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Education

Permanent head for Ysgol Dewi Sant

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DEWI-SANT_mediumUNDER threat local community school, Ysgol Dewi Sant (St David’s School), this week appointed a permanent Head Teacher, Mr David Haynes. He had previously been acting Head at the school
The appointment follows months of uncertainty at the school.
In a report earlier this year, ESTYN assessed the school as having an overall performance rated merely adequate and also stated their prospects for improvement as also being just adequate.
They deemed the school’s leadership and management as unsatisfactory and expressed concern that middle leaders of the school had not had enough impact on improving the quality of provision and raising standards in their areas of responsibility.
They also criticised lines of accountability, stating that they were unclear, and that line management arrangements lacked vigour and consistency in holding these middle leaders to account.
That report was in stark contrast to the finding of the Real Schools Guide, published in September, which placed Ysgol Dewi Sant as Pembrokeshire’s best achieving secondary school.
Speaking with The Herald, David Lloyd, School Governor and local County Councillor, discussed the positive aspects to arise from the appointment of a new Head Teacher.
“It is an interesting and uncertain period for education in Pembrokeshire. The local authority was reluctant for us to appoint a head on the basis it (the school) may be closed. Therefore, the governors had to appoint a head without the blessing of the local authority.#
‘’We have been careful not to reject their advice but always working with what is best for the school. ESTYN have objected to too many temporary acting Heads in Pembrokeshire.”
He went on to point out that such acting Heads did, in ESTYN’s opinion, undermine the leadership of a school, and that the school, therefore, faced the paradoxical position of being rated only adequate/unsatisfactory in leadership but with the local authority asking for the school not to appoint.
He continued: “This is an impossible situation, making the school vulnerable. I’m happy to say that the new incoming director of education (for Pembrokeshire County Council) gave us their blessing to appoint, and we are happy with the working relationship we now have with the local authority.”
On the issue of the school maintaining its current status Mr Lloyd said: “We are quietly confident that all the hard work will ultimately succeed in retaining a secondary school in St David’s. We are happy to appoint a Head Teacher to consolidate our efforts to keep the school and we are very happy to work with the new team at the County Council. We accept their decision will be evidence based”.
Mayor Glenys James spoke to The Herald saying: “We are delighted to have Mr Haynes. People are more comfortable now that we have a Head. He has addressed the (City) Council and given us a précis of what is being put into place. We also took the councillors around the school for them to see what is going on.”
On potential closure to the school she continued: “The fear is with us until we know (the result of any closures). If you take the school, you take the community, and there is the link with The Cathedral and the St David’s choir.
‘’This school is working well, now, and is full to capacity. We will wait for the review and see what happens from there. We would be devastated if the school closed. We are a community working closely with the school”.
Speaking on behalf of the County Council, and of the continued worry by the school as to what their fate might be, a spokesperson said: “The review of secondary education in the St. Davids area is part of a wider review of secondary provision in Pembrokeshire. The St Davids review is due to be completed in November.
‘’Members have been assured that no decisions regarding school closures or mergers have been taken. Closures and mergers are just two of a number of strategies for consideration once recommendations have been presented.’’
The four principles underpinning the process of developing and implementing school organization proposals are:
* Quality and future sustainability of educational provision;
* Sufficiency and accessibility of school places;
* The condition, suitability and standard of school buildings;
* Value for money.
The prime focus is currently on secondary schools due to the estimated projected 2,000 surplus places in the future. The review of secondary provision will significantly inform recommendations as to how these challenges can be addressed.
In a recent meeting of the Children and Families Scrutiny Committee, the shared Head of School Effectiveness, Alan Walters, stated that while school performance at primary level was mostly positive, performance within secondary schools was disappointing and a cause for concern.
The judgment was made following consideration of national and regional results of Estyn inspections.

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Education

Apprentices deserve better financial support

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More and better funding: Committee calls for better deal for apprentices

APPRENTICES in Wales should have similar access to financial support as University students.

That’s the main finding from the Assembly’s Economy Infrastructure and Skills Committee, which published its latest report on Apprenticeships in Wales on Thursday​ (Feb 14)​.

Committee Chair, Russell George AM, said: “Parity of esteem between vocational and academic routes needs to be underpinned by parity of support for learners.

“There is a strong moral case for the Welsh Government to apply similar levels of support to apprentices as would be available to their peers in full-time education.”

The Welsh Government has this week launched an advertising campaign to promote a new package of measures for university students which it describes as ​’​the most generous student support package in the UK​’​.

While apprentices receive a wage while they train, they are not eligible for the support available to students, which can make being an apprentice seem less attractive.

The Committee heard that some young people are deterred from entering apprenticeships by the initial costs involved. These can be relatively minor sums of money to travel to interviews, or the first few weeks of work before they get paid.

The Committee’s work found that while there is much that is positive about Apprenticeships in Wales there were a few surprises.

Mr George added: “We were surprised that the number of disabled apprentices in Wales was far below the rate achieved in England.

“We were also concerned that a lack of providers may be preventing young people undertaking apprenticeships through the medium of Welsh.

“There is still a stubborn gender segregation when we talk about apprenticeships. Both the Welsh Government and stakeholders are committed to address this, and are taking steps to do so, but progress has been slow. This issue is not unique to Wales.

“We are recommending annual publication of figures to maintain pressure and ensure that apprenticeships in Wales are available to all.”

The Committee also looked at the role of careers guidance for young people – particularly in schools – to ensure they are being made aware of vocational as well as academic options.

Mr George added: “During the course of our investigation we heard concerns about the way careers advice is delivered in schools. Our additional scrutiny in this area has given us assurance that Careers Wales has a credible plan, and is working closely with the Welsh Government and schools to address these issues. We will keep an eye on whether this proves successful.​”​

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Education

Minister visits adult learning initiative

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Eluned Morgan: Inspired by visit to Monkton School

WELSH Language and Lifelong Learning Minister, Eluned Morgan visited Monkton Primary School in Pembrokeshire on Friday, February 9, to hear more about a successful community adult learning initiative run from the school.

Started in September 2012 with support from the Welsh Government, the Launch Project aims to raise adults’ skills standards and education attainment within the community by making learning accessible to everyone.

Both accredited and non-accredited courses and workshops are delivered at the school and other community venues and have been specifically designed to remove barriers so that people in the community can gain the confidence and skills needed to seek employment.

The provision has also been designed to cater for a wide range of learner needs, from basic skills and IT courses to various accredited courses including a foundation degree in Education and Social Inclusion.

During the visit the Minister met with some of the adult learners who have benefitted from the project and heard their personal accounts about how it has helped them to turn their lives around, gain new skills and seize new employment opportunities.

Speaking after the visit, Minister said: “This project is a great example of a community-driven learning initiative that has been designed by the community for the community and I applaud Monkton Primary School for its pivotal role in that.

“The school is clearly committed to lifelong learning and building an ethos of working and learning together, built on mutual respect between adults and children.

“It was also inspiring hearing from those who have benefitted from the project and seeing first hand the positive impact it has had on their lives and their confidence.”

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Education

Extra investment in 21st Century Schools

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Announced £100m extra: Kirsty Williams

£100​M ​is to be invested over the next three years to accelerate the delivery of the flagship 21st Century Schools and Education programme, Cabinet Secretary for Education, Kirsty Williams and Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning Eluned Morgan ​has said.

An extra £75m, has been allocated to the 21st Century Schools and Education Programme a major, long-term and strategic capital investment programme to modernise education infrastructure.

In addition, £30m will be released from the programme in future years for immediate investment in capital projects that will contribute to the goal of reaching a million Welsh speakers by 2050. This is a shared priority with Plaid Cymru.

The money will bring the total invested over the life of the programme to almost £3.8bn. The first phase of the programme will finish in 2019 having invested £1.4bn to support the rebuild and refurbishment of more than 150 schools and colleges across Wales. The second phase will see a spend of £2.3bn.

Kirsty Williams said: “Our national mission is to raise standards, reduce the attainment gap and deliver an education system that is a source of national pride and confidence. Our 21st Century Schools and Education Programme plays a key part in this and is the largest investment in our schools and colleges since the 1960s.

“Having a comfortable, modern, fit-for-purpose environment in which to learn is vital to ensuring young people have the best possible education. This extra funding will mean that even more of our students will be able to benefit from having the best possible facilities in their schools and colleges.​”​

Eluned Morgan said: “Reaching a million Welsh speakers by 2050 is a significant challenge and education is key to the success of this ambition. This means we need to invest in new Welsh medium schools and improve and increase the teaching of Welsh in English medium schools. Bringing forward this funding for immediate investment allows us to ensure there is no delay in the work to achieve this target.”

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