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Education

Wales’ oldest university building renovated

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Iconic: The St David's Building at UWTSD Lampeter

LAST autumn, Lampeter-based building company, J&E Woodworks Ltd started working on the renovation of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s iconic St David’s Building on the University’s Lampeter campus.
Built between 1822 and 1827 to the designs of English architect and antiquary C R Cockerell, the Grade II* listed building in Lampeter has witnessed great change over the past two centuries.
With the University looking forward to celebrating its bicentenary in 2022, the building is being given a £2M refurbishment and modernisation plan to provide fit-for-purpose facilities for twenty-first-century learning and teaching.
The refurbishment is being undertaken in partnership with the Chin Kung Multi-Cultural Educational Foundation. This partnership has already seen the development of new provision delivered at Lampeter via the Academy of Sinology, including professional doctorate programmes and conferences as well as investment into the campus infrastructure.
The building reconfiguration and refurbishment work are being undertaken by local contractor J&E Woodwork Ltd which last year celebrated its fiftieth year of trading. With the company based in Lampeter, the project is already having a positive economic impact on the wider community.
Since being awarded the contract, J&E has extended its workforce by employing additional staff – three of whom were previously unemployed and another five regular sub-contractors who have been awarded six-month contracts. Two new apprentices have also been taken on by the company resulting in a total of four apprentices working on the project with an additional apprentice about to start with the team via the Cyfle Building Skills shared apprenticeship scheme.
“The majority of those working on the project are based in the Lampeter area and the average mileage to work for all employees and regular sub-contractors during this project is 6 miles one-way,” says Alan Thomas, Director of J&E Woodworks Ltd.
“Our workforce includes carpenters, plasterers, plumbers, electricians, painters and groundsmen – all of whom are regularly spending in the town, contributing to the local spend. All of the bespoke joinery required for this refurbishment is manufactured in our workshop in Lampeter and we’re also sourcing most of our materials from the local builders’ merchant, again contributing to the local economy,” adds Alan.
The St David’s building houses the campus’ reception, accommodation, conference facilities, Founders’ Library, Chapel and a range of multiple purpose meeting spaces. It is used extensively to support the academic work of the University including international conferences and lectures and its architectural character with traditional quad and cloisters also makes it a popular venue for external clients.
The Grade II* building comprises a quadrangle with four ranges that cross at the angles. An entrance tower is to the south and a T-shaped projection to the north. There are further extensions to the quadrangle, most notably to the north-west and south-east.
The refurbishment will include upgrading the current facilities to include en-suite accommodation as well as an enhanced library and multi-purpose spaces.
“The St David’s Building is a treasured part of the University estate and signifies the birthplace of higher education in Wales”, said Gwilym Dyfri Jones, Provost of the Lampeter campus. “I’m delighted that the refurbishment, whilst being sympathetic to its architectural heritage, will ensure that the facilities are commensurate with the needs of learning and teaching in today’s competitive higher education environment”.
“The University makes a valuable contribution to the region’s economy and I’m delighted that the refurbishment work is being undertaken by local suppliers, J & E Woodwork who are also ensuring that the supply chain provides work for companies in Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire.”

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Education

Young cleaners helped ensure schools safe

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YOUNG people are helping to ensure that all schools in Pembrokeshire meet the required Covid 19 hygiene safety standards as they re-open their doors to pupils.
Some 30 young people aged between 18 and 25 have been employed by Pembrokeshire County Council as additional cleaning staff to support schools with the extra work necessary to help keep pupils safe when they return to education.
Pembrokeshire Youth Service worked quickly with other PCC teams to mobilise the small army of cleaners as soon as the additional cleaning support was identified, says Chris Powles, Youth Team Manager.
“Young people have been disproportionately affected in the employment market during the pandemic, with the majority of summer employment they would have usually taken up in the tourism, leisure, and retail sectors being unavailable due to lockdown restrictions,” said Chris.
“By linking with secondary schools, Pembrokeshire College, the Youth Service Outreach and Cam Nesa teams, young people were contacted directly to be given the opportunity to apply for cleaning posts in primary, secondary and special schools across the county.
“The response was overwhelming. Young people have been keen not only to secure employment but to also play their part in supporting communities in dealing with the pandemic.”
One of the new employees, Courtney Cramb, said: “I love that this opportunity has been given to students especially during this time as many of us are unable to work but still have things like car insurance to pay for!
“I also think it will be a good experience and gives us the opportunity to help by giving back to the community whilst earning some money.”
The new staff are currently going through pre-employment checks and training to enable them to begin their casual contracts and start earning the incomes they thought that they had missed out on.
“This was a fast paced process with the requests for additional cleaning support from schools only coming in once they had been able to assess the need, whilst planning and risk assessing for their reopening on the 29th June,” said Cllr David Simpson, Council Leader.
“We are delighted to have given young people the opportunity to be part of the PCC workforce, and it shows the ability of Council departments to work together in responding quickly and effectively whilst trying to minimise the impact on those who are affected by the pandemic.”

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Education

Pembrokeshire County Council appoints new Director of Education

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL has appointed a new Director of Education.

Steven Richards-Downes, a former Cardiff headteacher, who has been the Authority’s Acting Director for Children and Schools since the February 1.

He succeeds Kate Evan-Hughes who left the Council earlier this year to take up a post in England.

Mr Richards-Downes came to Pembrokeshire in May 2017 as Deputy Chief Education Officer from the Central South Consortium – a school improvement service based in South Wales – where he was Strategic Lead Advisor.

He began his career in education as a teacher with the former Mid-Glamorgan local authority.

Mr Richards-Downes was congratulated on his appointment by Guy Woodham, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning.

Councillor Woodham said: “Following a rigorous recruitment process, Mr Richards-Downes impressed not only myself and other Councillor colleagues but also the headteacher and local authority senior officer representatives and – most important of all – a young persons’ panel, that he is the right person for this new role of Director of Education.

“I look forward to working collaboratively with Steven and the whole Pembrokeshire education community (including learners and their families) over the coming months as we develop further our aspirational vision for the efficient and effective delivery of education across the whole of Pembrokeshire.

“This will be undertaken with a clear focus on improved learner outcomes delivering the recommendations for improvement in the Authority’s recent Estyn inspection report and insuring that every learner achieves more than they thought possible.”

Mr Richards-Downes takes up his appointment with immediate effect

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Education

South West Wales Virtual Open Day 8 July

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Welsh local authorities, schools, colleges and work-based learning providers will be hosting
a series of Virtual Open Days for Year 11 pupils for the first time this month.

An event specifically for pupils from Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Neath
Port Talbot, Llanelli, Swansea and Powys will be held on Wednesday 8 July and will cover a
series of sessions on post-16 options including A Levels at sixth form or college as well as
work-based qualifications.

Jonathan Davies OBE will host the sessions on apprenticeships and traineeships and will be
on hand to field questions about how to apply and get the most from industry-led training
opportunities.

Other sessions will be led by Pembrokeshire College, NPTC Group of Colleges, Coleg Sir
Gar and Coleg Ceredigion as well as Careers Wales and local authorities.

The spread of COVID-19 has not only meant a break in students’ learning, but also the
cancellation of many planned events like open days which were scheduled to take place
throughout the summer.

Open days are vital ways of helping Year 11 pupils to understand all their options for
continuing their education and deciding on the right path for them. It’s also the way pupils
make connections with new people and different environments to support them in making
their decision.

With no indication yet of when face-to-face events might be able to go ahead again, over
220 schools, colleges and work-based learning providers across Wales are partnering with
the Welsh Government to hold virtual sessions for all Year 11 pupils in Wales to make sure
nobody misses out.

Organised by Welsh Government and hosted by Working Wales, the Virtual Open Days will
enable young people across Wales to discover the options for furthering their education in
their area, including what school and college courses are available, as well as training
opportunities like apprenticeships and traineeships, and access to careers advice from
Careers Wales.

Live sessions will be held for each region across Wales from 7 – 10 July, with lots of
additional content available throughout the second week of July and beyond. There will also
be the opportunity to put questions to local careers advisors and learning providers who
know about the provision in your area.

Virtual Open Days will be hosted online, but those without internet access at home will have
the option to phone and speak directly with schools, colleges and work-based learning
providers.

Welsh Government will be providing information about the full range of Virtual Open Days,
as well as links to partner websites and content, on Working Wales where there will also be
advice for those students who are unsure of what they want to do next.

Kirsty Williams, Minister for Education, said: “Now more than ever, it’s vital that young
people are equipped with the skills, information and training they need to find fulfilling work.
“If you’re a young person, you may be unsure of what you want to do after school, or
whether you want to continue in education at all. Open days can play a vital role in helping
access the right education or training, providing a vital insight into the different courses and
ways of learning that are available to young people considering their next options.

“Virtual Open Days are a really innovative way to explore options digitally and will help
young people in deciding what to do next. Whether you are shielding at home, returning to
school to say goodbye for the summer, or are not sure what to do next, our national virtual
open days will ensure learners in every region of Wales have the opportunity to engage and
ask questions at this important time.”

Nikki Lawrence, chief executive of Careers Wales, said: “Deciding what the next step is with
your education is an important time for young people across Wales and we want to make
sure that they are still able to explore the different options that are available.

“During the four days we will be offering additional support from our expert careers advisers
who will be available via our live web chat. This will enable young people who are not sure
what the next step is to get the advice and guidance they need.”

To find out more about Wales’ Virtual Open Days, call Working Wales on 0800 028 4844 or
go to www.workingwales.gov.wales/start-your-story.

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