s and under 20’s teams can inspire performances at the competition. I was also delighted to hear that a rugby festival for children and young people with disabilities will also be included this year – rugby, with all its various formats, is a sport for all. I wish everyone involved the very best of luck and once again, my sincere thanks to the Urdd and the WRU for their hard work in making this event possible.”

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