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Education

Wales leads way with Microsoft for schools

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WALES will be one of the first countries in the world to fund Microsoft classroom software applications for all maintained schools, thanks to new investment from the Welsh Government.

As classrooms continue to digitally evolve, this approach will ensure all schools across Wales have the same level of access to these essential software applications. This will help learners gain the skills they need to thrive in an increasingly digital world, an essential aim of the Welsh Government’s Digital Competence Framework.

Not only will this new £1.2 million investment improve equity of access to digital resources, but it is also a direct measure to support schools in reducing their costs and that of families. It follows recent announcements by the Minister for Education on support for school uniform costs and other kit, as the Government increases its share of funding for new school buildings and increases the number of children who benefit from free school meals.

The Minister for Education, Kirsty Williams, confirmed the software will be available via the Welsh Government’s Hwb digital learning platform, which is currently used by over 85% of schools in Wales.

The licensing deal contains a range of Microsoft products, including the full desktop version of Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus which includes a Welsh language interface and proofing tools, along with additional security features.

Also included is Minecraft Education Edition with Code Builder which provides a range of ways for learners to explore, create and experiment with coding. This supports the Welsh Government’s Cracking the Code plan to expand coding in every part of Wales.

All teachers and learners will be able to download and install the latest versions of all these software applications on up to 5 personal devices at no cost. Online versions of the software applications will continue to be available through Hwb for use anywhere, such as public computers in libraries.

Kirsty Williams said: “I’m proud to say we’re one of the first countries in the world to take this progressive approach to providing schools with this software. Through our curriculum reforms we want all learners to have relevant high-level digital, literacy and numeracy skills, and access to these applications is an important step towards achieving that.

“This will reduce the burden on schools to pay for their own licensing fees and also ensure all our schools have the same level of access to the digital tools they need to progress these skills in our learners. This is vital as we aim to reduce the attainment gap and increase standards in our schools.”

Cindy Rose, Chief Executive of Microsoft UK, said: “The introduction of Office 365 will be transformational for both teachers and pupils, empowering them to collaborate more effectively, saving time and generating better learning outcomes. Equally, Office 365 provides students with valuable skills to help them obtain employment following school,” said Cindy Rose, CEO, Microsoft UK.
“Additionally, the accessibility tools built into Office 365 will mean all students gain the confidence to contribute to learning discussions. Similarly, with Minecraft Education Edition, students will develop computational thinking skills in an immersive and classroom-friendly format that sparks creativity and innovation. This agreement ensures Wales retains its position as a world leader in digital education delivery.”

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Education

Education Minister to quit Senedd in May

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KIRSTY WILLIAMS, Wales’ Education Minister will not stand in next year’s Senedd elections.

Ms Williams, who holds the constituency seat for Brecon and Radnorshire was first elected to the then-Welsh Assembly in 1999.

“After much reflection, I have decided not to stand as a candidate in the next election,” she said.

Kirsty Williams is highly-regarded and seen as being perhaps the ablest of the current Welsh Cabinet.

Her departure from the Senedd in May could spark a Cabinet reshuffle by Mark Drakeford.

Mrs Williams said: “There is of course sadness in making this decision, but also a strong sense of pride. Above all else, I’d like to thank the people of Brecon and Radnorshire for their support over the last two decades.”

Writing to her local constituency party, Kirsty Williams said: “Next May it will have been 22 years since I was first elected to represent the people of Brecon and Radnorshire.

“The local party, and then the constituency, placed its trust in me – a young, female, Welsh Liberal Democrat, new to elected politics and for our new parliament. It remains the proudest day of my political career.

“And for us to keep winning and keep achieving for our community, has been the honour of my life.

“To be the parliamentarian for Brecon and Radnorshire and in Powys is not to own the seat or constituency, it is to be a steward of it – following in the footsteps of Welsh Liberal giants and hopefully being able to pass on and support another generation.

“I know that my pride in being the first female leader of a Welsh political party was shared locally and nationally, and I hope it was a small inspiration to others. Working with my party colleagues in the Senedd, we worked diligently to hold the Government to account.

“Despite being an opposition party, we turned campaigns into policies that changed lives across the country.
“This included the introduction of the Nurse Staffing Levels Act and the Pupil Development Grant which continues to support our most disadvantaged pupils.”

Kirsty Williams said it had been “an immense honour to serve my country as Education Minister”.

“Every day I have been inspired and uplifted by the shared commitment across the country to be ambitious for all our learners,” she said.

“‘Our national mission’ has been the biggest programme of education reform since the Second World War. It has been a nation-wide collective endeavour.

“The support I’ve received from civil servants, private office, and Ministerial colleagues has been invaluable and unstinting.

“Over the last four years, we have fought to raise standards for all children, to reduce the attainment gap and to get some pride and confidence back into Welsh education. Working together,
our improved performance in national and international assessments, radical student support changes and investment in teachers, is proof that education is truly Wales’s national mission. Being
the family of a politician is never easy. I must thank my husband and three wonderful daughters for the patience, and at times resilience, that they have shown over these years.

“My late parents started the interest in politics and current affairs with lively debate around the kitchen table, and I know they would be proud of how their granddaughters are already strong independent women with their own opinions!

“It is with them in mind that, after a great deal of thought and reflection, I have decided not to stand as a candidate at the next Senedd election. The next candidate, and the Welsh Liberal Democrats, will have my abiding support and I will be out there campaigning as ever.

“There is, of course, sadness in making this decision, but also with a sense of achievement and pride. Above all else, I would like to thank the people of Brecon and Radnorshire for their support over the last two decades. Diolch o Galon. I may be biased, but I am in no doubt that our constituency is truly the greatest anyone could have the privilege of representing.”

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Education

Ysgol Harri Tudur issues update following confirmed coronavirus case

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FOLLOWING the discovery of a positive case of Covid-19 at Ysgol Harri Tudur / Henry Tudor School, Pembroke, Pembrokeshire County Council, Public Health Wales and Hywel Dda University Health Board have worked with the school to ensure that all possible precautionary measures are being taken to minimise risk of transmission of the virus.

All organisations have also continued to work closely with the Test Trace and Protect team.

All the necessary checks in relation to the positive Covid case have now been concluded and we can confirm that learners in 7H and learners in Years 9, 10 and 11 will not be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

Parents are advised that virtual Learning is currently continuing on Google Classrooms but pupils are welcome to come into school for the remaining Period 3 and Period 4 today.

 

Parents/guardians have been given the following advice by Hywel Dda University Health Board:

If a child/parent/household member develops symptoms of COVID-19, the entire household should immediately self-isolate, and book a test for the individual with the symptoms. It is unnecessary to test the entire household if they are not symptomatic.

 

The COVID-19 symptoms are:

 

  • a new continuous cough
  • a high temperature
  • loss of or change to sense of smell or taste

 

Booking a COVID-19 test:

 

Hywel Dda University Health Board recommends testing only for those with a new continuous cough, a high temperature, or loss of or change in the sense of taste or smell.

 

If a child does not have symptoms of COVID-19 but has other cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, they do not need to be tested and they and you do not need to self-isolate. Your child can go to school if fit to do so.

 

If a COVID-19 test is required, this should be arranged via the UK Booking Portal, https://gov.wales/apply-coronavirus-test or by ringing 119. Testing is available within Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire or via a home testing kit delivered to and collected from your home. The COVID-19 test is undertaken via a throat swab or combined throat and nose swab.

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Education

Milford Haven Community Primary School Covid case information

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MILFORD HAVEN Community Primary School is aware of information circulating that a learner at the school has received a positive Covid-19 test.

The learner has not been in school for a period of time.

The school has consulted with Pembrokeshire County Council, Public Health Wales and Hywel Dda University Health Board and it has been concluded that no pupils in the school are at risk and there is no need for any learners to self-isolate as a result.

Please continue to keep safe, well and follow the advice below from the Health Board.

If a child/parent/household member develops symptoms of Covid-19, the entire household should immediately self-isolate, and book a test for the individual with the symptoms.

It is unnecessary to test the entire household if they are not symptomatic.

The Covid-19 symptoms are:

• a new continuous cough
• a high temperature
• loss of or change to sense of smell or taste

Booking a Covid-19 test:

Hywel Dda University Health Board recommends testing only for those with a new continuous cough, a high temperature, or loss of or change in the sense of taste or smell.

If a child does not have symptoms of Covid-19 but has other cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, they do not need to be tested and they and you do not need to self-isolate. Your child can go to school if fit to do so.

If a Covid-19 test is required, this should be arranged via the UK Booking Portal, https://gov.wales/apply-coronavirus-test or by ringing 119. Testing is available within Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire or via a home testing kit delivered to and collected from your home. The Covid-19 test is undertaken via a throat swab or combined throat and nose swab.

Self-isolation:

It is essential that people who have Covid-19 symptoms, or who share a household with someone who has symptoms, must self-isolate, even if your symptoms are mild. To protect others, you must not attend school, nursery, other childcare settings, work, or go to or to places like a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

Anyone with symptoms must self-isolate for 10 days from when their symptoms started. They can return to school or work after 10 days if they are well enough to do so. A pupil must remain fever free for at least 48 hrs.

Anyone in the household who does not have symptoms must self-isolate for 14 days from when the first person in the home started having symptoms.

If a parent thinks their child has symptoms BUT chooses not to put them through a test all household members must remain in self-isolation for 14 days from the onset of symptoms.

If you receive a positive test result, you will be contacted by the Test, Trace, Protect Team who will advise you further.

Non-household members/contacts:

If a person has been in contact with an individual experiencing symptoms, they should carry on as normal until that individual receives their test result. If this is positive, the Test, Trace, Protect Team will contact those people identified as contacts and advise accordingly.

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