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Education

Milford Haven: Major award presented to Gelliswick School

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A SCHOOL which has put family and community engagement at the heart of school life has been recognised with a prestigious national award.

Gelliswick Church in Wales VC Primary School was announced as the winner of the ‘Closing the Gap’ category in the 2019 Inspire! Adult Learning Awards.

The school was nominated by Springboard, a Learning Pembrokeshire
project which runs a wide range of courses for adults and families in targeted areas.

Laura Phillips, Springboard Co-ordinator, said family activities take place at the school every day of the week and the community room is the very first thing you can access when you enter the building.

“When the local authority took the decision to close the two schools serving the communities of Hakin and Hubberston there was some resistance and uncertainty,” she said.

“Before the new school’s official opening, the Headteacher secured funding to support projects to build bridges between the communities, who were anxious about their children moving to a new school.”

Headteacher Nick Dyer said the challenge was to ‘reach out to parents in a way that would bring the community together and to do this in a way that would mean not just a smooth transition to the new school, but would be transformative in terms of skills, ambition and future prospects’.

“That’s why we made a commitment from the outset to support family learning,” he said.

Enjoying family learning at Gelliswick School. More than 70 courses have been delivered at the school since September 2017.

More than 70 courses have been delivered at the school since September 2017, engaging 187 adults aged between 18 and 81.

Courses help adults develop their essential skills and their capacity to support their children in English and Maths. The school has also funded a range of courses that embed essential skills in a creative way.
In preparation for the launch of the new school, the community also came together to produce stained glass windows, a photographic legacy book and a community choir also emerged.

Nick Dyer explains, “Leaders at the school recognise that for children to truly learn, they must be motivated by knowing that others, and most importantly their families, believe in them.

“It is a powerful thing for children to see adults choosing to learn. It is especially powerful if those adults are their own parents and they are learning together.”

Carol Mayled from Springboard is responsible for engaging families on the courses, “I see my students battle all weathers to come into school and learn new skills, either for themselves or with their children,” she said.

“Gelliswick School is a place where my students feel comfortable coming to. They come because they want to and because they want to make a difference.”

Community engagement at the school is now so strong that parents have helped to raise over £16k to support family activities. Parents are volunteering their time as crèche workers to support other families to access family learning and others are qualifying to become Learning Support Assistants in the school.

Laura Phillips added: “Gelliswick School has put the community at the heart of its development and thanks to that, the heart is pumping stronger than ever!”

Enjoying family learning at Gelliswick School. More than 70 courses have been delivered at the school since September 2017.

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Education

Support staff outnumber teachers

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NEW data published by the Education Workforce Council (EWC) has revealed that there are now more learning support staff than teachers registered to work in maintained schools in Wales.
Of the over 80,000 people eligible to work in schools, further education, work-based learning and youth work settings in Wales, over 37,325 are registered for school support roles compared to 35,545 for school teacher roles. This highlights the changing nature of Welsh classrooms and how our children are educated.
Statistics also show that the education workforce in Wales is mainly female, with over 80% of school staff and over 60% in other settings being women.
The age profile of the school and youth work workforce is balanced, with around three-quarters of staff under the age of 50. In contrast, further education and work-based learning workforce is older, with 45% of registered college lecturers aged 50 and over.
The ability of school teachers (33.3%) to speak Welsh exceeds census figures (19%). However, figures in further education colleges and work-based learning are below the census. This shows the challenges ahead if Wales is to meet its aspiration of one million Welsh speakers by 2050.
EWC Chief Executive, Hayden Llewellyn said:
“This is the first time such extensive intelligence has been available about the whole of the education workforce in Wales. The data raises interesting questions for policymakers and workforce planning as we move towards a new curriculum, a greater focus on the Welsh language and other major reforms”.
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Education

New exhibition reveals changing the landscape

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SATELLITE images that reveal how the global environment has changed over the past 35 years and the impacts on the Welsh landscape are at the heart of a new exhibition at Aberystwyth University’s Old College.

The ‘Living Wales’ exhibition has been developed by Professor Richard Lucas and the Earth Observation and Ecosystem Dynamics Research Group at the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences in collaboration with the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) and Welsh Government.

Using a combination of cutting edge satellite observation, computer analysis and input from the public on the ground, Professor Lucas’ team has captured incredible details and information on the states and dynamics of the Welsh landscape.

In a series of fascinating interactive displays at Old College, the exhibition places these changes in the context of those observed globally.

Professor Lucas said: “Living Wales is a dynamic exhibition that is providing new perspectives of the impact of mankind on the global environment over the past 35 years but also how these have contributed to the changes we are now seeing and hearing about every day, including climatic variability and biodiversity loss.”

“This exhibition is very timely, given the recent Climate Strike and the United Nations’ Climate Summit in the United States, with both addressing the issue of climate change and the need to take greater action.”

“We want to give the public an understanding of our changing environment but also convey how we can all make a contribution to making a better place for ourselves and future generations, in Wales but also globally”, he added.

The exhibition was opened by Professor Elizabeth Treasure, Vice-Chancellor at Aberystwyth and runs until Friday 20 December 2019.

Professor Treasure said: “I am delighted to be opening the new Living Wales exhibition at the Old College and I encourage everyone to see for themselves how our world is changing. Our planet faces many challenges associated with climate change and loss of biodiversity and it gives me great pleasure to see Aberystwyth University taking a proactive role in addressing many of these challenges. As a University, we pride ourselves on the excellence of our teaching and research, and Living Wales is just one example of how Aberystwyth is leading the world in terms of quality, innovation and outreach.”

Professor Lucas is one of two Sêr Cymru Chairs at Aberystwyth University and a leading member of an international team that is using satellite technology to monitor changes to the natural environment around the world.
He established the concepts behind Living Wales, a Welsh Government and European Regional Development Fund funded research project.

The aim is to capture the state and dynamics of Wales’ landscape in near real-time, historically and into the future.
Living Wales builds on extensive and long-established research in Australia and other countries that have focused on quantifying the state and changes over several decades to vegetation at local to continental scales using satellite data.

A permanent sister Living Wales exhibition opened to the public at CAT at the end of July 2019.
The exhibition has been supported by the Sêr Cymru programme funded by the European Regional Development Fund, Welsh Government and the Joy Welch Foundation (Aberystwyth University) as well as CAT.

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Education

Seren and Sbarc kick off new series of books with a story to coincide with Rugby World Cup

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WELSH Government and WRU announced a partnership to encourage more school children to use Welsh.

They have been inspiring school children to use Welsh in and out of the classroom for a while, but Siarter Iaith mascots Seren a Sbarc have now moved on to the next level with their very own book. Released as part of a partnership, the book will be issued to all primary schools in Wales to encourage children to read more Welsh and to cheer Wales on in Welsh.

The book, Seren a Sbarc yn Achub (Cwpan) y Bydysawd (Seren a Sbarc Save the Universe (Cup)), written by Elidir Jones and illustrated by Huw Aaron, tells the tale of the heroic characters fighting off monsters and villains using the skills they have learnt through rugby and speaking Welsh.

The book gives children and parents fun way of learning and using Welsh through rugby, as the nation eagerly watches Wales on their World Cup journey.

All primary schools in Wales will receive copies of the book to help inspire the next generation of Welsh speakers as part of the Siarter Iaith.

Minister for International Relations and Welsh Language, Eluned Morgan, said: “As rugby fever grips the country, children right across Wales will be reading about the heroic antics of Seren and Sbarc as they fight off monsters with their fantastic Welsh and sport skills! This exciting project with the WRU is a great way of inspiring the next generation of Welsh speakers, and future rugby players. Rugby is a sport that brings the nation together and the Welsh language is a big part of that.”

To launch the book, Seren and Sbarc joined pupils of Ysgol Bro Allta in Ystrad Mynach for a busy day of rugby practice and sending good luck messages to the Wales team. Dragons players Aaron Jarvis and James Benjamin also joined the Year 5 and 6 pupils as they carried out tasks from the WRU Digital Classroom resource, launched to inspire pupils to achieve in all areas through rugby.

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