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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

No opt-out for learning about religion, relationships and sexuality

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PARENTS will not be able to prevent their children from learning about religion, relationships and sexuality in the new curriculum.

Education Minister Kirsty Williams made the announcement this week, emphasising the need for ‘careful and sensitive implementation’ of the decision.

Education Minister Kirsty Williams told The Herald: “Our responsibility as a government is to ensure that young people, through public education, have access to learning that supports them to discuss and understand their rights and the rights of others.

“It is essential that all young people are provided with access to information that keeps them safe from harm.

“Today’s decision ensures that all pupils will learn about issues such as online safety and healthy relationships.

The announcement was made following an eight-week Welsh Government consultation on ensuring access to the full curriculum, including the teaching of Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE) and Religious Education (RE).

Kirsty Williams added: “I recognise this is a sensitive matter and the consultation responses reflected a wide range of views.

“There is clearly a need for us to work with communities and all interested parties in developing the learning and teaching for RSE and RE – this work will be vital to enable everyone to have trust in how the change is implemented.”

The Minister outlined plans for implementation which include the creation of clear guidance, resources and professional learning for schools and the creation of a Faith/BAME Community Involvement Group to hold its first meeting this February.

The group will engage in the development of RSE guidance, develop a shared understanding of the new curriculum and address the concerns raised by faith and community groups during the consultation.

The Minister continued: “It is vital that we continue to work with communities across Wales to ensure parents have the right to develop, care for and guide their children into adulthood while allowing our schools to provide a broad and balanced education.  

We will build on the community engagement which accompanied the consultation with a long term investment in listening to our communities and finding ways to address the issues which concern them.

The Minister also confirmed plans to establish a new RSE Working Group that will oversee the refinement of the new RSE statutory guidance to form part of the new curriculum guidance.

The Minister added: “I want to take the opportunity in 2021 to test the approach for RSE prior to it being made statutory in the new curriculum.  

This will provide valuable intelligence to inform the refinement of our approach and will also enable learners, parents and carers and communities to see it working in practice and to feedback their views.”

Further details on this approach will be announced over the coming weeks.  The consultation also showed support for renaming the subject ‘Religious Education’.

The most popular choice from respondents was ‘Religion, Values and Ethics’ and, as a result, the Minister confirmed the subject name would change when the new curriculum comes into effect. The Terrence Higgins Trust said that the news was something they very much welcomed, and said that they have been campaigning for this for a number of years. The Trust said that Wales has very much lead the way on this one as the UK Government has resisted calls to remove the parental opt-out for lessons when RSE lessons become compulsory in England from September. Debbie Laycock, Head of Policy at the trust said: “By guaranteeing access to Relationships & Sexuality Education lessons for all pupils, Wales is leading the way. We’ve campaigned for compulsory RSE lessons for nearly four decades and until now far too many young people have learned about sex through whispers in the playground. 
“This decision by the Welsh Government will go some way to fixing this. It’s absolutely vital lessons are LGBT+ inclusive and have a strong focus on HIV and sexual health so all young people have the knowledge they need to form healthy and fulfilling relationships. We are now looking to the Welsh Government to continue leading the way by providing all schools with the resources and training they need to deliver these new lessons to the highest standard across the board.” 

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Education

Relax and let children tell a story

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PREMIER INN has launched the UK’s first-ever ‘wake up-time’ storybook for children, inspiring them to start the day in the best way possible.

The UK’s largest hotel company is searching for young UK literary talent to help it publish a children’s short story book packed with original tales.

Part of the book will be dedicated to bedtime stories to help encourage a great night’s sleep, while uniquely the other part will be dedicated to stories designed to be read in the morning – to inspire young people to get their day off to the best possible start.
The budget hotel chain is encouraging children and young people 15 and under to submit an original 500-word short story – either round the theme of relaxation or inspiration. Young people are invited to let their imaginations run riot – and stories can be inspired from their own real-life experiences or something from the depths of their imaginations. The hotel company will publish a diverse collection of tales, so stories revolving around friendship, families, animals or even science fiction are all welcome, providing they slot into the themes above.

The competition began on Christmas Even and runs through to early 2020.

Premier Inn experts and an esteemed panel of judges will crown national prize-winners in two categories: under 10s and ages 11-15. Also, there will be twelve regional runners-up, celebrating the UK’s literary brilliance from the South West to Scotland.
To launch the nationwide competition in the lead up to Christmas, children being cared for at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) were treated to story readings by Father Christmas and his festive elves. Premier Inn is a longstanding supporter of Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity (GOSH Charity) and the winning stories will be available for a donation, with all proceeds donated to GOSH.
Simon Ewins, Managing Director at Premier Inn UK said: “We help millions of people to have a great night’s sleep and wake up ready for whatever the day holds, so we’re thrilled to launch our young people’s short story competition which will uncover exciting new stories to help encourage a restful night’s sleep – and get their day off to the best possible start. We’re all a huge fan of the traditional bedtime story and as a great night’s sleep is also all about setting you up for the day ahead, we thought it would be a fun twist to launch the UK’s first ‘wake up-time’ story collection. The UK is bursting with talented young people and we can’t wait to start receiving the stories”.

Amit Aggarwal, of Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity, said: “It’s brilliant that money raised through Premier Inn’s short story writing competition will benefit children and young people treated at GOSH, as stories that dive into the imagination can be a useful distraction for patients at the hospital. Writing and reading can help entertain children and young people during their treatment and empower them to express themselves too. We look forward to reading the fantastic entries for this competition.”

The winning wordsmiths’ work will then be published and the prize also includes a two-night stay at a Premier Inn of the winner’s choice.
Premier Inn, the UK’s top-rated hotel chain, has proudly been supporting Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity since 2012 when it pledged to raise £7.5 million towards a brand new medical facility at the hospital. The Premier Inn Clinical Building, named in honour of the partnership, officially opened in January 2018, and provides state of the art facilities including new in-patient wards, operating theatres and a day case unit, to match the hospital’s world-class care. Most recently, Premier Inn pledged to raise a further £10 million to help fund a new Sight and Sound Centre, a specialist outpatient centre tailored to the needs of children with sight and hearing loss, which is due to open in 2020.

To submit a 500-word short story, young authors can submit their masterpieces by emailing StoryPremierInn@golin.com.

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Community

Education Chief to leave Council

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IAN WESTLEY, Chief Executive of Pembrokeshire County Council, announced to staff and Members on Wednesday (Dec 11) that Kate Evan-Hughes, the Director for Children and Schools, will be leaving the Authority at the end of January, 2020.

She is taking up an appointment as Strategic Director with a local authority in England.

Interim arrangements have been discussed with the Leader of the Council, David Simpson, and the Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning, Guy Woodham.

Following Kate’s departure Steven Richards-Downes will act up as Chief Education Officer and James White will undertake the duties of deputy.

Discussions about permanent arrangements will begin in the New Year.

Mr Westley said he wished Kate all the very best as she embarks on the next phase of her career.

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